Thoughts on Crossfit? (Q and A)

I love the questions!! Keep them coming!!

Q. What are your thoughts on crossfit?

I get this question a lot. I also get people asking me “is it like crossfit?” when asking me about what we do at RPT. The answer to that question is no. Not even close. I in no way, shape, or form want to be associated with crossfit. At all. Ever.

The positive(one paragraph)-

Now I am going to start off by trying to say something positive about crossfit. I guess there are people doing it that could be sitting on the couch? When these popular trends pop up  I guess it does get some people trying different things and maybe a jump start? The group atmosphere can help people stay motivated and accountable. The popularity of it increased the amount of people doing strength training (if that is what we want to call it). Crossfit back in 2000 was much different compared to today. They have some great business minds behind it that caused it to take off. Now every weekend we have thousands of “coaches” getting “certified” after 2 days. To be fair to crossfit the popularity is the reason they end up on the spot with questions like this. We could easily be talking about other trends and/or fads.

Things I don’t like about crossfit?

The chance for injury is very high. The majority of my points below will focus on this.

WORKOUT VS TRAINING ?– most people don’t know the difference between the two but training means we are planning this out over weeks and months to work towards a goal. For example, using  common sense and not killing yourself on the first workout back after a decade. Training involves modifications based on the person. Training involves easy days in the training to help with recovery so you can push it on other days. Training involves making modifications so that you can DO THIS FOR LIFE. Real trainers spend hours each week writing program design and finding modifications.

A workout is something you are doing just for a feeling you have today. The feeling of being “crushed” or “smoked”  is addicting to some and makes for a great meme but not for long term progress. It could potentially lead to progress, but not always. I find these are the same people who also end up injured all the time. These places know that this “feeling” is addicting to some people.

EXERCISE SELECTION– An exercise that Is the best in the world for one person can be the worst for the next. It’s why we always encourage modifications, doing the 30 min. consultations, and following a few common sense rules like….”don’t do things that hurt you.” There Is no such thing as an exercise that must  be done to get results. The magic is when you have a coach that knows how to modify the session and overall program to fit your needs!!

If someone has a descent amount of weight to lose and they are jumping on boxes this falls under the category of stupid. Jumping in general is probably not a good idea for them!  A kipping pull up is not a pull up. Olympic weightlifting is something that  is VERY TECHNICAL and takes more than a session or 2 to teach!! Do it for high reps in a state of fatigue, with lack of screening before,  and you will get injured. I can all but guarantee this. You have to analyze the risk and reward for each exercise in the program.

Is the popularity a good thing?  I can’t just pick on crossfit with this one. A lot of people need us as fitness professionals. A huge need has created a ton of overnight certified trainers. A huge need has created tons of chains that expand while watering down the quality of coaching/training. All I can say is do your research. Research more than the individual’s abs or quality of photos/memes on Instagram. It’s just like all of those restaurants you should not be eating at. McDonalds is popular, but is the quality of food close to that mom and pop spot?

variety is good, but how much do you really need?– I believe in variety in order to keep things interesting for people that need the motivation to stay on a plan. But when it’s completely random we end up in a situation where people end up getting average at 90 million things, great at none. Their chance for injury goes up because they are not taking the time to master the basic movements when they only do them once every 3 weeks.

When I hear someone talk about “muscle confusion” I know they don’t know what they are talking about. Confuse it by lifting a little more weight the next time you are in the gym. Early in my career the majority of my time was spent working with college and pro athletes in sports performance centers. They were motivated by results, not “feeling” like they were getting results.  We had about 6 movements we hammered every week and a few other things thrown in the mix to prevent imbalances/injuries. Lets look at success in any field for a second. It  always comes down to being great at a few basics.

So who is it for?– ugh…it is some people’s cup of tea, I guess. And I have nothing against these people. I have respect for the athletes and the work they put into the “sport”. Usually some former athletes can GET AWAY WITH IT for a period of time.

I feel strongly that for my target market it’s not ideal. My target market being people who are usually busy professionals, already have an injury or 2, and just want to lose some weight and feel better. There is a MUCH better way.

I also feel very strong in saying that crossfit is not ideal for youth athletes.   There is a reason not one single college or pro strength and conditioning program in the nation uses crossfit to make their program better. There is a reason it’s not something that is even brought up in college Kinesiology programs or respectable conferences. I know some of you think as trainers we sit around all day and invent new exercises while taking selfies of ourselves.  THIS IS AN ACTUAL SCIENCE, AND THERE IS AN ART AND SCIENCE BEHIND COACHING.

A few fundamental issues that I keep returning back to with every single blog post….

*Just because something works for someone else does not mean it will work for you! Just because something worked for you 20 years ago does not mean it will work for you again!

*Really pay attention to the person giving advice. I seriously wish our industry was regulated much tighter and all of these overnight certified trainers did not exist. If someone is going to work with your body pay attention to more than their abs. Question all of us!!!

*If someone is taking your money BEFORE knowing anything about you and your goals they are scam. If they don’t take the time to know about your previous exercise history, injuries, schedule, budget,  etc. then they are not legit.


Detric Smith, CSCS, ACSM EP-C