In recent years CrossFit, the unconventional strength and conditioning program, has taken the world by storm. Known for its intense WOD’s (workout of the day), gnarly combination of movements, fast-paced and competitive class environment and the freakishly fit CrossFit Games Athletes we see every so often on ESPN, CrossFit has seen astronomical increases in popularity. As with anything that gets a lot of attention, there is sure to be tons of criticism and backlash. I see countless posts and articles online completely bashing Crossfit’s methods and theories, going on about how dangerous it is, why it’s stupid, how CrossFitters have bad form, blah blah blah.
Although I’m sure many of these posts and articles are from reliable sources (since everyone on the internet is an expert in their field), how many of them have actually learned and experienced the ins and outs of the methodology, trained and perhaps competed in CrossFit competitions, or even just experienced solid, steady programming from a well established affiliate? I don’t mean the ones who’ve walked into a class once and hurt their shoulder kipping improperly and now they will forever hate it, but rather those who have stuck with it. Most likely very few of these people have, so what makes them so sure that everything about CrossFit is bad?
I get a lot of 20somethings who want to try CrossFit, but are very intimidated or unsure about it, asking for my two cents on the situation. So without further ado, I give you my views on the pros and cons of CrossFit.
GPP, Functional fitness, and GAINZ
Before I was introduced to CrossFit and weightlifting, I was a college athlete for two years. I can confidently say that in the few years I have been able to train CrossFit full time, I have become a stronger, faster, more flexible and coordinated athlete, than I ever was playing team sports, even at a collegiate level. Why? Because CrossFit trains you for GPP, short for General Physical Preparedness.
The programming is always changing and the workouts vary every single day, preparing you for anything life may throw at you, and it works. Instead of excelling at one small component of fitness and leaving the rest on the backburner, you are developing every aspect of your fitness equally, and this makes for a pretty solid athlete all around.
On top of developing into a superior all-around athlete, your newfound strength and skills have substantial association to real life, also known as functional fitness. Now, at first glimpse, the haters would jump down my throat by saying something like, “when will I ever need to snatch something over my head in real life?” Let me explain. You may never have to ever “snatch” something in real life, but by training proper loading of the hips and hamstrings, bracing of the midline, and pulling your shoulder blades back into position, you are teaching your body to efficiently and safely lift very heavy objects.
There will be a day where you have to clean out your parents garage or chop wood for six hours straight, wouldn’t you rather be able to do all that with minimal risk of injury? Trust me, you will walk up to that busted washing machine, glance at it, and think to yourself, “oh shit, I know how to pick this up” And you will feel cool for a minute and walk away with it pain-free. Your parents will have a clean garage and your back won’t be broken, win-win.
In addition to being a better, smarter and more efficient athlete and human, you will indeed yield sweet gainz that we all crave from doing CrossFit. Every single day I see something on social media mocking Crossfit’s lack of gains, and it makes me chuckle. CrossFit is a STRENGTH AND CONDITIONING program. There is indeed a lot of metabolic conditioning involved, but the backbone of any sound program is strength training. Lets just put it this way, you can go sit on a preacher curl machine, pump up your bi’s for a little while and look strong, or you can back squat, and power clean heavy, and actually be strong, so I guess it depends on what type of gains you’re actually going for.
Check out this WOD (Workout of the Day), and stay tuned for pt. 2, in which I tackle the not-so-good stuff about CrossFit.
Jake’s WOD Pick
3 Rounds for time
21 Kettlebell swings (55lbs(m)/35lbs(w))