Answer to the Question of the Week: Crossfit

Posted: October 7, 2012 in Articles, Golf, Question of the Week

We have a very good question from an anonymous donor this week regarding a popular exercise format called Crossfit.  The question was: Can you explain the Crossfit craze and why it seems to be the best form if exercise out there today, with its scale-ability and only basic equipment needed. Why isn’t everyone doing it? Don’t they know bicep curls aren’t functional?

Thank you anonymous for submitting your question.  This seems to be somewhat of a loaded question and to directly answer your question, I cannot explain Crossfit’s popularity.  I would say it is very popular because it is basic, exercises vary from day to day and you are able to compare yourself with the top performers of the exercise routines on a daily basis.

However, there are a few things in your question that I would like to address.  You make some valid points in regards to some positive things about Crossfit.  However, not all of your statements are quite accurate.  For example, Bicep curls, are functional.  It may not be considered a “functional movement exercise,” but doing biceps curls (or any isolated exercise) provides some function in fitness, for example,  in regards to gaining strength for a specific muscle group (i.e. forearm and bicep).  Even though it is an isolated exercise, isolated exercises are still a very efficient way of breaking down muscle tissue in order to elicit muscle hypertrophy.  While this strength may not be gained through a range of motion used for every day activity, as Crossfit helps to do, the isolated Bicep curl would still be the best way to induce hypertrophy of the bicep.

I don’t mean to come across as anti Crossfit, I am a huge fan of Crossfit.  I incorporate some things from Crossfit in my workouts as well as the workouts I design for my clients.  In fact, my personal fitness goals are centered on  improving my mobility so I can begin doing Crossfit workouts.  Despite my efforts, I have not improved enough to start.

This brings up your question in regards to why isn’t everyone doing it and it is the best thing around.  The truth is; Crossfit is not for everyone.  Those individuals who cannot pass a functional movement screen should not come anywhere near many of the exercises prescribed on a daily basis in the Crossfit program.  In fact, many of these people should see a physical therapist.  As you point out, Crossfit incorporates a great deal of scale-ability, or modification.  None the less, these modifications are not enough to allow someone with shoulder impingement, restricted ankle movement, or back/pelvis issues to safely participate…especially without professional supervision.

Also, Crossfit’s program design can also be argued as a weak point.    Crossfit has an overall plan and the progress you make in regards to focused exercises do not progress linearly.  One day you may do 5 sets of 5 repetitions of squats with a heavy weight and two days later you may do 10 sets of 15 squats with a much lighter weight.  This is considered an undulating or non linear exercise program.  Undulating programs are arguably as successful if not slightly more successful than a linear exercise programs where volumes of exercise and intensities increase rather constantly.  However, despite a great deal of planning which goes into Crossfit’s program design, the undulating model of program design used by Crossfit can be too inconsistent.  Often times, inconsistent prescription of exercise can yield varied results.  Also, the design cannot accept feedback from each individual as to how their body is adapting.  Without a fitness professional to assess this it is difficult to know if the following a prescribed undulating exercise program is appropriate for an individual.

None the less, many people have great success in meeting fitness goals and do so without suffering major injuries with the Crossfit plan.  Honestly, I do think it is the best mass fitness plan (insanity, p90x, etc.) available for many people who are physically capable of performing the movements.  However, I would say that the best or most ideal “fitness” thing around would be to workout with a highly experienced fitness professional who has a high level training and who is goal oriented in regards to your fitness success.  Again, I am not trying to come off as anti Crossfit, there are just things to consider when deciding to begin this program as there would be with any program, and the masses need to know!


Thanks again for the great question!

  1. Doc says:

    In your post about Crossfit, you mention, ” …the best or most ideal “fitness” thing around would be to workout with a highly experienced fitness professional…

    What are your suggestions to evaluate the experience and credibility of a fitness professional prior to hiring them? Is a certification enough? Are all certifications the same?

    • hatterasboy83 says:

      Doc, you always have such good questions. Thank you. To answer your question, not all certifications are the same….I would suggest a certification through the national strength and conditioning association or the american college of sports medicine. Also, you ask if a certification is enough. My answer is that it depends on the certification. If you have one of the previously mentioned certifications, I think that is enough. However, if it is a different certification a college degree in the feild helps. However, certifications and degrees are only part of it and the full credibility of a trainer should be assessed by the type and various experience a trainer has, a desire for continuing education and feedback from previous clients especially in regards to safety. How you go about collecting this information can be rather difficult though.

      • Doc says:

        Solid response, as always. My goal in asking questions is to help you educate your followers and heighten their awareness of topics that will positively influence their training experience and the results they achieve. I like to encourage everyone to understand the ” why” behind their training. beyond single workouts or exercises.

        “Knowledge is power,but its application is the foundation from which exceptional achievements are derived.”

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