Is CrossFit really worth it?

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Is CrossFit Really Worth It?

CrossFit has taken the world by storm. Many celebrities are promoting it, gyms are advertising this fitness craze, social media are full of CrossFit workout pics. You see all those amazing looking people doing some pretty intense workout and you wish to look just like them. But is CrossFit really worth it? If you Google it, you find that opinions clash.

Some say that it’s the best type of training ever while others say that it’s awful and bad for you. It might be really hard for you to decide whether to start practising CrossFit or not.

This article will shed some light on CrossFit’s benefits and risks and help you decide if CrossFit is really worth it for you.

If you’re in a rush: CrossFit can be great for experienced fitness athletes, but not recommended for complete beginners.

What is CrossFit all about?

According to the official CrossFit website: CrossFit is composed of functional movements performed at high intensity. It incorporates gymnastics, weightlifting, running, rowing, etc. The most important aspect of CrossFit is VARIETY. CrossFit workouts are varied which makes them interesting and dynamic.

Is CrossFit really worth it? Benefits

A typical CrossFit routine usually lasts from 45 minutes to one hour. A certified CrossFit trainer often follows the WOD (Workout of the Day)from the CrossFit website, or if they’re experienced, they can create their own routine. To get a better understanding of this type of training, take a look at one example of a typical WOD taken from the official website.
For time, using a single dumbbell:

10 weighted pull-ups

40 overhead lunges

10 weighted pull-ups

30 snatches, alternating arms

10 weighted pull-ups

20 overhead squats, 10 each arm

10 weighted pull-ups

10 Turkish get-ups

10 weighted pull-ups

Men: 50-lb. dumbbell

Women: 35-lb. dumbbell

 

They also give modified versions for beginners so if you’re a rookie you can adjust the workout to your current fitness level.

Is CrossFit effective and safe?

CrossFit claims to improve the following:

  1. Cardiovascular endurance
  2. Stamina
  3. Strength
  4. Flexibility
  5. Power
  6. Speed
  7. Coordination
  8. Agility
  9. Balance
  10. Accuracy

This study shows that CrossFit significantly improves maximal aerobic capacity (VO2max) in both males and females after 10 weeks of exercising. It also decreases body fat levels.

In terms of aerobic capacity and altering body composition, CrossFit appears to be pretty efficient.

Apart from these benefits, people who train CrossFit reported being very motivated, and having a strong sense of community.

Is CrossFit really worth it? Safety

So far so good. But what about safety?

You must have seen some of the many CrossFit fail videos featuring terrible exercise form and potentially serious injuries on YouTube.

It seems that CrossFit has a bad reputation when it comes to injuries.

But is CrossFit really more dangerous than other sports?

One of the studies researching injury rates in CrossFit found out that the overall rate of injury in people who practice CrossFit is 2.3/1000 athlete training hours.

The most common locations of the injuries are the shoulder, lower back and knee. Professional competitors are at greater risk of injuries because they have more exposure to training.

Another study shows that the incidence of injury is similar to sports such as powerlifting, Olympic weightlifting and gymnastics and it’s lower than injuries reported in contact sports such as rugby union and rugby league.

Overall there is no solid evidence to show that CrossFit has a higher prevalence of injuries than other sports. However, it’s important to notice that the majority of injuries are due to bad form, which we will discuss further.

The ugly truth about CrossFit

Almost anyone can become a certified coach

Unfortunately, in modern society, everything revolves around money and CrossFit makes a lot of profit because it’s becoming increasingly popular.

This leads to a very low threshold for becoming a certified CrossFit trainer. All you need is some money and a two days course. Which basically means that almost anyone could become a certified CrossFit coach.

Let’s stop right there.

You’re probably thinking…

How can you possibly learn everything you need to know about coaching in 2 days? 

Doesn’t it take months or even years to learn enough about the human anatomy and biomechanics to be able to call yourself a personal coach?

Now, I don’t want you to think that all CrossFit coaches are bad, there are some fantastic coaches among them.

My point is that coaching should be taken very seriously and professionally. Uneducated coaches can really mess you up, you want to be sure that your coach knows what he/she is doing. Having such a low barrier for coaches is a big minus for CrossFit.

CrossFit is EXPENSIVE

Popular fitness regimes are often very pricey and they can empty your wallet in no time. CrossFit is not an exception. If you want to be a part of CrossFit community, the membership may cost up to $200 a month. You certainly wouldn’t call that training on a budget.

If you’re a student you probably won’t be able to afford such an expensive membership. If you don’t want to spend a lot of money on exercising, then CrossFit is definitely not for you!

You can find many cheaper and equally good training options.

However, some CrossFit gyms do offer one-off drop in sessions for a reasonable price so you can try it out, which is good news.

Complex technical lifts aren’t supposed to be performed for high-reps

Technical exercises such as snatches and cleans are advanced movements which require a lot of practice and skills. You need more time to master these movements and to perfect your form.

Is CrossFit really worth it? Compound Exercises and Form

If you perform them with proper form and technique they are generally safe and very useful. But, here’s the problem. If you do them for high-reps you will probably be fatigued and gradually your form will slip.

Your form should not suffer for the sake of reps or weight, remember that!

It’s crucial to have a correct form to avoid injuries. If you do Olympic lifts with a bad form, your shoulders or knees will likely get hurt.

If you’re a newbie and you’ve just started exercising make sure that your form is solid before attempting CrossFit workouts. You can’t just walk into a gym and start doing complex exercises for reps right away. It takes time, practice and patience.

Adjust the exercises to your level and start slowly. Perfect your form and then proceed to do more advanced workouts.

Besides, doing compound exercises for high-reps is not very good for conditioning. Compound lifts are primarily used for developing strength, and that should remain so. If you want to improve your conditioning, you can use one of these approved methods.

If you have any issues with your posture stay away from CrossFit

I have extensive personal experience when it comes to posture problems. As someone who has a milder form of scoliosis, I’m well aware of how bad posture affects your entire body and creates muscle imbalances. When I started exercising my shoulders and hips were uneven and I had problems with squats and deadlifts.

If you don’t address your posture, you’re headed for disaster.

Neglecting these problems will leave you with bad form and possible injuries. It took me 6 months of doing corrective exercises just to straighten my shoulders.

It’s tedious, it can be boring, but you need to keep in mind that correct posture is an absolute must!

If you want to train CrossFit, make sure that your posture is all right, otherwise, you’ll only make it worse. Nowadays the majority of people have some sort of problem regarding their posture. Our jobs make us sit all day hunched over our desks. Ultimately we end up with stiff hips, back and neck and random pains and aches throughout the entire body. You need to take care of this by doing some stretches and strengthening your back muscles.

It’s relentless and can push your body beyond your limits

Ever heard of Uncle Rhabdo?

Rhabdomyolysis is a very serious medical condition which can be caused by extreme physical exercise (although it can have other rare causes for the sake of brevity and clarity but we won’t discuss them here). It’s terrifying and potentially deadly, resulting in rapid muscle breakdown and potential kidney failure.

A quick search on Google will reveal some horrifying stories and even CrossFit’s founder, Greg Glassman, admits that it can kill you.”

The problem is that a typical CrossFit mindset will push you beyond your limits. So, you really need to listen to your body.

Although you need to step out of your comfort zone if you want to make gains and see improvements, you should never push your body to the breaking point. It’s dangerous and completely unnecessary.

CrossFit pushes you to continue even if you’re puking. Your goal should be to get stronger and healthier not to destroy your body by overexerting yourself. Know your limits and don’t cross them.

So, Is CrossFit REALLY Worth It?

Is CrossFit REALLY worth it?

CrossFit can be good for you if you’re already a fit person who is familiar with exercising and knows how to perform complex exercises with a proper technique. If you’re a fitness junkie who gets adrenaline rush from intense workouts and you’re competitive then you may find that CrossFit suits you well.

But is CrossFit really worth it if you’re just an average person and your goal is to optimize your overall health and fitness levels? Our opinion is that there are many safer, less extreme and equally efficient methods which will lead you to your fitness goal.

We strongly advise starting with a qualified personal trainer at your local gym to discover the benefits of weight lifting and bodyweight training safely or alternatively try a good workout guide to help get you started.

There’s no need to push yourself beyond breaking point, steady and consistent training is a much better option for you.

Building strength and endurance takes time and there are no shortcuts. Exercise responsibly, respect your body and its limits and you will definitely notice the difference.

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