Network Blog

Reflections on fitness, wellness, health and more

Is CrossFit Training for Everyone?

The following post is written by Lori Eggers from PTontheNET.

Type in the word “CrossFit” into any search engine, and you’ll see literally hundreds of entries for CrossFit programs in various cities, states and countries around the world.

Developed by a former gymnast in California, the CrossFit program is designed to “deliver a fitness that is, by design, broad, general and inclusive,” where the same routines are used for “elderly individuals with heart disease and cage fighters one month out from televised bouts.”

The main CrossFit website (CrossFit.com) even has a section titled “CrossFit Kids.” This begs the question: can one training methodology truly be for everyone? Especially one dubbed by some as a “fast, furious workout craze?”

Sure, smart personal trainers know to progress clients slowly at an individual pace. But proper progression/regression aside, is a high intensity workout like CrossFit really safe for all populations?

Brian Grasso, CEO of the International Youth Conditioning Association, says, "Youth fitness is much more than just stringing together some difficult drills/exercises and running kids through them." One of the most important things with youth fitness, according to Brian, is creating a program that is developmentally sound, taking into consideration "natural sensitive periods of neural development" in young clients and athletes.

The same concept hold true for seniors. Tammy Petersen, founder of the American Academy of Health and Fitness, says, “What program a trainer utilises for an older adult client is not nearly as important as the trainer’s knowledge base for working with the older adult. Trainers must have the advanced training to know how to ‘scale’ any program to make it
safe and effective for an older adult client - especially one with heart disease!”

Networks' PT members who have access to www.ptonthenet.com can find out more at the PTontheNET forum. But we invite you to tell us here - have you experienced CrossFit yet? What's your thoughts? If you haven't tried it yet, what do you want to know about it? Do you think it will take off here in Oz? Tell us what you think.

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Posted by: Adam Stanecki | 02-Jun-2009 10:43 AM | 3 out of 5 stars

This post doesn't actually answer the question in the title. I can answer it (although you may consider me biased as I am affiliated). CrossFit is safe for everyone. It is fully scalable. It is not simply "stringing together some difficult drills/exercises". There is validity and empirical evidence behind the program. Do not judge it based solely on internet posts and videos. CrossFit is contrary to many common fitness models and therefore causes discomfort among many in the industry. Different doesn't mean wrong. If you want to try it for yourself, I'll provide a free trial at my gym. Go to http://www.crossfitvictoria.com for more info.


Regards, Adam Stanecki.

Posted by: Williams Australia | 04-Jun-2009 09:44 AM |

I own and run Australia's current Personal Training Business of the Year and have sat on the Board of Fitness Australia ACT branch, and whilst i am a big believer in variety to people's training, i am still not sure that Crossfit is safe for everyone. I have been and tried it for myself and i found it quite extreme even after training and competing for 15 years. The problem i believe we are and will see, is trainers setting themselves up wanting to do CrossFit training with their clients,but they lack enough experience to be able to cater for a variety of clients and to be able to scale it back to suit the various fitness levels they may come across. I am not 100% sure on what training or qualifications are required at this stage to be a CrossFit qualified trainer, but i am sure it is something that can be addressed to make the trainers more qualified and to be able to offer lower impact options of the training.

Time will tell if it will take off in Australia, and at this stage it is not something i will tell my clients to try unless they have a very high level of fitness.

I run a Mini Commandos style of training for around 20 primary schools per term and at this stage i will not teach it to our youth, preferring to focus on developmental fun exercise programs.

With time, better training and more understanding of the CrossFit style of training, it may be something that can be taught down the track.

Posted by: Graeme beath | 18-Jun-2009 09:49 AM |

Like Adam I am biased but I think there is a perception as relayed by Scott that CrossFit is always intense or extreme. I condust mostly outdoor PT sessions & am a CrossFit Cert 1 trainer but I don't train people in a Crossfit gym (yet - it a goal). My own training is Crossfit & i'M 55 so it's not just for young fire breathers. I would also comment I pretty much beat most new younger people coming out of a globo gym environment untill they build up real firtness.

CrossFit training is functional; really functional not just standing on a bosu. Technique is paramount and a very large amount of time is spent getting proper movement before anyone is released on an exercise program. Workouts are infinitely scaleable and the most intense routines can be modified for 80 year olds & 8 year olds. I use it on most my squads but they don't know it. I've also had disabled people doing movements they didn't think possible simply because no one showed them how. I currntly have a rehab client from car accident.

The intensity comes at each level.

Check out Adams web site & you'll find links to other affiliates around the country. Go, look & talk to the trainers & don't always think about hard core. Once you are hooked though you will want to go hard & you'll accept ripped hands from pull ups, scraped shins from Oly Lifts & general soreness. The guys who opposse it have generally never tried it or talked to anyone who has given it e serious evaluation.

Posted by: Anonymous | 18-Jun-2009 10:38 AM | 4 out of 5 stars

I agree with Adam. I've experienced Crossfit and it was an extremely hard, satisfying workout - due to my own commitment level. I think the problem is that it is actually hard to push yourself to that level alone as yes, it is uncomfortable. By the same token yes, it does get results (provided you know when to stop i.e. when your form fails). I've seen some videos that perhaps don't support this style of training as the subjects push passed the point of losing their technique and it all looks a little too painful and potentially dangerous) but based on my personal research and experience I would suggest Trainers try it for themselves before making a quick judgement. The principles behind it are sound and so I think easily scaleable across a variety of populations.


I am a PT and regularly use this style of training with my clients (ranging in age from 20-something to 70-something). I don't think it's a particularly new concept rather the intensity level that attracts attention. That said, I don't just throw Clients in at the highest level of intensity or I'd never see them again. It's a matter of introducing the principles at an intensity hard enough to get results but at a level they can cope with so they don't go away sore to the point that it interferes with their life and they don't want to come back.


I think pushing the intensity as high as you can during your workout while maintaining correct technique is very much optimal training.

Posted by: Anonymous | 20-Jun-2009 04:19 PM | 5 out of 5 stars

I am a PTI in the Army and have been for 21 years, the crossfit phenonenum has its place. Where I work we conduct crossfit for all ages, but at a level they can cope with also. I have tried it and my strength gains were excellent, that said I did not look at the times or reps of other people on the web site Crossfitfx.com and rested between each bout of sets when fatigued. You can make up your own and work your way into it, alot of people start off hard and unprepared and consequently receive an injury or accute muscle soreness. My suggestion work in slow and set achievable goals.

Posted by: Brendan | 22-Jun-2009 06:06 PM | 5 out of 5 stars

As above i'm all for Crossfit. As a holder of a Crossfit certification I can honestly say that anyone that is willing to bag this type of training has not tried it. It is fully adjustable to suit all ages, genders, fitness and functional levels. In the words of Crossfit " the only difference between an elite athlete and a elderly trainee is one looks for functional dominance the other looks for functional competence " Crossfit supplies both camps with the required level of fitness over a broad range of modalities, that is a broad level of general fitness.


As for the comment about "bad form" All afilliates and trainers conduct a foundation course teaching the core movements and correct technique to all the various exercises used in the Crossfit workouts. This has to be completed before any trainee is let loose on any workout.


To my knowledge not many Globo gyms teach their clients how to Clean, Press, Snatch or swing a Kettlebell safely? Signing a direct debit seem to be the only pre requisite to training.

Posted by: Anonymous | 06-Jul-2009 02:31 PM |

Is it for everyone? Training's about being holistic,working on all muscle groups,flexibility, imbalances, food,stress,educating clients about their bodie etc.So pick a series of exercises that are well balanced for your client ,work them hard, safley and at their level, this is Cross training,been doing it for 15 years.



Posted by: Darryl | 04-Sep-2009 11:54 AM |

i am have been doing both the main CF and the navy seals CF as part of PT for my employment.

i'm not a big believer in it and still thinks its dangerous, and to some degree, even pointless. i believe a lot of injuries are caused by this random approach, and the mixing of exercises that should be seperate. eg, doing high reps of heavy lifts interspersed with other activities. we shouldn't be doing heavy lifts after completely wearing yourself out on other activities, as form naturally goes out the window.

and i dont believe in the notion of training body parts that are still stiff and sore from previous workouts, but thats what invariably happens as the workouts are random. we have a certified CF instructor at work, and he suggests sacrificing a small amount of form to ensure you push the barrier and make improvements (which was taught to him by coach glassman on his course).

in my experience, after doing CF for some time, a new person to CF can walk in and complete and even beat regularlt CFitters. people who do conventional weight and cardio programs seem to have absolutely no difficulty completing ANY of the WODs, which suggests to me that CF trains mediocrity, or a very poor standard, in the fitness domains it promotes.

i am currently in a tactical police unit and have subjected myself to some very rigorous training programs. i gave CF and long trial, and my strength and cardio decreased dramatically. we have had shoulder and knee injuries, not to mention more than 1 hernia case. all this from people who are very active and very well trained. physcially and mentally.

also, the CF website has SOOO many photos of these really muscular guys. marketing ploy? i think so. if anyone thinks those physiques are gained by CF alone are sadly mistaken. that only will come from long, dedicated weight training, genetics, and a well balanced diet (not the cave man diet).

as i said i trialled CF for a long time with a very open mind. im not trying to offend anyone involved in it, im just putting forward my opinion and experience.

cheers

Posted by: Darryl | 04-Sep-2009 11:54 AM |

i am have been doing both the main CF and the navy seals CF as part of PT for my employment.

i'm not a big believer in it and still thinks its dangerous, and to some degree, even pointless. i believe a lot of injuries are caused by this random approach, and the mixing of exercises that should be seperate. eg, doing high reps of heavy lifts interspersed with other activities. we shouldn't be doing heavy lifts after completely wearing yourself out on other activities, as form naturally goes out the window.

and i dont believe in the notion of training body parts that are still stiff and sore from previous workouts, but thats what invariably happens as the workouts are random. we have a certified CF instructor at work, and he suggests sacrificing a small amount of form to ensure you push the barrier and make improvements (which was taught to him by coach glassman on his course).

in my experience, after doing CF for some time, a new person to CF can walk in and complete and even beat regularlt CFitters. people who do conventional weight and cardio programs seem to have absolutely no difficulty completing ANY of the WODs, which suggests to me that CF trains mediocrity, or a very poor standard, in the fitness domains it promotes.

i am currently in a tactical police unit and have subjected myself to some very rigorous training programs. i gave CF and long trial, and my strength and cardio decreased dramatically. we have had shoulder and knee injuries, not to mention more than 1 hernia case. all this from people who are very active and very well trained. physcially and mentally.

also, the CF website has SOOO many photos of these really muscular guys. marketing ploy? i think so. if anyone thinks those physiques are gained by CF alone are sadly mistaken. that only will come from long, dedicated weight training, genetics, and a well balanced diet (not the cave man diet).

as i said i trialled CF for a long time with a very open mind. im not trying to offend anyone involved in it, im just putting forward my opinion and experience.

cheers

Posted by: James H | 10-Feb-2010 09:32 PM |

I personally think there are ups, and plenty of downs to Cross fit.

DOWNS
A cookie cutter approach to exercising multiple people is dangerous.
No concern for technique, even though they say scale it down, the competitive aspect allows people to push well beyond their capabilities
The only safeway to train an INDIVIDUAL is to thoroughly assess them and then program design accordingly, crossfit does not do this

UPS
The community it has created on local, national and global levels is pretty phenomenal. The concept is great.

Charles Polequin is surely one of the most highly respected people in this industry and he has a lengthy article highlighting his thoughts you can read it here..

www.tmuscle.com/free_online_article/sports_body_training_performance/question_of_strength_vol_47

Cheers.

Posted by: Anita | 16-Apr-2011 07:58 PM |

I have been doing CrossFit for 8 months and started with very poor fitness level. I am fortunate enough to have an experienced coach who is running a very thorough CrossFit box in terms of training and insisting on good and correct form. I have to say
that I am completely amazed at my increased fitness level, weight loss, strength gain and overall health improvements. I simply cannot get enough of the workouts and I have seen so many people around me at the box that have had significant results in their
fitness levels from doing CrossFit. Everyone should be doing CrossFit or similar. The benefits far outweigh any "possible cons".