The Verdict on Crossfit

rich froning

A lot of people have asked me for an opinion on crossfit. What is it? Will it make me jacked? Will it make my muscles explode? Will I look like Rich Froning (pictured above, 3x Crossfit Games Champion) if I do crossfit?

Over the last several years crossfit has launched itself into the realm of religion-status. People who love it are fanatics. Crossfit is the best thing that ever happened to them. They don’t care much for the criticisms about it and they treat many other forms of training as a step down.
Still, there are the skeptics among you who aren’t convinced and are waiting for a quick and easy summary on this phenomenon that’s swept the globe. Here’s my take on it:

1. Crossfit is advanced lifts done under serious time pressure
The idea of crossfit workouts is to put up however many rounds you can in a limited amount of time OR to do a certain number of rounds of challenging exercises as fast as possible. Your form will not be perfect. Find a coach who will teach you the technical parts of the movements well and will scream at you until you get it right. Note: They shouldn’t just be screaming at you to go faster.

2. Crossfit will challenge various energy systems of your body
Since the workouts are relatively short (under 20 minutes), and the effort is fairly high, you’ll be panting and sweating and begging for your life to end. Depending on the purposes of your training, this may not be appropriate for you. If you’ve only ever thought of “cardio” as 45 steady minutes on a treadmill or elliptical, prepare to feel like a mess. But this is part of the reason why the fanatics love crossfit so much: it brings them to tears and then gives them sweet euphoria once its all over.
I hope I never go to prison.

3. The Crossfit craze is more about the atmosphere than the exercises
Anyone can put  together a string of exercises, say “AMRAP” (As Many Rounds As Possible), and call it crossfit. There’s nothing being reinvented here. But the key difference with why this is such a trend is that crossfit gyms promote an atmosphere of challenge, collaboration and positive energy. Like any successful group exercise class, it wants to give warm fuzzies to all who attend. But the difference here is that crossfit disguises it with a thin layer of chalk and “puking-means-you’re-tough” attitude.

I love doing crossfit workouts. It isn’t for everyone, especially beginner lifters unless you can be sure that you have an experienced instructor who takes time to properly coach correct form before putting you under time pressure.

My opinion on crossfit is that it is meant for advanced weightlifters who are confident in their ability to safely perform the exercises under significant duress prior to attempting a serious WOD. Beginners need to be encouraged to slow down more and reminded of specifically cued points as they attempt a crossfit workout. Even at a reputable crossfit gym, the coaching quality can vary. Otherwise, have fun!

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