CrossFit has become a popular go-to for fitness professionals and enthusiasts. According to the Wall Street Journal, there are some 4,000 affiliates nationwide. Despite its popularity, does CrossFit live up to its “forging elite athletes” tagline?
Researchers from Ohio State University, in Columbus, wanted to understand the impact of CrossFit-based high-intensity power training (HIPT) on VO2max and body composition. They recruited 23 men and 20 women of “all levels of aerobic fitness and body composition” to participate in 10 weeks of training. Throughout that time, study subjects performed squats, deadlifts, cleans, snatches and overhead presses as quickly as possible. “Additionally, this CrossFit-based HIPT program included skill work for the improvement of traditional Olympic lifts and selected gymnastics exercises,” added the authors.
At the end of 10 weeks, all study participants showed marked improvements in VO2max and body composition. On average, body fat had decreased by 3% in women and about 4% in men.
“Significant correlations between absolute oxygen consumption and oxygen consumption relative to body weight were found in both men and women, indicating HIPT improved VO2max scaled to body weight, independent of changes to body composition,” explained the authors. “Our data shows that HIPT significantly improves VO2max and body composition in subjects of both genders across all levels of fitness.”