Now that we’re focused on getting back to normal post-COVID, no doubt there are plenty people out there looking for the most efficient way to lose some fluff and get back into those sexy slacks for work. You might be thinking, “Let’s see…if I could work out 30 min a day, get buff and drop the weight, oh and eat a ton, and stay away from the dreaded stair-master…well, that would be the winning ticket – sign me up!” – right?
Sound a little good to be true? Well those are a few things the CrossFit community have seen as benefits of this particular training method. So, what exactly is CrossFit?
It’s a brand name, like Gucci, for a method of training that incorporates elements of HIIT, Olympic Weightlifting, Plyometrics, Power Lifting, Gymnastics, Strong Man Exercises and more. Training typically happens in a group environment and in much of the workouts, speed is an important factor, along with maxing out your weight load with particular exercises.
The CrossFit brand was started by Greg Glassman in 2000 as a way to incorporate strength training with cardiovascular training. However, lately it has been losing popularity due to COVID, and controversial statements made in the press regarding the George Floyd incident.
Where do you stand? Have you tried CrossFit? Did you enjoy it? Could you see yourself doing it long term? If you’re not quite sure, read on to learn more about why you might want to think twice before going all in.
- Olympic lifts…
What are Olympic lifts? A few of the most common are Power Cleans, Squat Cleans, Push Jerks, Power Snatches, Squat Snatches and Front Squats. A quick google search will show you that these exercises require heavy weights with an element of momentum to complete the rep. Now, who typically competes in the Olympics? Athletes…trained athletes…who perform these exercises to win a competition. They do NOT use these exercises to train every day. Why? Because they would risk injury. Instead, healthier options could be squats, or military presses performed slow enough to tax the muscles properly and avoid the injuries that momentum bring. Short story long…for anyone just starting out, safety is key…and momentum is not your friend. Momentum can equal overextension of muscles and joints…and therefore injury. Now if you’re just starting out, and you get injured, are you going to want to keep at it? No way Jose!
- Group training…
Group training really is fun – I love it. However, when we combine complex exercises, friendly competition, and a timer…injuries are bound to happen. Let’s say you have found an excellent cross-fit trainer with all the credentials and an awesome personality. They set up your W.O.D. and it’s go time. You’re hustling and getting it…the timer is running low and you’ve got one more round of Overhead Pulls to complete. Except someone accidentally moved your weights. You grab the closest ones and gads – they are heavier. By the time you realize it, you’ve already strained your shoulders and neck…and injury and dang it – all those gains are on the back burner until you heal. Your awesome trainer missed it, because they were helping someone with a pull-up. You could have the most stellar trainer and they would still miss it, because there are just too many moving parts. Wouldn’t one-on-one attention be a bit better for learning proper form?
- Speed is rewarded…
I definitely appreciate a nice slow workout, in fact…probably a little too much. However, there are times you have just got to get in and get it done. And to be fair, a quicker rhythm is often needed to see healthy progress with your strength training regime. But faster is not always better – especially if the end game is a long term training program. I’ve heard all too many Cross-Fit people say they felt so rushed, that they dropped good form and regretted it. There’s a reason chiropractors and physical therapists have a love/hate relationship with CrossFit.
- HIIT training every day…
When it gets down to it, there is nothing like a good HIIT workout to kickfire your metabolism and make you feel alive! However there is caution to be had when relying on HIIT training as part of your daily training sesh. My biggest concern with daily HIIT sessions is your hormones, more specifically your cortisol levels. HIIT training causes the brain to register a stress response. This means a ton of hormones are released into your bloodstream, including cortisol which activates your sympathetic nervous system. This is also what kickfires your metabolism, however you CAN have too much of a good thing (ie. overtraining). A few symptoms of overtraining include:
- chronic fatigue
- muscle fatigue or a noticeable decrease in power while exercising
- changes in mood
- lack of physical and psychological motivation
- changes in sleep patterns or sleeplessness
- feelings of anxiety
- repressed immune system and consistent illness
What happens is, the overstimulation of your sympathetic nervous system confuses your brain. As a result, your brain releases cortisol at totally inappropriate times and every day tasks become more and more challenging. So, basically, daily HIIT training can equal adrenal fatigue – as if our adrenals weren’t already challenged enough – right? Which is why healthy rest and recovery are a key to all my programs, and not valued enough with CrossFit programs. The way I see it, you have enough stress in your daily life as it is. It would be irresponsible of me as your trainer to overly fatigue you. My goal is to energise you, help you get strong and have you coming back for more.
4. Minimal certification requirements…
Did you know a personal trainer could start out as a CrossFit trainer for $1000 and a time investment of a whopping 2 days learning their science? So, this trainer takes 2 days to learn how to teach beginners how to do Olympic athlete exercises, while completing said exercises without 1-on-1 training, under the pressure of a timer, all while distracted by a group of other beginners. I understand now why the liability insurance is so high.
One of the first things we learn as personal trainers as that your safety is our biggest concern. Which makes perfect sense. If my goal, is to help you set up sustainable, healthy fitness habits, I would think anything that could risk your safety is a concern. To be fair, I could keep adding to this list – but I know you’re busy. So, if you’ve made it this far, why not follow me on Insta for more tips and tricks on how to stay safe while getting your fitness routine in place? So glad you’re here and sending you big, happy, healthy bear hugs!