There has been a lot of talk about Crossfit and the controversy that surrounds this popular workout routine. What is Crossfit? Crossfit is a popular training style built around a “Workout of the Day” (WOD), published daily on the Crossfit site. The workouts of the day are named after women or men for some reason, and tend to be completely different day to day. Check out the site and read the last week or so of workouts to get an idea of what they look like. Here’s an example WOD from this week:
Complete as many rounds as possible in 20 minutes of:
225 pound Deadlift, 6 reps
7 Burpee pull-ups
10 Kettlebell swings
Run 200 meters
Crossfit has come under tremendous criticism from many in the fitness community for various reasons and yet it remains very popular. Let’s talk Pros and Cons.
- Intensity Level – Crossfit is performance-oriented – a workout of the day (WOD) is prescribed each day with an “Rx” (prescribed) weight for women and for men on the given exercises which change daily. While the workouts vary greatly from day to day, they are never easy.
- “Muscle Confusion” and variety – The fact that the workouts vary so greatly from day to day means the body is always guessing. It never has the chance to settle into that “workout groove” where it knows what’s coming, setting the body up for adaptation and slower metabolic response. Crossfit focuses on maximal strength, muscular endurance, and cardiovascular efficiency. You almost never do the same thing twice so you won’t burnout as quick.
- Camaraderie – The Crossfit community is very welcoming. Some find that working out in a group helps to keep them motivated.
- Focus on Compound Movements – Many exercises are considered a compound movement, utilizing several more major muscles in a given movement, so you get a high calorie burn.
- Overall Program is Not Balanced –In order to prevent injury, muscular cross training is very important, as is posture. Injuries most often occur as a result of a muscular imbalance in a part of the body that is being called upon to produce great force. The “weak link” gives. That’s why sports trainers pay great attention to training the opposing muscles of an athlete’s main movement. Crossfit also does not have a lot of multi-planar movements. Most movements are done in the sagital plane, meaning straight ahead and in front of the body. Most sports moves involve moving through multiple planes at the same time.
- High Risk of Injury – Performing daily to peak performance leads to injury.
THAT’S JUST A FACT OF FITNESS LIFE!
If you want be your best you have to push to places you’ve never been before. Every athlete gets injured at some point. It’s just the law of nature and physics. The goal of your work out should be to obtain the greatest results at the lowest possible risk. Crossfit is both sport performance and Olympic style lifting in a group setting. That means one coach oversees an entire group. It doesn’t matter how good the coach is, he can’t stay on top of everyone’s technique and form. Plus, different people have different issues that get in the way of proper form. Due to the nature of most of the workouts, particularly the tendency to put a focus on completing circuits as fast as possible, proper exercise form can start to get ignored. When that happens injury becomes extremely likely.
- Dangerous Loading Protocols-As an example, one workout of the day required 30 reps of the power snatch at 135 lbs. The snatch is an explosive Olympic lift, which should probably be only 5 to 6 reps per set due to the technical complexity involved. It’s just too hard to maintain your form past that point. Likewise, the above 6 reps of 225 lb deadlifts is out of reach for many.
- Lack of Progression-Lack of progression – Due to the “never repeating” nature of the programming, it is difficult, if not impossible to track progress in major lifts.
Crossfit can be a pretty good protocol for certain people, specifically people who are already quite fit and looking to improve their all-around fitness and performance: some strength, some speed, some muscle, some fat loss. If you are that person, go for it. However, anyone who is not already pretty advanced in the gym, would do better looking to programs more specifically tailored to his or her goals and skill levels.
For those that fall into the over 40 category, you may have one or two areas of physical limitation due to a past injury or another type of reoccurring pain. For you, Crossfit may not be the best idea, as you might need specific modifications for your workouts and a more individualized approach. For others, proceed with caution. Crossfit can be a fun, challenging workout routine that can bust boredom and increase your fitness level. Just remember: Know YOUR OWN personal goals and limitations and work toward within those parameters’.
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