CrossFit, again

This’ll be the last time I write about this, I promise…..

Like I said, I do not intend to dismiss all CrossFit trainers and gyms. Maybe you found a good one, and that’s great! And I admitted that going to YouTube was a cheap shot but the thing is that it’s not just the failures that are somewhat poor in form but many of the proclaimed successes as well. Beyond that, though, it’s just the growing evidence, both anecdotal and statistical, about very unfortunate rates of injury in CrossFit training.

Most recently a CrossFit star suffered a truly catastrophic injury to his spine and currently has no feeling below his waist. Surely accidents do happen, but due to the nature of CrossFit training and especially competitive CrossFit this was actually an accident waiting to happen. In that linked-to post, aside from a its notes on muscle groups, rest, and training vs. competition, I think this brief point shouldn’t be overlooked:

Combining these three movements with a heavy load, the Snatch was being performed at a 3 Rep Max, will not build, or test, strength as the name of the WOD would imply, instead testing muscular endurance and sheer will power and mental fortitude.

To test strength, one would have to allow the muscle to completely repair itself between lifts, ala Olympic or Power lifting.

In other words, what CrossFit is testing via competition is not strength but sheer willpower ignorant (too often to a dangerous degree) of one’s own limitations and abilities. Now again, there is a time and a place for this type of training and there is a way to do it. When it comes to strength and endurance training especially competition with oneself is important to reaching new goals. As cliché as it sounds you truly do need to fight yourself in training if you expect to have the best chance to beat your opponent in whatever competition you’re heading into. However, putting strength and conditioning building itself into a cult-like, uncritical, and competitive-with-others sense seems to bring about a somewhat dangerous atmosphere for those training. Also, beyond the sense of recovery, what CrossFit does not emphasize is owning movements so as not to just prevent immediate injury, but problems that one might see down the road. If you want “evidence” I would recommend checking out strength trainers who have spent an exhausting amount of time developing safe, fantastic, and most importantly functional strength and endurance training like Dr. Mark Cheng and Kenneth Jay and what they have to say, especially the concept of Grease-The-Groove (basically: Only do good reps, if you feel yourself doing an unclean or bad rep, you are done with that set. Period.) These guys are the scientists I most respect right now when it comes to this topic. And they practice what they preach and it shows not just in themselves but in their clients. You won’t see them talking about CrossFit particularly, but you’ll notice how greatly the attitude of their programs differ from CrossFit.

And finally, the saddest aspect of CrossFit is that these problems do exist but unlike so many other sports which, of course, also have their problems and dangers, in CrossFit there seems to be a steadfast refusal to address them and change in order to become something so much better. This is what I meant in my other post about what can backfire about the encouraging community aspect of CrossFit, it too often devolves into blind adherence to a brand-name rather than serious inspection in to health and fitness.