In the fitness industry, we’re used to seeing new trends and buzz words crop up on an almost weekly basis as someone, somewhere tries to re-invent the wheel. Usually these new fads don’t tend to last long and are shot down by the wider fitness community pretty quickly. One relative newcomer has managed to shake off this stereotype and has seemingly turned into a monster overnight. The global phenomenon of CrossFit isn’t slowing down and seems to only be gaining further popularity.
Despite its overwhelming accelerated uptake and perhaps ironically as we’re about to explain, CrossFit as a fitness lifestyle is the punchline of many a bodybuilder or powerlifter’s jokes. We call irony here because despite some obvious potential downsides to CrossFit as a fitness style, the basic make up of CrossFit was born out of internal gym competition.
Every gym or team of workout buddies has that unspoken or sometimes very loudly spoken internal air of competition. Who can lift the heaviest or who can complete the most reps of a given exercise etc. It exists in every gym and it serves as motivational fuel for those who partake to continue to improve. CrossFit took this approach and formalised it. Circuit training turned in to laps like a race, box jumps made inch by inch competitive. Sets of wide grip chin ups made into a ‘how many can you do in a minute?’ game. Everything is turned in to a measurable piece of competition and the fans love it, it keeps them coming back for more. Hitting that next personal best becomes an addiction and the level of competition for many forces them to live an all-round healthier lifestyle in the pursuit of that improvement.
When you look at that formula it’s not hard to see why the style is so popular and why CrossFitters are so very dedicated. With anything that has grown as fast as CrossFit has, there are going to be those who misinterpret the sport and the techniques. This has left to some embracing publicity for the sport but this mostly stems from pirates holding adapted classes and making a mockery of an already under fire new trend.
There is the unavoidable injury sticking point. Whenever you take exercise to a competitive level, especially with time pressure and big full body, multiple joint movements in play, you’re dicing with the potential of a big injury. This is something the sport has unfortunately become synonymous with. Though with that said, it would be naive to pretend that these issues don’t exist to some degree in both bodybuilding and powerlifting alike.
As much as other fitness disciplines may try to mock CrossFit, the basic truth is that CrossFit contains elements of all the other major disciplines. High rep hypertrophy from bodybuilding, multi-joint Olympic lifting techniques, bodyweight borderline calisthenics and one rep max hitting in the style of a powerlifter. The end result of all this mixed training may seem muddled and un-focussed towards a specific single goal or body type but all you need do is watch a CrossFit games and take a look at some of the incredible physiques on display to see that it can make you a well-rounded athlete if you avoid the pitfalls.