My Thoughts on CrossFit

Crossfit continues to gain massive popularity throughout the world. It is a training system where you utilize a lot of different techniques to try and form the ultimate body. Strength, flexibility, endurance, speed and athleticism. While I absolutely love the idea of CrossfFit, a lot of the gyms are run very poorly. Causing tons of injuries amongst members.

CrossFit has gained a cult like following. If you know anyone that does CrossFit I am sure they have talked your ear off about it.

The best thing about these workouts is the group setting. Everyone at the gym (or in this case the box) is performing the same workout pushing each other. Training with partners or in a group setting has been proven to motivate you and help get you to the next level.

Let’s get into some reasons why I am not too fond of a lot of CrossFit gyms.

Reason #1: No Structure

The workouts are often times just random exercises thrown together with no rhyme or reason. I noticed that oftentimes they will just create the workout with the intention of making people sweat and work hard. They don’t care about form or why they are doing these exercises. If you are huffing and puffing you must have had a good effective workout right?

People typically will not write down weight used for exercises either, since it is so random. You will find yourself guessing what weight to use every workout because they vary so much. One day you might do an overhead squat and not do that exercise for another month. Who knows!

There are experienced and smart athletes that will write down everything. They also have a good idea of what they can lift and what they are capable of. But for the average person looking to get fit, they will really have no idea.

Going off these points, there is no progressive overload. With a “normal” program you can say “Okay last week it looks like I DB pressed the 60’s for 5 sets of 5 reps. This week I am going to try and do the same weight for 5 sets of 6 reps” Progressing at a steady rate. With CrossFit you really have no idea.

Reason #2: Injuries

CrossFit gyms are notorious for injuries. My wife is a physical therapist and I can’t count the amount of CrossFit athletes that come through their doors. PT’s will actually actively target CrossFit gyms to make connections with them. This way when their athletes get injured (which they almost always do) the box will recommend them for physical therapy.

I have first hand seen CrossFit workouts that blew my mind. One place in particular had 4 heavy shoulder workouts in the same week. Again, just random exercises thrown about. Guess what? I know personally 2 women who had to get shoulder surgery and others that get cortisone shots to help alleviate the pain. The worst part? They go right back to CrossFit doing the same exact thing!

Reason #3: Exercise Selection

There are certain exercises, in my opinion, that the general public should not be doing. The biggest ones would be olympic lifts.

Why are you going to have a 45 year old soccer mom performing a snatch or a clean and jerk given the complexity of the movement? People hire coaches to literally analyze every part of those types of lifts and make suggestions/criticisms. They are extremely technical and can cause injury if performed incorrectly.

Oh but wait, CrossFit makes these even worse! They will throw olympic lifts in with a normal workout when you are already exhausted. Something like

  • 10 pull ups
  • 10 snatches
  • 20 burpees

Repeat 5 times.

So not only is it a super technical lift but now you are exhausted. Your form will be terrible and you are bound to hurt yourself. Olympic lifts should be performed at a lower rep range, not for high reps.

Another thing I hate is kipping pull ups. These will absolutely wreck your shoulders. You also look like a fish out of water.

I will throw one more in there, high rep deadlifts. It blows my mind when I see high rep deadlifts thrown into a routine. Or heavy deadlifts in one of their circuits where you are exhausted and end up breaking form.

I can probably go on and on but those are just a couple examples.

Reason #4: Lack of Individual Supervision

Depending how busy your box is, you may only have 1 coach monitoring 5-15 people. There is no way they can watch everyone’s form and make sure people are doing things correctly. Oftentimes they will just walk around saying encouraging things and slight comments here and there. This will go back to my point on super technical lifts. If the coach is not watching you and you are not experienced, there is a great chance you will hurt yourself.

Is It All bad?

I’m sure it looked like I completely bashed CrossFit but those are some things you need to be aware of. With all that said, there are some really great CrossFit gym run by great coaches. The best boxes seem to be when a strength and conditioning coach or an experienced trainer who opens a CrossFit gym more for the name recognition but runs workouts  differently than most. They will of course add in elements of CrossFit like the group run workouts, mixing up body weight training, weights, cardio etc… But it will be more structured.

As I stated before, I love the idea of CrossFit and I implement a lot of those ideals in my own training as well as my clients. However, just be careful if you decide to sign up and keep those things in mind that I mentioned above.

On a side note, there are some really good CrossFit documentaries on Netflix talking about the games. If you are into fitness it will be a good watch! The competitors are absolute beasts.