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Form Follows Function by Russell Berger - CrossFit Journal

Form Follows Function

By Russell Berger

In Athletes

December 29, 2009

PDF Article

The goal of CrossFit is producing increased work capacity—but Russell Berger says you’d have to be blind not to see that it also produces exquisite physiques.

CrossFit isn’t designed to make you look good naked. That benefit is just an unavoidable side effect of increasing your work capacity at life’s most basic tasks.

We go at unmatched intensity to improve our performance and ability, but dedicated CrossFitters can take satisfaction in knowing that when they look in the mirror they’ll see attractive people looking back—people who look like they hunt and kill their food with a spear.

Perhaps Henry David Thoreau said it best: “Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it.” It seems life’s most desirable rewards rarely come to those who set out in pursuit of them—but strive instead for excellence, and the rewards of life often find you.

CrossFit athletes may be attractive by any standard, but they are, first and foremost, functional. They can move heavy loads long distances in short times. CrossFit’s top male and female athletes have demonstrated work capacities that our entire community finds inspiring. From the long-time affiliate owner to his or her newest and most deconditioned client, all are motivated by the powerful force of physical accomplishment. Why not let jaw-dropping physiques do the same?

Glorifying the figures of these athletes isn’t a sin against functional fitness. It is not our primary goal to improve physiques, but we would be fooling ourselves if we didn’t acknowledge the beauty of these CrossFit bodies at work.

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17 Comments on “Form Follows Function ”


wrote …

Simply GORGEOUS! :)


wrote …

Boy what a keen observation! The girls and guys that are really fit and compete at the games look good too? I'd have never figured.


wrote …

Well, I was looking to see what grip they used... But, only when they showed the front view on the videos.

CrossFit women are hot in both their physical appearance and their mental approach. Part of what makes these women so damned impressive is knowing first-hand how that body was forged.


wrote …

Hey Russ you seem to be tooting your own horn with that "article". "people who look like they hunt and kill their food with a spear" LOL!


wrote …

Well Written; Nice side effects too.


wrote …

what are the names of the lovely ladies, other than Jenni?


wrote …

What an awesome article. This brought a big smile to my face. CrossFit girls are the hottest girls around!


wrote …

"ponder, study, debate, and define fitness and collectively advance the art and science of optimizing human performance."

My art and science of optimizing human performance has not been advanced. But t and a is always great. I'm sure I can use this article to demonstrate to the bulk of the clients in my Affiliate how smart they were to choose CrossFit.


wrote …

"Fitness" is built on the ability to reproduce and nurture the progeny through reproductive maturity. There is no more natural a phenomenon than the way fertility demands (and rewards) our attention. Virtually every fertility indicator that may be casually observed is accentuated in these athletes. The fact that not all elite athletes look like the current concepts of femininity and masculinity does not detract from the general correlation of "CrossFitness" and appearance of fertility. I hope that CrossFit's dominance in the marketplace will redefine what is viewed as "beautiful."

Idle speculation - in most sports, the most advantageous physique becomes apparent as the sport matures. Sprinters come in two shapes. Hurtlers, all tall. Gymnasts, all short and thick. Swimmers, tall. Basketball players, virtually all lean and long. Distance runners, emaciated and short. CF has athletes large and small, tall and short, bulky and slender. Wonder if eventually, a specific pattern of anthropometry will prove to be 'better' at CF, or if the 'generalized' nature of the sport will preclude that.


wrote …

It could be said though that a lot of peoples physiques were created from disciplines before they discovered maybe it can't always take the credit for the aesthetics.


Terry Dickman wrote …

Paul, I have often speculated that same very thought. If you think about it…some physiques will do better at some events or exercises than others. A shorter person has less distance to move large loads or get under a bar, but more work to do in running or jumping on a box, a taller person would possibly have opposite advantages and disadvantages…for that very reason I would speculate that an average size physique will remain best for CrossFit…in competition the winners are going to be the fittest person with the biggest heart regardless of their physique.

As far as Ryan’s comment…all I can say is they are not fake…if you dropped them on a forest floor you would hear them hit the ground…in my book that means they are real.


replied to comment from Jennifer Higgins

Yeah Jen!


Jesse Gray wrote …

Paul and Terry, I to am in the "what is the optimal CF body type?" club and boy is that a tough question! It's easy to at first say the average size person because they are the least likely to have their body size be a serious disadvantage at a particular event but the more I think about it, the more I wonder. I think it may come down to as Terry said, who has the biggest heart but in the sense of who has the best motor. I think that precisely because it is so random that almost any body type is capable of becoming a great Crossfitter. This sounds bizarre but I'm pretty sure it's true. Now, I'm not saying that a sumo wrestler could be great, rather, I'm saying that the type of person who would normally become a sumo could change their body type through lots of work and have no basic advantage or disadvantage over a person who is taller, shorter broader or thinner. If you can increase the work capacity of your body to a high enough degree, it doesn't matter what size you are. Now sure, some body types are going to be better at some events than others but over time you're going to do enough variety of events that body size will be negated and all that will be left is work capacity. IMHO!


wrote …

I think the only way to see truly what a crossfit physique looks like is when you take someone who has neglected any form of exercise for a significant period and then take up Crossfit & zoning after what may be years of inactivity. Some before and after photo's will be the true testament. Anyone that has come into CrossFit from other disciiplines will most likely have already attained their specific look. They may lean up but their basic look won't alter too much. You can see the guys who have come from MMA or heavy weight training backrounds as they have a more mass and definition than say a wiry rockclimber. I think you have to be careful with some of the images used to champion crossfit aesthetics when there are previous pre crossfit years of training that have laid the foundations.


Sean, I'm that guy... and I didn't even strict Zone. I was completely sedentary for 30+ years. I did CrossFit for 5 months and dropped 70 pounds. I went from completely deconditioned (couldn't do a push-up) to a 21 minute Angie in a year.

What I can tell you about CrossFit physiques in general is that the body alters to most efficiently meet the demands of functional motion and power generation. For many bodies this has a specific look, but your personal chemistry and technique will change exactly how this expresses (where peripheral muscles build and how much, where any extra mass is stored, how much bulk is gained). So, too, will the structure of your skeleton; the length of all those lever arms matters when considering how your muscles adapt to move them - and thus your overall mass - most effectively.

For my body, this gave me a nice triangle (big chest and shoulders, small waist) and very nice legs/butt. And your mileage may vary. You can find the after photos on my affiliate's page - CrossFit Fenway. And for the before pics...

...well, I think I'll spare everyone the horror of those. :D


replied to comment from JT Scott

Fantastic man, I love looking at before and after pics as they are so inspiring. Especially if like me, i've let my zoning waver and put on a few kg. It demonstrates how quickly i could lose it again, Also, there's less to do as I've had a far easier ride with activity level and body composition than people such as yourself! You're true crossfit body man!!!


wrote …

quote of the article " a nice ass is hard to ignore"
+1 for honesty...and appreciation of beauty

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