Is CrossFit right for you?

CrossFit is all the rage right now. But is it right for you? Read on for some of the pros and cons of CrossFit and decide for yourself.

THE GOOD NEWS

Healthy Competition - One of the best parts about CrossFit is the competition. This is clearly one of the reasons this workout is so dang popular. During each workout, you write on the board either the amount of time it took you to do a set, or the number of reps you performed in a given time. So you get to see whether you improve, stay the same, or fail miserably. You are competing against yourself with each set. The other competitors come in the form of whoever else showed up to your class. All of their information is up on the board as well. So you get to see who is in the best shape and who sucks for the day. You are competing with yourself and those around you. But the best part is, everyone in the room (instructor and participants) cheers you on. They push you when you want to stop, and praise you when you reach levels you never thought you could.

Intense Workout - This is obvious. With all that pressure to push yourself, you really do. And those short, WODs (Workouts of the Day) are tough. I work out consistently, but after one day at CrossFit, I wasn’t sure I’d ever be able to walk again. In a good way. It was awesome.

Results - You’ve see them. The CrossFit/Paleo junkies. They look good. Like other high-intensity interval training (HIIT) programs, CrossFit burns a high number of calories in a short amount of time. It yields some impressive results if done correctly.

THE BAD NEWS:

Injuries - You need to be technically correct with many of these exercises or your risk of injury will increase. When (not if), you start to get tired, your form will suffer. And that’s when injuries occur.

Not everyone can do these exercises - If you have chronic knee, shoulder, hip or low back issues, I would stay away from CrossFit. There are other activities you can do without sacrificing your joints. Although they claim to make modifications, the classes I went to did not make many adjustments. Basically, if your doctor has told you to stay away from squats, stay away from CrossFit.

Possible hospitalization - Ever heard of rhabdomyolysis? Yeah, not many people have. Unless you are a CrossFit trainer. Then you have no doubt been trained on it, and possibly even seen people hospitalized by it. That’s the dirty little secret of this type of training.

Image Credit

Image Credit

What is “rhabdo”? Well, when your muscle is pushed to the extreme, it literally starts to break down. As the cells break down, they leech their contents into the bloodstream. Your kidneys try to get rid of all that crap cause protein in the blood is dangerous. It shouldn’t even be there. So it overwhelms the kidneys and can leave them severely injured or even kill them off completely. Which could kill the rest of you. But let’s not forget about your muscle.  Since the rest of your body is working to save your life, your systems have decided you will just have to live with local muscle damage. It may just be damaged for life. Scar tissue will replace the mangled muscle and you will be weaker and probably pretty puffy for a long period of time. Good stuff.

THE CONCLUSION

CrossFit is great for the same reasons it is terrible. Being pushed can be a great thing. Being pushed too hard can be dangerous. It is absolutely ridiculous that people are getting rhabdomyolysis. I mean come on. Injuries and lawsuits against CrossFit abound. And yet, the arrogance of the founder of CrossFit remains. If you still choose to start going to CrossFit, here is the number one tip:

Listen to your body - It’s going to hurt. Most good workouts cause muscular discomfort. You need to know when to stop or slow down. Stop listening to all the hype. If you feel pain in your joint, or too much pain in your muscles, slow down or stop.  Watch your form and just be careful.

CrossFit is for a small percentage of the population. The intense, A-type, competitive, maniacs who don’t eat carbs. In a world with constant stress and anxiety, I think I can find another way to let go and still get a good workout.

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