I do hate CrossFit. Period. Yes, I know there are probably thousands of women out there saying "OMG. What are you talking about? CrossFit is like so totally bitchin." If you are someone who thinks this, you need to continue reading. If you are someone who performs CrossFit workouts, you need to continue reading. If you are someone who just wants to gain some knowledge, you need to continue reading.
CrossFit has swept the nation over the past couple of years as one of the biggest training fads there has ever been in the industry. People have fallen in love with the idea of a fast, high intensity workout aimed around increasing "EPOC" that they think will fix everything for them in an instant. However, there are many things CrossFitters do not know or ever realize about their training.
Reason 1: The majority of CrossFit coaches out there are simply not qualified professionals.
That's right folks. Pretty bold statement, I know. The fact of the matter is, pretty much any Joe Schmoe out there is capable of becoming a CrossFit Trainer. All it takes is a weekend long course with a 50 question multiple choice quiz to become certified. You are not required to have any type of education or background in the field prior to becoming certified. Compare this to the rigorous demands of gaining any certification through the National Strength and Conditioning Association and there is no comparison. The truth which underlies here is the fact that we have unqualified people off the street who have a random degree in Art or some other weird shit teaching people olympic lifts. "Hmmm....You know I just woke up this morning and decided it would be really cool to teach people terrible form so they can hurt themselves." Sure, there are some good and even great CrossFit coaches out there who periodize the program and tailor it to their clients to make it safe and effective and do it the right way. This is for those 99% of so called "coaches" who do not have the slightest clue about anything they are preaching. They have no idea of proper technique, how to program design (besides downloading workouts from the internet), how to coach effectively, and have no idea how to even begin to describe what energy systems or principle/capacity they are training.
Reason 2: Olympic Lifts are not meant to be done for an infinite amount of reps or against a clock in a rushed manner.
Olympic Lifts consist of the clean, jerk, and snatch. The two competition lifts consisting of the clean and jerk and snatch. These lifts require the strictest technique and form and the right training. When effectively designing a program, any good trainer or strength coach knows that power exercises always ,always, always comes first before anything else (i.e. You would never want to do max effort deadlifts or squats or train for endurance and then go perform heavy sets of power cleans or snatches). If this is done, you are setting yourself up for fatigue neurologically and muscular. Take this sample CrossFit Workout of the Day. Perform 6x3 of max effort deadlifts followed by 3 snatches, 6 pushups, and 9 jump squats continuous for 15 minutes. Or if that is not enough for you then.....run 1 mile, 155 pound Clean and jerk for 21 reps, run 800 meters ,155 pound Clean and jerk for 21 reps, run 1 more mile. Wow, I think I just got dumber. When performing any type of Olympic Lift, most likely you are training for power. Training for power occurs in rep ranges of 1-5 at a relative 30% of your maximum for a conditioning sense or at 80-90% with rest periods of 2-5 minutes in between sets. Performing more than this will only set your nervous system up for fatigue and induce bad form or injury.
Reason 3 : CrossFit is not functional so stop claiming it is.
When working with any client, the first concern should be to properly assess them and find out what muscular imbalances they have, postural faults, and what type of movement patterns they have. There are six basic movement patterns: squat, lower pull, upper pull, press, locomotion, and rotation. Then all of these can be split into either unilateral or bilateral (i.e. BL=squat, UL=lunge). Now, the most common things I see in people who come to work with me is quad dominance, poor glute medius function, weak obliques, and kyphosis with upper trap dominance. From these come about bad movement patterns and the inability to properly move through the hips, stabilize their trunk, and stabilize their knee. The glute medius is a very important muscle on the side of the hip which holds many important actions. The one we will focus on here and in the video below is knee stabilization. If the glute medius muscle is weak then the result will be a lot of shifting and uncontrol at the knee. Keep these in mind when watching the video below. The lady in the blue has terrible knee stabilization and her knees caves in everytime as she lands and comes up from the squat. The lady in the black has terrible stability and extension in her thoracic spine and is continually letting her thoracic spine cave over. Not to mention, the fact that these problems worsen as they perform rep after rep after rep and the "coach" just stands there and says "more speed."
As mentioned previously, the majority of the population out there have terrible habits. When someone does not know how to effectively stabilize their trunk or knee, or even move through the hips for that matter, then why in the world would you have them running, jumping, and performing Olympic Lifts. If you spend some time on the internet you will come across photos and videos of CrossFitters squatting onto their toes through their quads, deadlifting with a rounded back, and performing some kind of a weird attempt of a clean while practically falling on their face. If someone does not know how to perform these basic movements, then how do you expect them to perform a power clean. When adding speed to these inefficient patterns, you become unaware of what your body is doing and are only setting yourself up to strain something, or tear an ACL. Before teaching anyone to clean or snatch, I first must coach them on how to properly squat and pull. After mastering unilateral and bilateral variations of these movements, then I would first need to teach the person how to perform a High Pull and then maybe a Hang Clean. A High Pull is a good way to incorporate the triple extension through the ankle, hip, and knee before progressing someone to a clean.
Reason 5: Plateau, Plateau, Plateau
Add on the first four reasons and now we have the term "plateau" come into play. What is plateau? Plateauing can come about from over training, staleness, and just stupid ineffective training programs. "I've done the same workout everyday for the past 2 months. Why am I not seeing anymore results?" Within the first few weeks of a new training program, initial adaptations are made through the nervous system. Your nervous system is better prepared to handle the overload and can effectively recruit the right muscle fibers. After a few weeks of doing Workout A, your body becomes used to the workout and is no longer being applied any type of overload or progression. Therefore, you hit a brick wall and regress. In terms of CrossFit. We will talk about over training. Over training can occur from a multiple of ways. Not enough rest, too much stress, too much work, monotonous training, etc. CrossFit in no way teaches their CrossFitters anything about the proper way to train or rest. When working out, we create small micro-tears in our muscle fibers which induce adhesions, scar tissue build up, and inflammation in our fascia lines. This is one reason as to why we feel sore 24-72 hours after working out. When giving your muscles an insufficient amount of time to recover, you are just continually depleting your muscle tissue. Also, CrossFit mainly applies high intensity circuits which take a serious toll on the nervous system. In order to contract a muscle, we need our brain to signal our motor units to excite the muscle and engage the binding process through actin and myosin to contract the muscle. When our nervous system becomes fatigued, our muscles can no longer contract effectively or be prepared. Therefore, performing crazy, max effort workouts too many times per week will deplete your muscle tissue and fatigue your nervous system. We become stronger at rest when we let our body realize the adaptations we just provided it with. This is why many CrossFitters plateau out after about a month or so or become injured and stop seeing continual gains in their training.
If you are still along with me on this lengthy article then you just won a prize. Not really, but that would have been nice.
Train HARD and SMART.