How does CrossFit affect the heart?

The heart of a crossfit athlete

The main “muscle” of the athlete’s crossfit

As the greats say – “like this.” Yes, not biceps and not triceps, but the heart – this is the main muscle for any CrossFit athlete, which we need to “pump”. Indeed, even in a calm state and in an ordinary person, the heart performs a tremendous work constantly and experiences a load like no other organ.

How does it work?

It works day and night, and it’s scary to imagine, making an incredible 100,000 contractions a day. And you do 100 burpees with difficulty 😉

It is no coincidence that it is to one degree or another that our engine is one of the leaders in the gloomy list of natural causes of death. Therefore, like no other organ, it is important for us and needs to be attentive to it.

What is it like? It is a kind of pump that pumps our blood, providing our body with oxygen and other important substances. What addictions can we track for ourselves?

The larger the body (body volume) The more effort it takes to supply him with blood
The more blood is required for the body The more the heart needs to do work for this.
How can it do more work? Work more often or work harder
How can it get stronger? It should increase in volume (L-heart hypertrophy) *

Please note: we are not talking about an increase in the size of the heart, but the volume.

* Important: unfortunately, we have not been able to find a single authoritative medical study on the topic of l-hypertrophy of the heart and the benefits of special cardiac training to achieve it. (except for V. Siluyanov’s research – about him below)

However, we are of the opinion that moderate cardiac training is essential for every athlete. How to define this line of moderation, track it and achieve great athletic performance, read on.

Why is it important for the athlete?

Let’s imagine an abstract situation. 2 people with similar physical parameters perform an equal load. Only 1 of them weighs 75kg, and the second 85kg. The second, in order to maintain the same pace as the first, requires more intense work of the heart. As a result, the heart rate increases and our athlete number 2 suffocates.

So should a CrossFit athlete train the heart? Definitely yes. A trained heart increases not only its endurance, but also the useful volume of the heart. And now we are not talking about the weight or size of the main muscle of the body, but about the ability of the heart to pump a much larger volume of blood that the body needs during physical exertion. After all, even 10 extra pounds make the heavyweight’s heart spend up to 3 liters of additional oxygen for 1 minute. Imagine how the heart has to work at maximum speed to deliver oxygen to the muscles.

The effect of crossfit on the heart

Now it’s worth figuring out if CrossFit is bad for your heart – how high-intensity workouts affect heart function. There are 2 diametrically opposite opinions:

  • Yes, CrossFit kills the heart.
  • It only hurts with the wrong approach to training.

Let’s figure out both.

Opinion for

The key reasoned argument in favor of the opinion that CrossFit is harmful to the heart is the study of Professor V.N. Seluyanov “The heart is not a machine”. (you can read the study here – see ). The paper talks about the harm to the heart during the high-intensity work of professional athletes, skiers and runners. Namely, about the inevitability of pathological consequences as a result of regular long-term high-intensity training in the pulse zone over 180 beats / min.

Regular and long lasting over 180! Read – Section 5 is just about this, and it is relatively small.

Opinion against

The opinion of athletes, who believe that the effect of CrossFit on the heart is only positive. The main arguments can be summarized as follows:

  • It is almost impossible to work regularly and for a long time in such a pulse zone.
  • If you approach training wisely and distribute the load according to your level of preparation and other input factors, then CrossFit and the heart will live in symbiosis for a long, long time.

The video is just about this:

Working in the correct heart rate zone

Professional athletes say that it is imperative to train the heart. And CrossFit will not be an obstacle in this, if you adhere to certain rules. The most important criterion here is the control of the pulse during training.

If you are not a professional CrossFit athlete, do not participate in a competition, for example, then the following recommendations will be useful for you for a healthy approach to training:

  • The average working pulse should not exceed 150 beats / min (for beginners – 130 beats / min)
  • Monitor your diet and daily routine – get enough sleep
  • Taking sufficient time to recover from your CrossFit workout is critical to heart health.

Average data of heart rate zones – how long on which heart rate mode can you train:

How to train your heart?

So how do you exercise for a healthy heart muscle workout? In addition to the basic rules that we said above, you need to decide exactly how we will do this and how to calculate the pulse correctly.

Goal = control the heart rate zone so that it does not exceed 110-140 bpm. If it is exceeded, we slow down the pace, adjusting the heartbeat even during the entire workout. In this case, it is necessary to ensure that during the complex the pulse does not go below 110 beats / min.

Best Exercises

The traditional method in this case is balanced cardio loads. Namely:

  • Run;
  • Skiing;
  • Rowing;
  • Bicycle;
  • Sleigh.

Including any cardio exercise in our crossfit complexes and carefully monitoring our heart rate, we will achieve the desired result. At the same time, this does not mean that when working with iron, you will hammer on the control of the pulse – on the contrary, you must still make sure that it does not go beyond the above indicated limits.

How to read the pulse?

There are two popular ways to track and monitor your heart rate. The old-fashioned way is to consider it “to yourself”. Namely, we put our finger on the wrist or in any other place where the pulse is actively calculated and for 6 seconds we count the number of beats, while measuring these 6 seconds on the timer. We multiply the result by 10 – and voila, here it is our pulse. Of course, at first, the method is rather unusual and for many it will seem incomprehensible.

For the “lazy” heart rate accountants, the heart rate monitors were invented. Everything is simple here – they show your heart rate in real time throughout the entire workout. How to choose a heart rate monitor – we’ll talk in our next reviews. In short, we choose either the wrist version of the last generation (expensive) or the traditional one, but always with a chest strap, since everyone else is very sinful with accuracy, which can only harm us.