CrossFit. Practicioners? Rants & raves?

I was completely unaware of CrossFit until an article in NY Times Magazine this weekend. I read the article and came away from it thinking that the CrossFit people were just about ready to move to a mountain locale in Oregon, and turn over their life savings to Master.

To wit,

And, regarding the website. . .

However, poking around a little, I find her portrayal a little disingenuous. It sounds like she checked in on the message boards, and found some of the hardcore practicioners.

But, the website itself has a good philosophy. It seems like they’re saying you can get in excellent shape without running through tons of specific weight training at the gym. They like push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups, dips, bouncing a medicine ball off the wall, exercises that engage the whole body (legs, core, arms, back). They like running, jumping. And, many “kettlebell” exercises.

Their goal is increased “WORK CAPACITY” (moving loads over distance quickly) and they believe that other performance measures to be correlates or derivatives of that.

And, they lack a characteristic that is a big part of any kind of cult, that being a desire to remain “closed” and free from criticism. In their statement, Small PDF, they state,

Anyway? Any practicioners? Haters?

Have I been too kind to their philosophy here?

Are they really a race of super-freaks?

The general consensus I’ve seen is that if your goal is just to get moving and be active, CrossFit is great. But if you’re actually training for some specific quality, there are other better options.

John Hackleman, Chuck Liddell’s trainer and owner of “the Pit” martial arts facility in California, is affiliated with CrossFit and utilizes some of their philosophy, tweaked for mixed martial arts (he cleverly refers to his take on the program as “CrossPit”). I got a little taste of the program from training with him, and overall I thought it was a positive. They focus on high intesity, hard but relatively short workouts that emphasize cardiovascular endurance and functional strength. One of John’s CrossFit-type workouts was flipping a tractor tire over for five minutes, hitting a tire with a sledge hammer for five minutes, and doing a farmer’s walk with 60 pound kettlebells for five minutes. Another was the “Pit mile,” which was a mile run, then pushing a wheelbarrow with your bodyweight in weights about a quarter mile uphill, then cleaning and throwing a 90 pound medicine ball about an eighth of a mile uphill. Each of these sessions were over in twenty minutes, and just absolutely smoked a bunch of already in-shape guys. When I was there two weeks ago he had a CrossFit trainer guest-train us; she was apparently pretty famous in CrossFit circles and one of the most fit women I’ve ever seen in my life. She put us through the paces like a drill instructor, albeit a drill instructor carrying a year-old baby around. :slight_smile:

I’d agree with ultrafilter that it may not be what some people are looking for in terms of sports specific training unless their trainer is tweaking it for their sport, and their high intensity workouts might rule out cross-training. If you want to be a soccer player and you’re doing CrossFit in the morning and soccer practice in the evening, I could see a possibility of overtraining. Another consideration is that they seem to eschew long low intensity workouts like long distance running, and I love running for its own sake and wouldn’t want to give it up. Another consideration is that not everybody can put up with the high intensity of the workout. If people don’t enjoy it they won’t go back, and some certainly won’t.

If you wanted to be a marathon runner, a cyclist, a triathlete, or something of that nature, you’d probably be better served by engaging in those activities. For general functional strength and fitness, though, I think it’s great.