CrossFit tends to be under regular scrutiny in some way or another. I’m sure some of you have run into a friend or acquaintance that has given you shit for doing CrossFit. They typically make some claim to efficacy of CrossFit training or the injury rate, most often with nothing to back it up beside a “Bro Science” article that they read or some garbage they heard from a buddy that hasn’t done it either.
I welcome people to debate CrossFit with me. I am confident on our training model and I am aware of the risks and rewards of what we do. Many of you may love what we do but may not have the tools to fend off the trolls, so let me hit you with some facts and insight into our training game.
–CrossFit, like any other form of training comes with some risk. Although, research has proven CrossFit to be no more injurious than recreation gym training, Olympic weight lifting training, power lifting, or gymnastics. It has also been found to be less risky than some recreational sports. So to say that CrossFit is more dangerous than training in any other gym format, would be false. That would also be saying that people in any other training modality have immaculate form with their movement. I’ve seen plenty enough to just “lol” at that one. Very few studies have actually been conducted on long term injury rates in CrossFit. In fact, even one NSCA study, which claimed a moderately high injury rate in CrossFit, was proven to be false and led to much legal litigation.
These points don’t change that there is some inherent risk in what we do. Of course, physical activity comes with some risk. We just weigh the risks versus rewards and train on. We train hard for our results and that comes with some risk, like any training. We negate as much risk as possible with structured programming and hands on coaching. Not every CrossFit gym has the same coaching standards as we do. Which is another point of friction.
–It is not difficult to attain a CrossFit certification, but it is much more involved to become a knowledgeable and reputable coach. Same goes for any personal trainer. Certifications on their side are even easier, yet it requires much more work to set yourself apart. There are good and bad ones in every field. As CrossFit grows, the sub-par coaches are steadily washing out. In larger CrossFit areas, it not uncommon to have a dozen plus regular athletes in the box that have their certification, yet don’t bother with coaching. They leave it to ones that have knack for it. As it grows, more and more gyms are bringing in subject matter experts to fine tune weight lifting and gymnastics, as well.
–CrossFitters don’t lift…another one that makes me laugh. I’m sure many of our members would have the same reaction. We lift most days. The beginning years of CrossFit were a bit different. There was much more high rep conditioning in those days. There weren’t near as many coaches with knowledge of real strength training. Things have evolved. In fact, strength sports such as Olympic weight lifting and powerlifting have grown tremendously due to CrossFit’s popularity. We lift. We lift heavy (relatively). We lift often. More and more gyms are even running progressive strength cycles and implementing separate barbell clubs. Like all things, it has evolved.
–CrossFit makes men small and women bulky. So let me get this straight, it makes the sex with more testosterone weak and it makes the sex with little testosterone bulky…hmm, not catching on there. See my previous point. We do plenty of lifting, so there is no way we could get weaker. The fact is that our goal is not to get big and bulky. Some CrossFit guys want to put on some size but they do it through nutrition. We lift a lot but we also keep up conditioning. There’s nothing wrong with that. We want to be good at everything. Getting big A.F. is not our main concern. Many CrossFit men are pound for pound pretty strong. I personally love the fact that I can squat over 400lbs, run a 20min 5k, and bang out sets of muscle ups on command. Now for the women…yes our training tends to build some muscle on women, but not bulk. We aim for lean muscle and its sexy on women. Our women are strong and capable. If that scares a man away, then he isn’t much of a man himself…and probably doesn’t lift himself.
–We don’t do real pull ups, we don’t use proper form, and we go too fast. Pull ups have always been challenged in CrossFit, due to the kip, which can be dangerous if done wrong. There is a time and place for that. Anyone that does kipping pull ups better be doing strict as well. Strict pull ups are the foundation and necessary before I teach someone how to kip. They are to build strength and stability necessary for kipping pullups. The kip has been around long before CrossFit. It utilizes two basic gymnastic positions, the hollow and the arch. If done as intended, then it is perfectly safe and effective. Kipping pullups are a method doing more work in less time and used to train a different stimulus than strict. Both have their place.
As far as proper form goes, everyone has to start somewhere. We pay close attention to beginner athletes. We use progressions which teach the movements through repletion and we back that up with critiques. Technique is the foundation of what we do. It is often blurred by the thousands of “fail” videos online. Bad form does nothing but get people hurt. If everyone is getting hurt, then how is CrossFit still growing bigger.
The speed at which we attack some workouts is varied game. Speed is just a measurement of intensity. We aim to move only as fast as solid technique and efficiency will allow. This makes it relative to the participant. I don’t expect most other gym members to take on a workout the way I do or the way a higher level athlete does.
–The CrossFit fad. If it’s just a fad, then this must be longest running, most effective, and biggest business fad the world has ever seen. CrossFit is 16+ years in the running and coming up on somewhere around 15,000 gyms worldwide. It has been the biggest exercise movement, yet. The CrossFit games is sponsored by Reebok, along with hundreds of other companies, and has ESPN live coverage. The CEO of CrossFit, Greg Glassman, recently stated that CrossFit is a $4billion dollar company…. well, that’s a fad I want in on.
Most CrossFit trolls have been using the same weak, uneducated, and unsupported claims for years, as they work away on some program they got out of a magazine. Most of which have never tried CrossFit. Many of their claims are even too ignorant to address. We train hard every day, harder that almost everyone in a conventional gym. We just do things differently. We enjoy our hard training, our results, and our community. A little scrutiny is a small bump to deal with after everything that we dedicated CrossFitters have gained. I am open to debate the efficacy of our program to anyone, in fact I welcome it. When it comes down to it though, body building, power lifting, Olympic lifting, CrossFit, endurance athletes, and any other real athletes make up a small portion of the population. We each do things differently and enjoy our way. There is no reason to bash others at all. There should be a mutual respect across the board for anyone willing to train hard to reach their goals, no matter what those goals are.