OPT-Fit or Cross-Fit

Many of you have probably heard of Cross-Fit, which has been gaining popularity over the last decade.

Cross-Fit is a strength and conditioning program that employs constantly varied, high intensity, (functional) movements, with the goal of improving fitness and general physical preparedness. The workouts are typically short, done for time (usually20 minutes or less), intense, demanding and involves all-out physical exertion. Workouts combine movements such as sprinting, rowing, jumping rope, climbing rope, flipping tires, weightlifting, carrying heavy objects, and many bodyweight exercises. The equipment used typically includes barbells, dumbbells, gymnastics rings, pull-up bars, kettlebells, medicine balls, and boxes. These elements are mixed in numerous combinations to form prescribed “Workouts of the Day” or “WODs”.




While the idea of Cross-Fit may be appealing and the adrenaline rush stimulating, in my opinion, it is not appropriate for all populations.

Under the right circumstances, a Cross-Fit style of conditioning can be implemented or incorporated as part of one’s fitness program.

OPT-Fit is an evidence based integrative conditioning model that can be used for improving fitness and general physical preparedness or any other fitness goal. It can incorporate aspects of a Cross-Fit style work out, based on an assessment of one’s health, abilities and goals.

OPT is the acronym for Optimum Performance Training. It was developed by the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM).



The OPT training model incorporates all forms of training in an integrated fashion safely and progressively based on an assessment of one’s abilities as needs.

It was created out of the need to address our society’s escalating rate of structural imbalances and susceptibility to injuries.

The OPT process of programming can systematically progress any person towards any goal, be it general conditioning, weight loss, strength and muscles gain or performance.

The OPT model is built on a foundation of principles that progressively and systematically leads to optimum levels of physiologic (e.g. cardiorespiratory, endocrine, metabolic, tissue strength and bone density), physical (e.g. decreased body fat and increased lean body mass) and performance (e.g. strength, power, endurance, flexibility, speed, agility and balance) adaptations.

The model stresses functional exercise:

  • Multiplanar (Different directions of movement)
  • Involves acceleration, deceleration and stabilization
  • Multiple speeds
  • Varying body positions
  • Optimum alignment
  • Periodization (planned changes)
  • Recovery and regeneration

The OPT model is divided into 3 building Blocks and 5 Phases



3 Building Blocks

  1. Stabilization
  2. Strength
  3. Power

5 Phases

  1. Stabilization Endurance
  2. Strength Endurance
  3. Hypertrophy
  4. Maximum Strength
  5. Power

I. Stabilization Endurance (The foundation):



  • Improve muscular endurance
  • Enhance joint stability
  • Increase flexibility
  • Enhance postural control
  • Improve neuromuscular efficiency (balance, stabilization)

Training Strategies

  • Corrective flexibility (self myofascial release and static stretching)
  • Proprioceptively enriched (unstable yet controllable)
  • Low loads, high repetitions performed with a slow tempo

II. Strength Endurance:





  • Improve stabilization endurance and increase prime mover strength
  • Improve overall work capacity
  • Enhance Joint stabilization
  • Increase lean body mass

Training Strategies

  • Active flexibility (self myofascial release and active stretching)
  • Moderate loads and repetitions performed with a medium tempo
  • Supersets (1 strength exercise with 1 stabilization exercise)

III. Hypertrophy:




  • Achieve optimum muscle hypertrophy

Training Strategies

  • High volume, high loads, moderate-low repetitions with a medium tempo


IV. Maximum Strength:




  • Increase motor unit recruitment
  • Increase frequency of motor unit recruitment
  • Improve peak performance

Training Strategies

  • Active flexibility (self myofascial release and active stretching)
  • High loads, low repetitions medium tempo with longer rest periods


V. Power:




  • Enhance neuromuscular efficiency
  • Enhance prime mover strength
  • Increase rate of force production
  • Enhance speed strength

Training Strategies

  • Dynamic flexibility
  • Superset 1 strength and 1 stabilization exercise
  • Perform power exercises as fast as can be controlled

As an integrated form of training, the OPT model includes all forms of training:



•             Flexibility

•             Cardiorespiratory

•             Core training

•             Balance training

•             Reactive training (power)

•             Speed, agility, quickness training

•             Resistance training

How to use the OPT Model

Designing an individualized, systematic, integrated fitness program is accomplished by having an understanding of an individual’s goals/needs and abilities.

This is done through a comprehensive fitness assessment, which is comprised of both subjective and objective information.

Subjective information includes: general medical history, occupation, lifestyle and personal information.

Objective information includes: physiologic assessments, body composition testing, cardiorespiratory assessments, static and dynamic postural assessments and performance assessments.

If a person attempts to perform an exercise program that is of higher intensity, such as in the Power Phase (e.g. many of the Cross-Fit work outs), when they have a number of musculoskeletal imbalances indicating that they should be exercising in the Stabilization Endurance phase, they are at increased risk for injuries.

Cross-Fit workouts generally emphasize activities requiring speed and power. It is often assumed that one possesses adequate muscle endurance, joint stability, flexibility, postural control and neuromuscular efficiency. Unfortunately, many people do not and consequently injuries ensue.





About the Author

Dr. Geoff LecovinNaturopathic Physician/Chiropractor/Acupuncturist/Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist/Corrective Exercise Specialist/Performance Enhancement Specialist/Certified Sports Nutritionist/View all posts by Dr. Geoff Lecovin