Experiences with crossfit are generally pretty black and white. People hate it and people love it, but where is that line drawn? It is generally understood that, as a program, it gets newbies in great shape and people make extreme changes in strength and body comp very quickly (first 3-6 months.)
Has anyone here on Paleohacks been involved with CrossFit as their source of fitness for more than 6 months? What has your experience been? How have you supplemented or modified the regimen?
Hey Jake! I'm a multi-year CrossFitter, so have seen some of both sides of the fence on this debate. In general, I see public comments along the following lines:
LOVES: group workout setting; community atmosphere; classmate and trainer support; being pushed beyond current personal perception of limitations to greater performance than anticipated.
HATES: programming does not take into account advanced fitness concepts as periodization; some standard movements risk injury (i.e., butterfly kips); strategic decisions made by CrossFit leadership/HQ (i.e., removal of Robb Wolf as the leading nutrition certifier); CrossFit certifications are not governed by an academic/leading industry body so quality of CrossFit instruction varies widely across the org.
From a larger strategic standpoint, I think any CrossFitter and CrossFit HQ should welcome critique of the system/organization. Constant review should serve to make both stronger, effective, and relevant.
From a personal standpoint, I love my time with CrossFit and I'm quite happy with both my box and the programming they create and I can see myself doing CrossFit for many years to come. I am comfortable with my active role in my own fitness, i.e., to know when I'm safely pushing beyond my current limitations and not blatantly risking injury (with the understanding that ANY physical activity holds a risk of injury). However, I had been participating in CrossFit-influenced workouts for a few years before officially joining an affiliate, so I was less of a naive user. For people new to the scene, it may seem like a daunting task to shop around for an affiliate whose programming and instructors you feel comfortable with, so I could see that as being a bone of contention.
Also, from the Mark Sisson/Primal point of view, the CrossFit approach creates too much cortisol stress. I don't know about all of that--personally, I find an intense workout helps me manage my daily stress levels better!
Just my two cents. As the current generation of CrossFitters continue and age in the system, I would be interested in seeing longitudnal studies on both their fitness levels and overall health conducted.
I've been doing CrossFit for 2 years. And... I love it.
Some general advice on starting CrossFit: Start slowly. 2 times per week might be plenty, as months pass try making it 3, 4 and eventually 5 times per week (if that's what you want of course, but never do more then 5 on the long term). Also, every 4 weeks take it easy for a week so your body can recover for a bit. Every 8 weeks take a whole week of no (or very little) exercise. As for the workouts, try familiarizing yourself with the techniques before trying to do prescribed weights. Don't cheat with crappy technique, because in the end you can only cheat yourself with it (and you'll hurt yourself as you get to higher weights). Be careful with new techniques that are hard to master, take it easy: it takes time and training. Everything does :)
I'm training at a CrossFit-gym, so I don't do any of the programming myself. But from what I know, programming is very important to keep your body developing and, not less important, keep you from getting bored. Repetition is a killer. Keep workouts varied (as all CrossFit-sites say). This is pretty hard, because you can't randomly trow workouts at yourself: you need a long-term plan. Follow the main-site or a proper CrossFit-gym and follow their Workouts if you haven't got access to a gym yourself.
You should be aware that CrossFit will get you fit, but you won't (most probably) win the Olympic Games with them. The whole idea of CrossFit is not to specialize (it's for insects :p). Also the goal is not visual muscle-gain, you should start bodybuilding if you want that. But if you want to get fit, possibly as fit in the broadest sense as you can be, CrossFit is the thing to do.
To get to the point: I think most people who 'hate' CrossFit do so because they get themselves injured or over-trained by bad programming, overestimating themselves, recklessness and bad technique, getting bored by bad, repetitive programming or expect to reach things CrossFit is not at all about.
Good luck with choosing what's right for you. CrossFit isn't for everyone, but it is for people who want to get fit, learn and do things they didn't thought possible and basically enjoy working out. Once you get into it, you'll realize there is so much to learn (snatches, butterfly kips, handstand walking, flags and other crazy stuff) and there are so many things to improve, that it'll blow your mind. At least that's what it did to mine ;)
And to answer your last question:
I didn't supplement the training (I train 5 times per week now and on top of that 1 day of technique-training), but for my 5-month hiking trip I did train for hiking specifically. Again: CrossFit isn't specialized, so if you do wanna do something specific: train for it specifically and specialize ;)
Crossfitter for over two years, with only a two month break. I have found Crossfit to be nothing but positive. Yes, there are small aches and pains associated with Crossfit, but the key is to find a good box with outstanding trainers and programming. The programming will decide if you are successful. My experience is that I have found both. Paul S. in Springfield
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