Now, despite what you guys may have heard, I actually am NOT the biggest fan of Crossfit. I think that title belongs to these guys. I do agree that their workouts can be grueling, and tough,and the community aspect of Crossfit is second to none. The Crossfit community has nothing but support for one another. Whether that support comes from an us against them mentality, or whether it’s actually genuine care for one another, I don’t know, but i wish it was more prevalent in fitness. All that aside, the thing I’m here to talk about isn’t the community aspect of it. It’s the fact that they take whoever wins the Crossfit Games, and calls them the fittest man, or woman, on the planet. To me, this is flat out wrong. I would love a discussion on why this is the case. My actual interpretation of it, is that whoever wins the Crossfit Games is the fittest person at Crossfit. A very niche specialization, I suppose. Most Crossfit people will mark this blog down as another Crossfit “hater” post, but bear with me on this. All you guys who do Crossfit, take your last the WOD’s that you’ve done. Now make a list of all the exercises you’ve done. I’ll go on to the Crossfit website and pull up the last three “workout of the day’s”. These are the exercises, for the last week, not counting the warm ups (Thursday and Monday were rest days, on the schedule): Tuesday: Weighted Dip Wednesday: Rowing machine Friday: Double Unders, Front Squats, Push Presses Saturday: Snatches Sunday: Burpee Box Jumps, Squat Cleans Tuesday: Bench Press, L Pull-Ups Wednesday: Deadlift
Now, Those are some pretty good moves if you look them over, and will build you some good muscle, done in the right amounts. Like I said earlier, some of the workouts are grueling and will make you tired and sore. There were various methods to do each of the exercises, like the Rowing Machine was to do 5000 meters, as fast as you can. I bet some people got whooped on that . Anyway, I know that most of you reading this won’t be personal trainers, or have any real background in fitness, besides what you read in magazines and what you hear around the gym, from your buddies and people who are actually in worse shape than you. So, let’s just kind of define “fitness” for a minute. I’ll give you the wikipedia definition: “a general state of health and well-being or specifically the ability to perform aspects of sports or occupations”. That’s a pretty generic definition that can be used across the board. Totally fine. If we are going to get slightly more specific, I could suppose we could say you have to be strong, agile, fast, and have endurance. OK. So we have our “definition”. In most sports like basketball, football, baseball, soccer, adventure races, etc, you have to have mobility, and a certain amount of quickness as well, so we’ll add that. So with our definition, let’s move on.
A big part of fitness, and reducing the risk of injury is working in all three planes of motion. If you don’t know what those are, we have saggital (front to back and up and down), frontal (side to side) and transverse (rotational). You do all of these things in normal life, like turning to put your groceries away, putting your luggage in an overhead compartment, and putting your arms in the frame of a door and holding them there for 60 seconds so when you walk out of the door frame, your arms mysteriously float up by themselves! This relates as well, to ALL sports. Basketball, you are turning, and changing direction, shuffling laterally etc. Football, you are doing spin moves, and pushing people and throwing them to the side of your body. Golf, you are rotating your torso every swing. Soccer, you are changing direction every other second, kicking while turning, and diving through the air. Now, here comes the interesting part. Take a look at the workouts up above, and notice the plane of motion in each exercise. I’ll give you a minute to actually DO the movements in your head, or in real life…… Have you done it? Great. What can you tell me about each of the exercises? What plane of motion do they ALL occur in? If you guessed saggital (front to back, and up and down, remember), you are correct. Is this a problem? If you are ONLY doing Crossfit WOD’s, you bet your ass it is! You actually ARE NOT, training for real life, which they say is the point of Crossfit. Where is the training to be better at putting luggage overhead, which is one example one of my Crossfit friends gave to me, as to why it’s great for you? Last I checked, I’ve never had a straight forward and backward shot at getting luggage in an overhead bin. The aisle isn’t set up that way. Also, where is your training to be more agile? Have a better change of direction? Be able to navigate from the top of the ski slopes to the bottom? This goes without diving into the corrective aspect of fitness. My point, if I’ve lost you, is that Crossfit, while the exercises themselves are “OK”, in my opinion, Crossfit is very incomplete in determining a fitness level. To say that Crossfit trains you in an all encompassing way, would be a farce. In the last week, during their WOD’s, they do not even address lateral training, or rotational training once. I would assume some of the Crossfit gyms have wised up, and incorporated that into their methodology, but based on workouts I see from different “Boxes” I see on Instagram, and the like, this goes woefully misunderstood by Crossfit as a whole. My point is not to bash Crossfit once again, but it is to question the philosophy of it, in hopes that I will light a very pleasant discussion amongst fitness professionals. So before we get on to that side of things, understand this isn’t an attack, just a prodding for conversation.
Here is my fear. Once you neglect training in a specific modality, injury will occur. There are no “but’s” about that. If you do bench after bench after bench, with never addressing the back side of your body, eventually, you’ll have a shoulder injury because of the muscular imbalance. If you just address front to back and up and down motions, and never work on rotational or side to side movements, you will also end up with an injury at some point. Be considered lucky if you don’t. If you can’t move laterally, you can’t change direction, can’t rotate while producing force, then that’s not a total picture of fitness. If you want to call them The Fittest Person on The Planet, put in exercises that exhibit skill in all planes of motion. I understand WHY people do Crossfit, but understand it as a PART of your fitness routine, and not the sum.