Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About CrossFit

Gang. CrossFit is a popular method of exercising these days and has generated many questions for yours truly. CrossFit is both popular and controversial. Chris Shugart – a well respected coach in his own right – who has done an extensive report on CrossFit, the good and the bad and the ugly.
This is an extensive report, and goes into an amazing level of detail about CrossFit. He also interviews other respected coaches regarding CrossFit, as well as additional info, background, vids, etc. I was very impressed with this report from Chris and if you want to total picture of CrossFit, this THE report to read:
The Truth About CrossFit
by Chris Shugart
“Was I in the right place?” I asked myself for the second time that day.
The little street near Southern Methodist University in Dallas was an incongruous blend of old houses and new bars teeming with college kids. It was 9 p.m. and the sun had set, making it impossible for me to read the street numbers. Finally I pulled over next to a bar called The Green Elephant to look at my directions again.
And that’s when I saw them, a handful of men and women lunging down a long corridor holding Olympic bars over their heads. A well-built young man held a timer and appeared to be either encouraging them or yelling at them.
I’d finally found CrossFit Dallas Central, one of 650 CrossFit affiliate gyms.
Later I learned that the athletes — which included members of the SMU lacrosse team — were performing what the owner of the facility called a “single-movement mindfuck.” This group was on their 28th minute of overhead walking lunges, the only exercise in that day’s workout. The record was 400 meters in 20 minutes flat. The sweat poured.
Earlier that day, at 6:45 a.m., I’d had the same experience, driving around an industrial-warehouse district in Plano looking for building numbers in the dark. That time, instead of lunging lacrosse players, I was clued in by a man running by my truck wearing a weighted vest. I followed.
Cont:
The Truth About CrossFit
The Brink Bottom Line:
For specific details, pro and cons, etc, you really need to read the report above. Here’s my basic summery however: CrossFit is a system of high intensity circuit training. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that and done correctly, high intensity circuit training can lead to a solid balance of conditioning, endurance, and functional strength. CrossFit has developed specific protocols for their particular brand of circuit training. So far so good.
The issue is, circuit training is not remotely original to CrossFit. CrossFit proponents tend to make a lot if claims – similar to the kettlebell followers BTW – that range from untrue to total fantasy, and that’s where they tend to get into trouble with people. Some of the exercises recommended are an injury waiting to happen, or simply goofy. People, being social animals, like to be part of something, and CrossFit is a system which holds your hand and enters people into the cult-like group that is CrossFit. Bingo, you’re in the “in crowed” by doing CrossFit and that’s attractive to many people…
Can a person get into great shape using CrossFit? Absolutely, but it’s just one more tool in the tool box of ways to go about getting into good condition (defined here as a balance between functional strength, endurance, and bodycomp) and various ways of conducting high intensity circuit training has been around many decades before CrossFit. The training I conduct with tactical law enforcement (e.g., SWAT, etc.) revolves around high intensity circuit training, but is more specific to that population’s requirements and includes guns! See my vids if interested.
There’s many ways to approach training, so feel free to try CrossFit for a change of pace, but don’ drink the kool-Aid and end up in any cults…

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13 Comments
  1. Mike JOHNSON 11 years ago

    Hey Will
    I am very interested in blended approaches to fitness and changes of pace liberate a lot of gains and heal a lot of strains.
    What I am REALLY interested is vigorous training 60+. I have the drive but have difficulty recovering from muscle fatigue.
    I use a full range of supplements gathered with your help including 100 mg DHEA.
    I am thinking about a synthetic steroid as I am horny enough but only enough to flatten the fatigue issue – that is a speedier recovery from exertion.
    At 6’3″ and 175 I do not want to gain weight though some body composition change would be good.
    Minimum risk is good though risk taking is part of my game.
    Just my 2 cents 🙂

  2. Marco 11 years ago

    hey Will, it is time for a new updated HAIR LOSS report… come on… u are the Guru for it…

  3. ALEX MARTÍNEZ 11 years ago

    THANKS WILL

  4. jamie hale 11 years ago

    You hit it on the head Will. I have addressed the Crossfit Cult claims numerous times.
    There is no workout that enhances all motor qualities simultaneously. Crossfit has it’s role but………..

  5. Author
    Will Brink 11 years ago

    Thanx for the comments Jamie. Glad to see you stopping by the Brinkzone blog! I have yet to see what I consider a knowledgeable coach give CrossFit a passing grade really.

  6. jamie hale 11 years ago

    You may be surprised. Chales Staley seems to really like Crossfit.
    I plugged your summary of Crossfit in this thread. Staley comments on Cf as well.
    http://forums.jpfitness.com/offers-our-fitness-experts/35434-crossfit-has-its-role-but.html

  7. Scott 10 years ago

    Mark Rippetoe endorses Crossfit.

  8. Author
    Will Brink 10 years ago

    Scott, I don’t know Mark, but he generally has a good rep. My two questions about CF are: (1) what’s original about it? (2) what training effects can be had from it that can’t be had from another version of cross training?
    In the 80s, I used to do what people called giant sets with sprints. I would do something like rack pulls, dips, leg press, and sprints in the parking lot. Should I have named in Barbie and gotten rich?
    These days, I will do chins (real chins, not that BS injury in the making “kipping” things CF favors…), incline dumbell presses, and front squats for higher reps with minimal/no rest and 5 mins of HIIT on a stair stepper, for 3 cycles.
    Or, I will do Prowler pushing, rope climbing, and tire flipping. I named it “Will.”
    Is this Cross Fit? If I name it Bob, can I sell it? Cross Training has its place for sure, CF, which is 100% another version of cross training, can also have its place, but there’s no doubt in my mind there’s better choices for cross training that does not include high rep O lifts, kipping pull ups, etc.
    This aint rocket science gang. Sure, if CF gets more people involved with exercise, great, I’m all for it, but every time you get a group of people to do something, they seem to form into a mob of morons who will then claim their “system” is the only one true system (visions of HIT here…) and make it unbearable for the rest of the world who has to deal with these insufferable sheep…I mean people….

  9. Mac Dantine 8 years ago

    Essay Writing can be much more difficult than it has to be, college students do far too much to be able to focus properly.

  10. Jamir 8 years ago

    My husband is a trainer as well as a CrossFit coach and in doing both, I think he has a pretty level-headed view on it. Like most, he has a love/hate relationship with it as far as his own training goes but also when it comes to training others. It fits for some people but not for others. One thing to consider is that if your goal is to be in a fitness competition like me, CrossFit will absolutely NOT give me the type of body tone I need to place well. However, I still incorporate it once every other week or so to keep my physical fitness as good (or close enough) as my aesthetic fitness. People need to realize that CrossFit is less of a workout than it is a sport. If you play soccer and train only for soccer, you’re going to be in awesome shape, but there’s no guarantee that your body will LOOK the way you prefer unless you take the time to target muscle groups on your own. But if you’re the type of person who needs and craves that community atmosphere in order to succeed at all in fitness, then CF fits! But it’s worth a try to anyone who is skeptical. It may not get you to your aesthetic goals (or maybe it will) but you just might find yourself a great group of friends that motivates you to be fit for life instead of “skinny for this bikini season.”

    • Author
      Will Brink 8 years ago

      Well put, and the money statement is “But if you’re the type of person who needs and craves that community atmosphere in order to succeed at all in fitness, then CF fits!”
      That’s truly the strong point of CF, vs it’s actual program per se in my view.

  11. Scott Freeman 7 years ago

    I recently subscribed to your YouTube channel, and I’ve come to respect your level-headed, scientific advice on training and nutrition. So when I became curious about Crossfit, the next question was: What does Will Brink have to say? This article is *the Best* critique I’ve found on the net. Thank you.

  12. Cityferg 4 years ago

    Ran into a Kettlebell Fanatic the other day and he had a pretty good take on CF. He said the movements aren’t anything new but the timing encouraged poor form or cheating to achieve PB. I got to thinking and remembered those circuit training sessions in the late 70’s that became so popular with strength coaches and football teams. Yep, same result. Lots of guys swaying like old nags as they attempted to get a few more reps in with power cleans, curls and 1/4 squats. Seems like what was old is new again. Unfortunately, so are the injuries.

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