Specialize in Not Specializing

“The fitness that CrossFit advocates and develops is broad, general, and inclusive. Our specialty is not specializing. Combat, survival, many sports, and life reward this kind of fitness and, on average, punish the specialist.”
— CrossFit Journal

The finals of the CrossFit Games start in two days, and the people that we’re about to watch compete are the best fitness generalists in the world.  Maybe that doesn’t sound very sexy, but what I think this means is that the winner has a legitimate claim to the title “Fittest on Earth”.  This is especially true if we define fitness as being the most able, on average, to complete any physical task known (or unknown) to man.  The Fittest on Earth should not just be the fastest sprinter or the absolute strongest person in the world.  They should not just be the most gymnastically talented, or be able to swim the longest distance without tiring.  In fact, the Fittest on Earth probably wouldn’t win any of those individual crowns.  But if you had all of those single-event champions compete against each other in the other events, i.e., if the strongest person in the world was put to a long-distance swimming event, the results may not be very good… they may actually be disastrous!

The point of the CrossFit Games, then, is to identify the woman and the man on this planet that rises to the top after a series of very challenging, and very different tests.  CrossFit defines ten general physical attributes that must be trained in order to develop general fitness, which are strength, stamina, power or work capacity, speed, endurance, flexibility, agility, accuracy, coordination, and balance.  These attributes will all be tested and demonstrated by the Games athletes in large doses.

These attributes, and thus our overall fitness level, are also tested during the annual CrossFit Open, the precursor to “The Games”.  The two major results of the CrossFit Open are that the entire CrossFit community (and anyone else that wants to jump in) receive a major annual test (and major dose of humility), and that an international leaderboard is created, at the top of which sit the qualifiers for the next CrossFit Games.

If we strive to do well in our next fitness test, the 2021 CrossFit Open (beginning late February), we must treat ourselves like overall fitness athletes, like the generalists we will see this weekend, and not specialists in one niche of fitness.  We don’t mean to be JUST the strongest, or have JUST the most endurance in our peer group, but we strive to excel at everything.  And those areas where we find ourselves lacking should be our major focus areas when selecting a near-term goal to achieve.  Those of us that have completed the Open before – let’s remember that dish of humble pie that we were served up when “that one workout” came up that made our fitness house of cards crumble to the ground.  Next time that workout or that movement (hello, double-unders) comes around, we’ll be a little bit more prepared for it.  Maybe still not the BEST, but we’re making headway and we’re improving every day.

Looking forward to checking out the CrossFit Games this weekend!  You can watch it on the CrossFit Games site, on their Facebook page, or their YouTube channel.  And check it out on Saturday, 1-3pm, live on CBS!

Train hard, stay safe, and work your weaknesses!


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