CrossFit has become one of the most popular training styles in the country. Targeting people’s competitive nature, CrossFit trainers have done an excellent job getting people off the couch and into the gym. However, there is quite a bit of controversy lately about the style of workouts that CrossFit training promotes. Today we’ll take a look at the pros and cons of CrossFit training, and help you decide if it’s the best style of training for you.
CrossFit Provides Competitive Motivation
One of the hardest parts about working out regularly is staying motivated. Sure, you might be able to have a consistent month or two in the gym, but as every gym-goer knows, keeping up the motivation to be consistent for an extended period of time can be difficult. Providing ample motivation is one of CrossFit’s greatest strengths. By adding a competitive element to workout routines, individuals involved in CrossFit keep coming back to improve their scores and move up the leaderboard.
CrossFit Teaches Explosive Compound Movements
One of the staples in CrossFit workout programming is the utilization of explosive compound movements. There are few things better for building muscle and increasing strength than multi-joint, compound exercises. Add in the emphasis on moving explosively and you have a recipe for rapid strength and muscle gains.
CrossFit Can Drastically Improve Mobility
Another great benefit of CrossFit style training is the increased mobility you’ll receive. Performing explosive compound exercises takes quite a bit of shoulder, hip, and ankle mobility. As you perform these compound exercises, your body will adapt to them and become more flexible and mobile over time.
CrossFit does have some drawbacks that are important to take into consideration when planning your workout routine. Here are some of the negative aspects of CrossFit style training.
CrossFitters are More Prone to Injury
Probably the number one argument against CrossFit training is the rate at which these athletes experience a gym-related injury. Some factors that contribute to this high rate of injury are the advanced nature of CrossFit lifts, excessive competition, and doing strength-based training to fatigue.
While advanced lifts are an excellent way to build strength and muscle, unfortunately, the CrossFit community tends to market these lifts to beginners. If you’re a beginner that hasn’t built up a base of strength or familiarity with basic movements, CrossFit training can easily result in injuries related to poor form and balance.
While some competition is a great motivator, too much competition can lead to inflated egos where individuals are trying to lift too much for too long just to increase their score. When the attention goes from improving your body to beating the score on the board, you can easily overtrain and set yourself up for injury.
Another cause for concern when it comes to the CrossFit training style is the timed nature of the exercises. Many of the workouts that are programmed into CrossFit are what we call Olympic lifts (exercises such as power cleans, overhead squats, barbell jerks, and barbell snatches). Olympic lifts are highly intense and require a lot of balance and concentration, things you tend to lose when fatigued. When Olympic lifts are performed in a timed environment, fatigue can set in quickly which will cause the lifter to lose concentration and have a breakdown in form, not something you want while holding 150 pounds over your head.
While many people who are critical of the CrossFit community will bring up other cons, they can tend to be pretty nitpicky. Far and away the biggest negative aspect of CrossFit is the increased risk of injury.
While we definitely aren’t telling you to stay away from CrossFit, it’s a good thing to be aware of all the variables and risks. Make sure you have a strong foundation in strength training and familiarize yourself with the exercises before performing them in a competitive environment.
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