CrossFit is a general physical preparedness program. A program that trains an athlete for overall fitness and prepares them for any task. Fitness has been defined as Increased work capacity across broad time and domains. Increased work capacity, meaning that you can do more. Across broad time, meaning a 100m sprint that takes 10 seconds up to an ultra-marathoner that could take 24 hours. Across broad domains, meaning Running, rowing riding, gymnastics, power-lifting, Olympic weightlifting, strongman and so on and so on. A General Physical Preparedness program is training for fitness, fitness has now been defined and how we program, train and measure our fitness comes from the four modals of fitness.

First Model – The 10 Physical Adaptations

Cardiovascular Endurance,








Agility and


An athlete who’s is training is balanced across the ten physical adaptations would be on the path to increased work capacity across broad time and domains.

Second Model – The Hopper.

If you where to take a hopper or a lotto barrel and fill it with as many physical requirements as you could imagine examples being; 1 Rep max deadlift, 5km run, max pull ups, 1600m swim, max push ups, 1 rep max Clean and Jerk, Pilates, Yoga or Kettle-bell Swings. You filled the hopper and gave a big spin and tested 100 athletes on the first 10 physical requirements that where pulled out, the athlete that averaged the best over all 10 would be the fittest. To train for this model of fitness, what ever you are preying does not get pulled out of the hopper is your weakness and the area you should be training. The less weaknesses you have the fitter you are.


Third Model – The Metabolic Pathways

We have three metabolic pathways used for exercise. Think of them as energy systems. The first is the phosphagen (phosphocreatine) pathway, the second is glycolytic (lactate or anaerobic) pathway and the third is oxidative (aerobic) pathway. Our body uses the three pathways in that order, like a car moving up in gears. The Phosphagen is used first gear for an explosive output of power like a 100m run. The glycolytic or anaerobic is the second gear used for a longer time frame but less intense effort like a 400m run. The oxidative or aerobic is used last for a longer continues effort like a 5km run. Training all three pathways and not specializing in one will increase work capacity across broad time and modal domains. An athletes that specializes in one pathway will only have increased work capacity in that gear.

Forth Model – The Sickness – Wellness -Fitness continuum

Think of this modal as a measuring system for health. The continuum looks like your fuel gauge. To the left of the gauge our empty side is sickness, the center is wellness and across to the right our full side of the gauge is Fitness. The measuring system is taken from our health markers like blood pressure, body fat percentage, resting heart rate, BMI, VO2 Max and anything else that can be measured between someone who is Sick through to someone who is Fit. A general physical preparedness program will take all of the markers from sickness through to wellness and then across to fitness.


A sports specific program will specialize in a time frame and domain. An AFL football player will focus training in the domain of running, an Olympic weightlifter will focus training on the metabolic pathway of Phosphogen, the first gear but will have no second and no third. A marathon runner will focus training in the physical adaptations of cardiovascular endurance and stamina but will have poor strength and power. A strongman athlete will have great strength and power but maybe sitting on the sickness side of the fuel gauge due to health markers. Specializing in one area will always be a sacrifice of another area.


When I first certified for my level 1 CrossFit trainers course in 2013, the teaching was that a CrossFit athlete will never be the best in the world in a specific sport, the best CrossFit athlete will be good at everything but could never be the best at one sport. When I re-certified in 2018 this was no longer the case. Australia’s very own Tia Clare Toomey had won the 2018 CrossFit Games and won Gold at the Commonwealth Games in Olympic Weightlifting in the very same year. The CrossFit program had proven its teachings wrong and an athlete that trains in General Physical Preparedness could be greater than we have ever expected.

GPP v Sports Specific

In some sports an athlete will need to focus training in an area of the 10 Physical Adaptions, ie a Olympic Weightlifter will need to focus on Strength, Speed and Flexibility. However Tia Toomey has proven that with a diverse GPP program an athlete can achieve far more than expected and have less weaknesses than an athlete following a Sports Specific program. Tia’s training covers all 10 of the Physical Adaptations and she still matches the best in the world in specific sports.

The CrossFit health pyramid holds its weight as the best hierarchy an athlete can follow.


CrossFit Journal – What is Fitness