Recruiting study subjects from an Ohio CrossFit, Steven T. Devor measured baseline body fat and aerobic capacity in 43 people from a broad range of initial fitness levels. He then followed his subjects through 10 weeks of CrossFit – or, as he defined it, high-intensity power training. The program mixed barbell lifts like squats with Olympic lifts such as the clean and jerk and other moves like handstands. Devor found significant improvements in V02 max and lowered body fat across all fitness levels. Everybody got fitter, regardless of where they started. CrossFit headquarters attacked the study (predictably) for reporting a 16 percent dropout rate due to injury – a common, anecdotal complaint about CrossFit.
Here, Devor helped us put together a CrossFit-like workout based on his research.
Perform three complete rounds, allowing 30 seconds to rest between each exercise and 45 seconds between each round.
• 20 burpees, holding a dumbbell in each hand
• 10 overhead squats with a barbell light enough to allow completion of all reps in all three sets
• Five pull-ups (shown) or chin-ups (a bit easier) with a single dumbbell between your legs
Start with enough weight to feel the resistance, but always be able to complete all reps in all sets. As you grow stronger, add progressive weight loads to each exercise in 2.5- to 5-pound increments for burpees and pull-ups, and 5- to 10-pound additions for squats.