Crossfit For The Wilderness Athlete

The word CrossFit is usually accompanied by the image of a masculine-looking man or woman throwing 100’s of lbs over their head, flailing around performing weird looking pull-ups, burpees, and don’t get me started on this thing they call a row machine.

Yes, I WAS Anti-CrossFit before, and today I still don’t agree with everything that they do. I will say that over the past year I have been supplementing my workout routines with mobility and CrossFit sessions throughout the week and I have gotten to meet some amazing individuals and see some great results. The implementation of CrossFit has helped me become a more well-rounded athlete.

Throughout my career in football there we would consistently train power, plyometrics, speed, agility, balance, strength, and cardio to prepare us for the long season to come. The strength coaches goal was to help us improve in all of the before mentioned areas but also to develop durability and toughness (mentally and physically) in all of us so that we would be able to weather the ups and downs of a 12-game football season. However, after leaving this culture I was no longer forced to workout and even though I knew better, I found myself doing much more weightlifting and bodybuilding routines. Then my cardio just turned into lifting weights… faster.

The problem had much to do with my deep hate for running. Basketball is quite another story, I can play for hours without having to stop, but what I needed was something in between.  I needed to a routine where I could lift weights and do some sort of cardio that was not just running for miles upon miles.

This is what prompted me to dabble in the dangerous world of Crossfit! 


The official definition of Crossfit is constantly varied functional movements performed at high intensity.

“All CrossFit workouts are based on functional movements, and these movements reflect the best aspects of gymnastics, weightlifting, running, rowing, and more. These are the core movements of life. They move the largest loads the longest distances, so they are ideal for maximizing the amount of work done in the shortest time. Intensity is essential for results and is measurable as work divided by time—or power. The more work you do in less time, or the higher the power output, the more intense the effort. By employing a constantly varied approach to training, functional movements and intensity lead to dramatic gains in fitness.”(1)

This definition, in my opinion, is the epitome of the type of exercise the Wilderness Athlete is looking for. I see too many people that go to the gym for two hours only to jump from machine to machine, never working on the movements that will make their daily lives any easier. They settle into a soul-crushing monotonous routine that will eventually no longer challenge them mentally or physically.

Here are a couple benefits that I see from Crossfit that I think everyone should at least take a few lessons from. We will be posting throughout the next couple of months some of these workouts that you can incorporate into your workout schedule.


Intensity: The daily workouts that CrossFit consists of rarely last longer than 20 minutes, but you are continually doing some sort of movement and either pushing yourself by increasing weight or decreasing your time. This is where you will see results. A bad workout done with intensity breeds results. Imagine the right workout.

Motivation: The key to CrossFit is the intensity, but hidden in that fact is that you’re inherently pushing yourself to do the most you can through each exercise in the workout. Everyone wants results, but not everyone puts in the effort. In a regular gym, it’s easy to cheat reps here and there or sneak a longer break than necessary, but because of how the CrossFit workout is tailored, there’s no option other than to max yourself out.

Time Efficient: In a span of 15 or 20 minutes, you’ll be asked to complete as many rounds of a specific circuit as you can. By the end of it, because of the aforementioned intensity and effort, you’ll have burned more calories than a regular workout.

Building Relationships: Often times, a gym is just a collection of random people focused on doing their own different exercises. At a CrossFit box, which is what they refer to as their gym, it’s community. You’re surrounded by a group of people – even strangers! – who encourage you and help you push your boundaries. Even the people who finish last get a round of high-fives for pushing themselves as hard as they can. Everyone has the same goal in mind: to get in the best shape possible. The camaraderie in CrossFit is part of what makes this exercise experience so unique.

Dynamic Workouts: The workouts are sometimes hard to describe because they are so multidimensional. When you’re doing CrossFit, you’re not just going to the gym to bulk up or to climb steps. This isn’t a basic circuit of weightlifting; it’s a program that mixes many different exercises that push all parts of your body to their limits. As they say, CrossFit’s specialty is not specializing. It’s constantly changing, which keeps your mind and body from getting bored.

Personal Coaching: All CrossFit classes are led by a coach to ensure proper form, provide modifications, encouragement, uphold standards, and occasionally give you a “no rep” when they see you not doing something properly or not giving your full effort. Your coach will become an inspiration, counselor, buddy, nutrition advisor and your biggest cheerleader.

Improved Heart Health: Your heart rate remains elevated throughout the entire workout, which increases your endurance. In fact, data from an American Council on Exercise study showed that participants’ heart rates were elevated to 90 percent of maximum heart rate, which was sustained throughout two CrossFit workouts. Fitness industry guidelines suggest a HRmax between 64 to 94 percent in order to improve cardio endurance. Scientists also found that individuals averaged 80 percent of VO2max, which is the maximum amount of oxygen a person can utilize during intense exercise. Industry guidelines suggest 40 to 85 percent of VO2max for improving cardio fitness and body composition.

Increased Joint Mobility: This is a result of the varied functional movements involved in a CrossFit workout – you’re not just doing simple bicep curls, but moving your limbs in all different directions. Also, by learning the proper ways to lift heavy things off the floor and hold them overhead, your risk of injury in your everyday life significantly decreases.

Overall Improved Health: CrossFit was created to focus on these major domains: stamina, strength, coordination, flexibility, power, speed, agility, balance, accuracy, and endurance. This is achieved by promoting neurological and hormonal adaptations across all of the metabolic pathways in the body. The combination of the vast variety of movements leads to a complete transformation of your personal quality of life.

Lifestyle Improvement: Being surrounded by people invested in fitness and health, it is hard to resist giving into some new lifestyle habits. Before you know it you will be trading your pre-packaged snacks for something whole and real. Rather than meeting your friends for lunch/drinks/coffee, you’ll meet at the gym and THEN head out to socialize.(2)

Scalability: The last thing that I have seen that Crossfit does a great job of is scalability. While some of you may not be able to do some of the full exercises that this workout that we are going to give you entails, we will give you a modification or different exercise that closely resembles the exercise and works the same movement as the original movement.

While many of you may not get inspired to qualify for the Crossfit games right away, our goal as outdoorsmen and women is to be able to hike, hunt, camp, kayak, fish, climb, and live life to the fullest. We do this by minimizing the chance for injury by training the body to become as durable, strong, and mobile as possible. Like a football season, life is full of ups and downs and while we cannot push you and force you to workout, we can provide you with tools that can help prepare you for whatever life throws at you. The first and most important tool is proper nutrition and the second is exercise. It has always been said that you cannot out-exercise a bad diet and I have seen that to be especially true as I have grown older.

If you have any questions on products or workouts please reach out at

Stay Wild

Jesse Paulsen


4 Rounds for time

1. 12-Walking Sandbag Lunges

2. 6-Push Press (135/95) – 135lbs for guys 95lbs for women.

3. 8-T2B(toes to bar)

4. 100 Meter Sandbag Run(over the shoulder)


Physical Fitness Specialist– Wassaja Memorial Health Center

CrossFit Level 1 Coach

Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, CSCS

American College of Sports Medicine, CPT

USA Weightlifting– Level 1 Sports Performance Coach

Functional Movement Screen Level 1

What you love about CrossFit:
The Community of people encouraging and motivating others

How long have you been doing CrossFit:
Since January 2013

Favorite lift/ benchmark:
Lift: Clean, Benchmark: Grace