CrossFit South Rockland

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


It’s time I devote an article to CrossFit, and in so doing, reveal the secret origins of a pillar of the CrossFit lifestyle, WOD. What most of you don’t know is that WOD did not originally stand for Workout Of the Day. I mean, think about it: it doesn’t even make sense. Why include the ‘O’ and not the ‘T’. Both are minor articles. Maybe it’s Work Out of the Day, but that, to me, says therapy—I worked it out in my session. Why not have WD or WOTD, or be creative and come up with Daily Ritualistic Training, DRT. That’d be cool: let’s DRT-it! Time to get DRT-ee. And, as a bonus, it describes the religious-like zeal of members. No, the WOD acronym may seem strange, but its real meaning is poignant to the entire CrossFit philosophy.
Most people think I hate CrossFit and, by extension, CrossFitters. I do strongly dislike CrossFit, but I’ve spent time with CrossFit practitioners and almost every member—not necessarily instructor—possesses two attitudes: they don’t mind working hard and they want to improve. How can you do anything other than respect this? But I still hate the CrossFitters who set up ten pieces of equipment to rotate through, each of which will sit empty for 20 minutes of their workout, and each they’ll use only for 30 seconds. If you don’t want me to hate you, then do and teach CrossFit at a CrossFit gym.
CrossFitters like hard work.
There, I admitted it: I have some respect for most CrossFitters. You may want to peek outside and see if the sky is falling or if a mushroom cloud is forming off in the distance because this surely signifies the beginning of the end.  No, seriously, expect the sun to swell and engulf Venus any minute and bake us and the atmosphere to oblivion. In our final moments, I want to tell CrossFitters why they should hate CrossFit even more than I do.
First, let’s face facts. If you take an average CrossFitter, their performance in one segment—strength, endurance, power, agility or speed—is pathetic compared to trained athletes. It’s elite fitness for couch potatoes and just because you’re in extra-ordinary shape compared to your 600 lb neighbor that can only leave their house via a forklift doesn’t mean you’re impressive. For the average American, walking a mile constitutes extreme performance.
CrossFit masks this less-than-elite reality by creating a beautiful façade: why be exceptional at anything when you can be pretty good at some things? Run a sub-4 minute mile? CrossFit says you’re not fit…do WODs until you’re slower, then you’ll be elite. That makes so much sense to me. If you train to be amazing at everything, you’ll end up lame at everything then everybody gets a trophy. Awesome. Sign me up. I’m tired of being a freak. Why stay muscular, strong, lean and sprint-ready? I want to work harder for less, dammit. CrossFit me, baby!
Lance Mosley: CrossFit did not build this physique, powerlifting did. CrossFit did make him loose 100 lbs on his deadlift, though.

How could I like such an ideology, one that says don’t be elite, be one of us and pretend to be elite? I can’t. The CrossFit establishment fools its adherents to believe they become magically elite by working out without a goal. They don’t train: training implies improving in some direction, having a plan. CrossFit goes every direction without a plan. You can’t compare CrossFit, as an entity, to say Olympic-caliber training. Sure, there are some impressive CrossFitters whowere top-level athletes before taking it easy as a CrossFitter. CrossFit has never created an incredible physique, it only softens them, in a sense, bringing the elite a little closer to the couch.
It’s akin to comparing Weight Watchers® to advanced and extreme-result-generating diets such as Carb Nite® or Carb Back-Loading ™. Using these dieting strategies, I’ve stayed lean and muscular for over 6 years eating anywhere from 3000 to 5000 calories depending on the day (sometimes as much as 10,000 kcal in an afternoon). An independent study of Weight Watchers and similar diets found that people who maintain their success for more than 2 years eat 1600 calories or less per day, regardless of exercise, and many eat less than 1000 calories per day1-5, not the 2000 to 2300 calories Weight Watchers promises you’ll be able to eat once you hit your target weight. Like Weight Watchers, CrossFit promises something it doesn’t deliver, making you work harder for less.
I know CrossFit claims it is the best method to achieve anything and everything—like endurance, power, strength and even hypertrophy—with profanities and vitriol instead of data. Why? There is no supporting data. Not that data doesn’t exist—because it does—but it makes the CrossFit mantra look, well, stupid.
CrossFit says she’s out of shape because she runs too fast.
The idea is called the acute interference hypothesis: if you train for everything at once, you make crappy gains across the board. Research strongly supports the hypothesis6-24, 32-36 and from my experience with CrossFitters, CrossFit may be developing the largest body of evidence to prove the hypothesis once and for all. For example, if you want to increase power output, you must reduce endurance training6, 36. The only people who disagree with these consistent findings are CrossFit gurus (yes, I know, it seems oxymoronic, can you be a guru of made-up shit?). As a matter of fact, you achieve the absolute worst results when you attempt to train all modalities in a single workout7, 32, the exact CrossFit protocol.
I would be remiss if I did not touch on CrossFit’s dietary recommendations. The CrossFit community comes mostly in two flavors: those who use The Zone Diet and those who go Paleo. The Zone is a Mediterranean-style diet dressed up to look cool—the proverbial “putting lipstick on a pig”. Don’t believe me? If The Zone is so magical, why does it decrease athletic performance25, 26, not burn fat faster than any other diet27, 28 and why has Dr. Sears even been caught—I don’t want to say lying, but…—falsely interpreting research trying to defend his diet25, 29-31? The point is: it’s crap, it’s always been crap and if you use it with CrossFit, it’s amplified crap. And the Paleo Diet? Don’t get me started on how stupid it is to think we had vast fields of nut trees and fruit orchards during an evolutionary period in part defined by the absence of agriculture, but in all fairness, it’s a fine diet for an average person. Silly CrossFit, Paleo is for kids, so to speak. It is not a performance-oriented diet.
Former gymnastics practitioner and life-long athlete, Jen Morris, another shady-advertisement for what CrossFit can do.(she asked to have her picture removed, but you can still see what she looks like here.)
While I dislike CrossFit and its variations, I do like the community it creates and the desire of people to get better…but better at what? I think the community would be served best if it stopped posting pictures of the elite-level athletes who retired into CrossFit and instead took up-and-coming athletes to an elite level by helping them find a direction in which to continue, whether it be Olympic lifting, marathon running, powerlifting or figure competitions. You can’t train without a goal and CrossFit (and the CrossFit games) lack anything resembling a goal.
So CrossFitters, wake up. If you’ve been CrossFitting for more than 6 months, it’s time to move on. You’ve had your warm up, now move into the world of elite competition. Don’t be fooled into thinking that CrossFit will take you anywhere except under the knife when you destroy your shoulders from performing 20 clean-and-jerks with poor form—Olympic lifts are designed to be performed for one repetition after a solid set up at the bar. The CrossFit establishment is not operating in your best interest as an athlete, hell, they don’t even think of you as an athlete, just a graduated couch potato with some vague and meaningless asset called elite fitness. If you were a real athlete, they’d make fun of you and say how unfit you are as they do jumping pull-ups for 30 grueling reps (I guess kipplings got too hard and heaven forbid you see a CrossFitter ever perform a hanging pull-up).
Oh yeah. I almost forgot to tell you the original meaning of WOD: Without Obvious Direction. Goooooo CrossFit!

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