Why CrossFit Kids?
“Cardiovascular/respiratory endurance, stamina, strength, power, speed, flexibility, agility, accuracy,
balance, and coordination: you’re only as good as your weakest link.” –Greg Glassman, CrossFit founder
CrossFit Kids prepares young people for life.
The strength and conditioning program, which is centered on performing a series of random, functional exercises at high intensity, teaches children 10 general physical skills they’ll use each and every day. It’s specifically designed to help kids and teenagers develop a lifelong love of fitness.
The skills they develop through the program, says CrossFit creator Greg Glassman, include:
Children develop coordination by learning to perform several distinct movement patterns into a singular distinct exercise. For example, when doing a pushup, a child must balance on her hands, tighten her abdominal muscles, maintain a rigid core, bend her elbows, lower her body, and push back up – all without falling to the floor.
Requiring balance, coordination, reflexes, speed and strength, agility gives kids the ability to transition quickly from one movement pattern to another. Obstacle courses, for instance, which are typically incorporated into the CrossFit Kids’ program, train young people to use explosive strength, nimble movements and rapid directional changes.
Described by Coach Glassman as the “ability to control the placement of the body’s center of gravity in relation to its support,” balance is one of the critical skills children develop through the CrossFit Kids program. By learning how to stabilize their midline while performing a range of movements, like gymnastics drills and pushups, kids’ form, posture, carriage and overall strength improve.
A detail-oriented skill, accuracy teaches children how to fine tune their muscles and nervous systems, and
exercise their eye-hand – or eye-body – coordination by building on their ability to perform functional
movements quickly. Examples of accuracy in CrossFit Kids workouts include obstacle courses and gymnastics
When a child’s body can efficiently gather, process, deliver, store and utilize oxygen, he can do more physical activity, longer, while recovering more quickly. This central tenant of CrossFit Kids is practiced via high-intensity workouts, like rowing, running, sprinting and jumping rope.
Directly related to cardiovascular endurance, stamina development centers on performing high-intensity
movements for increasingly longer periods of time. As the kids’ stamina improves, they’ll be able to exert
themselves more and more – and reap the benefits of improved metabolism, oxygen flow and recovery time.
Defined by Coach Glassman as “the ability of a muscular unit or combo of muscular units to apply force,”
strength is a general physical skill that’s measured by a child’s ability to move a heavy object, regardless of time. CrossFit Kids helps young people build strength and biomotor skills through weight lifts, like a deadlift and shoulder press, as well as medicine ball throws and handstand pushups.
Performing tasks quickly and accurately is central to CrossFit Kids workouts. Coach Glassman defines speed as “the ability to minimize the time cycle of a repeated movement,” which means the exercises, in most cases, are performed as quickly and efficiently as possible. Speed, as a general skill, helps kids improve their overall performance – whether during a CrossFit workout or a game of Dodgeball.
Distinct from strength, power is the combination of strength and speed. Glassman says power is “the ability of a muscular unit or combination of muscular units to apply maximum force in minimum time.” For young people, that means the more weight they move and the faster they move it, the more powerful they are. CrossFit Kids uses power in moves like squats, which involves quickly moving their own bodyweight up and down in a controlled fashion.
An often-neglected aspect of fitness, flexibility refers to a child’s ability to effectively bend and move without injury. Flexibility increases when kids are able to boost their range of motion and improve their bone, ligament and joint stability. Some exercises that build flexibility include the bear crawl and other animal movements.
Drawing on each of these developing skills, CrossFit Kids workouts deliver constantly varied, functional
movements that give children a broad and inclusive level of fitness, regardless of his or her existing physical condition. Because each child has his or her own specific needs, CrossFit Kids coaches can adjust the individual workouts as needed, scaling them to ensure the child succeeds – yet is still challenged and growing.
But the most important feature of CrossFit Kids: It’s fun!