What Everyone Can Learn From CrossFit

By Kyle Arsenault CSCS

In the November 2011 issue of Men’s Health a great article was written that covers the topic of CrossFit. I suggest you read the article here http://www.menshealth.com/fitness/cult-crossfit, but I will recap a few main points which provide support for one of the main philosophies behind Momentum Physical Therapy and Performance Training programs…individualized training.

If your program is not tailored to your goals and needs (training experience, movement flaws, capacity for training, schedule, etc) and is instead simply a general program for the masses, your results will be less than optimal and you will be at a greater risk for potential injury.

Training needs to be about YOU, not the masses!

So if you have ever thought about jumping on the “latest and greatest” training program, you may want to re-consider after reading a few key points below that describe the “Cult of CrossFit.” And don’t be fooled…this is not just an issue with CrossFit.

This same issue arises with many at home programs and DVDs as well as within many “performance training” or “strength and conditioning” facilities who do not take your individual needs into account. Instead, they throw you into a group fitness class that has everyone doing the same damn thing…this is where I could go on a tirade about “bootcamps,” but I’ll refrain.

One more everyone! Don’t stop ’til you rip that shoulder!

Let’s move on.

From the article:

POSITIVES (mostly)

-It is mentioned that the workouts are “short, intense and constantly changing.” This is good, except for the constantly changing piece. Repetition provides mastery, mastery provides results. You need to reinforce movements in order to become proficient at them and progress.

-Camaraderie amongst CrossFitters is outstanding, and “no one is allowed to quit.” Camaraderie is a great thing, but it can also be achieved in a setting where everyone is training accordingly and encouraging each other…not simply trying to push everyone to the point where breakfast ends up on the floor.


-The authors very first “Workout of the Day” (WOD in CrossFit lingo) consisted of 12 push-ups, 9 deadlifts with 225 pounds and 15 jumps onto a 24 inch box. He was to complete as many rounds as possible in 15 minutes…this was after an “assessment” consisting of running, jumping, rowing, squats and push-ups…I will ask, what was truly assessed before he was thrown into his first WOD?…Ya, not much other than his lack of cardiovascular conditioning.

-As the author pushed further into his WOD, he noticed that “Pushups around the room became increasingly bendy, jumps turned wobbly and deadlifts turned ugly.” Improper programming and fatigue bring about poor form / technique and will result in injury…never a good thing!

-Straight from the mouth of the founder of CrossFit…”If you came to me with a set of goals that looked like ‘lose the fat, improve my musculature,’ or ‘move toward a better aesthetic,’ I wouldn’t do anything differently for you if you came to me and said, ‘I want to improve my work capacity across broad time and modal domains.” No concern for individualization or your goals…doesn’t sound too promising!

This video says it all!

-“CrossFit’s one size fits all methods are flawed, perhaps dangerously so.” This from a previous owner of a CrossFit facility. When individuals push technically challenging exercises, form breaks down with fatigue and injury is all too often imminent.

-The author lost 7 pounds in 90 days on his Crossfit program and he explains, “The last thing I wanted to do was end up skinnier…at no point was I asked what my goals were. Nobody at my CrossFit gym knew about my weight loss, or cared.” With a generalized program, goals are lost in the shuffle…and not just with CrossFit.

It is my hope that you can see why the latest hypes in fitness are not necessarily the best program for you (in fact I would say are absolutely not the best for you). It was not my goal with this post to bash CrossFit (the article does that well enough), but rather to use this example as a way to again highlight the importance of individualized training.

Generic programs…like a shot to the face.

Without individualization, a training / exercise program will leave you frustrated, and at a greater risk for potential injury. Do not let yourself, or even worse, your children, fall victim to the latest craze or “coolest local facility.” Do your research and make sure the program is designed specifically for you! Don’t waste your time and effort on generic, one size fits all programs that leave you with nothing more than you constantly banging your head against the wall, and worse, a slip for physical therapy…although this may work to our advantage…but that’s not what Momentum is all about!

2 Responses to What Everyone Can Learn From CrossFit

  1. hydrosquall says:

    This was a very fair criticism of the crossfit program. How many years ago did you take part in their workouts?

  2. momentumpt2 says:

    Thank you for your reply.

    The CrossFit workouts the article describes were the from the experience of the author, not from the experience of any of the Momentum Team.

    The article was published in the November 2011 issue of Men’s Health.

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