Crossfit is the current fitness flavor of the month, much like p90x was a couple years ago. There seem to be two types of people in this world in terms of opinions on Crossfit, the cult-like followers and the people who find every chance to bash it. I would have to say that I am more towards the side of the people who bash it. In this post I will try to take both sides of the spectrum and show explain what I like about Crossfit and what I do not like about Crossfit.
Let’s start with the good of Crossfit. I must say that Crossfit has helped start a return back to the nitty gritty of weight lifting. People are beginning to move away from the Smith Machines and are using power racks for what they were initially intended for, Squatting. They have brought about a resurgence in the barbell, as well as making Kettlebell usage more mainstream. If you have never been to a “Box”, as the CF’ers love to call their gyms which are basically garages, you will see people power cleaning, snatching, deadlifting, and squatting. All exercises that are used to build real strength and power. CF also implements farmers walk, pull-ups and other everyday functional activites. About 7 months ago, I used a groupon that my pregnant wife had bought for herself that allowed for 10 workouts at a local Crossfit gym. I figured I didn’t think she should be doing these workouts so why not try it out. The part that I think gets people sucked into Crossfit is the atmosphere. It was high energy and high intensity. Most of the workouts are in a “class” format so you are sweating and working elbow to elbow with another person. You are pushing each other and inside pushing to be the first to finish (at least the competitor inside myself wanted to finish first). Now on to the problems I see as a medical professional and strength and conditioning specialist.
Now I could go on for days on why I am not a fan of Crossfit, but I will only discuss my top 2 issues with this fitness trend. My first and number one problem with Crossfit is that many of their “benchmark” workouts involve Olympic Lifts (power cleans, Snatches, and clean and jerks) for high repetitions. High reps has a time and place in fitness, but that place is not with Olympic Lifts. Olympic lifting takes a high level of skill and coordination and as the body and nervous system fatigues, that coordination needed decreases which can lead to an improper lift and then a higher risk of injury. My second biggest issue with Crossfit is the coaches. Now I am not saying all Crossfit coaches are bad coaches. A percentage of the coaches are former strength coaches or fitness professionals who have trained athletes or clients at high levels. But for every good coach, there are probably 2 or 3 bad coaches who paid the obscene fee that Crossfit charges(I won’t go into the money part of Crossfit) to become a Crossfit coach. Many of these “coaches” have just attended the 1 or 2 day class to become certified in Crossfit and that is the only training they have received. If I am going to pay someone to train me, I would like for them to have been trained or certified by a nationally recognized organization with strict, rigorous testing and continuous education required.
Again I see both sides of the spectrum in terms of good and bad for Crossfit. I enjoyed my times that I spent in a Crossfit gym, but as a medical professional and strength and conditioning specialist, I think there are safer and more effective ways to become fit.
Please feel free to share your thoughts; good, bad, or indifferent!