My Beef with Crossfit

 Posted by on 08/23/2013
Aug 232013
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crossfit aftermath

No one was seriously injured in the photo shoot…

It was 2007 when I first found out about Crossfit.  A really good friend of mine, who’s a police officer, came by my office at the university I worked at to show me this crazy video and workout he tried.  I think it was someone going back and forth between the Bench Press and Deadlift for a certain amount of time and what not.

Anyways… I remember thinking to myself – “Holy shit! This guy is crazy and it must be an awesome workout.”

So myself as well as my training partner decided we’d put this whole Crossfit thing to the test.  I even went out and bought a pair of gymnastic rings because every video had them and they looked cool.

We spent almost 2 months killing ourselves with WODs aka ‘Workout of the Day’.  We’d follow’s workouts and make certain tweaks to fit what we had at our gym.  In those 2 months, Crossfit began to spread like wild fire.  We started seeing students doing crossfit workouts in the gym and many of our athletes began asking why they don’t do crossfit workouts because they are super hard.

This is when I stopped and looked at exactly what we were doing.  And stopped Crossfit.

So what’s my beef with Crossfit?

First off, I do not think negatively of Crossfit.  I’m not saying Crossfit sucks and people who do it are idiots. No.

The guys are frickin shredded and the women are super fit and lean.  No one can deny the results individuals can get from Crossfit.  Here is what defines Crossfit as:

CrossFit is many things….CrossFit itself is defined as that which optimizes fitness (constantly varied functional movements performed at relatively high intensity). CrossFit is also the community that spontaneously arises when people do these workouts together. In fact, the communal aspect of CrossFit is a key component of why it’s so effective.

Sounds good right? It does.

The workouts are mostly named after woman such as:

Barbara: 20 pullups, 30 pushups, 40 situps, 50 squats- 5 rounds for time
Christine: 500 meter row, 12 deadlifts, 21 box jumps – 3 rounds for time
Kelly: Run 400 meters, 30 box jumps x 24 inch box, 30 wall ball shots with 20lb ball – 5 rounds for time
Grace: Clean and Jerk 135 lbs – 30 reps for time

Those are just skimming the surface of examples.  Overall, when I look over these sorts of workouts, I feel like someone just kicked me in the nuts.  But people do this sort of crazy workouts, and big applause to them.

Second, people who do Crossfit are very passionate.  I’m not too much of an extremist but Crossfitters LOVE Crossfit. They get amped up over fitness. Which I think is awesome. But, many Crossfitters I’ve run across are so gung-ho on Crossfit, that they thinks it’s the almighty way of training because you train everything.

Easy there tiger…

If you’ve ever seen Crossfit Games on ESPN, you will see the massive following of Crossfit.  I mean these people go crazy over it and it has taken over the world of fitness.

It’s an encouraging atmosphere, everyone loves fitness, people are pushing each other to do better, and individuals are practically taking their body to the limits to finish a WOD.

This leads to  my third point. When I coached at a university we would put the athletes through a battery of tests, especially strength tests.   For example, the football team’s strength tests consisted of Squat, Bench, and Power Clean.

As a strength coach, our main concern during any training session is safety. So when the environment is filled with testosterone, loud music, people in your face yelling ‘do it again, you can do it!’, and your coaches watching with judging eyes, it’s important to have someone there who knows when enough is enough. Which brings me to a Crossfit video that has gone viral, where I’m sure many other Crossfit Boxes (that’s what they call Crossfit Gyms) out there who were super pissed about – maybe:

Woosaah Aipa…wooo–saahh..

If you watch it again and close your eyes, you’ll hear..

encouragement memeThere is good encouragement and there is plain and simple what the hell are you doing, stop.  Just like there are good coaches and coaches who need a lesson on coaching.

As a coach, when I see workouts such as 30 reps of clean and jerk, or things like run 400 meters, do 5 snatches, as many reps as pull-ups, and all for 5 rounds – my first worry is safety.  I’ve personally heard countless stories of people going to a Crossfit Box and ended up hurting their backs or knees or shoulders with the comment, “But it was a super hard workout!” In my books, getting hurt during a workout sucks.

I actually remember one time my mentor got mad at a student athlete because she decided to try Crossfit and on her first day there, they wanted to test out her max deadlift which resulted in her straining her back. But I’m sure her technique was horrible but the environment was so encouraging.

My last point. Crossfit is not for athletes.  Let me repeat this again, Crossfit is not for athletes.  I remember coming across this analogy which made perfect sense to me.  Think of a 3 course meal; appetizer, main dish, and dessert.  Let’s say the appetizer is speed, main dish is strength, and dessert is endurance.

For a football team, you may focus on building up a lot of strength, work on some speed, and a little bit of endurance during a certain part of the year.  So if you go back to the 3 course meal, you’d have a little appetizer because you want to crush a big huge steak and potatoes plate, and then just a little endurance so you’ll have a bite of cake.

For soccer, you may focus on a moderate amount of strength and speed, but you want a lot of endurance. So you really want that dessert.

Crossfit on the other had they call for a lot of speed, strength, and endurance all at once.  Basically they want to be served the whole 3 course meal at one sitting and then some.  And what happens to you when you stuff your face with a bunch of food? That’s right -you PUKE! But I guess it goes inline with one of Crossfit’s sayings, “It isn’t a real workout until you’ve puked.” (Safety first, ever heard of Rhabdo?)


When people ask me what I honestly think of Crossfit, I tell them if they want to train with a community feel that is encouraging, passionate about fitness, are really gung-ho for what they do, and you are looking to get overall fit, then go for it. Just make sure the coach at the gym knows what he’s doing and focuses on the safety of the people rather than the rep count or timer.

Now athletes, many of my former athletes know what I think about it.  If you want to be a better football, soccer, basketball, or golfer – focus on the energy systems and technique of your specific sport.

For all you Crossfitters out there, keep doing what you do because I can’t get mad at you for loving fitness – but please stop trying to force the Paleo diet on me, I like my white rice!

Be safe kids.



  2 Responses to “My Beef with Crossfit”

  1. Great post! CrossFit is definitely cool as hell. I love to watch it when it airs on ESPN but there is no way in hell I could survive what those folks do-they are animals and like you said, very passionate. CrossFit has a strong following indeed and like most other sports, you either love it or you hate it-you simply can’t ride that fence. I love bodybuilding and I’ve been asked about doing CrossFit but with the activity level involved, it would do a lot more damage to my bodybuilding goals than help them. But in terms of sporting events to watch, CrossFit falls in at the top of the list all day long!

  2. Thanks Marcus. I know what you mean. Watching the Crossfit games on ESPN is crazy. I have nothing but respect for those fitness athletes because they truly bust ass. Aloha

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