Crossfit is taking over the world… well, the fitness world, at least.
And for two good reasons:
- It has a strong group of hardcore followers that spread the word like fucking disciples, and wear all crossfit branded clothes to the gym
- It’s marketed extremely well, between individual crossfit branded gyms (errr “boxes”) trying to attract members and big companies like ESPN pushing the crossfit games on TV
There’s simply an intense aura that exists around the world of crossfit. It just seems “cool”.
I have to be honest with you up front – I have limited experience actually doing crossfit myself. While I love competition and the “team” environment that crossfit embodies, I simply prefer to train alone when it comes to strength and conditioning.
I still train in groups when it comes to martial arts and I still love to compete in basketball leagues. I just prefer being alone in the gym. But that’s NOT why I’m writing this article.
I don’t hate crossfit.
So what makes me qualified to write about crossfit? Well, I do have some experience doing it, for one. And I have many close friends and I know many quality personal trainers that swear by it. So while it’s not my weapon of choice, I do have a well-rounded understanding of it.
I’m writing this article to inform you why crossfit probably isn’t right for you. That’s not to say it’s not right for everyone. But I do believe that it’s not a good fit for the majority of the population. Here’s why…
1. You have specific fitness goals
Taken directly from crossfit.com:
Our program delivers a fitness that is, by design, broad, general, and inclusive. Our specialty is not specializing.
I’m not condemning this approach. But it’s important to realize that if you do have a specific goal – you’re trying to build optimal muscle, there’s a sport you’re training for, you have a particular strength goal, you’re training for a marathon, etc. – then you’re better off doing training geared towards your goal.
Here’s an example of a crossfit workout to illustrate this point:
- 35 kettlebell swings
- 30 push-ups
- 25 pull-ups
- 20 box jumps
- 1-mile run
- 5 times through
Is that a grueling workout? Hell yes. And while I do appreciate that it’s a full-body workout – is it the quickest way to build muscle? Hell no – in fact that’s sure to work against your muscle building goals (assuming you already have a solid amount of muscle on your frame). Is it the fastest way to dunk a basketball? Nope. Is it the best way to prep for a marathon. No sir.
2. You have postural issues
Crossfit is high intensity by definition. You’re meant to push your body to the absolute limits.
And if that’s what you’re looking for, that’s cool. But it’s important to recognize that this will actually be quite bad for some people.
If you have issues with hip mobility, shoulder tightness, or other muscle imbalances that need to be corrected then you definitely should not participate in crossfit until you’ve addressed these issues.
Crossfit is not corrective exercise. And I can tell you from my experience as a personal trainer that the majority of the population has developed poor posture. It’s rare I take on a new client that doesn’t need a heavy dose of corrective exercise before they can move correctly enough to even consider doing the type of workouts that are commonplace in crossfit.
3. You don’t have much experience doing compound barbell exercises
Crossfit incorporates a lot of barbell movements – from squats and overhead presses to more complicated olympics lifts like cleans and snatches.
And while these are awesome movements – I wouldn’t advise getting started until you can do the basics with good form. To name a few:
If you have a good crossfit coach, he should be able to build upon proficiency in these lifts and teach you the more complicated olympic lifts mentioned above. But it’s well worth it to take the time to learn the basic barbell movements – and correct any issues you have that may prevent you from doing those – before getting into crossfit.
4. You haven’t fully recovered from an injury
I list this for the same exact reasons as number 2 above. Crossfit isn’t corrective exercise and it’s DEFINITELY not physical therapy.
If you have lower back pain, for example, grinding it out at a crossfit box will likely only make your pain worse.
5. You don’t have access to a solid crossfit gym
The same way that there’s a lot of bad personal trainers out there, there’s a lot of bad crossfit gyms and coaches out there, too.
The thing is – crossfit is so intense that going at it without a lot of experience and without a good coach is a recipe for disaster.
This is why you hear so many horror stories about horrific injuries in crossfit. When you go as hard as you do in crossfit without proper form, you’re asking for a herniated disk, torn pec, wrecked achilles, or something else.
And even when you have a good coach, the fact is that there’s usually more people working out than coaches and this is another reason I cannot stress developing competency in the basic movements before getting started with crossfit.
So who SHOULD do crossfit?
So while I just tore crossfit a new asshole, it’s really not all that bad.
In fact I think it can be an awesome option for the right person. How would I describe this person? As follows:
- In at least decent shape
- Looking for a new competitive hobby
- Not competing seriously in any other sport
- Not trying to build optimal muscle
- Competent in the basic barbell movements mentioned above
- Free from injury or any postural issues
If that’s you then I think crossfit would actually be a great thing to try out.
But I see a lot of soccer moms and terribly out of shape dudes putting their bodies at risk… and guys with serious muscle building goals often ask me if crossfit is right for them… and that’s why I wrote this article.