Unless you have been living in a cave for the past few years…you’ve probably heard of the biggest fitness craze in recent times, CrossFit.
As with any fitness program, there are some things I like about it. CrossFit has managed to get more people to lift with a barbell. (Awesome!) Training the basic movement patterns used in barbell exercises helps you get, stronger and healthier. Just getting people into the gym is huge…and that’s great!
CrossFit’s programming includes, among others, squats, deadlifts and Olympic lifts performed at a high intensity and for as many reps as possible in a given time. The exercises themselves aren’t necessarily the issue; time is the problem!
Any type of high-intensity exercise has a prerequisite: you have to build a foundation that allows you to perform the maneuver without getting injured. Unfortunately, the majority of fitness enthusiasts who join the nearest CrossFit gym simply do not possess that foundation.
Some CrossFit locations take the time to develop a foundation of strength and technique with their participants, but so many of them don’t. Yes, this can be the issue with the entire fitness industry, but the CrossFit regimen of advanced exercises performed at a higher rate of speed than intended, makes injury much more likely, especially for those who haven’t developed a solid base of technique.
When you combine speed or a time constraint with these advanced movements, you interfere with your body’s ability to recover between sets. It may make for what feels like a great workout, but it’s all at the expense of your form and technique.
With my strength and conditioning background, I find it pretty easy to find fault with the CrossFit program. The facilities are often operated by “trainers” that have a weekend certification under their belt but not much beyond that. Coupling 40-year-old moms who want to get fit, with powerlifters and 20-year-old college athletes in the same class takes the skill of a certified strength and conditioning specialist or personal trainer. In my opinion, this element seems to be missing in many of the CrossFit box locations.
The idea of CrossFit sometimes seems to outweigh its application, encouraging compound movements stacked upon one another with questionable technique. Physical therapists and orthopedic surgeons everywhere are thanking CrossFit for keeping the stream of patients steady through their doors.
So, how do you improve CrossFit? Simply drop the time factor, employ better coaching, training and progression techniques, and perhaps customize the “Workout Of The Day” to the individual participants’ needs. The resulting program could be a safer, more effective workout for everyone!Get your own personalized plan!
By Annie Farley, MS CPT, Group Exercise Instructor at Elite Sports Club-Mequon