Educate me on Crossfit Training

For reasons unknown I’m finding myself interested in my perception of crossfit training is all about. I like the idea that it’s supposed to be for all people regardless of age or fitness. I’m over 50, and have packed on some weight over the last couple of years. My wife and I want to go to Ireland in 2015, and naturally we want to be in shape for it. This looks like a good plan that could possibly take me from beginner to in shape.

What do you crossfitters say? Do you really feel like it’s a possible solution that is inclusive of all comers? What should I look out for? What are some other alternatives? I’ve read that it’s easy to get injured in crossfit training too. Is that a high likelihood, or is that most likely a result of a person pushing themselves harder than they should have?

I have been CrossFitting off and on for over a year, so here goes:

CrossFit, is, at it’s core, a combination of calisthetics, gymnastics and olympic weightlifting. There is very little “new” in the basic movements of CrossFit. What is new and different is how they are put together.

The gyms that teach CrossFit are called “boxes” and they usually offer an intro class/program called either an “on-ramp” or “fundamentals”. You need to take this prior to signing up for regular classes, and really you want to take it. The movements are not dangerous if done properly (with a few exceptions, I’ll get into in a sec) and the on-ramp/fundamentals is your opportunity to make sure you have form down properly. If the box or gym you go to doesn"t stress form over everything else, run away and find another one. Seriously.

Now, the actual workouts (WODs - workout of the day) are usually fifteen to twenty minutes in length but it’s the longest 15-20 minutes of your life. It can be tough to remember proper form as you get fatigued and that is the danger. Slow down and get your form right, speed will come later. The rest of the hour is warm-up and learning the proper movements.

Your coach should offer you scalable workouts until you are ready.

It’s a fantastic way to get in shape and gain muscle. It worked very well for me and continues to be my “go to” workout.

The movements most responsible for injuries (IME) are the kipping pull-ups and the GHD sit-ups. The latter for rhabdomyolysis. Any coach worth their salt should be aware of this potentially life-threatening situation and yes, it comes from pushing yourself too hard. This is especially tough in CrossFit because the workouts are so short, and you are encouraged to push hard, so you need to know your limits.

So, form above everything, know your limits and have fun. I’m not an expert, but am happy to try and answer anything else.

Unless they have classes tailored for true beginners, skip it. High intensity work is not for the out of shape.

Local gym, sign up with a trainer for a couple of sessions to learn how to lift properly, choose your favored aerobic exercise, stretch after. That’s all you need.

I turn 50 this year and have been crossfitting for about 6 months. I go about three times a week. I’m not the oldest there and I’m not the youngest. There are usually more females than males. It’s a good workout combining cardio and weightlifting. In my case any physical changes come pretty slowly and not at all without really watching the diet. I feel like I should really be going more often or adding in some running at this point. The only injury I’ve sustained so far is a scar on my shin from the dreaded box jumps. In my case it does seem to be worth the expensive because otherwise, without a set time and place to workout and having actually paid money for it, I would probably do nothing at all.

Lifting this from Cafe Society to IMHO.

I will add - once you are comfy with the form of everything and the basics you can pull WODs off most online CrossFit sites, or check out Power, Speed, Endurance a book about CrossFit Endurance(linky), and work out wherever you want.

To say it’s not for beginners is not really fair, it’s all scalable and you need GREAT coach. Find someone with more than just the CF Level 1. Be prepared to feel humbled and nauseous. I did.

UncleRojelio - I HATE box jumps. I remember when I first did them, saying to my coach, I am scared I will catch my toe and face-plant and seriously injure myself. I wanted him to reassure me. Nope. “I’m not going to lie. I’ve seen it happen. OKay JUMP!”

It’s definitely the closest I have gotten to basic training/boot camp in the civilian world.

Good luck with that. Anything that’s billed as “high intensity” and has a cultish feeling to it’s practice will attract more people who are chasing the dollars than worrying about the clients.

I coach high school kids and it’s hard enough keeping the teenagers uninjured, let alone someone in their 50s. The OP will need most of the next year just building a base( both aerobic and stregnth) rather than diving into something as intense as CF right off.

I have a friend who is in his late 50s and obese who started doing CrossFit a year ago. He has made a lot of progress, lost weight, and is much healthier, but even a year later, he is still not doing most of the workouts as prescribed. He says he could barely do any of the movements when he started, but the coach scaled everything for him. He’s still overweight but his health has improved vastly. So there’s an anecdote.

I think some people are turned off by the competitive aspect of CrossFit, while others with that temperament will enjoy it. I don’t do it, but I think the focus on strength training and form is probably really beneficial, especially because most people aren’t doing enough strength training.

To the OP:what will a typical day in Ireland be like that you want to be in better shape for? An hour of high intensity work won’t fully prepare you for a 10 hour hike.

I’ve known Boston qualifying marathoners who were laid low by hiking Half Dome( 18 miles).

HIIT is good. Forsaking proper form for speed or more reps or more weight is bad. If you decide to go with CrossFit, just make sure you keep your priorities straight so you stay safe and uninjured. As others have said, a good coach is key.

This is all key. One of the major issues with a lot of CrossFit boxes is that to become a level 1 CF Coach, it’s a weekend worth of training. That’s it - so it attracts the normal amount of people in it for the money and the “cult” of CrossFit.

That said, it works, so a lot of very qualified, educated fitness types are also getting certified so they can not only attract the CrossFitters, but also take advantage of the program (and marketing) which does work.

Anecdote- when I started, what became my wamr-up was my workout. And that was tough enough. The box I ended up joining offered Fundamentals on Mon and Wed (or Tues and Thurs) and an option of joining the “regular” workouts on Saturday. You could take the Fundamentals program as many months as you wanted, it was slightly cheaper but offered less flex in timings.

In short, there are good CrossFit Boxes and Great Coaches - you need to find one and be prepared to walk away if it’s not working. Any box should offer at least one class for free to try it out.

So what y’all are saying is that it can be great if you are into the intensity and if you have a great coach and if you good at not pushing yourself too hard too fast. But that being certified as a CrossFit coach don’t mean diddley. And let’s face it, being into the intensity and in an environemnt that often has Pukie the Clown as mascot, aint exactly conducive to not pushing yourself too hard too fast, or to keeping proper form as a higher priority than intensity and volume. So the fact that there is little quality control on the coaches seems like a big deal.

Performing exercises that require proper form to avoid injury to points of extreme fatigue as fast as possible seems like an increased risk of injury on the face of it, and anecdotally increased injury rate seems to be the big issue.

FWIW I did a few sessions at a local box and was very impressed with the two coaches there. Form form form! (I was frustrated that he would not let me do any more weight because he was not satisfied with my form, but he was right.) I just prefer doing my own thing with the variety I like in the convenience of my own home or the streets near my house or on my way to and from work (on the bike), but see the appeal. (Still frustrated at never having mastered a muscle-up or an unsupported handstand push-up.) If it was outside my door and available when I had the open time in my schedule each time I might have signed up. I do think CrossFit people though sometimes act as if they invented circuit training or the idea of having variety in an exercise program. Glassman comes off as an arrogant ass more than half the time I read him, to my read anyway.

I agree. Interval/Circuit/HIIT training wasn’t created by Glassman, it was packaged and marketed by Glassman. I don’t buy into the Cult of CrossFit, but they are a supportive group. They really cheer people on to achieve their personal bests.

If you have a really good coach, they won’t give you more than you can do at your level. They should do a thorough assessment and be aware of your current level.

My coach wouldn’t let you move from a broom/hockey/PVC stick to (even an empty) bar until you had your form down.

Maybe not; Ireland is actually a secondary goal to just getting in shape; building endurance, and strength; and losing weight. The ability to walk around all day sightseeing is something I couldn’t do all day today.