The Crossfit philosophy of exercise rejects the high-tech, state-of-the-art equipment methodology, and opts for a back-to-basics approach. In doing so, it takes its practitioners on a whirlwind tour of the history of workout equipment. Whilst some of the apparatus used in Crossfit dates back to ancient times, when you think about it, the Gladiators did not require weight machines with cams or computerized aerobic equipment.
The Origins of Progressive Resistance
A baby calf served as the first resistance-training machine. During the fifth century B.C., Olympiad wrestler Milo of Crotona prepared for strength competitions by lifting and carrying a newborn calf until it reached its adult weight. As the calf grew larger, Milo’s strength increased.
Whilst Milo played outdoors with his calf, other ancient Greeks exercised in a gymnasium, where a paid tribe, similar to the modern personal trainer, supervised their workout. The ancient Greek used halteres, which looked like a smaller version of the dumbbell. A typical halteres workout included exercises such as flexing and extending the arms in different planes of movement, and lunging while holding the weights in front of the body. The halteres were also used in jumping exercises, whilst the diskos and javelin were used in throwing drills.
Ancient Greek Plyometrics
During the second century, the Greek physician Galen published De Sanitate Tuenda, a medical textbook which remained influential into the nineteenth century. Galen described the use of halteres for a series of plyometric jumping exercises, which included broad jumps, high jumps and jumping from low to high places. These concepts should sound familiar to Crossfitters. Galen also describes exercises that involved bearing weighted implements on the head, shoulders and feet.
Resistance Training in the Renaissance
Galen’s influence prevailed during the Renaissance. In 1569, the famous physician Hieronymus Mercurialis wrote “De Arte Gymnastica Aput Ancientes,” a detailed compilation of theories on the relationship between medicine and exercise. Mercurialis was a strong proponent of exercising with halteres, as well as heavy sand-filled bags, which were the precursors of the modern medicine ball. Some Crossfit workouts still include sandbag training as a means of improving grip strength and function lifting methods in conjunction with enhancing overall strength.
Enter, The Dumbbell
The earliest versions of the modern dumbbell have their roots in 16th century Europe. Church bell ringing, while a well-respected professions, was quite strenuous. Many of the bell-ringers lacked sufficient core and upper body strength. The novice bell ringers trained for their profession by swinging a rope, which was lodged inside of the bell. Since random bell sounds would confuse the townspeople, the bell could not make any actual sounds. This explains the name “dumbbell.” The bell-ringers probably did not realize that whilst strengthening their upper bodies, they were also building core strength and enhancing their coordination.
Workouts of the Victorian Era
Many new strength-training methodologies were introduced during the Victorian era. For example, during the early 1800s, the British military officers who were stationed in India remarked on the muscularity of the Indian police. When they learned that the police workout involved swinging a set of weighted wooden clubs, British officers incorporated this form of conditioning into their own military training program. They called it “Indian club swinging,”
Crossfit and Its Link to the Past
Many of these workouts of days gone by share a common principle: They all support a number daily functional activities, while enhancing overall health and fitness. Crossfit embraces this philosophy.
Call Happy Physio on (08) 9272 7359 now for appointment and start with your Crossfit Program.