Tuesday, December 11, 2007

CrossFit: A Total Sham or The Second Coming?

A reader named tommythecat (not--presumably--his real name) wrote to me recently and asked me to do a post on CrossFit, a popular training system whose devotees and detractors lock horns on chat rooms with alarming frequency and leave the rest of us wondering what the big deal is.

Taking away all the hoopla--and there's plenty of that, believe me--CrossFit offers brief, intense workouts that combine a heart-pumping cardiovascular challenge with basic, old-fashioned strength moves, creating a full-body workout challenge in less than half an hour. There are CrossFit Facilities, CrossFit Websites, CrossFit Mixers, CrossFit Tote Bags, CrossFit Pregnancy Tests...the whole ball of wax, all designed to create and maintain the sprawling CrossFit Community, a large percentage of whom post the particulars of their Herculean accomplishments on the site as an across-the-board challenge to other members. So if you live in Homer, Alaska, you can check the site and see that FitYoda123 in Valpariso did the "Fran" workout (all the workouts are named for the person who first did them) in 15:45 and you can try to beat his time.

CrossFit first came onto my radar about a year ago. I read a bunch of their material and did a couple of their workouts, and overall I have to say that the workouts are pretty tough. They consist mostly of anaerobic exercises, often done in a circuit, usually for time or maximum repetitions, making them short and very intense: the idea is you are working at or near your maximum capacity for the entire workout.

For some samples of CrossFit-style workouts, I pulled up their site and saw that the last week of workouts looked like this:

TUESDAY 12/4
Front Squats, 5 sets of 5

WEDNESDAY 12/5
Rest

THURSDAY 12/6
5 Rounds for time:
400 m run
75 lbs. Sumo Deadlift/High Pull, 21 reps
75 lbs. Thruster, 21 reps

FRIDAY 12/7
5 rounds, maximum reps:
Body-Weight Bench Press
Pull Ups

SATURDAY 12/8
Deadlift 5 sets of 3

SUNDAY 12/9
Off

MONDAY 12/10
Push Jerk 7 sets of 3

TUESDAY 12/11
For time:
100 Pullups
100 Pushups
100 Situps
100 Squats

The idea of blending cardio and strength training is something I've discussed before (here and here if you're interested), and, for time economy, general health and fitness, fat-loss, and sheer, gut-wrenching toughness, it's hard to beat this particular way of structuring a workout. For most of us, this kind of anaerobic workout is the hardest physical challenge we're likely to encounter in everyday life: if you ever have to run to catch a bus, or scamper up a few flights of stairs, or help your cousin Jed unload the bricks for his new patio from his F-250, this kind of anaerobic conditioning will help you prep for it. And since basketball, touch football, raquetball, and tennis are anaerobic in nature, a CrossFit athlete is unlikely to find himself sucking wind on a rec field either.

Looking at the above week of workouts, I see that there's a pretty good balance between workouts that focus on the upper body (Friday and Monday), the lower body (Tuesday, 12/4 and Saturday), and something in between (Thursday and Tuesday, 12/11). You've got some heavy strenth work (Tuesday 12/4, Saturday, and Monday) as well as some hardcore anaerobic challenges (Thursday and Tuesday, 12/11). I don't know if it always shakes out like that, but it appears that some thought has been given to the structure of the entire week. So looking at their workouts, I'd wager (though I can't really say for sure, never having gone to their classes or seriously studied the performance of their athletes) CrossFit will produce an excellent athletic generalist, which is all most of us will ever aspire to be.

Add to all this an emphasis on competition--both against one's own personal best in a given workout and against the other CrossFitters worldwide--plus the supportive online community (real or virtual), and you've got yourself what adds up to a pretty cool little workout trend.

So in my book, the CrossFit system has a lot to recommend it.

The weaknesses in this program--yes, CrossFit has weaknesses, just as any program does--and, most likely, what chafes certain elements of the fitness population about these workouts--is their lack of specificity and progression.

Specificity is also something I've gone over before. The idea behind the principle of specificity is that the body makes adaptations based very precisely on the demands you place upon it: you won't become a significantly better runner by swimming; you won't bench-press much more by playing tennis. Sure, there may be some microscopic change, but it's not going to be a significant, performance-enhancing, wow-I-won-my-club's-golf-trophy change. If you want to get better at something, you've got to work at that thing, not its second cousin, not its next-door neighbor, but the thing itself.

So if you work at doing CrossFit, you're going to get better at...CrossFit. You aren't going to get much stronger at the bench-press; you aren't going to get much faster on the track; you aren't going to deadlift 500 pounds, you're not going to improve your forehand. Sure, if you're so out of shape you can't lift a pencil and you suddenly get a hankering to take up CrossFit, you'll certainly see some changes in performance in many skills. But you could get that effect if you started any kind of fitness program, and these improvements will plateau fairly quickly.

Even though your athletic abilities may very well see some initial improvements on many fronts, CrossFit will never make you a master Olympic lifter, or carve you an astonishingly aesthetic physique, or make you a master sprinter (unless, of course, you have exceptional genetics for any one of those things before you started, at which point--yes--any coach in the world would tell you to jettison all the other irrelevent activities that CrossFit entails and focus on your sport of choice in order to excel further). You simply won't develop exceptional abilities in any athletic endeavor unless you focus specifically on getting better at those things.

Which leads me to my "no progression" complaint. Say you're really into the whole CrossFit thing, and you really want to be able to post some impressive numbers on the site and maybe earn yourself an approving PM from CrossFitChick75. But let's say you're terrible at sprinting. Unless you figure out a way to do some carefully-worked-out sprint progressions in addition to what's posted on the site, you're out of luck, there, Freckles, because sprinting once a week isn't going to make you faster or better or much-of-anything-'er' except exhausteder and frustrateder.

And if you're terrible at, say, deadlifting, you're going to stay terrible at it because before last Saturday, the last time you deadlifted was November 28th, and that was just to test your one-rep max, which I'm here to tell you may be good for the ego but it's not much of a workout. Referring back to the week of workouts, none of the programs listed have been in the rotation for at least a month, and a couple haven't been visited since June, meaning that any specific benefits you got out of the workout a month ago will have evaporated.

So CrossFit isn't the place to turn if you're looking for a systematic way to improve any single aspect of your fitness, be it aerobic conditioning, sports skills, or maximum speed, power, and strength. There are certainly more efficient ways to improve body composition as well.

But the simple fact is that the vast majority of us don't want or need to have superior aerobic conditioning, significant amounts of hypertrophy, or superior absolute strength or power. At our most physically stressed moments in life, and during intense sport play, we need a kind of middle-ground ability to express fairly high strength at fairly high speed, which, again, is exactly the kind of sweet spot that CrossFit-style workouts develop. I suspect that a CrossFit devotee would argue that the weaknesses I cite above are actually strengths: that all-around, general fitness is in fact the goal, that avoiding what they might call excessive focus on one activity is precisely the point, and that their system fosters readiness for any kind of physical challenge.

So: who out there has tried it, and what do you guys think? CrossFit lovers and haters alike, I'm open to your comments.

41 comments:

Nicholas Cummings said...

You miss the ball with your comments regarding, "Lack of specificity and progression." Your examples to support this hypothesis are irrelevant. Doing CrossFit correctly should give you a stronger bench press, make you faster on the track, and improve your deadlift. Would you like to know why? The first reason is because CrossFit emphasizes increasing work capacity in the three metabolic pathways. Ask any powerlifter like Dave Tate or Louie Simmons if work capacity has any use. The second reason you will get better in the three mentioned fields is because CrossFit involves training in those three specific endeavors. If you are serious about your review I challenge you to join my workout log and post your times and experiences with the next month of workouts posted on CrossFit's mainpage. http://www.board.crossfit.com/showthread.php?t=24759

Anonymous said...

Andrew,
I haven’t been a CrossFitter for that long (@ 16 months), but I have been in the fitness environment for more than a decade. I was introduced to CrossFit through work (SME for the Marine Corps) and I approached it slowly and with many doubts. What I can say with great surety now is that your last paragraph hits it very well. The things that you list as weaknesses, in my mind, are actually strengths. For my environment, I need to teach people to be ready for the unknown and unknowable (Coach Glassman’s verbiage). The one thing that may not be apparent from the website is that after you develop a base of that “sweet spot” fitness, you find that you actually have the energy and time to spend on individual weaknesses, either in your warm up, or as a follow on workout. I usually cycle my “extra” work, spending 6-8 weeks on running/sprint training, Olympic lifts, powerlifting, and gymnastics – all the while maintaining that general type of adaptation that CrossFit provides. I’m a married father of 2 young boys (both of whom do modified crossfit workouts for fun) whose job requires not only the generalized fitness that CrossFit provides, but also the ability to translate and teach exactly that. So it works for me. It’s not for everyone, though (although it could be – really).

Josh Lundgaard, MS ATC CSCS PES

David said...

Andrew,

I have to agree with what Josh said. The things you said are weaknesses are really its strengths. I'm a student at RMC (it's like Canada's version of West Point, except tri-service), training to be an officer in the air force while studying to get a degree in computer engineering. I don't have much free time.
CrossFit works great for me because it gives me that 'sweet spot' of fitness you talked about, usually in less than half hour workouts.
Not to mention, it highlights exactly where my weaknesses are. Part of the thinking behind CrossFit is that the posted workouts aren't the only thing to do - you should also pick up a sport, try new things, and work on your weaknesses.
I believe it's a Robert Heinlein quote that ends with "... specialization is for insects".

Tony said...

Andrew:

Whatevcr you think of CrossFit, its impact is certainly greater than merely being "a pretty cool little workout trend."

Check out the Wikipedia article at
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crossfit

and follow the links to the references and sources.

Mitch said...

Well Andrew as a non-CrossFitter you have made a pretty good evaluation of what it is and what it does. CrossFit is very specific about being non-specific. They use the concept of the "hopper" meaning that you could put a huge number of varied physical tasks into a big basket and draw out anything. A skilled CrossFitter in a group of athletes from many different specialties would most likely win the day unless "deadlift" was pulled out and he had to go up against a powerlifter.

As for me, I have been CrossFitting for 5 months and came from a weightlifting/running/cycling background. Your "no progression" argument, for me, does not hold water. I run very infrequently now, but have knocked 4 minutes off my 5K. I hadn't run a 10K in nearly 20 years, but one of those popped up not long ago and I knocked it out with little drama. My tennis game is MUCH better, but it's not so much an improvement in my forehand than it is the tremendous core strength I've gained along with the quickness and stamina improvements. My weightlifting has improved dramatically and my "CrossFit Total (Back Squat Max + Shoulder Press Max + Deadlift Max" went from 655 to 700 to 755 pounds in just a few months.

All in all I am most impressed with CrossFit. It is the most effective thing I've done for physical fitness ever.

Anonymous said...

Another CFer chiming in (you got linked over at the forums, as a warning):

1. Pretty good analysis
2. "Progression" is tied into the scoring system of the workouts. There is no individualized programming, unless you modify the WoDs for your own goals, but you progress by hitting the same workouts with higher intensity. You deadlift more than last time. You do Fran with a faster time. Everything is measurable so you can monitor your own performance and keep ratcheting it up. You don't do the same workout in subsequent weeks but the fitness gains are present and cross over to whatever you are doing. Our "specificity" is as broad as possible; we're less interested in improving our Fran than we are in using Fran to improve everything else (and vice versa).
3. You will not beat a specialist in his field, which is -- as has been mentioned -- not the point. (There are, of course, many CFers who specialize in a sport IN ADDITION to doing CF, but you're right in that they are usually not Olympic caliber.) You will also not progress in any sector as fast as you would with a dedicated program, which seems like a no-brainer. But it's exaggerated and wrong to say that you won't progress in anything at all. Ask any CFer and he'll tell how much his squat or snatch has gone up in the past year, how much his pullup numbers have increased, his 5k time gone down, his rowing sped up, how he can now do muscle-ups and press to handstands, etc. etc. None of them will be as significant advances as you'd see in a dedicated powerlifter, weightlifter, gymnast, runner, etc. but you'd have a hard time finding a better way to improve ALL of them.

Glassman (CF founder) has a quote that goes something like -- "We do your stuff nearly as well, you can't do our stuff at all, and we blow you away at stuff neither of us does." Hyperbole and in many cases irrelevant to an athlete's goals. But OUR goal is general fitness so it's just great.

Another cute example from the same source: Put a thousand human movements in a lotto-style hopper and give it a spin. Contestants face off to perform whatever comes out. Lance Armstrong is going, "c'mon, long-distance cycling..." CrossFitter is going, "c'mon, anything else..."

Anonymous said...

I apologize, forgot my name. I posted the above.

- Brandon Oto

Anonymous said...

As said before- the strength of the program is not in specificity. Life punishes the specialist, CrossFit prepares you for anything and everything.

As an endurance athlete, you should give it a real try and check your performance. I ran the Marine Corp Marathon this fall training only (OK I did 4 runs of 10-12 miles in the three months leading up to it) and finished in 3:49. That was 10 minutes faster than my 2005 time when I trained like crazy for the marathon. I recovered better too, was back in the gym squatting on Tuesday. This April I am going to do a 1/2 IM Tri without training, just CrossFit. Last year my time in that race was 5:46, I can bet you I beat that time using CrossFit alone.

So you will get stronger, you will get more fit and you will become better at everything you do.

Oh and having a big bench press- who cares! If you are ever in the position in life where you are on your back with a heavy weight on your chest- sorry you're already screwed!

Steve

Jared said...

Your assessment that crossfit is general and will never put you in the elite category of any sport is absolutely correct. However, it will give the vast majority of us a solid foundation of fitness from which we can pursue a high bench press, good marathon time, tennis skills, whatever.

If you read enough material, you'll find that this exact point is stated expicitly on the website, and it is further noted that crossfitters are encouraged to pursue sports/activites/passions beyond crossfit for it's own sake, and are further encouraged to adapt their crossfit routines as required to pursue their passion.

Crossfit is a general theory of how to be fit, designed to be adaptable and flexable to any individual need. Crossfit is NOT the "workout of the day" day in and day out, with nothing else and to no other purpose than to do it again faster next time, although it is easy to see how that interperetation could be made.

Personally, I love it for precisely the reasons above... I can adapt it to whatever I want.

JoeyG said...

I have to say that CrossFit WILL carve you an astonishingly aesthetic physique.

Andrew said...

Uhm...did I mention that CrossFit has some pretty devoted adherents?? : )

Anonymous said...

"Andrew said...
Uhm...did I mention that CrossFit has some pretty devoted adherents?? : )"

Touché! ;-)

Anonymous said...

Andrew, my wife and I started doing CrossFit workouts about a year ago. We had to scale or adapt the workouts to what we were capable of or what equipment we had. We also cleaned up our diet like CrossFit recommends. We did extra work to help with our weaknesses, like pullups. As a result we have seen great gains in strength, general fitness, and endurance. My wife went from a size 12 to a size 6. I lost 30 pounds and went from 38 to 32 pants.

As far as specificity goes, we do martial arts, so we just go to class for that. However, Crossfit has helped with martial arts a great deal.

I think that CrossFit's support for military, fire, and police is great. It is much better than what we did when I was in the military.

It helps to personalize the workouts a bit to suit your needs or to address weaknesses. We have used info from "Starting Strength", "The New Rules of Lifting," and some other ebooks to flesh things out.

Give it try, you might like it.

JD

Andrew said...

Thanks to everyone who commented. I absolutely will check out a CrossFit facility and participate in a workout, in the near future, at which point I'll post again (assuming at least one of my arms is functional after the workout).

Anonymous said...

Andrew,
You also should make note that all of the posts here are polite and generally supportive and receptive of your skepticism, even though they all disagree with you.

That's a sign of confidence, bred from real-world results.

Anonymous said...

Andrew:

Thanks for your open-mindedness. But resistance is futile. You will be absorbed.

tommythecat said...

dear andrew,

thanks a lot for this analysis. so far, i did not try crossfit. i needed some kind of neutral perspective which you have given me. for me, overall fitness is important and that's why i will start with crossfit in the next couple of months. however, as crossfit recommends, i will do some more sport (swimming etc.) additionally.

please share your experiences regarding crossfit (in case you will go to one of the gyms) here, would be very much appreciated.

kr
tommy the cat

PS: even though i will start with crossfit, i will continue reading this great blog!

Lewis Dunn said...

Andrew, I've been regularly Crossfitting for 3 years now. I've read your entry a few times and I find almost nothing to disagree with. And as I look at many of the posted comments, I actually see mostly agreement (Brandon Oto's post was excellent). The CF community is incredibly defensive of ANYTHING that looks like criticism or anything short of wholehearted acceptance, so I'm not surprised to see some upset out there. But your last paragraph sums things up very well, I think: "all-around, general fitness is in fact the goal, that avoiding what they might call excessive focus on one activity is precisely the point, and that their system fosters readiness for any kind of physical challenge."

There are many Crossfitters who do, in fact, want to specialize to some degree (Oly lifting is a commonly seen focus). It's very easy to use CF as the core or framework of your exercise regimen and stack on whatever sport-specific training you feel you need. But any avid Crossfitter recognizes that you can't be the best you can be at any particular specialty while at the same time having all-around general fitness as a primary goal. More and more of the CF community is finding their own personal "sweet spot," their own balance between some area of specialization and perfectly-rounded fitness.

Excellent writing, Andrew. I'm glad the crosspost on the CF board turned me on to your blog.

Lewis Dunn

Andrew said...

...and the comments continue! Thanks to everyone who responded to my post. Fitness seems to promote a certain amount of clannishness (ie, "My system's GREAT and yours SUCKS!"), but, like my colleague Alwyn Cosgrove, I think we have way more in common than we pretend, the main thing being that we're oddly fascinated with the process of finding ever-more clever and creative ways to make ourselves stronger, faster, fitter, quicker, and--incidentally--dead-sexy looking.

Personally, though I go through periods of more or less extreme specialization (check out way-early blog entries for my account of prepping for my first triathlon a few years ago), I'm a generalist at heart...not necessarily by design but because I'm a scavenger by nature, and feel like if I'm in shape I should explore as much as possible while I'm still breathing and squiggling.

Anyway, I hope that any CrossFitters who visited because of my post will continue to visit when they feel so inclined and post as they see fit. Clearly, you're a passionate bunch and it's always great to hear the opinions of fellow fitness nerds (a term that I consider a high compliment).

El cobra said...

Andrew,
Thanks for such an open-minded assessment of crossfit. I absolutely agree with you on the lack of specificty in the workouts. I come from a strong strength background, and would not have scored nearly as well on the Workouts Of the Day if it weren't for that. As you've seen from the other comments, we do the WOD most of the time, but sometimes ignore it, and sometimes do the WOD plus whatever we feel are weaknesses. But what makes crossfit so effective is the INTENSITY of the workouts. one, or 6 months worth of WOD's may not make you great at a bench press. However, once you've done a months worth of crossfit WODs, you'll be used to working out at a level that very few people attain. After that, doing 1 or even 10 sets of a max bench press will seem easy.

Anthony said...

I don't have anything much of value to add, but I deadlift 535 for reps with a 1RM of 565 and I've been doing CrossFit for 2 years.

I just wanted to let you know since you said we'll never deadlift 500+.

So :P

Andrew said...

Impressive numbers there, Anthony...

My point--which may have needed some clarification--was that I thought it would be tough to work up to a 500 pound DL using the CrossFit "workout-of-the-day" system exclusively.

If you've pulled THAT off, good on ya--but among participants in a program that prides itself on its LACK of specialization, I imagine you're something of a rarity.

A

Andrew said...

Impressive numbers there, Anthony...

My point--which may have needed some clarification--was that I thought it would be tough to work up to a 500 pound DL using the CrossFit "workout-of-the-day" system exclusively.

If you've pulled THAT off, good on ya--but among participants in a program that prides itself on its LACK of specialization, I imagine you're something of a rarity.

A

Anonymous said...

You say:

"If you want to get better at something, you've got to work at that thing, not its second cousin, not its next-door neighbor, but the thing itself."

That seems to be the crux of your criticism of crossfit and it's simply an inccorrect statement. I went from a 600 lb deadlift to a 700 lb deadlift simply by doing 3/4 leg presses and heavy shrugs. I couldn't do deadlift because of a lumbar problem.

Andrew said...

SInce I don't know the details, it's hard to comment on your case in particular; the principle of specificity, however, is one of the more well-documented and scientifically supported theories in sports medicine.

ddelruss said...

Andrew,

Thanks for taking a look at CF. Any trainer who doesn't at least acknowledge the existence of CF is a little squirrly in my eyes - glad you took the time to compare it. And nice job, as a CFer I like to get the opinions of those who are not.

Two important factors in the success of CF adherents is the community and the clock. The website, and those of the affiliates, are very sticky - they keep you checking in with lots of new content. That stickiness makes it more likely that the practitioners won't miss workouts or will work to "catch up" if they do.

The clock (or other challenge element) increases the intensity. While runners and cyclists and swimmers are familiar with working against the clock, most people don't do dumbbell snatches or push-ups or air squats for time (or max rounds, etc). This element of intensity helps make the workouts interesting. Also, the feeling of achievement from breaking a record or recording a great time hits the reward centers of the brain (endorphin rush) which helps make training more addictive.

As a trainer I am sure you have seen that just getting people to "show up" is a big part of their success. CrossFit's community and challenge elements keep the practitioners showing up.

One other quick note - many affiliates use CF "style" workouts but do not follow the main site WOD. CF One World is a perfect example. In this CF is more a programming philosophy than a particular program of WODs.

Andrew said...

Great comment, ddelruss. Couldn't agree more about the importance of intensity in a workout, and the value of the stopwatch as a tool in helping generate it. Intensity is what's missing in 90% of the workouts you see people doing at the gym. Check out http://dynamicfitness.blogspot.com/2007/11/diseased-canine-training.html for a recent post on this subject.

Cheers
A

John Frazer said...

Andrew,

I think your assessment was very fair in general, but also want to disagree on progression.

As a relatively longtime Crossfit devotee (coming up fast on 5 years) I mostly followed the regular CF WODs for the first few years. My background was in not working out at all until my mid-20s, then just running and regular Men's Health type routines.

Although I was 36 at the time (and therefore my performance should have been declining in most respects), I posted rapid gains for the first few years. Often I was surprised to hit a "benchmark" WOD for the first time in several months and find I'd set a sudden massive PR. I run the Army Ten-Miler every year and have PR'ed by a couple minutes each year, with only the occasional long run (up to 7-8 miles) every few weeks leading up to it.

And the variety keeps you going in between. I haven't skipped more than a 2-week stretch in these 4 years.

Only after about 4 years did I reach any kind of plateau, and adding more barbell strength work (Mark Rippetoe's excellent book Starting Strength) has helped get past that so far.

As for specificity, my biggest complaint about the Crossfit "main site" WOD is that they leave any extra specific training entirely up to the athlete.

Other CF affiliate sites prescribe specific skills to work on or multi-part WODs.

For example, Catalyst Athletics typically starts with some Olympic lifting and other heavy barbell work, with a short blast of a circuit to finish you off. Crossfit Fairfax (Virginia) usually suggests some specific ab workout.

I find those approaches are better for making me do what I need to do, but won't make time for unless someone prescribes specifically.

The affiliates are also really, great, supportive communities that make you push yourself harder than you would on your own.

Will look forward to hearing about your experiences when you try it!

marsha said...

Just an Fyi! Crossfit type workouts are nothing new:) People have been doing those type of workouts forever! Plus look at glassman.. Why doesn't he look the part? I recall reading an interview and glassman stating tht he just doesn't have time to workout!What? no time? isn't that what crossfit mentality/philosophy is about? glassman did not discover anything new... he just put out there and people latched onto it. IF you research the methods you will find that these workouts come from a famous wrestler:) Im happy tht people are losing weight and are reinventing themselves.. but please get over it... Glassman did not discover anything that wasn't already there. I wanted to laugh when a crossfitter asked me if I had done a WOD.. im like umm yah.. ive doing this kind of stuff before Crossfit ever came out!

Anonymous said...

Andrew,

I have been doing CF for about a year, and recently one of my sergeants showed me a article which made me re-think my take on it.

http://www.t-nation.com/free_online_article/sports_body_training_performance_investigative/the_truth_about_crossfit

I also enjoy competing in triathlons and another army buddy introduced me to crossfitendurance. Which is a program that works with the main CF site for athletes who compete in in endurance sports. It bases its principles primarily on interval training to prepare for endurance races. You do the prescribed workout 3+ hours after the main site. I have been doing both for three months and have noticed I am taking longer to recover. Sometimes it will take me two days. After reading the above article it made me realize one of the big disadvantages of CF is being able to properly recover.

CF is based upon doing short intense workouts, utilizing the majority of your body's muscle groups. For example take "Murph" the WOD consists of 1 mile run 100 pull ups, 200 push ups, 300 squats, followed by another 1 mile run. This would take at least one day to recover from. But the very next day the WOD is split jerk 1x7. This exercise requires many of the same muscles are you used the day prior. I do not see how the body can recover to gain results.

The article goes into detail on many criticisms. I recommend all crossfiters read it. I still believe CF is a good program but it is always good to see the other side. I personally am going to modify both the CF and CF endurance to better suit my needs for triathlons.

Hope this adds some more topics for discussion.

Gage

Anonymous said...

Enough of a quote for me -

"I still think what originally got me banned, beyond the fact that I use a Darwinian (Maffetone's) definition of "fit," was my discovery that using these methods were:

1. hurting my athletes and
2. making them weaker."

Dan John

Anonymous said...

Crossfit is a funny thing. As a former Division I football player I can say these workouts rank up there with the good old gridiron days as far as intensity goes.

Crossfit is a cult just like the hardcore bodybuilder and powerlifting crews. The only difference is crossfit is the "new thing" these days. One of my buddies swears by it. He was pudgy before and now he's leaner so why wouldn't he? Another buddy (a triathlete) says it's "okay" and I agree.

My body was leaner and more muscular than any crossfitter in their gym. Do I want to look like them? Not really. I beat two previous "records" posted in their gyms both times I worked out there. Do these workouts help the average guy's confidence? Probably. I guess I don't consider myself average.

bostonhud said...

I've been doing Crossfit for about five months now- I'm no expert, but I will say this. For an overall level of fitness, Crossfit is amazing. However, the one thing I've seen Crossfit fail at is flexability. You are encouraged to stretch before the WOD, but thats about it. I know many Crossfitters that do yoga to compensate for this.

Anonymous said...

In my opinion, strength should be the foundation to any workout regime, whether it be CrossFit or military applications or sports or pretty much everything in life. Because the stronger you are the longer you will last at anything. Aerobic fitness is important but strength overrides this and should be considered the number one priority. If any of you have any questions regarding this matter, just go to www.crossfitwichitafalls.com and read what Justin Lasek posted and also Mark Rippetoe's book, "Starting Strength" is very thorough in it's explaination of what I am trying to say.

Anonymous said...

crossfit is awesome. If your goal is to get swole up, then don't do it. But if your goal is to get in great "atletitc shape" then do it. Either way, I trained the traditional bodybuilding style for 10 years and after 4 months had a 30 muscle up time of 6:30 and still a max deadlift of 500lbs. Also a Nancy of 14:38. Fran is only 5:08 but I'm working on it. Unless pure size and vanity is your objective, crossfit is the shiznit I promise!

Anonymous said...

"or carve you an astonishingly aesthetic physique"

Are you kidding? Have you seen what people look like who have been following crossfit for a while?

chazkez said...

i completely disagree with your section on getting better. as a crossfit athlete myself, i'm well on my way to a 500 lbs. deadlift. every day i get better. every day every one around me gets better. one rep maxes are designed to give a confidence boost and to show you how far you've come.

the great thing about crossfit is there is no plateau. every workout your strive to do better than the last time, which generally results in you improving, be that in how much you can lift, how fast you can sprint, or how far you can run. you only looked at a week of training. crossfit results compile over months and even years. it's all about you pushing yourself 110% all of the time.

the next time your review a fitness program, make sure you actually try it out first, look up more than a weeks worth of training, and get a word in from the people who actually do it.

Anonymous said...

I see many people who are posting about amazing results that they have gained from CF. They are posting mainly in how much they can lift. So what. You want to actually have functional fitness that can be utilised in the real world not in lifting a bar. The workouts are leading to a specific result and thats it.

If you gave them a functional fitness test you will find that they wouldn't be achieving that great of results. At university where I study we conducted research into the comparison between CF and a normal all over body training session and the results show that in a cross training test that CF displayed worse results.

Anonymous said...

Crossfit is a business franchise masquerading as a fitness program. What organisation what actually try and have a skipping cert?

500lb deadlifts? Thats impressive: please link to the sanctioned powerlifting meet you competed in so we can verify. And was that before or after crossfit realised their athletes were never hitting the "500-750lb deadlift in 2 years" claim and added in 531 and other strength protocols because they realised the "original training plan developed over years with hundreds of athletes" suddenly and (you'd think surprisingly) didn't actually work?

Googling images of couch glassman really highlights what crossfit can do for you. Just one question: Why is he fat and out of shape?

Why is it $1000 for a 2 day cert course that no one recognises... except crossfit?

Ques: how did civilisation spread? because people specialised in different roles; if we stayed "generalised" we'd all be hunter-gatheres living in caves and would have zero progress - no civilsation, no internet, no crossfit. So the whole idea that a generalist is better than a specialist is completely wrong (just do your research)

Oh and finally its not crossfit... its glorified circuit training. Its been around for decades and been proven to be less effective than other methods. Great if your a beginner or you need to train lots of people, but please don't think you are doing anything special when you combine a number of exercises together and give them a girls name.

Anonymous said...

http://slavenation.com/index.php/2009/07/23/cultfit/

Studies of religious, political, and other cults have identified a number of key steps in this type of coercive persuasion:

1.People are put in physically or emotionally distressing situations;

2.Their problems are reduced to one simple explanation, which is repeatedly emphasized;

3.They receive unconditional love, acceptance, and attention from a charismatic leader;

4.They get a new identity based on the group;

5.They are subject to entrapment (isolation from friends, relatives, and the mainstream culture) and their access to information is severely controlled.

CrossFit is a cult.

CultFitters are put in physically and emotionally distressing situations.

CultFitters fitness problems are reduced to one simple explanation… “Functional fitness”.

CultFit advertizes themselves as a tight-knit community with “Coach” as their charismatic leader.

CultFit itself creates a general identity. CultFit gyms around the country, all with various names and monikers, create the localized group identity. Handles, callsigns, and screen names posted on the online forums express the adherents’ new internet CultFit identity. Even real names take on new meaning in the subculture as the cultists are reborn into their CultFit identity.

The CultFit philosophy is faith-based and exclusive. Look on the CultFit message board itself. Articles are created, deleted – criticisms posted, rebuked, then evaporate into thin air. There is an ominous totalitarian element in the information control that is exercised by CultFit online.

CrossFit is a cult.

Anonymous said...

There is nothing positive about naming your workouts after Ex wife's and Hurricanes...

Have you been brain washed by WODs?

Do you like women with traps the size of a linebacker?

If you don't puke, you didn't train hard enough...

Trample the weak, hurdle the dead... You Fitcrossers got it twisted!