Is Crossfit Right For You?

Crossfit has become an extremely popular way to train for many people. This high intensity mix of cardio, plyometrics and weight training seems to have an addictive quality to it that creates passionate devotees who thrive on the challenge of each Workout of the Day (WOD).

One the other hand, there seems to be an equally large number of people who are anti Crossfit. They claim that it is a dangerous, ill-conceived way of training that will lead you to injury.

So, where does the truth lie?

Is Crossfit right for you or should you avoid it at all costs?

Let’s consider the Pros and Cons.

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Crossfit Pros

Challenge Based Training

Crossfit does a great job of keeping you motivated. When you train at a Crossfit facility, you will get a workout of the day presented to you each time you train. This presents you with a daily goal to achieve. This is based on a rep or time challenge. Being provided with a target or a specific goal will push you to achieve to your ultimate potential.

Metabolic Conditioning

Crossfit takes anaerobic strength training activities and puts them into a structure that produces a very effective metabolic conditioning effect. This raises your heart to achieve a cardiovascular conditioning effect as well as helping you to burn off maximum calories. Crossfit does this far more effectively than steady state cardio exercise.

Team / Community Building

Teamwork is a great motivator when it comes to working out. Crossfit does a great job pf building a community and a sense of camaraderie among their followers. When you are a part of a tightknit team, you will find that you’re able to achieve things that you may have never thought possible.

Crossfit is a great form of exercise for team training. It delivers an exciting, pumping atmosphere that pushes people to do their best.

Holistic Approach

One of the great things about the majority of Crossfit boxes is that they provide more than just workouts of the day for their members. They also provide members with nutritional guidelines. The system also offers a number of diet regimens.

Crossfit Cons

Low Entry Barrier for Coaches

Anybody can go and open a Crossfit Box (that’s what they call their gym), so long s they’ve done a certification (which they can get over a weekend). The commercialization and the monetization of Crossfit has, as a result, seen a saturation of centers open up with bad coaches. This results in bad programming, which then leads to client injury.

Of course, there are some fantastic Crossfit coaches out there. But you shouldn’t just take it for granted that because a person runs a Crossfit box, they have the skills needed to effectively train you. Do your homework and check their qualifications.

Technical Exercises

There are some exercises that are technically demanding in the gym. These are the Olympic lifts such as:

  •   Overhead Snatch
  •   Clean and Jerk
  •   Clean and Press

Crossfit includes a lot of these Crossfit moves and does them for high reps. Even though the load is significantly reduced than what you would use if you were trying to perform an Olympic light traditionally, improper sequencing can make these exercises dangerous.

An example of improper sequencing would be to follow an extremely taxing exercise like a deadlift with the equally taxing clean and press. When you are doing high reps, as you do in a Crossfit workout, it is easy for technical exercises to break down, even for people with a lot of experience in doing them. The breakdown usually happens through the kinetic chain which run down the back of your body.

When you follow up an exercise that can compromise your kinetic chain with one that demands explosive action, such as the clean and press, fatigue and form breakdown is going to set in. This causes the injury risk to go up.

No Defied Training Purpose

Because the workouts that you do in Crossfit are so random, this form of exercise allows you to get in a workout that challenges you, burns calories and makes you feel good. However, when you have a specific goal from working out such as getting down to  certain body-fat percentage or building a certain amount of muscle, there are better ways to do it.

When you are training for a specific goal, you start with an assessment of where you are at. You then set your target, whether it is to be at a certain body-fat percentage or to gain so many pounds of muscle. You then establish milestones along the way. From then on, every workout is geared toward progressively moving you toward your goal. Your workouts will be designed in a safe, productive manner that is specific to that goal.

In this regard, Crossfit misses the mark. The workouts are too generic, not being targeted to a person’s specific training goals.

So, Should You Do It?

Crossfit is an effective form of exercise. It provides you with the challenge, excitement and intensity that can spice up your training. That makes it a great way to mix things up and add. interest to your workouts.

However, in terms of a long term training protocol that is designed to achieve a specific goal, there are better options. A regular gym workout program that has been designed by a fitness professional will serve you better. If you want to get in a great workout at home that burns just as many calories as Crossfit, you can’t do better than a heart pumping jump rope session. With a jump rope, you can practice double unders at home to skyrocket your metabolism. But, throwing in a Crossfit type workout every now and then is a great way to ramp up your excitement and keep you hungry.

On the other hand, if you’re the type of person who is looking more for a form of exercise sport than a training program, Crossfit could just be ideal fit for you. If you’re wanting to get into Crossfit, there are some provisos you need to be aware of:

Perfect Your Form

CrossFit is all about getting the max number of reps in the shortest amount of time. That has led many people on a fast track to the physio. It not about how many reps you can get. It’s about how many quality reps you can get.

Before you can go for speed, you need to perfect your form. Whether it’s the squat, the deadlift or the snatch, take a month to learn how to do the move properly with a relatively light weight until you have trained the proprioceptors in your muscle cells to the proper groove and alignment for that exercise.

In other words, learn to walk, before you can run!

Don’t Try to Prove Yourself

Sure competition is healthy. It’s also the lifeblood of physical progress. But there’s a line between healthy competition and trying to prove that you’re the biggest badass who ever stepped foot inside a Box.

Often times guys walk into the gym after a layoff and, in some kind of attempt to reclaim their territorial dominance, throw themselves into a workout that their body just isn’t prepared for. This can and has led to a life threatening condition called rhabdomyolisis, which involves muscle fiber breaking down and being released into the kidneys.

The lesson – don’t try to be a hero!

Build Up Progressively

When you first turn up at a Box and witness the adrenaline pumping intensity that’s going on around you, your natural inclination is to jump in at the level of those around you. But,  that’s the last thing you should do.

Any type of exercise needs to be progressive, and that includes CrossFit. So, start with a program that will challenge you at your level. You need to push yourself within your own ability level, not someone else’s.

Stop When It Feel Wrong

We’ve all heard the ‘No Pain, No Gain’ mantra. But there’s a difference between training induced muscular fatigue type pain and injury related pain. The build-up of lactic acid and the muscle swelling that comes with enhanced blood flow is one thing. But a sprain or a tear is something else entirely.

When you notice something is not right, stop your workout. That’s not easy. Your mind tells you that you can’t quit. But you simply have to force common sense to override emotion. If you keep going you could be out for months – and that will make you miserable!

Ask For Help

If you are unsure of how to do a move, if your form is incorrect, or if you know that you just can’t do what’s been demanded of you, speak up. If you just grin and bear it, you are likely to end up in trouble. There are plenty of people in your Box who are eager to assist you. They won’t think any less of you for seeking their advice. In fact, they’ll probably relish the opportunity to be of assistance.

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