Crossfit has no programming element, and follows no methodology at all. It considers neither residual or cumulative effects nor recovery demands from workouts – neither as a system of tactical implementation, nor by the trainee undergoing its application.
For instance, what type of strength variant or variable are you targeting in a Crossfit workout? Limit strength? Explosive strength? Starting strength? Strength density? Kinetic chain expression? Well the ‘exciting’ answer is all the above. Wow! Good stuff if possible. It’s just not possible. Not if you truly understand these principles. The adaptations to various systems and methods of training are unique to themselves. They require assessment and evaluation of recovery time for each variable. And the consideration of recovery time must include all three elements of time intervals that any real program design would consider – this means consideration of immediate (intra-workout), residual (previous workout stress, current workout recovery, and next few days to a week consideration), and of course cumulative – some strength training adaptations take place over a very long-term, as does cosmetic human adaptation. Crossfit considers none of these elements.
Agree or disagree?
I think dismissing Crossfit in its entirety as "nonsense" is just as unproductive as dismissing "paleo" in its entirety because you, personally, eat wheat all the time and aren't fat. Crossfit today is a brand (one that is losing equity, in my opinion). I can't say that I see Crossfit as a specific methodology at all. Perhaps it was ten years ago, but I put more faith in people than brands and just because a gym is an affiliate doesn't necessarily mean that the trainers have devoted themselves to training and education beyond a weekend certification. On the other hand, Robb Wolf is not Crossfit-certified, but he knows his stuff.
I think the positive thing to mention here is that a lot of people turn to Crossfit gyms (and paleo, for that matter) because they want to "get in shape," whatever that may mean to the individual. If you polled your average box, I doubt you'd find more than a handful of people who even know what kinetic chain expression is but love the workouts anyway. If you have a trainer who is helping you improve and you're happy with the results, then it isn't nonsense. If you have a specific desire to focus on explosive strength and you don't feel like Crossfit is getting you there, then perhaps sticking with Crossfit is nonsense.
I think a good trainer incorporates principles of Crossfit into the bigger picture of fitness. Crossfit certification does not a trainer make!
All that being said, I think the article makes a lot of great points. I experienced this with Crossfit a bit too, simply because I was doing crossfit for the sake of working out, not training for a specific athletic activity, or even strength type as you mentioned. And I was bored. It was all random, with no goals other than to improve on benchmark wods and other lifts. So I took a break and joined the local rowing association. I had a world-class coach who did focus on methodology and goals, within the context of competitive rowing. I had to help myself remember the fun part of exercise and it was nice to compete again as a team and not only against myself and the clock. When I return to Crossfit, it will be to a different box.
For a paleo community, anti pseudo science, there are an awful lot of observations forming opinions on causation. Fail. If your only measure of a fit and healthy person is if they look hot - I feel for you.
As a former CF'er I can say that CF is a joke. Couch glassman has very cleverly "defined fitness" in a way that benefits crossfitters. That is "Work Capacity". Then of course the only way to test work capacity is to simply do a crossfit wod.
For those more intelligent, spare yourselves this fallacy. Define what you think fitness is. For me, its relevant strength (can I carry odd objects, heavy ones), bone density, musculature especially that around my skeletal system, my BLOOD WORK, and of course LONGEVITY - will this improve my quality of life into my 90's or cut it short...
CF will barely suit any of those definitions, and all are achieved with a solid intelligent strength and conditioning system.
CF uses exercises in a manner for which they are not designed. The Olympic snatch is not designed to be repeated 90+ times in 10 minutes. Its an exercise to test brutal strength and power, IN 1 MOVEMENT. Never before have humans hit this level of intensity in workouts for 3, 5 or 7 days a week - its not natural.
The best part of crossfit is the people who left it, follow them. You want a more paleo workout? Try movnat or try traditional strongman training, very paleo.
the trouble is, I'm not sure you can say any one thing is "CrossFit" anymore. One cannot look at the main site workouts (or any one affiliate) and make an assumption about the sport overall; there are thousands (maybe hundreds of thousands by now) of CrossFit affiliates all over the world - each with their own set of workouts (i.e. each programmed by different individuals).
I believe the originators of CrossFit considered all the factors you mentioned in the original program design, well over a decade ago. But unfortunately, anyone with a small amount of resources can open and run a CrossFit affiliate with very little oversight, and offer random programming. The good news is, most newbies will see results at first regardless of what they do, but strategy is essential to long term success. If you look around, there are many many affiliates with very specific training strategies; with very different goals - some gyms have a strength bias, some follow OPT and train energy systems, etc, etc.
So I guess my answer is...in some gyms, yes it is a bit of nonsense. But if trainers are keeping folks safe, they are having fun, and seeing results, who cares? In other cases, I do not believe CrossFit to be nonsense at all, and is just another effective way to train.
Crossfit (when performed sensibly) can be a good way for average people to develop well-rounded physical capabilities. In my own experience, I developed increased capacity fairly quickly, but struggled with keeping my ego from putting me into injurious situations.
The competitive and high intensity aspect of Crossfit make injuries a problem for many people.
However, I'm skeptical that the standard Crossfit model is optimal for people operating at the highest levels. For instance, I've observed that many of the elite athletes deviate from the standard Crossfit methodology, even though they compete in the "Crossfit Games". They might still incorporate some aspects of the training regimen though, such as high intensity and mixed modality training sessions.
There are things he said in that article that are or can be true, but putting them into a statement that CrossFit is "nonsense" is ridiculous.
CrossFit is now a sport in itself. Training crossfit and doing smart progressive strength training/Oly lifting training gets you better at the sport of CrossFit. If your goals are more specific or along another realm don't fool yourself into thinking that it aligns with them.
The crossfit hate can be justified (as the program doesn't make much sense) but why are we arguing really? Is it necessary to say that the out of shape guy who does crossfit to have fun and get a little fitter would benefit more from simply doing Starting Strength and running on off days? What if he finds that boring and won't keep doing it?
The best exercise is the one you keep doing. Be a reasonable person and think for yourself before you get into situations that can harm you. Don't deadlift 315 for 45 reps for time in a couplet your first day. If you've done CrossFit for a year and want something better, go out and find it.
As most "boxes" create their own programming you cannot say these elements aren't be adhered to. I'll agree that the less informed owners probably don't follow these principles. But the informed and educated owners structure their programming to optimize recovery periods as well. As a friend of mine loves to say "It's all about the programming."
Check out this interview with the owner of a pretty successful Crossfit gym. He pretty clearly describes a process of programming, periodization, targeting weaknesses, etc.
You can have good and bad trainers both within and outside crossfit. Crossfit is a tool. As with any tool, how it is used determines its efficacy.
I've been doing crossfit for the past 8 years of my life. Recently I co-founded a crossfit affiliate club at UC Davis and we've now expanded to 226 fb members, 20 - 30 attendees per class, and 8 crossfit trainers.
If that's not a testament to to the success of this program then I don't know what is. Clearly for the 60 or so members who show up consistently it is! I personally am in the best shape of my life, and it's because I'm part of a community that is supportive and exciting to be around.
Crossfit isn't just a physical activity anymore, it's social, and that's what keeps me coming back. People can get their exercise in whatever fashion they wish, but what I've found is that if you're doing it alone, or with a group that you don't interact with much, you will burn out. Crossfit works so well me and many other people because of the strong support community. I would encourage as many people as I could to give it a try, it just might work!