CrossFit. Is it for you?
CrossFit has received a lot of attention from the public as a whole. Their marketing campaign is the sport of fitness has arrived. For a few years now I have been intrigued by CrossFit. I have seen the nationals on TV and the Reebok commercials. I have also spent time googling Crossfit people and looking at their bodies and trying to determine if it is the workout itself, the diet, the A Type personalities, or a combination of all of the above. I mean who would not want to look like this?
Then I wondered if these types of people were just athletes who no longer had a sport. Maybe former gymnasts or other college or even pro athletes who just loved fitness. After that I realized that was me. I am a former athlete who has run Marathons and tried different things mostly because I no longer had an outlet for my competitive side. On top of that fitness and working out is my only real hobby. It’s what I love to do on the weekends. Go for a run or hit the gym for a pick up game of basketball. I have done yoga, swam laps in the pool, played flag football, taken different cardio classes such as spinning but eventually most of them bored me. I even did Muay Thai for two years. I don’t run marathons because I think I will lose body fat. I have written extensively on this blog about how slow long distance running does not mean less body fat,. I run marathons because I like the competition. I compete with myself for my personal best and I love the journey of training for a race. I love following a plan over the course of 16 weeks and seeing it come to fruition at the end. So why can’t I do the same things with CrossFit? I lift weights. I lift weights a lot. I have missed an entire week at the gym once in the last 12 years and that was because I hurt my knee. But as you get older “how much do you bench?” becomes less and less important. Combine that with the fact that I can’t bench nearly what I used to when I was 290 pounds I was benching around 325. Now I weight 190 and I bench around 245 for a max. Pound for pound it is very similar but when I lost 100 pounds 8 years ago I decided that being strong has never really done anything for me. I want to be able to move, to be powerful, to be coordinated, and to be able to react to any situation. I tell people if Zombie apocalypse happens would you rather be able to run or bench press twice your body weight. I think CrossFit might be the type of well rounded workout that provides all of those qualities.
I tried doing the Workout of the days on my own but at a commercial gym it just isn’t possible. Number one when no one is looking it is just too hard to push yourself. In a class setting here you have others suffering with you and pushing you through it creates a bond similar to being on a football team or in the military. I wanted that feeling of we are in this together. The other things is at a commercial gym if you were to work out with the intensity of a Crossfitter you would look like a complete nut. I am starting to get bored with my usual routine of Chest / Tri’s Back Bi’s, Shoulders and Legs, and Abs and cardio on the weekend. Lifting slowly with too much rest in between might make you look bigger but is that what I really want. Cartoon muscles that can’t perform with power and precision in a coordinated manner? Do I want to be fat, slow and strong or do I want to be lean. quick, and powerful like a cheetah.
As a strength coach and a CSCS I also know there is a lot of haters on the Crossfit movement and I have also been one of them at times. Olympic lifts are meant to increase power and not endurance. No-one should clean for 1 minute straight because their form might slip and create problems. Plyometrics are about quality and not quantity. To amplify the stretch shortening cycle you should focus on a quick spring like effect and not on the number you can do in a given time. The stretch shortening But if you are an NFL Lineman your body has to adjust on the fly for a bullrush or a speed rush. Our bodies ate adaptable and that is our greatest gift that we can achieve and overcomes physical, mental, or social obstacles. Maybe we can have it all. I think my knowledge of the olympic lifts will only help me on the CrossFit journey because I can recognize problems in the kinetic chain and correct them quickly.
I don’t know if I am going to like CrossFit or not but I am attending a free class this weekend at Guerilla Gym in Morristown, NJ. I am interested to see how much instruction there actually is on some of these lifts. Of Course I am not going to tell them I am a cscs because I want to see what I can pick up from them in my pursuit of knowledge. I can say that as a strength coach I would not recommend CrossFit for any athlete who wants to train for their sport. There are just too many risks and there is no single energy system that CrossFit trains you in. But as a personal trainer and fitness enthusiast my curiosity got the best of me and I am going into this with an open mind. When I started this blog I said let me be your guinea pig so here it goes. Maybe I will love it and it will be a new passion for me similar to running. Now I just have to work on those stupid kipping pull-ups that I can’t seem to get. Stay Tuned for more details on my CrossFit experience.