My Beef with Crossfit

Posted: February 27, 2012 in Uncategorized
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Crossfit is becoming more and more popular in this country. It is becoming a household brand name. As an affiliate owner this should make me happy. I have got more clients in the beginning of 2012 then ever before. The problem is I care about the product I put out there and I get grouped with every other Crossfit gym in the nation.

The first problem I have with Crossfit is the education of gym owners and trainers. There is no way in 16 hours that you can learn enough about anatomy, physilogy, endocrinology, biomechanics, etc to program workouts and teach proper movement patterns to clients. After 6 years of schooling I still feel there is a lot more I need to learn. Without a proper understanding of how the body moves and adapts how can you program a workout for clients to move better and make positive changes? To prove my point, the Olympic lifts are movements that are used to teach triple extension techniques to athletes. This is extension through the hips, knees, and ankles. The Crossfit gyms that I have seen and been to have very little triple extension going on. This is due to the lack of education in the trainers attempting to teach the movement as well as the lack of periodization in workouts to improve upon this movement.

Also, the weight being standard for everyone as well as the workouts being timed have causative factors for this as well. A 230lb male can lift 135lbs much more easily then I can at 165lbs. Proper form is not needed for the 230lb male to lift that weight and when workouts are done for time he will typically rush through it and not get out of the lift what he should be getting out of it. Olympic lifts should be done with heavy weight and proper rest in between each set to get out of them what they are used for. Rushing through lifts is never safe and the risk of injury is also increased.

Any good program design should begin with correcting improper movement patterns. Without them people will discontinue making progress and the results of injuries increase. Making sure people move properly allows the lifts and other exercises to be executed properly and the athlete to get out of those movements what they should be getting out of them. An example would be having a client with limited dorsiflexion trying to do “Fran” 21-15-9 95lb thrusters and pull-ups. This person’s inability to move at the ankle makes good squat form nearly impossible. In this workout he will rush through a total of 45 bad repetitions. This provokes even more poor movement and eventually it will lead to injury. With that same workout let us look at an elite athlete with an extensive training background. How is lifting 95lbs when he squats 350lbs going to make him a bigger, stronger, and faster? There is no logic to that.

People argue they see such great results when starting Crossfit. That is totally awesome and I mean it. The problem is these results do not last over the long-term. Eventually people plateau and due to the ridiculous amounts of volume become overworked and injuries are right around the corner. Exercise is a stressor and too much of it will increase cortisol and make it very difficult to lose weight and feel good.

To summarize, Crossfit brags about creating elite athletes. The majority of Crossfit “athletes” I see move improperly, injury prone, and overtrained. Runs are run slower, weights are not maxed out, jumps are not executed for max heights, how can this make you run faster, be stronger, and jump higher when you are constantly doing those movements are slower then competition speed? Even if you don’t have to jump from day to day, challenging yourself with it is a way to teach triple extension without the dangers of loading a barbell on our body. Periodization that teaches proper movement first then builds upon that yields the best results with the smallest chance of injury.

  1. CultFit says:

    Nice honest post and well written. Others will take exception and pick it apart for one reason or another, oh well good for them. Your opinion is refreshing to say the least and not heard enough in the gym.

  2. Thanks for your comment, it is appreciated. The focus needs to be placed back on the client and what will make him or her healthier in the long term.

  3. Kristie Raymond says:

    It is very helpful to have someone like you post your honest opinion. Since I’ve been telling people I train “within” the Crossfit program – I have received all sorts of comments about this “elite” type of training. My comments in return echo what you have written above. To me, crossfit is the “platform” that you’ve used to develop your program AND then incorporate your years of education and exhausting research to create the program that has shown me (and I’m sure others) impressive results. I’m certain I will hit plateaus as I continue with my nutrition and “training” goals – but I know that YOUR commitment to me and our group will help all of us achieve the personal goals we have set for ourselves.

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