CrossFit South Rockland

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Is CrossFit the ultimate workout?

Monday – “Self Argument” – Is CrossFit the ultimate workout?

CrossFit was founded in the mid 90′s by gymnast Greg Glassman.  It has only become ubiquitous in the fitness community within the last few years though.“CrossFit is not a specialized fitness program but a deliberate attempt to optimize physical competence in each of 10 recognized fitness domains -cardiovascular and respiratory endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, coordination, agility, balance, and accuracy” says Greg Glassman in his Foundations document.
I have experimented with CrossFit workouts; and it is likely they will play a large roll in my 2012 Plan.  I am not – at least currently – a CrossFit zealot however.  Knowing a few zealots though, I am accustomed to hearing boastful testimonials on CrossFit being the single best fitness prescription on the planet.  So today for Self Argument Monday I ask myself – Is CrossFit the ultimate workout?  My two alter egos – Steve and Enrique – will weigh in.
Steve’s Position:
For those able to do it, CrossFit is unequivocally the best fitness recipe there is. It offers many advantages over other types of workouts.  Let’s look at a just a few of several examples:
  • Ease: There are many Crossfit gyms all over the country.  All large cities have at least one – usually several.  Cost to join these gyms is often minimal – especially compared to mainstream clubs like Gold’s, Bally’s, etc.  Don’t want to go to a gym, or there isn’t one close by?  No problem – log onto each day to get a WOD (workout of the day). Many of the WODS can be done with fairly primitive equipment – shoes, heavy things, and a pull-up bar.
  • Variety: Everyday brings a new WOD.  This offers both physical and emotional benefit.  Not having a prescribed routine keeps the body in a state of continual adaptability; which generally leads to great muscular hypertrophy.  Not knowing what next day’s workout will be pays an emotional dividend – it diminishes “workout dread and boredom”.
  • Time: CrossFit workouts are generally short and intense.  Most do not exceed 20 minutes.  Compare this to P90X for example where participants need to commit over an hour a day six days per week.
  • Culture: There is a HUGE CrossFit community – message boards, YouTube, affiliate forums, etc.  Trading WOD stats is vogue.  I finished my Fran workout in 2:50, etc.
  • Scope: The goal of CrossFit is for participants to enhance performance across several physical domains - cardiovascular and respiratory endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, coordination, agility, balance, and accuracy.
Enrique’s Position:
CrossFit is indeed an excellent approach to enhancing fitness.  But is it the best there is – the ultimate?  Probably not.  In reality there is no “one” best fitness program as everyone has different needs and abilities.  While good, CrossFit is not without cons.  Let’s look at a few:
  • Specificity: The SAID principle (specific adaptation to imposed demands) proffers the notion our bodies only adapt to specific stimulus. For example, one can’t train to run ultra-marathons and expect to squat 500 lbs like a power-lifter. Contrariwise, one can’t train like a power-lifter and expect to be a successful ultra-distance runner.  The training required to carry out these two distinct athletics is very specific; there is no carry over to the other activity via general fitness adaptations.  Bottom line CrossFit will likely improve general fitness; but it may not benefit athletes that much (okay at all… master of none… type thing).
  • Education: Becoming certified to lead courses at a CrossFit affiliate gym can take as little time as a weekend.  Given the rigors of many of the WODS - and consequently the chance of sustainable injury – impeccable form and technique is paramount.  Is the twenty year old who got fired from Taco Bell and then decided to take a fifty-question test after a weekend of study to get their CrossFit Level 1 certificate the person you want training you to do Olympic Power-lifts that can kill you if done improperly? Perhaps this question is a bit dramatic, but suffice it to say CrossFit-Trainer education has come under serious fire these last few years.
  • Injury / Death: Many CrossFit routines are very extreme.  Even moderately fit people can get sick if they are not careful when first venturing into CrossFit.  Rhabdomyolysis, heart attacks, muscle tears, hernias, and projectile vomiting have all been recorded side effects of CrossFit.  Read  about how one CrossFitter barely escaped death.
So there we have it.  My two alter ego’s are polarizing as usual.  So… readers which is it?  Who has the more convincing argument –  Steve or Enrique?

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