This is the second article in a series of three. The first outlined what CrossFit is, the second will detail the pros of CrossFit training, and the third will detail the cons. The goal of this series is to educate those interested in the sport of CrossFit so they can make a sound choice when deciding whether or not CrossFit is for them.
As someone who has trained using both traditional methods and contemporary HIIT programming, such as CrossFit, I can confidently say that I believe CrossFit is the best and most efficient way one can maximize their fitness potential – if the movements are performed the right way (more on that later).
CrossFit is not just a high-intensity workout that will help you build muscle and shed fat faster. At its core, CrossFit is a way to better your quality of life.
Functional movements and CrossFit
Everyone needs to know how to sit, bend over, walk or run, push things, pull things, etc. This is because we use our muscles every single day, and not just when we’re sitting on a leg press machine.
Look, is the leg press a fine exercise? Yes, it is a fine supplement to a leg training program. But it is far more beneficial for someone to learn how to front squat – an exercise that utilizes movements 99.9 percent of people will literally use every single day – than leg press. It is far more beneficial to practice box step ups instead of leg extensions (because you step onto things, like stairs, every single day).
I’m not saying the machines, or even other routine exercise regimens, are bad for you. Not. At. All. What I am saying is that functional movement patterns are superior in almost every way. If you’re going to spend your precious free time in a gym, shouldn’t you try to get the best bang for your buck?
This idea of “getting the most of your workout” directly relates back to HIIT training, because (and this is just an observation from my time personal training in a gym) there are too many people out there who don’t do enough to train their cardiovascular systems and their musculoskeletal systems. They consider weightlifting and running/biking/etc. to be different entities, when in reality they aren’t. They both have a direct impact on your physical and mental health, and they are both necessary when forging the “complete” athlete. Even if you don’t consider yourself an “athlete,” the benefits that come with combining both cardiovascular exercise and weight training are astounding.
But what about injuries?
One of the biggest complaints I hear about CrossFit from both everyday gym-goers and even physical therapists is that CrossFitters are always getting hurt. I, unfortunately, can’t disagree, as I myself have suffered multiple injuries while doing CrossFit. These injuries, however, were not brought on because I changed my training regimen. They were brought on because I was performing a good number of the movements incorrectly.
You see, it is extremely difficult to perfect movements like the kip, clean, snatch, etc. without hours upon hours of practice. Too many times we see new, relatively strong individuals take on CrossFit like they’ve been doing the sport for years. In reality, they’re just as new to this style of training as someone who has never worked out a day in their lives. They are beginners, but for some reason, this doesn’t seem to matter. Their egos tell them that they look a certain way, so they should be able to perform the movements prescribed in the workout. They force themselves into positions they aren’t ready to be in, and they get injured. I know – I was once one of these people.
In CrossFit, it is more important to learn the movements than it is to do them at competition-like levels. This is so important because as our metabolic strength is tested, it becomes more and more difficult to control movement patterns. We have to resort to doing things the way our subconscious knows how to do them, and if you haven’t trained for this, you will revert back to poor movement patterns. If you compromise your movements, you will eventually get injured. It’s not rocket science.
That said, this can be a good thing (you probably think I’m crazy for thinking this, but it is sometimes true). Why? Because a change in the way your subconsciousness thinks and acts requires one thing above all: patience, something many of us do not possess in this day and age.
CrossFit is about trusting the process and enjoying the never-ending journey of bettering your physical and emotional self. It’s a difficult path to follow, and there will be many challenges along the way, but the good news is that you won’t have to face them alone.
The CrossFit community
Arguably the most loved – and most important – aspect of this sport is the community that pushes you to reach new heights each and every day.
The CrossFit community is unlike any other. One of the biggest reasons for this is because most all CrossFit participants started training at a box for the same reason: to make some sort of change in their lives. They’ve been through the ups and downs. They know what it is like to want to give up, but to push through that adversity and go places they once thought were impossible.
Many people meet life-long friends at their box. Some even meet their future spouses. They’re in it together, and that sense of family allows people to succeed.
CrossFit isn’t all great, though…
While the pros certainly outweigh the cons (in my professional opinion, anyway), I do believe there are still a few turnoffs that come with CrossFit that deter people from giving it a try. In some cases, pursuing this type of high-intensity activity is ill-advised entirely. We’ll get to those reasons next time in the final CrossFit series blog post.
For now, focus on the positives. Know that CrossFit is changing lives every day, and if you’re looking for a change, consider checking out your local box. You may just find a new home in the process.
For more advice on how to better your physical and emotional self, check out the other fit tips from Frankie.