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CrossFit – the sport of tomorrow or just an overreach?

Female athlete in a crossfit workout

CrossFit as a sport has experienced quite a boom in the last couple of years. Emerging as a blend of various different exercises it represents a unique approach to fitness. Plenty of people from the fitness community would choose it over any other form of exercise because it has shown to give significant results over and over again.

We’ve decided to put this cross-training protocol under some scrutiny and take a look “under the hood” so to speak. As fitness geeks, we love to take a peek into everything we come across and CrossFit was on our list for a while now. We shall try to uncover the famed and enamored pillars of what this sport represents, but we will also expose that which is not so shiny and attractive. It is only natural that every single thing in this world has good and bad sides.

Upon bringing up all the important facts you can conclude on whether or not CrossFit has what it takes to make it on your top-tier fitness list. There is plenty of material for an interesting debate here.

What is this thing?

To kick things off, let’s present a preview of CrossFit very briefly and explain some of the implications it carries, but also some of the common misconceptions which seriously need to be abolished.

CrossFit incorporates a lot of different types and forms of physical activities that we know of. It is a mix of gymnastics, athletics, weight lifting, high-intensity interval training (aka HIIT or sometimes just HIT), calisthenics, and plenty more. These workouts push the fitness boundaries with endurance, strength, and resistance training all at once. It will give you the ultimate challenge and leave you thinking of only one thing – when will the workout end?

Some of the exercises you might come across include squatting, the almighty clean and jerk, all sorts of push-ups, pull-ups, kettlebell exercises, etc. CrossFit gives room for a lot of creativity and most people try new WOD’s (stands for “workout of the day”, a true gem of CrossFit terminology) very often.

The workouts usually revolve around full-body muscle activation with plenty of compound exercises, short rest intervals between sets (sometimes no rest at all), and opting for a combination of two, three, or even more exercises in rapid succession. Sounds rough as hell, and make no mistakes, it really is that.

So far so good

We’ve just roughly explained what awaits at the door of most CrossFit centers. In spite of barely scratching the surface of what this sport has to offer, we can already notice enough to see the good sides. CrossFit offers serious gains. Period.

You can virtually develop any flaw you might be struggling with, speaking in fitness terms. Develop your strength? Work on your cardio? Improve your flexibility? You name it. It seems like there’s no stopping this magical sport. Or is there?

Where there’s high reward there’s usually high risk too. It goes without saying, CrossFit has its risks. Now, these may not apply to the majority of the devotees out there, but it does not mean that CrossFit is risk-free. In fact, almost 20% of all people who practice this form of exercise have suffered some sort of an injury at least once. Let us explain why that is so.

The other side of the coin

The flipside of CrossFit comes alive. Hate it or love it, CrossFit does have its downsides and some of them are serious red flags. Especially for the ones who aren’t acquainted with all the implications which this new kid on the block carries.

Namely, as one can see from the outlines of what we’ve mentioned before, the pool of exercises in play is huge. That comes with a price. The more exercises you put into a workout, and not just any type, the more risk you invite. Tendons, ligaments, even whole muscles could be compromised without precaution. Even if you do not follow the discipline of the most rigorous of CrossFit enthusiasts you succumb to injury so you need to be careful in order to make CrossFit worthwhile.

Some people consider complete exhaustion to be the point of a CrossFit workout

We also need to mention longevity. Longevity is important for anyone who wants a healthy lifestyle and busting your ass off, giving it your 100% during each and every workout is simply not sustainable. Forget about what any coach, trainer, fitness guru, or expert said. Those who think this way are the majority of that 20% we’ve just mentioned. You need to settle your ego if you want to practice CrossFit on a regular basis otherwise you risk serious physical and mental burnouts.

Part of the reason why people burn out is the idiosyncratic ideology of the CrossFit community which can be repulsive at times. Certain people firmly believe destroying your body as much as you can and as often as you can will make you reach fitness heights never before heard of. Some of these eccentrics attain satisfaction from the inability to breathe due to fatigue and exhaustion. Is that really healthy? We see more potential for harm in that than anything else.

To draw a couple of lines

For the average person wanting a change, grasping for something new and exciting CrossFit might be the perfect solution. Plenty of reasons for that. Your workouts aren’t extra long in duration, you develop your fitness in almost all areas in a relatively short amount of time, develop massive strength, and the list goes on. Those who settle for this type of training approach can benefit greatly and we do give a green light for anyone to at least try CrossFit once if you don’t plan on making it a lifestyle. For the sake of having a new and unique workout experience, if nothing else.

However, for people who aim to reach higher grounds, we salute you with words of extreme caution. This is a different type of animal you’re dealing with here, remember that. Make sure both your form and ego are in check at all freaking times. If your foot goes off the focus pedal you might end up in a ditch.

Always think twice before trying to beat someone’s PR or catching up with the strongest one from your CrossFit group. If it seems dangerous, it probably isn’t worth giving a shot. Injuries and even health issues often arise from such cocky endeavors. Yes, competition is good, but it is only good in moderation.

Be prudent. Take all the good stuff that CrossFit has to offer and discard the bad. There is so much value here for you so make the most out of it.

We wish you the best of workouts.

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