Crossfit is good…?
Chances are, as someone reading this you know what it is or have at least heard of it. Chances are you’ve heard the full spectrum of opinion, from those who think it is the new Christianity to those that label it as useful for real results as doing 1000 crunches a day whilst eating a cheeseburger.
Crossfit often comes into a lot of criticism for its lack of concern over form and proper execution of technical exercises for the sake of ‘high intensity’ workouts against the clock.
A quick search of YouTube will quickly have you wincing even if you know nothing about lifting- in fact the form of some of their top athletes can give you nightmares, something which can only be expected when performing your 57th snatch after 5 rounds of maximum pull ups and burpees.
However the explosion in popularity and the opening of crossfit ‘boxes’ (gyms) around the world surely says something about its effectiveness, right?
Crossfit is promoting weight training, which is good
On the one hand, it is true; the main benefit of crossfit has been to introduce the use of the barbell and weightlifting into the consciousness of the general public, outside the hardcore lifting and bodybuilding world.
Where before chalk, bumper plates and clanging iron was often negatively associated with overly macho, alpha male types the seeming inclusiveness of crossfit has gotten more and more people into the benefits of lifting, which can only ever be a good thing.
You have to hand it to them at Crossfit HQ, they have done a great job in selling their concept and it is great to see more and more people seeing the rewards of training with weights and perceiving training in a positive light.
Selling the same old delusions
However I have a real bone of contention with one thing in crossfit: the Crossfit Games.
For those who don’t know this is the crossfit equivalent of the Olympics, where the top ‘crossfitters’ battle it out over a few days to see who ends up the ‘fittest man/woman on earth’.
That’s a direct quote.
Leaving aside the absurdity of even having the nerve to call yourself that, the games is where crossfit propaganda goes into overdrive, and ticks all the boxes of presenting and sprouting a lot of bs in the name of selling product, in the time honoured fashion of the fitness industry.
Talk to any crossfit devotee and they will all ramble on about the ‘inclusiveness’ and ‘camaraderie’ of the sport; they love the idea of ‘anyone can do it’.
In theory anyone can qualify for the games showpiece; all you have to do is sign up for and place well in the regional competitions. Documentary pieces into the lives of the top competitors seeks to reinforce this possibility, showing their humble beginnings and wholesome attitudes to hard work that eventually get them to the top.
Crossfit prides itself as a sport that builds functional strength and fitness, with the concept of ‘workout of the day’ (WOD) being different and random to promote the sense of being ready for anything at anytime.
Its top athlete, four-time games winner Rich Froning is famous for his ‘I don’t really program or follow a diet’ approach that has apparently got him where he is; he is variously described as a ‘genetic freak’ or ‘gifted’ in his ability to workout 4 or 5 times a day without any days off.
Crossfit is not training
The acceptance of the notion that you can follow random programs and workout 5 times a day and achieve a physique and work capacity of a Froning (Google his name if you want to see) by many crossfit devotees for me just reinforces how good a job the fitness industry has done in deluding the general public.
It’s like making everyone believe that Father Christmas is real. ‘Hard work’ ‘and ‘elite genetics’ are the favourite buzzwords; if you don’t end up like Froning et al it’s because you don’t work hard enough or don’t have genetics like his.
The reality is that if you are an untrained couch potato then doing some random crossfit workouts will elicit some progress; I mean compared with zero activity some activity is obviously going to jolt the body into some changes. However by randomly training you are not training at all; training is like practice and it needs to be planned and the same movements repeated in order to see continuing results.
People like Froning are not actually following the crossfit method, they are training very specifically to improve themselves in specific skills.
Crossfit sells the delusion that its methods can help you get to be like the elite of the sport, when the elite are not even doing it.
Before I am labeled a ‘hater’ who is too narrow minded or uninformed to believe in miracles I suggest trying to workout out with intensity even 3 times a day for two weeks and see where it gets you.
Unless you are ‘supplementing’ with chemical assistance (like the crossfit guys and girls, along with 99.9% of pro athletes) I guarantee you will go backwards, not to mention do yourself an injury.
Don’t get me wrong, what those guys and girls at the top level can do is seriously impressive. But it is a result of programmed training, diet, work ethic and ‘enhancement’. By following crossfit WODs you’ll get a basic level of fitness but once you’ve done it for a short time your results will stall.