image The CrossFit Debate.

Early in the twenty-first century, a new method of exercising was introduced to the world. We now live in the time of CrossFit. 

This new brand of exercise has captivated many, and the number of participants has grown exponentially since its introduction in the late 1990’s/early 2000’s. Many have viewed this type of exercise with mixed results.

The purpose of CrossFit is to maintain an accelerated heart rate while reducing time in-between exercise sets and activities. This shocks the body and helps burn calories and fat at a more rapid pace while spending less time on exercising itself. The design is to get a full-body workout in one session, and generally in thirty minutes or less.

Activities such as burpees, box jumps, swinging ropes, speed-walking with kettle bells and many other “less traditional” exercises are used to work various muscle groups in combination with each other to maximize the time and energy spent in the gym.

I have experienced CrossFit; even had a trainer for a few months and have taken away some positive and negative experiences from my experiences and observations. 

First let me back up and give a brief introduction on why my opinion should hold any weight and why anyone should potentially listen to me.

I am a workout-aholic. I work out almost every day. If I am not lifting weights, I am running. Even when I do lift weights, I spend at least thirty minutes each session working on cardio by either jogging, using the elliptical machine or the stair climber.

I played football in high school and at a high level in college. I was exposed to personal trainers that would train us using various scientific methods to help improve our performance on the field. Workouts would vary. During the off-season, we would generally do light wind-sprints and heavy lifting to bulk up. As the season got closer, generally trainers would increase our reps, sometimes at the expense of the weight lifted. When the season began, weight training tended to move more towards circuit training and more running. This was so we would maintain our strength and cardio throughout the season.

I have tried many different forms of workouts. CrossFit intrigued me because after my playing days were over, I continued to lift weights as if I was still playing a competitive sport. I was still loading heavy weights on, but I admittedly skipped out a lot on the type of running that kept me trim.

Now enter my CrossFit experience and observations:

For me, CrossFit worked wonders in some areas, and had some drawbacks for me in other areas. I certainly was able to trim down and gain muscle definition during my two-month training sessions. However, I did lose some strength in the process; mainly because I was used to doing the more traditional style of exercises such as bench-press, squats, dead-lifts, biceps curls, skull-crushers for triceps and many other muscle-bulk building exercises.

The Good: As mentioned above, I was able to lose about twenty pounds over my two month experiment with CrossFit. I felt lighter on my feet, increased flexibility, endurance and agility. My workouts were a fraction of the time of my more traditional football style workouts. I learned new exercises and when I finished my CrossFit experiment, I incorporated much of what I learned in to my own personal workouts.

The not-so-good: (Mainly from observations and discussions with others) The risk of injury is a bit higher. If someone who has never worked out before tries to jump immediately in to CrossFit, they may find some of the exercises difficult. They may be unaware of the limits of their own body.

This can potentially be a double-edged sword. Some people struggled to push through to get the full benefits of a proper workout. Others would push too hard and therefor get injured in the process. An important factor often overlooked by those who experiment with CrossFit is knowing the capabilities of their own body. 

The last observation I noticed is some people would cheat themselves. They would not fully complete an exercise, or take too long in-between sets and reps which hampers the process. Trainers are there to help guide, assist and motivate, but ultimately, one must be motivated from within to reap all the benefits from CrossFit.

My final analysis: With all the different workouts available out there, this particular recent trendy new workout only works if you know your body and its capabilities. Trainers will push you, but if you aren’t willing to push yourself, you will not get the results you want. We must also be aware of the potential risk of injury. The purpose, after all, is to shock the body.

I am grateful that I gave it a try for as long as did. I inevitably stopped because I still have that work ethic instilled in me from my playing days to self-motivate when it comes to working out. Some need trainers, while others like me can push themselves to the limit, and beyond safely without a trainer from prior experiences. I have since learned to incorporate elements of CrossFit in to my current workout routine. I came to the point where I felt I learned enough where I could go on my own and save a little money and use the good elements within my new personalized work out.

CrossFit sometimes gets a bad rap. Some people feel it is a workout fad that will disappear soon, or another will take its place. I disagree. There are just too many benefits from this type of workout. The real question is, are you the type of person who is willing to push yourself, learn and open yourself to something new? This type of workout does not need to be done often, and once it is done enough, you can incorporate it in to other workout routines that you do. For the average person, it is worth a shot in my opinion as long as we understand what the purpose is and the potential risk/rewards of following through completely.

Author: Adam Wilkinson

Image: flickr

Recommended read: About Unchained Voice




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