Quick Pro’s and Con’s of Crossfit and Crossfit-Like Routines
by Erik Strouse
VIDA Fitness Trainer
CrossFit has been around for many years, having first been created by Greg Glassman in the late 90’s. As of late, it is an ever-growing form of exercise for the general public with CrossFit gyms popping up on every corner. The community is cult-like, with members touting the superiority and effectiveness of their training regime. There is truth behind their beliefs as CrossFit is built around a High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) protocol that is ever evolving and never the same. HIIT is being heavily studied amongst the research community and is proving to be some of the most effective forms of exercise for fat loss and cardiovascular system development. HIIT has been shown to improve cardiac output, oxygen extraction, and fat loss all in a shorter amount of time than endurance activities such as distance running. Because of this, it is of no surprise that new methods of HIIT programs are being pushed all over the mainstream fitness world including P90X, INSANITY, and The Metabolic Effect (can be found at GW!). Simply put, these programs, including CrossFit, WORK! But truth be told, the results can come at a much higher risk than older, fundamental based program design.
CrossFit takes the cake as one of the most dangerous of the methods due to the exercise choices and how the program is designed. Multi-joint, skill based lifts make up a vast majority of the movements you find in a typical Workout Of the Day (WOD). Olympic lifts such as deadlifts, cleans, snatches, and push presses are all very skill driven movements requiring a great deal of neuromuscular coordination and foundational strength. These movements are incredibly effective, and are excellent to perform if you have a solid base level of fitness already established. However, many people joining a CrossFit program are the exact opposite, having never fully developed such a foundation. Further, CrossFit workouts are designed so that you reach an incredibly high level of muscular fatigue. Pair this fatigue up with a skill driven movement such as a clean, deadlift, or kettlebell swing and you are spelling potential disaster for the body. CrossFit does promote safety in their programs, but there is just no way around the increased risk or injury.
All in all, if you have a strong foundation and love the challenge of making it through a tough workout, give CrossFit a shot. It is a highly effective method of training. If you are just learning to resistance train, you should continue working on your current strength and skill levels before giving it a shot. Below is a quick pro’s and con’s to the CrossFit method.
Built on a HIIT protocol
Increases cardiac output
Reduces resting heart rate
Improves oxygen extraction in the muscle cell
Improves peripheral circulation
Increases resting metabolic rate post workout
Supports fat loss
Has a large community of followers to help support you
Is a very competitive method of training
Constantly evolving routines to keep things fresh
Con’s (please note, cons are quite serious!)
Incredibly intense and has been known to make people vomit or pass out
Can be overly competitive
Requires advanced movement patterns that are ill suited for beginner lifters such as olympic lifts, plyometrics, and other momentous based movements
Leads to high level of fatigue increasing risk of injury
Common injuries are spinal including slipped or bulging discs and pinched nerves or rotator cuff/shoulder injuries (all which can be life long, and completely debilitating)