Home of the United States Air Force Academy CrossFit Team & Club

03 November 2011

Debunking some Myths

Crossfit finally made Men's Health!

Something I've been hearing a lot lately is that Crossfit is a "cult", and this is kind of concerning.

Yes, I will admit there are some crazy health nuts that go EXTREME with Paleo, and there are some videos of insane studs blowing WODs out of the water with some questionable form from a moility standpoint.

Let's examine some of the claims the author makes.

" No mirrors, no machines to isolate muscles, no stationary bikes, no display cases full of expensive powders and bars"
"You have to abandon whatever ideas you had about fitness being a linear pursuit toward a measurable goal—whether it's strength, size, or weight loss. Traditionally we're told to first define a goal, then find a program designed to reach the goal, and finally work toward a series of adaptations that will bring us closer to that goal. If you want to grow stronger, for example, your traditional program should help you increase your strength incrementally over time."

Yes, I will admit, its a bit of a culture shock walking into a Crossfit gym for the first time. Not a lot of clanking of dumbbells or yoked juicers here. But consider this: the goal of Crossfit is fundamentally different than any kind of weightlifting program because it is a conditioning philosophy. This is the hardest concept to wrap your head around sometimes. The goal is not some succinct image of body composition or appearance. There is no magic weight loss number, or desired body appearance (six-pack, big biceps) that we are trying to reach. Instead, the goal is approaching an asymptotic goal of overall fitness which encompasses mobility, cardiovascular finesse, strength, and overall health and wellness. This is where people go too far with calling it a cult. It is a lifestyle of health that we choose to strive for, not a fitness regime or a cult.

there's one thing every non-CrossFit-affiliated expert I spoke with agrees on, it's this: CrossFit's one-size-fits-all methods are flawed, perhaps dangerously so

Yes, if you are being incorrectly taught the fundamentals, you will get hurt. But, as any non-Crossfit-affiliate expert doesn't know, a class does not encompass just powering through a WOD. Show up at any gym, and an extensive amount of time is spent stretching and drilling through the movements to get the correct movement prior to doing the WOD. Now, let's consider a deeper concern of this argument here--that there is no such thing as a one size fits all approach. Again, we are not trying to pidgin-hole ourselves to one end of the spectrum of fitness. Again, the idea is to achieve a holistic approach to fitness. Yes, some people will experience the benefits of snatches more than others, but allowing all to experience to benefit a diverse range of functional movements, this creates a more balanced and centralized definition of fitness.

The programming doesn't make sense from a strength-training standpoint. The reality is, a lot of guys who go to the gym want to put on some muscle.

Again, this is the wrong way to approach this. Statement is moot because crossfit has never been about getting yoked. Prolonged engagement to Crossfit will result in an increase in strength, but that is not the end goal.

If Glassman's brand of functional fitness produces better aesthetic results than the traditional approach does, why did the gelatinous bodies at my gym often outperform those who appeared to be in better shape?

Functional fitness is the key here. Just because you are fit, does not mean you have 5% body fat. Everybody's body is built differently, and just because you are "fit" looking, does not mean you have the balance to do overhead squats all day or hold a handstand for hours on end.

CrossFit WODs sometimes use Olympic lifts, like the snatch, for high repetitions when lifters are in a state of exhaustion. That worries almost everyone I interviewed.

From Catalyst Athlete: Power snatches and power cleans are often used as substitutes for the full lifts in order to reduce training intensity in general and minimize leg fatigue specifically. This might be for a taper week or a lighter training day or period. This reduces intensity and leg fatigue while keeping the athlete performing essentially the same skills.

Yes, individuals who prioritze speed over everything else may very well trade form for injuries. However, yet again, this is not the philosophy. Proper technique achieves fatigue just as easily as speed does, and watching any good performance of a WOD, you will notice good form as well as speed in spite of fatigue.

It's like a cult crossed with a pyramid scheme, and the base is always widening.
This kind of attitude is common among those raised as traditional gym rats whose weight loss who don't understand that there is more to health than increased muscle density. If Crossfit was such a fad, then first responders, police officers, fire fighters, and spec ops warriors are all wrong right?

Bottom Line: Crossfit is a lifestyle that encompasses a never ending goal fitness and health and those who are engrossed in it are generally passionate about it as a lifestyle choice, not a cult.

My counter to this article: Rather than question crossfit with the wrong kind of paradigm, how about questioning the utility and sustainability of body building?

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