Crossfit: Improving the life of South African multisporters

CrossFit, tips, multisport, strength, fitness, barbell work, high intensity workouts

Flexing? Egos? Wrong idea. CrossFit is all about community.

Embracing change is a fundamental tenet of any successful lifesaver or multisporter. A last minute change in the race conditions, routes or even a change in the format of the event itself is not only welcomed, but relished as part of the challenge. A change in season is no different.

Winter ushers in opportunities to sharpen skills, change equipment, build strength and focus on new goals. Along with those opportunities come the challenges of temperamental, stormy weather which threaten to upset the most carefully planned training programmes. At times like these, a well-structured CrossFit workout will not only maintain, but improve upon your performance goals.

CrossFit, tips, multisport, strength, fitness, barbell work, high intensity workouts

Not into heavy lifting? Many CrossFit facilities now offer the option of doing CrossFit Lite, which focuses more on Metabolic Conditioning (MetCon) with scaled down weights or body weight movements.

First things first

Find a reputable CrossFit trainer. If you join a box (name for a CrossFit gym) and find yourself swamped by too many people in a class, and lost in the crowd while you’re figuring out how to lift the bar… RUN! This is a recipe for disaster and an injury waiting to happen. Class numbers should be limited, and individual attention from coaches should be given.

A large part of CrossFit might resemble a lot of the traditional gym exercises, but there’s a deeper side to CrossFit that qualified trainers can tap you into with specially designed workouts to target metabolic conditioning, flexibility or key strength areas.

Aim to complete at least two workouts per week, not forgetting your usual paddle, swim, run or board training. I repeat, don’t neglect the cardio! Give yourself enough time in the beginning to recover from the change in load.

More: How to find the balance between strength and cardio

Basics done, what kind of sets can you expect from a CrossFit workout?

wall balls, CrossFit, tips, multisport, strength, fitness, barbell work, high intensity workouts

Wall balls (a squat to press movement) are a big part of CrossFit, Muscles worked during the exercise include the quads, glutes, calves, hamstrings, abs, lower back, chest, front deltoids, back deltoid, biceps and triceps. So, pretty much every muscle group you’ll ever want to work.

CrossFit for the South African multisporter

Beach sprinters and flag specialists can avoid the wet beaches and develop their explosive leg work using box jumps. Done correctly, the jump-up-jump-down variation will have you working at 90% in just one rep. To do it really well, focus on landing your jumps quietly, with grace and control.

Paddlers have a smorgasbord of options with wall balls being a favourite for driving power from the hip and transferring it to the chest and arms. This mimics the timing and transfer of power required for an effective stroke. To do it really well, drive the squat with your hips and follow through with the throw, getting a good extension on the arms.

Swimmers can add some weight to their swim workouts by mixing in traditional yet brutal water-polo sets with some crossfit recipes. A favourite is 200m repeats for time, but with a push-up at the end of each length. Do it really well by making your push-ups count and exiting the pool each time like a pro. No one-kneed rollovers.

Try this

Some of the most popular WODs (Workout of the Day) include Helen and Fran. Used as benchmarks, these workouts will help you assess and monitor your sport fitness improvements throughout winter.

Paddlers and swimmers understand the benefits of pull-ups so either workout will serve you well. Helen is for the beach runners and will keep those lungs and legs in top shape. Most noticeably, the change in major muscle group activations from legs to arms to legs is what an all-round lifesaver depends on. Give them a go:


For time, do three rounds of: 400m sprint, 21 kettlebell swings (24kg) and 12 pull-ups.



For time, do 21 barbell thrusters, 21 pull-ups, 15 barbell thrusters, 15 pull-ups, 9 barbell thrusters, 9 pull-ups.

There are dozens more WODs available and your CrossFit-qualified trainer can design one specifically for key areas in your discipline. So if the weather is messing with your programme or you’re looking to step up your game, give CrossFit a go!

Originally published in the July/August 2013 issue.

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About Bryan Allott

Bryan has competed in lifesaving and triathlon since 1992 and is the current Around the Rocks open water swim champ. Unable to love just one sport, you'll find him out on a beach, near an ocean, mountain, the trail or the bush

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