Speed in CrossFit Kids
Speed can be defined as the rate at which a person or object moves. It is the distance an object travels divided by the time it takes to travel that distance. As a function of the ten general physical skills, speed is “the ability to minimize the time cycle of a repeated movement” (Glassman). Conventional wisdom tells us that each of us is born with a genetic potential for speed. Natural ability for speed is governed by inherited muscular make up. To be a world class sprinter, one must be born a world class sprinter. However, this does not preclude the development of speed. Increases in speed are possible through neurological and muscular changes.
Look at a successful marathon runner and you’ll likely see a gaunt individual, no body fat and very little muscle, not the picture of health. And intermittent training produces a host of problems, the least of which may be a lack of speed. “The cost of regular extended aerobic training is decreased speed, power, and strength” (Glassman). CrossFit avoids the pitfalls of a specialized program by constantly varying the stimuli, hitting every aspect of fitness, aerobic/anaerobic, fast twitch/slow twitch. You name it, it’s there. Through consistent and diverse training, muscles can develop and change while adapting to handle the stress of exercise.
Speed offers an important illustration of CrossFit efficiency and efficacy in its correlation with the other general physical skills, an interdependence that cannot be ignored. Increased speed is only possible through adequate development of the other skills. At the same time, excellence in the other skills often depends upon increases in speed. Without proper neuromuscular development and sufficiently improved heart and lung capacities, speed cannot increase. By the same token, speed plays an integral role in almost every athletic endeavor. By training each of the general physical skills, we enhance our ability to perform in any given area.
One obvious example of this relationship is the short distance runner for whom speed is only part of the picture. If we look at studies of sprinters, we observe that their abilities to cross the finish line first are rooted not only in their God-given talents but in their abilities to successfully master and maintain proper technique. This becomes important when, after a few seconds of maximum output, the sprinter begins to experience symptoms of fatigue. Then the runner must rely on neuromuscular coordination, the ability to process oxygen and the strength to continue to push screaming muscles in order to shave off precious hundredths of a second. An accomplished sprinter will have trained all the general physical skills. “Sprinters have enormous physical potential due to their metabolic competency across anaerobic and aerobic pathways and because of the speed, power, and total conditioning that sprinting demands” (Glassman).
Olympic and power lifters further demonstrate the crossover of the general physical skills. Here again, we see that no one aspect of training will foster success. For many, weightlifting brings to mind images of muscle-bound men in singlets pushing up ridiculous amounts of weight. In reality, it is not solely the size of the muscle that matters. It is the type of muscle available for use coupled with the athlete’s ability to move the weight with speed. The capacity to lift weight is rooted in power, a combination of strength and speed. No lifter worth his salt will neglect speed training.
Speed 101 for Kids
Coach Glassman defines speed as “the ability to minimize the time cycle of a repeated movement.” What does he mean? Speed is a measurement of the rate at which a person or object moves. In CrossFit, we are always trying to move faster. Run faster, throw the ball faster, move the weight faster. Speed is one of the factors that determine how quickly you will get your workouts done. It also gives you the ability to catch your brother when he’s tagged you “it,” throw the ball across home plate or play dodgeball.
Not all of us are born fast. Each individual has three types of muscle fibers that carry out different jobs in the body. Slow twitch fibers help you complete longer distance or longer timed events. Fast twitch fibers allow you to move faster but can only keep working for short periods of time. The more fast twitch muscle fibers you have, the faster you will be.
It doesn’t seem fair that some people get to be fast, while others of us are not. But I have good news for you. It is possible to increase the number of fast twitch fibers in your body. While I cannot promise that you’ll be winning ribbons in the hundred meter dash, I can guarantee that consistently completing CrossFit Kids workouts will help you develop speed. CrossFit workouts help your muscles develop and change and become better able to handle the stress of a workout.
The things you do in daily life and sports require you to move in many directions, at many different speeds and at different intervals of time. CrossFit makes it easier for you to accomplish these things by conditioning your body and mind through constantly changing workouts that challenge you in every possible way. More speed, more strength, the ability to run a mile, all of these are within your reach if you continue to faithfully work to the best of your ability. Exercise is fun, and it can change every part of your life.