I run a crossfit gym so of course my opinion is biased, but that also makes it informed.
There’s a lot of CF hate out there and there always will be. The program is big and flashy and in your face and the people who do it seem to talk about it waaaaaay too much. Well, here’s my 2 cents…
Being concerned about your health, avoiding injury, staying active… these are all admirable quests. It’s hard to sort out the variables in play because there are many of them and by and large the internet is cray cray …. it has no filter… which is cool (porn, medical questions, research, information, parenting help) and it’s also bad (opinions get spread like facts and there’s those pesky government control measures).
So… is crossfit dangerous?
A question for your question! Why do people always want black and white answers when it comes to health?
Is bread good or bad?
How far should I run?
How often should I train?
How many calories should I eat?
Is Crossfit dangerous?
It’s not black and white though. None of it is. Because you are just so special.
Is bread good or bad?
Bread is perfectly safe to consume in mass quantities… for some people
Bread is perfectly safe to consume in moderation… for most people
Bread is going to move you further from your goals… for some people (with some goals!)
Bread is actually dangerous… for a few people
How far should I run?
You should run as far as your running partner runs
You should run as far as the internet plan you found says
You should run as far as your goals demand
You should run as far as your running mechanics allow
You should run as far as your previous injuries allow
You should run farther than whoever is chasing you!
You should not run at all
All good advice, for someone
So what about Crossfit. Should I do it or not. Is it good or bad? Black or white?
Aren’t you listening!? It’s both!!
Crossfit is safe. Because it’s strength and conditioning which is pretty much essential to your survival. Crossfit at the very least attempts to teach good movement patterns (which is harder than it sounds). Crossfit also builds some strength, establishes new confidence, asks the tough diet questions, exposes your deepest darkest capacity oversights, and forces social engagement which generally results in bonding and fellowship. Good god, your kids might even see you do it and be inspired put down their iphones before the battery dies. Getting a more capable body alongside your buddies is a good thing.
Crossfit is dangerous. Because you suck! I do too. We all do. We suck at taking care of ourselves. On a long enough timeline we all eat like shit, sleep like shit, move like shit, don’t breath right, don’t drink enough water, watch too much tv, sit down too long, stress out, do drugs, stare at the sun, set a bad example for our kids, try something beyond our capacity, fall down, get hurt. If we didn’t suck so much at taking care of ourselves then crossfit wouldn’t exist.
So start with a sucky body (debatable) and add a clock, a loaded barbell, and lots of reps to bad movement patterns, quirky levers, pre-existing injuries, bad diets, or just really stubborn people who don’t know the difference between good pain and bad pain you end up hurt. Which sucks.
But it’s your trainers job to shield you from hurt, right? Yes. Your trainer should warn you about the potential for injury, assess your current range of motion, current level of strength, coordination, conditioning, provide you with a series of progressions, make appropriate substitutions, attempt to unfuck your diet, yell at you when you need yelling, stop you when you need stopping, and continually re-assess for tweaks to the thought out plan you engage in. That’s the way it should go.
That’s true for a crossfit coach, running coach, yoga instructor, personal trainer, doctor, physical therapist, chiropractor or any authority who tells people how they ought to be moving. Ok… maybe my chiropractor shouldn’t look at my food log… but everything else is pretty important if he’s going to provide meaningful input on what I choose to do with my body.
So we all know it’s not a perfect world and the authorities don’t always do all of the things they are supposed to do. So what are your options? Sue someone, find another authority, take some personal responsibility, or just quit life.
Not a very shiny picture eh? Well it gets less shiny… because there are times when your authority does everything right and you still get hurt. Human beings are incredibly durable but they have their quirky vulnerable bits too. Oversized skeletons, weak skeletons, bone spurs, tight hamstrings, dipshit hormones, disproportionate levers, birth defects, battle wounds… combined with bad movement patterns.
Oh those damn movement patterns. And the diets, don’t get me started on the diets. The sleep could use a little work too…
It’s not your fault though. We weren’t taught any better. We were taught american history and we were taught math and science by people who are good at math and science. These authorities were staples in our youth. But unless you were extraordinarily lucky you weren’t taught how to move, how to eat, how to stretch, how to hydrate, how to sleep by anyone good at those things… until after you had a number of years or decades to screw it up under your belt. Which is ok because most of the people around you are screwing it up too! Maybe somewhere along this dysfunctional (but very fun) route you asked the question… is there a better way? Or you were around someone who found what looked like a better way and you decided that’s something you ought to try too.
What was the question again!?
Oh yeah… Is crossfit good or bad?
Let’s paint another picture!
Larry Pelky runs a whole bunch. Like 40-60 miles per week average for the past 4 years. He runs further and faster than I do, but I also run… like a couple 400 meter intervals 2 years ago. So Larry’s running isn’t my running which makes it ok. If I did Larry’s running I would die and my wife would leave me and if larry did my running he would gain back the hundred pounds he’s lost. So can we all agree that there are different types of running? Pretty much common sense, I know… but here’s another picture!
I crossfit a whole bunch. Like most of the days in the last 7 years. I lift heavier and push harder than Judy Ann, but she also does crossfit, like 3 days a week for the past 4 years. She lifts heavy and pushes hard too. My crossfit isn’t her crossfit which makes it ok. If she did my crossfit she would die and if I did her crossfit I wouldn’t have these chiseled calves. So can we all agree that there are different crossfits? Because most of the crossfit hate I see doesn’t talk about different crossfits. They like to talk about my crossfit (the big flashy one) and they don’t really mention Judy Ann’s crossfit (the modified and intelligent progressive one).
So you can’t say that running is better than crossfit or more dangerous or that crossfit is better than running or more dangerous… or pilates, or yoga, or walking, or even P90X. They are all open ended inputs. Meaning, there is a smart way to run and a dumb way to run (simple progression vs. untrained marathon) just like there is a smart way to crossfit and a dumb way to crossfit (simple progression vs. untrained marathon… of shitty reps). If either one doesn’t feel right then stop. Ask if there’s another way. Buy different shoes, eat a more athletic menu, ask for help! We all know how to run slower but do you know how to crossfit slower? Find your pace.
Continue to question crossfit (whatever version you do) because that’s how it gets better. Question the methods, the movements, the volume, and the intensity because those variables are unique to you. They will change as you change. I do stupid hard workouts now because I’m young and dumb and haven’t hurt myself enough to think about stopping, but 10 years from now I won’t be doing Fran RX’d. I’ll probably still do Thrusters or at least reasonably heavy Front Squats and might even do them with a clock running but it won’t be to beat Rich Froning. It’ll be to let my son know that I can still kick his ass if he gets out of line. If you aren’t in a gym where you have options, where you have the ability to modify based on what you feel is right, then hit the road. Watch out for Larry though, he’s probably out there running on it.
The only general fitness advice you should take from the internet is not to take any general fitness advice from the internet, unless you have an open mind.
Be an adult and establish some personal goals. Then find people who can do what you want to be able to do or look like you want to look or act like you want to act. Do what they do and see if it works for you. Here’s the kicker… it might not. But that’s ok, because it’s a big internet and you’ll find other people with other ideas to try. Eventually, one of them will work… or you’ll be a really high functioning adult and you’ll change your goals.
But now I’m giving out general fitness advice on the internet, which I just told you not to listen to… And I didn’t even answer the fucking question!
Or did I…..
oooooooooooo… it’s like an onion of confusion. A confusonion!! Confonion!