There’s no denying the impact that Crossfit has had. Few things have encouraged more people to build muscle and get in shape more than Crossfit.
However, Crossfit is not something that it ideal for the general population. Much like basketball or jiu jitsu, Crossfit is a sport and has specific demands that it requires of its athletes that doesn’t necessarily align with general fitness.
Gymnasts and Olympic weightlifters train for years to become great in their respective disciplines. The skills that are required for great performance in these sports are highly technical. Crossfit blends these and other disciplines which is fine, they can do whatever they want. But with how easy it is to open a Crossfit gym and all the newly minted gym owners wanting to pay the bills, they target the general population… the same people who if they are going to a gym they are pounding the treadmill.
So take someone who runs for 20 minutes 3-4 times per week as their training, and goes to a Crossfit intro class and where they are asked to perform complex movements that they might have never done before and doing them to exhaustion. Not only are they not accustomed to that movement but they are cheered on until they are exhausted. This is a recipe for disaster and is why Crossift has become known for causing injuries.
If your coach or trainer is constantly pushing you to failure and exhaustion, in the effort to make you “feel it” the next morning, I’d recommend you find a better trainer. Once form begins to break down in any movement and there’s any kind of deviation in how the movement should be performed, the risk of injury skyrockets.
“I get it, Crossfit is not best for me, then what should I do instead?”
It seems like we all know someone who is a Crossfit diehard. They have used it to turn their life around, get in shape, etc. Some activity is better than no activity. If the Crossfit formula of community and intensity works for you and gets you to the gym day in and day out, it is a million times better than not doing anything for your health and fitness. That being said, there is a better, safer, more sustainable way.
To understand how to be smarter about your training it’s important to talk about volume, intensity and frequency. These are the 3 parts of the training triangle you can manipulate each to achieve a different adaptation. The best training plans will adjust each of these levers every 6 weeks or so. Crossfit has intensity dialed to 11. Volume and frequency are both at around a 5. Aside from the fact that they do complex movements at high intensity which dramatically increases the risk of injury, they don’t really change the dials of volume, intensity, and frequency. So people get good at and adapt to that style of training so it becomes less and less effective over time.
When this happens, instead of adjusting how they train to seek a different adaptation, they just go harder. Which is hard on the body and a silly waste of energy. Why work harder when you can just change how you train and with the same effort (or even less) get the results you want?
Your body is the ultimate adaptation machine. After 6 weeks or so it adapts to the demands you have been placing on it and results decline. Change the stimulus you apply (adjust the dials) and apply a new stimulus and your body will need to adapt to something different which will give you better results for another 6 weeks.
Train, don’t just exercise. Be smart about how you train. You’ll be surprised what results you’ll get with some planning and consistency.