For years, I hated CrossFit. I did my best to bash, embarrass, and otherwise show my lack of agreement with it. From the outside, there were SO MANY things to dislike. Here are my top 3 reasons that held me back from even trying a CrossFit workout for a very long time
1. Planned Workouts vs. ‘Random’ Workouts
With a background in strength and conditioning, I cringed when a friend told me that his workouts were literally decided by a “roll of the dice.”
Everything I knew focused on planning out your workouts for a year, for a month, and for a week, very intentionally, and very specifically. To indicate that you could become “fit” by throwing together a bunch of random movements with random modal domains seemed nothing but silly. No way Random could be better than Planned.
2. “Look what I can do” syndrome
Having competed at a high level in sports such as D1 Track and Field and Powerlifting, I scoffed at the constant need for my CrossFit friends to post on Facebook EVERYDAY about what their workout was, how the workout went, how their hand’s got ripped, etc.
My sports were so internally driven, I couldn’t understand the need to let the world know about every training session done during CrossFit.
In my experiences, no one cared how much weight you lifted in the gym, it was all about your performance on the competition platform. It was a joke to talk about how far you could throw the shot put in practice. You better prove yourself in the Ring, or you were just another kid who wanted to talk about how good you are without any results.
CrossFit wasn’t that way. I got fed up with my Facebook feed being full of folks who thought they had set the world on fire because they were finally able to swing themselves on top of a perfectly good squat rack. In my mind, training was to be performed in the dark, so that you would be your best when you competed in the light. CrossFit seemed to shine a gigantic spotlight and shout through a multitude of megaphones each and every training accomplishment.
3. Is that wise?
In the midst of Physical Therapy school, during my downtime, I would search for CrossFit fail videos to see all the incredibly dumb and dangerous things people were doing for the sake of CrossFit. Some dude, doing a pistol squat (single-legged squat) standing on a kettlebell handle, with a kettlebell over his head. People doing split-snatches.
What is this, 1958?
Almost everyone flails around with every movement (kipping), just to be able to perform a movement more or faster or heavier. Function appeared to be king over form.
This just wasn’t safe. No wonder CrossFit has such a reputation of folks getting injured at a high rate.
The Beginning of the Transition to CrossFit
There was however something always very fascinating about CrossFit. Why is it that kept people coming back for more? I love competition, and CrossFit seemed like it provided friendly competition in every workout. I love games, and CrossFit really looked like it turned working out into a game, with each training session requiring strategy and focus. I began to wonder how I might fare if I attempted some of the CrossFit workouts I saw performed.
We Finally Tried CrossFit
Then one day, we got bored. Me and my training buddies, who had been getting great results training as powerlifters, got tired of the same types of movements, the same rep and set schemes.
Let’s just try a CrossFit workout
I dared not call it a WOD for fear of mocking. Of course we picked something that we could do pretty well.
30 snatches for time. We crushed it (or so we thought), and it certainly crushed us.
But no one died.
No one got injured.
Our squat maxes didn’t suddenly decrease. So I had to face my gripes with CrossFit head-on and decide it was worth approaching with more respect.
CrossFit: How much bad and how much good?
CrossFit is really an approach to exercise, and it can be done in good or bad ways. When my training buddies and I tried out Isabell for the first time, we already had years of training on how to properly do snatches, so when we sped up we were still able to do them with correct form.
With years of competitive lifting and collegiate athletics, I had lots of training in the fundamentals of lifting, whereas many people don’t. The integrity of those fundamentals is very important in determining how safe CrossFit workouts are for you and with this proper foundation, you can progress higher into your fitness journey because of increased safety and efficiency with movement.
Even though I had made it through one workout injury-free, it was still clear to me that the tool of CrossFit could lead to irresponsible workouts and to programming that was not optimized to get the best results.
After doing that workout is when it also became clear to me that the power of CrossFit could be utilized to obtain exceptional results while keeping workouts varied and interesting. At its very core, CrossFit’s high intensity leads to great results, and its constant variety exposes areas of your fitness that require extra attention.
Here is a list of the main issues I had to address and overcome on my journey to embracing CrossFit. Because there can be a yes or a no answer to both of these questions, I have answered each question with both a yes and a no to further illuminate the differences. Hopefully this will help you to be more informed of best practices for CrossFit whether you workout at TriForce Fitness or elsewhere.
1. Is random bad?
A completely randomized training program really isn’t as effective as a planned one. There are simple bio-physiological adaptations that will yield the best results when trying to improve fitness; AKA your body requires certain stressors to become more fit.
Specificity leads to specialization. If you are a powerlifter, you should train like a powerlifter. Benchpress, squat, and deadlift. Do those movements and their variations frequently. However, fitness does not require specialization. There are 10 different domains of fitness, and ultimately you cannot become the best in the world at every one of these domains. Increasing your fitness requires addressing all 10 of these domains, and in order to do this, your workouts simply will not look the same every week, or every month even.
Meet in the Middle- Planned Chaos
CrossFit requires “Constantly varied, functional movements…” With a good coach and good programming, workouts can be planned across a week, and month, and a year to include varieties of movements and approaches to the movements to create maximum levels of fitness gains. All 10 domains can be addressed with a thoughtful plan. Scientific research on how to increase strength, muscle mass, endurance, etc. should not be neglected, however traditional approaches to strength and conditioning are modified in CrossFit to produce the “Fittest men and women on Earth.”
2. Is posting every training accomplishment to your timeline bad?
Please, please, please, if all you do is tell people about how awesome you are, how you always PR on your workouts, how tough you are because you finished your workout with your hands bleeding, STOP! It just isn’t right. You aren’t going to PR on every workout. You aren’t always awesome. And people who don’t do gymnastics/CrossFit probably don’t want to see your ripped hands. Be realistic about who you are, how your workouts are going, and remember your audience. Sure, everyone who doesn’t want to see it can “unfriend” you if they don’t like what you post, but if that is your attitude, your only friends will be your gym buddies.
Be proud of your accomplishments! Celebrate even the small victories and part of the fun of CrossFit is enjoying the process. The first time you get a pull-up, it’s a big deal! Be happy, tell your grandma, grandkids, or that guy you went to first grade with. But remember that your achievements in the gym should be leading to a better lifestyle outside of the gym. Post some pictures with you playing with your grandkids now that your fitness has improved. Take a video of you on a hike, enjoying Creation with much more ease.
Sidenote: Your gym page, or you gym buddies probably DO want to hear how EVERY SINGLE workout went. We love it like you do. Post about how you felt, about what was hard, about why you hate your coach, everything. Just remember that everything has its place. None of your non-CrossFit friends will want to come with you to the gym if they have a distorted picture of what you do, or who you are based off your selective shared experiences.
3. Is CrossFit safe?
There are bad coaches in EVERY sport. Imagine you are trying to become a high-diver. If you arrive on day one and your coach tries to have you do a quadruple backflip, swan McTwisty (can you tell I have no idea about diving?) you will probably get hurt. A coach must understand who his/her athlete is. What is your training experience? How do you move? What are you afraid of?
If you have a coach who thinks that everyone should be doing the same movements, the same workouts, the same weights, walk, no, RUN away.
Will there be some injuries, even of the catastrophic variety along the way, even if you have a good coach? Yes. Movement is dangerous sometimes. When you are attempting to achieve fitness, which requires certain stressors on your body, you may get hurt. You could also develop hip bursitis from training for a marathon. You could also break your foot on your dresser from doing kickboxing videos at home.
Imagine a coach watching exactly how you move, determining which functional patterns who can’t perform correctly, and giving you exercises that correct YOUR SPECIFIC limitations. That sounds pretty safe, right? Now imagine that your form breaks down during a workout, and your coach tells you take weight off until you are able to perform the movement correctly. Safe? For sure. With a mentality of safety and form FIRST, we can really minimize your risks for injury. Especially if your coach is a Physical Therapist (shameless plug), like here at TriForce Fitness ☺
And I promise, you are much more likely to get injured, ill, and otherwise be in bad health from lack of movement rather than exercise.
From Disease to Wellness to Fitness
One of the main tenets of CrossFit involves the idea of moving from DISEASE to WELLNESS to FITNESS. If CrossFit can help you move to a state of fitness, you truly can build a barrier between yourself and being ill. There are lots of biological happenings that occur that we will get into at a later date, but for now, it is important to highlight that being in good shape can help fight off and prevent some of the top killers in America: high blood pressure, other heart diseases, diabetes, and obesity.
From When I Hated CrossFit to a Love-Hate-Love Relationship
CrossFit isn’t easy, but that is part of what makes it great. I have been able to turn my hate relationship into a love-hate-love relationship.
I love the way I feel on a day to day basis, in large part due to what my workouts have done for my body.
I hate the feeling in the middle of the workout, but I love the feeling after I recover.
I hate the frustrations that come along with learning a new movement (or learning how to correctly perform an old movement), but I love the satisfaction that comes from accomplishing something I didn’t think possible.
I hate the feeling I get in my stomach right before the workout starts, but I really, REALLY love the results that CrossFit has allowed me to achieve.
I hated CrossFit, but it turned out it was for the wrong reasons. With the right approach, it can do amazing things for your body.
Let Your Body and Mind Try CrossFit
If you too have negative feelings towards CrossFit, I challenge you to come try out a workout and then see what you think. I think that changing up your current, probably tired workout regimen will feel fresh. I think that you can feel proud enough to post about your workouts, and probably encourage someone else who is stuck in a fitness rut right now. And I think that you will find that our take on CrossFit is not only safe, but will help prevent you from getting hurt during your everyday tasks.
TriForce CrossFit will change your hate to love-hate-love!