CrossFit and “CrossFit-style workouts” (Some gyms use CrossFit style workouts but aren’t actually CrossFit boxes) are exploding in popularity across the country as the next best thing for getting in shape, improving health, and losing weight.
I’m not going to start a controversy and call CrossFit a fad — because it’s not, it’s a legitimate sport — but if your goal is to lose weight and improve health, we have to understand some distinctions between sport exercise and smart exercise.
So what’s the deal? Am I throwing Crossfit out completely or is there a grey area? Let’s start by identifying a problem of psychology and then addressing where CrossFit falls as a “solution.”
Line Up Your Priorities And Get Your Psychology Right.
CrossFit workouts are popular for people trying to lose weight. The reason normal people (non-athletes) flock to CrossFit boxes is because it makes them feel like they’re participating in the most legit new fitness craze to sweep the nation.
I don’t think it was ever cool to say you did TaeBo. It’s damn cool to call yourself a CrossFitter and post on Facebook three times a day that you’re off to “the box” to do your “WODs.”
The second reason people do CrossFit is because the workouts crush you. There’s a psychological component at play that’s not dissimilar from other programs like the also popular Boot Camp model. If I wake up in the morning and do something hard that makes me sweat and want to kill my trainer’s cat, I can feel good about what I’ve done and tell myself a story about reaching my goals.
But those two reasons aren’t good reasons for doing a workout program. A good reason for doing a workout program is because it’s safe and effective at helping you reach your goals.
CrossFit Doesn’t Adequately Address The #1 Issue.
If you want your journey to be effective, and not a statistical flop, then the logical first step would be to determine what the number one effective thing for weight loss is going to be. And that happens to be what you’re putting in your mouth.
I won’t rehash it all here, but it helps to understand the truth about exercise and body composition. CrossFit programs tend to lean a bit more toward functional nutritional frameworks. But, they also tend to lack focus. And personalization — the most important aspect — is almost nonexistent. The focus is mostly on CrossFit, not on getting you healthy and changing your lifestyle with food.
Your priority is not to get up in the morning and sweat, it’s to get up in the morning and dedicate yourself to eating as clean as possible. That’s going to determine 80% of your results. Bang. Wipe your hands. Done.
For the other 20% you’ll want to bring in an exercise component. And it’s here where people continue to make mistakes that harm their progress and their long term goals.
CrossFit Is NOT The Holy Grail.
“You must choose. But choose wisely, for as the true Grail will bring you life, the false Grail will take it from you.”
You’re not Indiana Jones and if you choose the wrong grail you’re not going to shrivel up and die on the spot. But, choosing the wrong path may lead you down a rabbit hole that wastes your time and may possibly even derail you from your mission.
CrossFit is a sport, not an exercise program. By definition, it’s not aligned with your goals of losing weight safely, effectively, and over the long term.
CrossFit Is Risky Business.
I’ve seen a lot of people posting pictures of themselves doing CrossFit online lately. They want to show off the hard work and “legit” stuff they’re doing. Unfortunately, they have no idea how unlegit it actually is.
The thing about CrossFit is that the model they use is excellent. The workouts are typically short, they’re high intensity, and they use the right types of exercises. It’s not a useless model (like TaeBo for instance or P90X).
What’s wrong with CrossFit workouts is the execution.
If you don’t believe that this is a serious issue, watch the video below. It’s cringe-worthy. And it’s not even close to being the only one out there.
What Does Healthy Exercise Look Like?
What nobody in the fitness industry wants you to know is that every goal you have for general health and fitness can be accomplished with 6 to 8 fundamental movements. Complex training regimens, “changing exercises frequently to trick your muscles,” and fad programs are all designed to do one thing: make you think this stuff is complicated enough that you need to pay an expert to help you navigate it.
The only thing you should be paying someone to do is to teach you how to safely and properly perform the 6 to 8 functional movements you need to know. And if they’re not doing that in an order that looks something like this: position > form > weight, then fire them and find someone else.