I have been getting this question a lot lately due to comments, videos, and articles posted to facebook. First off if you get offended by me, get over it or don’t read my blog or block my posts on facebook. It’s my opinion and there are other important things to worry about than me teasing about the Crossfit games and grown men seeing how far they can throw a softball. If you are such a CF sycophant that you think the softball throw was a good idea, then we live on different planets. I mean seriously the comments I got and some emails made me laugh. Panties were all bunched up. I poke fun of adults that like Harry Potter and men that still play video games excessively too. There isn’t much that I don’t find humorous. I can start making a list of things that I like to tease about. Leg Press machines, men that use straps to do 200 pound deadlifts and pullups. I also think swinging the kettlebell above your head is silly as well as kipping pullups. I don’t like excessive endurance sports but I respect the endurance athlete, and I think Pilates is silly and cardio kick boxing is the most idiotic thing in the world unless you are actually kicking something. I think Zumba will eventually lead to the destruction of our Planet and Gold’s Gym is the biggest sellout in the history of fitness. Im opinionated and I enjoy it. And I love getting reactions. The funny thing is with everything I have ever posted about anything of the above only CrossFitters get their feelings hurt. A sensitive bunch. God Forbid we say anything about a kipping pullup, Glassman, or the American Swing. With all that said I really admire women that can do pole fitness. No I am not joking, that is some tough shit. I don’t get all hurt when someone makes a crack at the RKC or kettlebells, hell with half the stuff on the internet I don’t blame them. I know what I do works and I stick with it. So why do I poke fun and have a different view than many? Well lets set some background. First, I did CrossFit for a year. I followed the WODS(workouts of the day) and was that guy that couldn’t wait for them to be posted. Either dreading or overly excited what came next. A whole bunch of things came from my Crossfit Experience. Some really good and some really bad. In the end the bad out weighed the good and I walked away. So here is a recap.
I found crossfit and kettlebells about the same time. I was working at a vocational college as a department head of a personal training program and was looking into other ways of training to present to my students and I started my journey. I have been working out and lifting weights for over 20 years and honestly I was bored of the weight room routine. I started to really hate working out. I did it purely because I didn’t want to get fat and didn’t know what else to do. I had done cross training /circuit training extensively pre-CrossFit, but Crossfit was a bit different. First it was intense! It was cross training on steroids. It was moderate weight, high rep, and fast. Each workout turned into a competition with myself which brought out my old days of football practice. It also used great full body movements that didn’t require machines. Another huge benefit. It really spiced things up and added a spark to my routine I needed. Another huge benefit is that got really lean and my conditioning was great. I could go non-stop and my heart rate recovered in no time. The first couple months were dreamy. Lean, conditioned, fun, and inspired. Can’t really go wrong with that. It really got me back to my roots of lifting with barbells again and thinking outside the box, and for that I am grateful.
After about 3 to 4 months of it I started to notice little things that reminded me of an old back injury I used to have. It would come and go and then one day it flattened me. My back went into such spasm and wouldn’t release for weeks. Now, granted this is my fault for not doing a lot of corrective work and building lots of fitness on top of a dysfunction, but in general that is the culture that CrossFit has created, oops I forgot there is the mobility WOD now but this was before that. I would heal after a about a week or 2 and then get back into the WODs. After about a week or 2 I would just crash again. My body was giving out on me and I didn’t know why. I started going on discussion boards and started seeing this happening a lot in CrossFit, actually more than a lot. There are numerous injury claims and forums that deal with these issues specifically. The NEw York Times Did an article called “Getting Fit Even if it Kills You” all about CrossFit. Just google Crossfit injuries. I hear people trash talking it and I heard others supporting it. FEEL FREE TO CLICK ON ALL OF THE HYPERLINKS in the LAST COUPLE SENTENCES. I started doing more corrective work and stretching, but I still couldn’t string together enough consecutive weeks of training without feeling set back and continually losing performance. I was feeling terrible and weak. I was following the recommendations on nutrition of eating strict low carb paleo. Never once did I ever think I was unhealthy or doing something wrong. I just kept blaming old injuries. Now again, I was an adult that should have backed away and said, something is wrong here , but my ego kept pushing, so shame on me. I should have known better. I can’t go on blaming a website with workouts on my injuries. I had a choice in the matter and chose wrong. The biggest problem is that my ego was challenged and I didn’t want to give up. If I didn’t follow the daily WODs I was felt like I fell short. The reality is I needed to take a step back and do more corrective work and just realize that those workouts are not really put together by anyone that has a real brain in exercise science or is really respected in the strength and conditioning world. It is true. Prove to me that Glassman is a genius in program design. Any idiot can put you through a workout that totally exhausts you and slap a girls name on it. There is no challenging that my cardiovascular fitness was great during this time. I Posted some decent CrossFit workouts times and had fun with it. The funniest thing is that I posted my best Fran(crossfits most popular workout) 8 months after I stopped following the CrossFit WOrkouts.
When it came time to actually test my strength I really struggled though. As an adult male that trained consistently I should have had a much better deadlift and Press. Glassman said that men could get to a 500-750 pound deadlift. Well mine was a whopping 315. Deadlifting a few times a year and doing 95lb thrusters didn’t really have me in elite strength. Again, people can argue with me on how strong they have become, good for them. I know I didn’t get stronger and it seems to be a trend with many others. People like looking to the elite crossfit competitors at the Crossfit games, and again, I am pretty sure they didn’t follow the CrossFit Daily Workouts nor did they eat strict Paleo. Yes there are some really strong CrossFitters. I am not going to argue with that, but a lot of them got to Crossfit really strong. CrossFit isn’t the only thing they have ever done nor is it something that they follow religiously as a programming method.
The WOD’s as on the main site is sometimes the most ridiculous thing out there. Here is an excerpt from the Desk Warrior Blog (a pro crossfitter) where he talks about a series of WODS.
Seven rounds for time of:
Run 400 meters (1/4 mile)
135 pound Back squat, 29 reps
This is a brutal WOD. I’ve done 30 bodyweight Back Squats at 180# for time after a WOD one day and couldn’t walk right for a week. Not that I’m some elite CrossFitter by any means, but I knew exactly what 203 back squats at 135# would have done to me.
So many people got pissed about this workout. The forums exploded with haters. Mainly because the day before had 30 overhead squats at 135#, two days before that we had Barbara (250 air squats), and the day before that was Front Squat 1-10-1-20-1-30 reps. So many squats everyone complained. People blamed the programming, blamed CrossFit staff, and cried to anyone who would listen.
Here’s the common sense part. If your legs are blasted so much that you realize this will push you over the edge, or Heaven forbid, could cause you to get injured, listen carefully now…scale the workout or simply don’t do it. How many times does Glassman have to say that main site workouts are just one aspect of CrossFit? If you don’t like it, don’t do it. That’s the common sense.
I couldn’t have said it better, but scaling is just a part of it, unfortunately I didn’t have common sense at the time. Seriously, many of the workouts make no sense and are irresponsible. there is not a lot of common sense in sprinting a total of close to 2 miles and doing 205 back squats with 135pounds. No professional athlete would train like this and expect to get better or stronger at anything. Name one professional Team that trains like this. Yes that even includes crossfitters that do the CrossFit Games.
Look across the boards at the big names in the world of Strength and Conditioning that train ELITE ATHLETES. Mike Boyle, Dan John, Charles Poliquin, and others have questioned Crossfit as a system for athletes. Many coaches and respectable names that were heavily involved in Crossfit have all walked away. Read Rob Wolf’s blog on his departure. I am not arguing that Crossfit will get some people stronger and everyone more conditioned. I just don’t get the process.
The Truth about Paleo Nutrition
First off I have been a huge fan of Paleo Nutrition and I still am, but Crossfitters have taken this to a new level of a religion. I saw a facebook post by a CF chick that swore that her child would never have grains touch her lips… Good luck with that and I hope the money you saved on food goes to a great therapist for your kid. but I digress…. I did watch some things on the Crossfit Games this weekend and the funny thing is some of the big competitors don’t eat Paleo. They Eat rice and potatoes, but the crossfit sycophants are still preaching low carb Paleo and 40 minute metcons. Which brings me to my next part. After my stint with Crossfit, even after I changed my training up, I still was in the gutter. I just felt crappy for months. After a visit to my Doc we found out that my Testosterone Levels were in the dump. Yeah, a guy that works out, lifts weights, and eats healthy had the Test Levels of a 65 year old. Well overtraining and eating low carb paleo does wonders to increase the stress hormone cortisol levels in the body, which then do wonders to tank testosterone levels. Once again, shame on me. As a fitness professional with a degree in nutrition I should have known better, but I bought the hype. It was Fun Right??
Another Consistent Observation
In order to become a Crossfit Affiliate Gym you pay $1000 for a certification weekend and you can then become an affiliate to open your own crossfit. They have crossfits opening up across the street from one another. Here is the thing I like the fact that Crossfit has introduced the Olympic lifts to people who may never have tried them before, but Olympic Lifts are the most technical of all lifting and weight training.Period. And that is a fact. I have had the pleasure of working with a couple trainers that specialize in OLY lifts and it is great, but guess what. They don’t dabble in OLY lifting. They breath it, eat it, and crap it. To have someone take a 2 day certification where they clean Medicine Balls and barely scratch the surface of Olympic Lifting and now this person can open up a gym and be a crossfit coach that now teaches OLY lifts is laughable. And the best part is that they love doing a workout that does Oly LIfts for time ….huh?? Mike Boyle in his well known Strengthcoach podcast talked against the high rep olympic lifting,here is the link. This is a man that works with the highest level athlete out there. NFL, MLB, NHL, etc… He has coached the best. I know that poor training happens everywhere.I am not saying that there are not great Crossfit Coaches out there that know Oly Lifts, as well as other great methods of training, I actually know a few that are great at it, but the quality standards are low across the boards at CrossFit and this is consistently a complaint. I would always shake my head when I saw beginners in crossfit classes that are practicing Olympic lifts with PVC pipes and they have never even done a weighted deadlift or squat. Learning high intensity, complex moves without any foundation of strength training is again …laughable at best. CrossFit Headquarters believes that the good coaches and affiliates will survive and the others won’t. I know people that got the CF Cert that don’t even workout, but they are CF Certified. I see ACE and even CSCS certified trainers that don’t know how to lift weights but I am picking on Crossfit now so those articles will come out later. I know I will get emails about some shitty RKC’s out there as well. I am sure it goes on everywhere, but again I see this happen routinely. The good news is I have made a good amount of money with corrective exercise on Crossfitters so for that I am grateful. I actually had a sports Med doctor come in my gym the other day and I have worked with some of his patients. He was making a joke about handing out cards at the local crossfits for referrals. Not because I said anything to him, it was because that has been his experience. I don’t make this stuff up.
If you love CrossFit, and you are getting Stronger with it, are pain free, and enjoying life, than congrats. Whatever I say won’t sway you and it shouldn’t. we just have different experiences. We can still be friends I swear! As long as you don’t do kipping pullups or American Swings in my gym:-). If you are consistently dealing with injury, fatigue, or stagnation then maybe it’s time to look for something else. If you are new to training and fitness focus on general strength training first focusing on the fundamentals of the Deadlift, Press, and body weight exercises for a year and then see what you want to do. In general I know numerous people that love CrossFit and it does wonders for them. If you are looking for that challenge and have the common sense that I didn’t then go ahead and give it a shot. I have just seen too much inexperienced Crossfit Coaches out there to really trust the Crossfit System(or lack of). Again this is a generalization as I know a few personally that I like( they may not like me anymore, but I will live). I may do CrossFit workouts from time to time because many of them are really fun and challenging, but doing a challenging workout and using CrossFit as a system are 2 different things.
I have been told numerous times that I can catch more flies with Honey than Vinegar and my response is, Who the F%*K likes Flies?