Health Crush Contributor
The saying goes: How can you tell if someone is into CrossFit? They’ll usually tell you. From perfectly toned PTA moms who beam with pride about their intense WOD to your co-workers who compare their burpee records — it seems like you can’t go anywhere without coming across someone obsessed with CrossFit. A mix of high intensity cardio and strength training, the CrossFit craze seems to be the workout of all workouts. But is it right for you? If you’re considering jumping in the ‘box’ of this worldwide workout phenomenon, you first may want to learn more about the pros and cons.
What is CrossFit?
Created nearly 14 years ago, the official definition of CrossFit is: “constantly varied functional movements performed at high intensity.” Performed usually in a bare-bones warehouse (also known as a “box”), CrossFit includes exercises that mimic real-life movements, and usually require little or no equipment. A CrossFit box will offer up a workout of the day (WOD) that includes strength training exercise like burpees, push-ups, and sit-ups, as well as movements with barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, jump ropes, pull-up bars, rings, and medicine balls.
With more than 13,000 affiliated gyms worldwide, and legions of dedicated devotees — it’s pretty apparent this workout trend isn’t dying out anytime soon. But why the strong following?
Here’s Our Breakdown of CrossFit Pros and Cons
A Bigger Workout in Less Time
Many believe CrossFit packs a bigger workout into a short timeframe through explosive conditioning, which is thought to provide the most results in the shortest amount of time. Generally structured around the workout of the day (WOD), most CrossFit sessions include a 10- to 15-minute warm-up and 10 to 15 minutes honing certain skills for the workout that’s coming up. After the 40-45 minute WOD, there’s typically an easy cool-down. Due to its focus on intense cardio and strength training, CrossFit burns morecalories in a shorter period of time, according to studies, according to Men’s Health.
All-Around Healthier Lifestyle
Besides a great workout, if you also want help with nutrition, motivation, and personal development, this workout’s got your back. Not only are many CrossFit coaches are also trained in nutritional programs such as the Paleo diet, but many CrossFit gyms also offer diet challenges to help you develop good nutritional habits.
If you hate the cold, sterile and usually unfriendly environment of a typical gym, CrossFit may be for you. Step into pretty much any CrossFit gym and you’re likely to experience a vibrant and contagious atmosphere, which can help you stay motivated and enthusiastic about your workouts. Also, if you have a competitive streak, the WOD scores might be enough to help you push yourself a little bit further with each workout.
While the idea of rapidly building muscle and shredding fat in a motivating, fun environment seems pretty perfect — CrossFit has its fair share of critics. So, what exactly is the problem with CrossFit?
A Higher Rate of Injury
Although the CrossFit craze has a number of benefits, there’s been a longstanding debate about the workout method doing more harm than good, particularly when it comes to injury. A 2013 study, published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, found that nearly three-quarter of people reported getting hurt during CrossFit training, with most injuries involving the shoulders and spine. Overdoing CrossFit can also lead to Rhabdomyolysis (rhabdo), a rare but serious health condition sometimes caused by working out at very high intensity and can result to kidney failure and death.
Lack of Personalization
CrossFit gears their training for a group setting, but some experts say there cannot be a one size fits all program for everyone is a mistake, especially for newbies.
Some argue that many CrossFit coaches lack the training and experience to lead classes. CrossFit trainers undergo a two-day training course to be given their initial Level One qualification, which allows them to teach a class. Because trainers can take and pass this course without any other study, it makes a certification very easy to obtain — leaving many wondering if a CrossFit coach has the expertise to coach clients safely and effectively.