deadlift

Are CrossFit Workouts a Good Choice for Reaching Weight Loss and Health Goals?

CrossFit and “CrossFit-style workouts” (Some gyms use CrossFit style workouts but aren’t actually CrossFit boxes) are exploding in popularity across the country as the next best thing for getting in shape, improving health, and losing weight.

I’m not going to start a controversy and call CrossFit a fad — because it’s not, it’s a legitimate sport — but if your goal is to lose weight and improve health, we have to understand some distinctions between sport exercise and smart exercise.

So what’s the deal? Am I throwing Crossfit out completely or is there a grey area? Let’s start by identifying a problem of psychology and then addressing where CrossFit falls as a “solution.”

Line up your priorities and get your psychology right.

CrossFit workouts are popular for people trying to lose weight. The reason normal people (non-athletes) flock to CrossFit boxes is because it makes them feel like they’re participating in the most legit new fitness craze to sweep the nation.

I don’t think it was ever cool to say you did TaeBo. It’s damn cool to call yourself a CrossFitter and post on Facebook three times a day that you’re off to “the box” to do your “WODs.”

The second reason people do CrossFit is because the workouts crush you. There’s a psychological component at play that’s not dissimilar from other programs like the also popular Boot Camp model. If I wake up in the morning and do something hard that makes me sweat and want to kill my trainer’s cat, I can feel good about what I’ve done and tell myself a story about reaching my goals.

But those two reasons aren’t good reasons for doing a workout program. A good reason for doing a workout program is because it’s safe and effective at helping you reach your goals.

 Smart CrossFit Tip: Download My One-Page Complete Guide to Real Food 

CrossFit doesn’t adequately address the #1 issue.

If you want your journey to be effective, and not a statistical flop, then the logical first step would be to determine what the number one effective thing for weight loss is going to be. And that happens to be what you’re putting in your mouth.

I won’t rehash it all here, but it helps to understand the truth about exercise and body composition. CrossFit programs tend to lean a bit more toward functional nutritional frameworks. But, they also tend to lack focus. And personalization — the most important aspect — is almost nonexistent. The focus is mostly on CrossFit, not on getting you healthy and changing your lifestyle with food.

Your priority is not to get up in the morning and sweat, it’s to get up in the morning and dedicate yourself to eating as clean as possible. That’s going to determine 80% of your results. Bang. Wipe your hands. Done.

For the other 20% you’ll want to bring in an exercise component. And it’s here where people continue to make mistakes that harm their progress and their long term goals.

CrossFit is NOT the Holy Grail.

“You must choose. But choose wisely, for as the true Grail will bring you life, the false Grail will take it from you.”

You’re not Indiana Jones and if you choose the wrong grail you’re not going to shrivel up and die on the spot. But, choosing the wrong path may lead you down a rabbit hole that wastes your time and may possibly even derail you from your mission.

CrossFit is a sport, not an exercise program. By definition, it’s not aligned with your goals of losing weight safely, effectively, and over the long term.

If I eat clean and do CrossFit, will I lose weight? Yes.

I’m not saying that CrossFit isn’t effective for weight loss. I’m saying that it’s not necessary. And, to go even further, I’d argue that it’s risky. There are far better options. 

CrossFit is risky business.

I’ve seen a lot of people posting pictures of themselves doing CrossFit online lately. They want to show off the hard work and “legit” stuff they’re doing. Unfortunately, they have no idea how unlegit it actually is.

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I’m not sure if that’s a real picture or a fake picture. It’s a little questionable since there’s no weight on the bar, but that doesn’t change the fact that CrossFitters all over the country/world are performing complex lifts with heavy weights in horrible positions.

Let me tell you the #1 rule about losing weight through exercise: you can’t exercise to lose weight when you’re injured.

The thing about CrossFit is that the model they use is excellent. The workouts are typically short, they’re high intensity, and they use the right types of exercises. It’s not a useless model (like TaeBo for instance or P90X).

What’s wrong with CrossFit workouts is the execution.

Disclaimer: I can’t for one second claim that this argument applies to all CrossFit boxes. But any CrossFit trainer or owner has to agree that there are CrossFit boxes all over the place doing things absolutely wrong and putting their clients at enormous risk for serious injury.

The reason this is important is because the general public doesn’t know enough about body position or mechanics to know whether or not the box they’re signing up at is legit. It’s a blind guess.

If you don’t believe that this is a serious issue, watch the video below. It’s cringe-worthy. And it’s not even close to being the only one out there.

What does healthy exercise look like?

What nobody in the fitness industry wants you to know is that every goal you have for general health and fitness can be accomplished with 6 to 8 fundamental movements. Complex training regimens, “changing exercises frequently to trick your muscles,” and fad programs are all designed to do one thing: make you think this stuff is complicated enough that you need to pay an expert to help you navigate it.

The only thing you should be paying someone to do is to teach you how to safely and properly perform the 6 to 8 functional movements you need to know. And if they’re not doing that in an order that looks something like this: position > form > weight, then fire them and find someone else.

If you’re going to ignore my advice, make sure you find the best box possible.

I don’t want any of my Total Body Reboot clients going to a CrossFit box because it’s an unnecessary risk. I’m not going to be unclear here. Do I have clients that do CrossFit? Yes. But I’m officially on record with the position that it’s not necessary and that it’s highly risky. And if you get injured doing CrossFit (or become a CrossFitaholic and it interferes with your weight loss and health goals), then I’m on a firm ground to say, I told you so.

With that said, I don’t want to see anyone get hurt or fail to reach their goals. If you’re going to ignore me and join a box, then you better do your research and be damn sure the one you’re choosing is as legit as it can get. Don’t join the closest one to you because it’s convenient. If you have to drive 40 miles to get to the best one, that’s what you need to do. Meandering into any old Crossfit gym could easily end your lifestyle transformation.

I’d much prefer you simply take my advice and go at this the right way. Stage Four of Total Body Reboot teaches you the six functional movements and how to perform them properly with only one piece of equipment that you can use anywhere in the world. And it shows you how those six functional movements can be combined and used to create a lifestyle around lifting heavy things for safe, effective weight loss and long-term strength and body composition goals.

About the Author

Kevin Geary is the founder of Rebooted Body and host of The Rebooted Body Podcast. He helps men and women finally get a body and life they love with his unique blend of real food, functional movement, and psychology. To work with him personally, choose a program.

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Comments

  1. says

    Really great article Kevin and pretty timely too. I’ve been hearing tons about Crossfit lately via facebook from friends and acquaintances so it’s definitely caught my attention. Did some of my own research too, but I’ll be the first to admit I’m no fitness buff, so I wasn’t sure what to make of it all. The only thing I could be sure of is if this is what it takes to be fit and healthy, then I’m just never going to get there – it just sounds way too intense and complicated. I’m happy to read there is a better way and I can’t wait to learn more as my sister and I progress through the next few phases of the Reboot =) Thanks again for the post.

    • Kevin Geary says

      That’s a great point Sherie — too much equipment, too much complication, and too much time investment all cause people to just throw in the towel. In order to be SAFE and effective, Crossfit takes extreme dedication and high quality coaching which also comes with a very high price tag.

  2. Jen says

    I was curious as to your comments about P90X (and Tae Bo), you said “useless model.” I have friends who swear by those as well as crossfit.

    Thank you for any explanation!

    • Kevin Geary says

      Hi Jen, I talk a bit about this in detail on Podcast Session 2. In short, I don’t recommend workouts over 25 minutes in length. “Cardio” focused workouts are unnecessary for reaching goals and can be detrimental to cortisol levels, thyroid function, lean body mass, appetite (tends to increase the urge to overeat), and joint function.

      Cardio is absolutely the most popular form of exercise, which is why you’re going to hear people swear by it. The truth is that you can get better results than them — and healthier results with none of the negative side effects — in half the time by doing smart, functional exercise.

      If you’d rather spend less time and get better results then I urge you away from cardio and toward the alternatives that I talk about.

      • Jen says

        Kevin,
        I wanted to thank you so much for your response AND for emailing me a link to it! I will look at your Podcast Session 2. As a busy mother of six, I need something I CAN do quickly.

  3. says

    I’m an avid crossfitter, and coupled with 80:20 paleo diet (for the record, i don’t like the term “clean” eating), I’ve dropped a few pan sizes and seen all-around great results.

    that said, i think the quality of your box and coach determines a lot. the lifts i saw in that video were god awful — it took me 2 full minutes to realize they were trying to perform clean and jerks.

    so no, done be so blinded by the crossfit gospel that you make utterly bad decisions about how to spend your resources and time (at the risk of serious injury).

  4. Nicole says

    Very interesting article and I think you make some valid points. But I can’t help but feel you have left out some positives of crossfit. I completely agree that these movements are incredibly complicated, and one can really hurt oneself doing them if not supervised properly. Just to give you a little background, I’ve been crossfitting for about 2 years. Before I began crossfitting I definately thought it was for crazy people and dangerous. I play club sports and was looking for a change in work out regime, so I decided to give crossfit a try despite my fears. I personally noticed gains in my strenght and power. And through my involvement I’ve come to see that crossfit can do a lot of good for people. On the mental side it gives me a reason to work out in the morning. I hate working out and doing the same thing over and over again gets boring to me, so it was a struggle to get to the gym or to even go through the movements when I got in. With crossfit I have friends who its always nice to see, who encourage me, and a varied menu of movements and exercises that give me something to aspire and keep me motivated. Moreover, as a woman I think it is imperative for other women to learn how to incorporate weightlifting into their exercise routines. I have been weightlifting since high school, and I have realized how fortunate I am to have had that opportunity at an early age. I love that crossfit encourages women to lift weights and helps them towards strength goals like achieving a pull up. That’s empowering. I admit that I’m not doing crossfit for weightloss purposes, which is the issue that your article seems be more focused towards, but exercise does play a role in that process. No Crossfit is not necessary and its not a panecea, but to the extent that some one is looking for a program that can be fun, challenging, and still keep you coming back for more I think crossfit is great for that. So it is worth finding a box that will give you the proper instruction. My box has mandatory introductory classes, coaches who constantly walk around and critique form, daily wods are accompanied with suggested beginner scalling options and coaches encourage people to not over exert themselves. It makes me confident in the experience I and the other members are getting. Doing a little research seems like a small hurdle, and I don’t think people should be disuaded from doing crossfit. Crossfit done properly can be fun and easier than going at it alone.

    • Kevin Geary says

      Thanks for your thoughts Nicole. I agree that Crossfit does have benefits when done correctly. And there are amazing instructors out there — some whom I’ve linked to on this blog as sources of knowledge.

      But as a cost-benefit analysis in terms of risk-reward, there’s just too much potential for injury and poor instruction is rampant to make it a viable option for moms and dads, CEOs, and people who hate being injured.

      I got a note today from a client who hurt his back at Crossfit this week.

      In short, I recommend Crossfit for athletes. I don’t recommend Crossfit for every day people.

      • Nicole says

        Thank you for your feedback. I would say that is a fair assessment. But I would feel better saying crossfit was for athletic people. Plenty of CEO’s, moms, and dads are regular people, but they are also capable and often want to find athletic outlets. I myself am a lawyer in a large US city; I would very much think of myself as an everyday person.

        • Kevin Geary says

          You’re right, and I tend to make that distinction in most cases. With Crossfit, it seems the more “athletic” you are without actually being an athlete, the more prone to you injury you are because of what you think you can do versus what you should actually be doing… That’s why I don’t make the distinction in this case.

          I get that you probably have found a great box with good coaching, but I still say the risk is too great for anyone except professionals (or people who have done a good amount of research) who know what to look for.

          The truth is that I think “most” people just join the box closest to them and call it a day.

      • Mark Acland says

        I had a serious back injury and was told to stop everything three yrs after my back injury I started cross fit now my injury feels like it isn’t there my back feels so much stronger as I have toned back muscles now I feel so much stronger and also feel and look so much better than I did when I did weights .

        • Kevin Geary says

          I hope you continue to be pain free. Still can’t recommend Crossfit — especially for you — though.

  5. Caroline says

    Hi there

    It is quite cleat that you are not a crossfitter, and that you chose a video depicting idiots who have no idea how to correctly perform corssfit exercises. Those women are doing it completely wrong. There are guidelines that need to be followed in order to get the bar up. Those weights are too heavy, the bar is being pulled up way too far away from the body, they are not cleaning it correctly, they are not thrusting their hips correctly, their backs and hips are not moving in sync, shoulders are not active, etc.. bla bla.. So I agree when you say you need to choose the correct box. Those coaches should be reported to whoever trained them.

    I have been crossfitting for only 6 weeks and am a “regular” person. I can already lift twice the weight at which I started (which wasn’t much) and have lost 5kg without dieting. My back/core/legs/stomach/arms/shoulders are already much stronger which makes it easier for me to perform daily activities. You learn how to correctly lift things without hurting yourself.

    I am so much more confident in my ability to hold my own in this world. I have a whole group of new friends who care about my progress and help you reach your potential. I no longer get back pains at my desk, and can lite my child/ parcels/etc with a lot more ease.

    The coaches are there to introduce you to the movements during your on-ramp week. Thereafter, everyday you warm up for approx 10 minutes, which is a full on workout for most people in a “gym”, you then spend time on strength and technique where you are again coached on the correct movements and safety and you establish which weights is appropriate for the wod. Then you perform your workout under constant supervision. This workout raises your heart rate so, that you burn calories like a machine.

    Put me on a treadmill for 20? No freaken thank you!

    Everything has its risks. You walk out the box with scrapes, blisters and bruises. But I would never go back to a gym with no available machinery and pathetic fees to do sit ups to Celine Dion.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LXxMa3pTSDE

    • Kevin Geary says

      Thanks for your thoughts Caroline.

      I get that you’re “into” Crossfit very heavily right now. I get that you’re defensive of it. But my point still remains. That “video of idiots” I posted is one of thousands.

      I’m glad that your confidence has grown. But, my point is that there are other things that make you stronger and give you all of the same benefits without the unnecessary risks.

      Yes, there’s risks in everything in life — you’re correct. But, you’re missing the point: some things carry unnecessary risks. And Crossfit — especially their model of certifying boxes — is one of them.

      I also don’t recommend you get on a treadmill or do situps at a gym, so we’re on the same page there :)

      • Caroline says

        Not defensive at all. That was no supposed to sound like an attack of sorts. Just thought that one needs to try something before judging it. Looking from the outside in will never give you a true understanding.

        And I know, I’ve seen a few of the videos and wonder what in the world made them think that what they are doing is in any way ok!?!

        I have just always had a bad taste in my mouth about a normal gym, and my attitude towards training changed completely thanx to crossfit. Before I started it looked completely insane to do such things, and it seemed completely impossible. I was so pathetic that I couldn’t do a single wall ball correctly. I’m just grateful for the immense changes I can see and feel in such a short span of time. And when you see results, you are more motivated to carry on.

        There are obviously many workout methods out there, and I’m happy to find one that works for me. Everyone should get off the couch and find the workout that suits them.

        There is this “crossfit mentality” that crossfitters have that seems to get under peoples’ skin, haha. Hopefully it will just be interpreted as passion and pride, as it is bloody hard. It is certainly not easy. It challenges the mind and body to its max.

        Apologies for the spelling errors before, it is quite obvious when I don’t have my glasses on!

        I understand that you are saying that if one is to crossfit, do it correctly. That is extremely important.

        • Kevin Geary says

          I’m not looking at it from the outside. I have clients that do Crossfit. And I’ve done the type of workout Crossfit suggests (keep in mind that Crossfit is not some revolutionary exercise — it’s traditional exercises presented in a different format).

    • Elle says

      Caroline I couldn’t agree more with you. I am in the same phase with crossfit and although I was ridiculously sore for the first two weeks it has gotten better. My “box” and coaches are NOTHING like that pathetic video and this is the second box I have been to due to moving out of state. Yes maybe I am lucky because I picked the two closest ones to my house and they have been great… but I think unless you have personally done crossfit a common misconception is that it is all about puking, competing, lifting heavy things and getting hurt. My boxes don’t have competitions, the only competition is with yourself. Everything is modified to what you can handle, and it is ALL ABOUT FORM. I have yet to lift and “prescribed weight” it has all been modified for me. I am overweight and hadn’t gone to the gym prior to crossfit in two years. I am for sure “average” NOT an athlete. My coaches are all about your diet as well. Maybe Kevin won’t recommend it ever and I am sure he has found a great way to get people into shape and he is trying to make a living but I feel this review was a little bias.

  6. George Nellie says

    So instead of doing crossfit, you suggest we do high intensity workouts of no more than 25 min? Under the supervision of a trainer?

    • Kevin Geary says

      It doesn’t have to be under the supervision of a trainer. I push as much as I can for health and fitness liberty — which means learning how to make yourself optimal on your own.

      Now, that might require a trainer in the beginning if your knowledge of functional movement and “form” is limited. But your ultimate goal is to always get to a point where you can do this stuff yourself.

      But yes, high intensity for less than 25 minutes is a great model for people who want to be fit and healthy with low risk for injury and optimal efficiency. It probably is not sufficient for athletes and competitors, but that’s not who I work with.

        • Kevin Geary says

          Elle — CrossFit is high intensity for 20-30 min with the inclusion of heavy lifting that may or may not be coached properly. It’s not the length of time or the intensity in question here, it’s the coached properly part. Anytime you’re going to have people start lifting heavy stuff, you put them at high risk for injury without the proper instruction.

          • Elle says

            You are very miss informed. Let me tell you something I have NEVER been pushed by my coaches to lift a lot of weight. These crossfit coaches I have are all about form. If you hadn’t deleted the last comment I posted under Caroline’s I wouldn’t have to repeat myself. You don’t have to post this or either but I will be sharing this blog and post with my fellow crossfit friends and other trainers.

          • Kevin Geary says

            Nothing you just said disproves my point. One personal experience doesn’t have anything to do with the big picture.

  7. Charl says

    Hi! I came across this post while reading up on some exercises. If you dont mind me asking, what exactly are you’re qualifications?

  8. M says

    Sounds boring.

    I love the comraderie that crossfit provides.

    I love being pushed outside my comfort zone.

  9. James Harrison says

    I understand your article, and the fact that there are crossfit boxes that push younger athletes just a little too far. I did crossfit a couple years ago and I loved it an am returning just because I missed the blend of it all. To address the video, they are doing what’s called an axle press, which admittedly is an incredibly ugly lift, and surprisingly their form isn’t that far off. Maybe just a little bit too much weight. It’s not a horribly bad clean and jerk.

  10. Will says

    This article just shows how ignorant you really are? Posting a video of something you obviously no nothing about. The lift being done in the video is called a “continental clean and press” which is a strongman lift done in competitions. Its people like you that get people hurt! Do some research next time before posting a video of something you have no clue about………

      • Will says

        Im guessing you’re talking about the picture you posted. Could of been her first day there. You never know. She could of been doing a foundations class and they just happened to take the picture to show her things that needed to be fixed.

    • Kevin Geary says

      At :38 she goes full on duck feet and valgus knee. Keep defending them all you want — but I’m not the one hurting people.

  11. Kirsten says

    A real Crossfit program will be effective for both weight loss and muscle gain. You would work with a coach to develop your own nutritional plan, usually based around the Paleo diet. You would also work in small groups with a coach that show you how to properly do each exercise, and you do it at your own limits and pace. When I started, all I was able to lift was the 35lb bar, and I’ve gradually increased the weight and number of reps I can over time.

    A quality program with have proper training, instruction, a lifestyle change, a dedication to yourself to be fit and healthy and will come with a god sized price tag (a good program with all of these features/benefits will usually cost $100/month, for a basic package- you get what you pay for, don’t fall for any “deals” out there). These videos on here are horrifying and dangerous for the people involved, and the people supervising do not deserve to have their jobs.

    Always know when to stop or slow down in a workout, don’t over-exert yourself or you’ll risk doing serious and painful damage to your body. be sure your coaches are certified and know what they’re doing and most of all, stick with it! You’ll never reach your goal if you quit or skip workouts!

  12. Bonnie says

    YOUR SITE IS AMAZING!!!

    I referr many many many to you for food for thought!
    You are right.

    I am a professional soft tissue bodywork specialist dealing with pain management & injury. My main focus of practice; profession athletes, keeping them in their game. I must be very specific in understanding their movements of play and structure/structures of their bodies.
    I am a CrossFitter since 2008, Female, mid 40’s.
    yes I was an Elite Athlete when I was younger.
    I have kept my body in strong healthy shape my entire life.
    Before, during and after all 3 of my kiddos.

    I started following reboot awhile back. I found it through my hours reasearch.
    Wanting to pass on important reptant information to my clients.
    Almost everyone of my clients ask me about diet, exercise, vitamins, suppliments that will help them to be pain free, strong, have more energy, and a better quaility of life.

    I love CrossFit. I love the strong part of me that thrives from it.

    As a responsible health care provider with many contacts in the CrossFit Community I have never seen Crossfit as a true & tried way of long term health & fitness.
    It is not.
    It is not a weight loss program.
    It is STRENGTH and CONDITONING.
    Through functional movement ? Nah,
    FOR everyday functional movement .

    Yes, it can strengthen the body. No doubt about it.

    As per my comment , I have been crossfitting since 2008.
    I CrossFit in Southern California in the gym that has produced the most female top athletes in its “sport”. A VERY FUN Box!

    My practice exploded in the last couple of years. As did CrossFit.
    People who have *drank the Kool-aide.
    I kept track. 99% have been CrossFitting for 3months or less.

    I understand CrossFit well.
    I do very well at all movements.
    These unsuspecting type A personalities. ha.
    Torn ligaments, tendons, blown discs, elbow issues, knee, ankle & feet problems all within this 3months marker.

    I am well aware ANY new exercise regimen can and will bring out underlying issues.
    The big difference ? Most personal trainers come with years of proven results. These are professional with a true passion for touching and helping the growth within their clients. They have referrals to Bodyworkers, Massage Therapist that help educate their clients on their bodies.

    95% of Crossfit Trainer/Coaches; I prefer to call programmers could careless. They’re dumb founded when a client asks them a question about ANY issue they maybe experiencing. Including a movement correction!!

    ALL but 1 coach at the CrossFit gym I attend have ZERO background in consistent unharmed results.
    They also have ZERO knowledge helping an injured participant
    Much less disciplined patience dealing with people that lack natural athletic ability.
    Get A CrossFit level 1 certified a month in and your teaching movements that can injure a person for life.

    Way back in the day, The early crossfitters were gym rats, military, tactical officers, etc with highly developed drives to out fitness themselves or trained CrossFit techniquies for on the job tractical uses.

    These were not main stream professionals coming out of the wood work wanting to try the new fitness trend .
    *Intellectuals I’ve heard them referred to. Weird.
    These same awesome people are the ones responsible for keeping our economy thriving !
    They are never referred to as our heros. . .
    A bit misplaced don’t ya think.

    I love the spark of a young 20 something but giving unrealistic points of views on the generation responsible for getting them to the adorable age of 20 something this is about as redundant as it comes. They are the ones begging for my hands to release a muscle spasm because their nutrients & hormones are askew . ;)

    As I build my blog I will continue to refer clients to reboot and its podcasts.
    it’s actionable.
    It’s long term
    After a 10 hour day of helping other people’s bodies in their healing process
    My 1hr walks are blissfully lovely. They are my secret to success.

    As for CrossFit, I save mine for the days my crazy childish side needs feeding.

    • Kevin Geary says

      Bonnie, thank you so much for your kind words and heartfelt comments. You invested a good amount of time writing that — so thank you.

  13. Lindsey says

    Please at least spell CrossFit correctly. Capital “C” and capital “F.” And yes you should try it for yourself. And no it’s not any new movement for the most part but the combination is what makes it unique. So if you haven’t done CrossFit then you haven’t done CrossFit. And yes, there is a HUGE focus on nutrition. I understand that people have their own opinions about CrossFit but please do not judge it looking from the outside in. You can not fully comprehend CrossFit without experiencing the community.

    But if you are going to criticize , atleast do your research first. CrossFit.

      • Carlos says

        That video is like watching alot of the guys I see at the gym. To much weight , not enough form. Those “coaches” should be punished for making those people try that type of weight when there form is utter and complete crap.
        Perfect example ” You got it”, “Push with your hips”…No dumbass. Drop the damn plates off the bar and use the bar to see if you can even get the mechanical portion down first. This infuriates me to no degree. The same can be said for some personal trainers I see “training” people at the local gym. The gym “Certifies” them and off they go to injure clients. Its in both worlds of the CrossFit coach and the personal tranier world.

        I myself use a blend of CrossFit and compounds for my workouts.
        Size and power with some calorie killing thrown into the mix.
        Its what I chose. Like you stated, Liberty in fitness : )

        DIET,DIET,DIET thats the major component…

  14. CF4LIFE says

    That video is not CF!!! That is a video of a group attempting a continental clean which don’t look that bad. Not sure why this video is getting so much hate, but probably because the author nor those posting understand or are aware of the continental clean. I am not sure why they are doing it, as the only people needing to attempt a continental clean are those training for Strongman, where they would need it. It just isn’t a movement that will translate to anything else, and it really does hurt. But to use this video as a downplay to CF is wrong and frankly disables the entire thread, which I do believe has legitimate points. the most relevant being, it’s not about how much weight you put on, it’s about form. And a good box SHOULD ALWAYS stress form, form, and more form. And a good box should also understand each clients goal and tailor to that, for me, it was weight loss, and EVERY coach stressed that losing weight is 80% Diet / 20% Exercise. However, CF is not dangerous. Ego’s are dangerous. Bad form is dangerous. Mis-leading videos representing a different type of exercise to downplay another is DANGEROUS!

      • CF4Life says

        We don’t know what that weight is. I don’t see any value in that clean, period, but assuming they had a reason. Don’t disagree with that lift being useless, but it’s NOT a CF lift, and the video portrays it as such.

    • Patrick Haskell says

      It’s actually a perfect video to make his point, intentional or not. Albany CrossFit is one of the good boxes with an assortment of experienced coaches, several of whom are strongmen competitors and who coach strongmen lifts at the box. As Kevin said, CF is not a new thing; it’s a combination of pre-existing exercises, done in a way to constitute a sport, much like strongman, and the training is training for that sport, however it is configured in a particular competition.
      Training for a sport has inherent benefits for general fitness. It also has inherent risks. If your goals are to get in better shape or lose weight, you have to weigh the benefits and risks, and decide whether the anciallary benefits (including the social and emotional benefits of the CrossFit community) outweigh the risks. The problem is that most people starting in don’t clearly know what the risks are (particularly when the exercises change all the time) and as a result are more at risk than they realize. It may not be as great a risk as not acting to get healthy and fit, but injury is also a real risk to being able to act to achieve fitness goals.

      If you come to CrossFit through a coach who you believe in, great. If you come to CrossFit looking for a sport and like it, awesome. If you come to CrossFit through CrossFit to get in shape, be very wary. If the coach focuses on your goals and your specific training needs, and happens to run a CrossFit facility and like CrossFit, you’re good. If any of the above don’t apply or are out-of-order, you need to strongly reconsider why you are there.

  15. Nathan says

    Hi there. I’m in Australia(not sure where you are based). I must be one of the lucky ones because the box I go to makes ALL of their newcomers do a 2 week introduction period where they go through every movement they do but with no weight and teach you how to do them and more importantly WHY you do them like that. They also go into what muscles you are using with each movement and if you’re not able to perform any exercise, they figure out something similar.

    I have done my 2 weeks introduction and am now 2 weeks into doing regular CrossFit and it is the best workout I have ever had in my life. What makes it even better is the workouts are 20-30 minutes so you’re not “clockwatching” after 40-45 minutes of a class or workout. For me personally, that is perfect. Plus, it is FUN! I think most people out there who are trying to drop weight(myself included) don’t find 1 hour cycle or aerobics classes, running on a treadmill, repetitive exercises fun. So why not do something that you actually look forward to doing?

    As for weight loss(that’s why I read the article); it’s a matter of will power(or lack there of) with each individual. Like you said, weight loss is mostly about what you eat. Exercise just speeds it up really. As you said, if you eat right and do CrossFit regularly, you will lose weight. So, if you combine eating right, regular exercise and the right box that practice safe lifts and shows you exactly how to execute the lifts, CrossFit is a very legit way to lose weight.

    Thank you for the article. I am still doing my research on CrossFit and take on board any and all info about it.

    P.S…… the trainers who taught the people in that video are idiots. Likewise are you people in it for doing such stupid, uncomfortable lifts.

    • Marissa says

      I love that your box, like mine, makes you go through a beginners “how to do” program! Keep up the great work and do what ever YOU feel comfortable with. I also agree with you on the posted video, the level of stupid is mine boggling.

  16. Mark Williams says

    Thanks for writing this. I have to agree and disagree a bit:

    Here is some background, I walked into a box almost two years ago and I weighed 370lbs I had lost about 40lbs counting calories and biking plus walking. I got down to 324 with crossfit and eating mostly clean. Not that amazing in 18 months why? Nutrition, my scheduale at the box changed and we stopped using a nanny so it got hard to do WODs and I have learned that if I excercises I eat better. I have gained weight back but now I am back on track. What you miss completely is that crossfit is a sport but more importantly its a community. There have been countless times where I have had just regular members work out extra to help me finish my work out. I have done the same for them. My coach has me checking in when I travel to hold me accountable. I belong to one of the best boxes anywhere. My coaches would agree with you about nutrition but I think the vast majority of crossfiters would say you can’t out train bad nutrition. I travel so I have seen other boxes and your right some are scary, but crossfit is an affordable solution to personal trainers, and many people like me are very uncomfortable and knew very little about fitness before crossfit. So it can be great in the right circumstances.

    • Marissa says

      Mark, I love yeah man, you hit the nail right on the head. Crossfit is a community. I played sports since I was 2 and after high school I stopped and gained over 100lbs. I am so use to the group workouts as an athlete so going to a gym to do it by myself just wasn’t happening. I absolutely LOVE Crossfit because it brings back for me that sense of belonging and “family” that I had while playing sports. Mark keep at it and do what YOU feel comfortable with!

  17. Marissa says

    While I think this article is great AND thank you for your disclaimer, I still strongly believe in Crossfit but will agree that its not for everyone. if you have experience with lifting and are athletic (or was in high school/college, but really an athlete is always an athlete) then Crossfit is a great match. HOWEVER, not all WOD’s are lifting. I have had several days of light lifts with proper coaching making sure we (I) am doing the correct movement and not just lifting a heavy ass bar over my head. I have also had several days of non-lifting WOD’s, these would include things like as many reps as possible for time (like in 20 minutes or sometimes just 3 minutes) wall ball sit ups, push ups, jump rope, 200m run, spiderman lunges, pull ups, rope climb, wall climb…etc. I truly believe that Crossfit comes across as being “only the buff need apply” type of “sport” but its truly not. I have great trainers at my Box who are very attentive and make sure everyone has the proper mechanics and technique but most importantly not lifting so much damn weight they can’t lift the freakin bar like in the video you posted. Maybe I just found a damn good box!!! I really hope you are educated on Crossfit and understand that they have to go through a trainers course that teaches the proper mechanics and such. I also believe that it is up to the athlete or person to seek out and educate themselves on the proper mechanics!

    http://www.crossfit.com/

    • Kevin Geary says

      I know what they’re training is and I know that it’s a huge criticism within the community itself. People are getting the first level training and opening boxes. Some people in my area don’t even do the training and market that they have “crossfit-style” workouts but don’t actually use the crossfit name to get around the training/licensing stuff.

      I’m just telling people to be careful.

  18. eliana says

    I love your article Kevin. I am doing some research about CrossFit and your article is the one that made more sense to me. Last year during the summer ive lost almost 20 lbs which was my goal at the time . I signed up to nysc which is quite a expensive gym, but i liked it , it was fun and in addition to healthy eating helped me reach my goal. Unfortunately ive gained the weight back during this summer. it just turned boring and now im just paying an dont even go to the gym anymore. so i was looking for other options. i really need to get back in shape and be consistent with it. thats why i wanted to try CrossFit , but im not too sure is the best option..now what do you recomend …other options? something fun and that will keep me motivated?

    • says

      Hey Eliana,

      Crossfit might be fine providing you find an excellent gym. Though, in order to train safe and effectively in Crossfit you’re probably going to spend an exorbitant amount of money — the good gyms aren’t cheap.

      I don’t really aim for fun in my workouts. Instead, I aim for short and effective. I never exercise for longer than 20 minutes. It’s bang bang done and onto the rest of my day. Other than that, I choose “play” activities that double as getting some sort of workout: indoor rock climbing, ultimate frisbee, flag football, walking the dog, martial arts, etc. etc.

      Hope that helps :)

  19. JP says

    What the heck?! why are those guys deadlifting/clean and jerking a weight that they clearly cant lift?! thats just phsyco! And then get applauded when they struggle through the lift… using bad technique!! its Appaling!

  20. Peter Mancini says

    I never fully get the point of articles like this. If you are trying to say that there are bad fitness trainers/coaches then I agree with you. If you are trying to say that there are people who do lifts with horrible form than I agree with you. I don’t understand why these articles are so often targeted at Crossfit. When I go to the gym (not box) I see people doing cheat curls with too much weight, deadliest that I’m sure are going to leave them paralyzed and some of the worst squats I’ve ever seen. All this is being done while a trainer sits behind a desk posting on Facebook. I’ve done Crossfit at two different boxes and at both places the coaches would have stopped anyone from doing the things I saw in that video. Who does a clean with a mixed grip? My point is none of the complaints that you stated about Crossfit are exclusive to Crossfit yet I never see these articles written about regular gyms.

    • says

      Of course, but regular gyms don’t purport to train you. And most people that don’t know what they’re doing don’t attempt things Crossfit asks them to attempt. Now, mix that with the fact that it’s easy as pie to get a Crossfit certification and open a box and you have disaster on your hands. That’s the point of the article. The second point is that people don’t know how to choose a good box because they don’t know what they don’t know and they don’t know what the owner doesn’t know. It would be like asking me to select a heart surgeon from a panel of 50 when all of them got their certification from the same place and all have undisclosed levels of knowledge. It’s people throwing darts at a board (unless they have a friend who is in the know).

      My last point is that Crossfit is a sport. If you don’t want to get hurt trying to lose fat and get in shape, then don’t do high risk sports to accomplish that. Is Crossfit a safe way to get in shape and lose fat? Not by a long shot. Is it a fantastic sport for people who are interested in that type of thing? Yes.

      • Peter Mancini says

        Regular gyms don’t train you but people that don’t know how to deadlift, squat, bench press, etc… do so all the time on their own. You may right that it is too easy to get a Crossfit certification but since I’ve never tried I can’t really comment.

        You find a good box the same you find anything else. You ask around, look them up on the internet, etc. Maybe I’ve just been lucky with the boxes that I’ve trained in. Most of the coaches I’ve dealt with had additional training outside of Crossfit. My personal experience with Crossfit just doesn’t comply with your statement that Cross fit is an unsafe way to get in shape. I’ve worked out in regular gyms, Crossfit gyms and at home with things like P90X. I sustained some sort of injury (not major thankfully) with all except for Crossfit. Like I said maybe I’ve just been fortunate to not get involved with unqualified coaches.

        One last thing. I did some brief research on the video you posted. Turns out they are doing something called a Continental Clean which is more of a strongman lift. Not only that but some of them appear to be doing it correctly. I’ve never seen this lift in a box and have never tried it myself. Still looks like a bad idea to me.

  21. Guest says

    Uh I don’t know if this has been mentioned below because I only read the first handful of comment…

    But the first video, they CLEARLY are not doing OLY. But the writer is talking about it like they are.

    They are doing strongman style lifts with a fat bar. You can’t clean a fat bar like you can an OLY bar.

    So, yeah.

  22. Brigid Farrell says

    Uh I don’t know if this has been mentioned below because I only read the first handful of comments…

    But the first video, they CLEARLY are not doing OLY. But the writer is talking about it like they are.

    They are doing strongman style lifts with a fat bar. You can’t clean a fat bar like you can an OLY bar.

    So, yeah.

  23. Katy says

    I can’t believe people allow people to lift weights like that. Those places should all be closed. I am a former elite soccer player and coach and have performed and taught those types of lifts for many years. For me, crossfit is a workout that is similar to what I grew up doing in the off season, it just never progressed that far weight wise. With that being said, this is definitely an athlete’s workout, and I can see how your “average joe” should not choose this type of workout. That being said, I can’t reiterate enough that those “boxes” should be condemned for allowing people to lift like that!!!!! That is scary! None of them could even pick up that weight properly from a dead lift stand point if they tried!

  24. Belly says

    Anyone in the Crossfit community will tell you Albany Crossfit is a joke and should have their affiliation revoked. I can appreciate what you have said but there don’t seem to be many positives here. There is a set of videos on youtube called ‘killing the fat man’, watch them, they show you how crossfit can work :)

  25. Daniela Palomino says

    I’d love an answer to my question. So, I had been doing BeachBody programs for about 3 years and from the first one I did, I felt great and my body changed completely. However, I stopped for about 6 months because I fell back into my lazy habits :( Right now, I’ve gone one month doing P90X3, which I love and have seen a lot of change in my body. Not too drastic of course, everything at a good pace. But right now, I’m so curióus about trying Crossfit and knowing myself I’m sure I will someday in the future. However, I read and saw a lot of posts referring to Crossfit best for athletes and not so much for “every day people.” My question is when [and if] I should try it in the future. I don’t want any type of injury, so I don’t know if perhaps a little more training would get me ready to try Crossfit. I’m also currently doing weight training by myself (apart from P90X3), but I just want to give my workout sessions a “slight” switch. Thank you.

    • Kevin Geary says

      What are your goals? If your goal is to gain strength and lose fat, CrossFit is not necessary and is overly risky. If your goal is to have a community centered around a sport and you’re willing to subject yourself to greater risk, then CrossFit might be for you. So, what are your goals?

    • says

      Mostly. However, there are still safer ways to reach fat loss and fitness goals and that’s the main point of the article. I don’t have anything against Crossfit, but that doesn’t mean that I recommend it.

  26. madbiss says

    As a crossfit competitor, this drives me crazy. I can’t deny that A LOT of boxes don’t have fully educated coaches that focus on form. Luckily my box has two coaches with degrees and are both very on top of their athletes having correct form and injuries are very rare. The people that feed into the stereotype and say they “crosssfit” generally go 2-3 times a week and eat averagely, which is why people deny the effectiveness of the program. So yeah, crossfit is completely dependent on how YOU use it. Along with the education of your coaches.

  27. CC says

    Just found your site, by accident, and feel like shouting “FINALLY!!!!” I felt I finally had permission to say that Crossfit is certainly not the way, the truth and the life of fitness. I became a guinea pig of a friend of mine who had gotten her cf cert about 4 years ago and no one in our itty bitty town had ever heard of it. She would program basic, but challenging workouts, we would do them in her basement and I loved it. I had been a marathon runner and found that my knees were so weak and I needed something else to supplement all the running and cf was amazing. After almost a year I was in top physical condition and loved how I looked and felt. But as cf gained momentum in the fitness industry, what was fun and challenging has turned into ridiculous workouts and impossible standards to achieve. When I could normally RX a workout once a week, it turned into maybe once every 3 months. Even seeing some of the benchmark workouts they have made harder since crossfitters were doing them “too fast” and the intense training schedule made them require more difficulty. I stopped doing cf because it became less and less fun and more intense and defeating to realize I still, as hard as I worked, could not complete a workout as prescribed. And as a woman, I did not like that I began to take the look of a russian gymnast. NOT MY VIEW OF HEALTH! Watching the cf games is interesting, but I feel it is going faster and faster into the “sport” arena than exercise for the every day man. I also find it incredibly idiotic and unprofessional that boxes paint that stupid rabdo clown on the walls as almost the standard to work towards. All in all, I feel crossfit is losing it’s credibility and while I used to defend it constantly, now I can barely tolerate it or the giant ego’s you must have to participate in it as well. Thank you for your article — as cf has grown in our town, I’m constantly told by people how I should “give it a try” and I honestly can’t see that happening again. Reading this confirms why, for me, it’s just not the holy grail. (Thumbing through your site I am excited to read more about what you have to say about health and wellness!)

  28. Adam says

    Hi!

    I too am an avid Crossfitter. I have to concede right off of the bat, I do not agree with everything that is preached in Crossfit. I’m not a fan of racing against the clock while doing Squat Snatches, and I think that Kipping Pullups are the biggest con in the history of working out.

    Having said that, however, if you have a good box (which I do), with good/knowledgeable trainers who make you park your ego at the door(which I do) and a good community of people to workout with (which I definitely do), then getting results from Crossfit is UNDENIABLE. Being an old school lifter, I was very skeptical of Crossfit at first, but I’ve never seen people get after it the way people do at Crossfit. It’s very motivating. Gentlemen, if you’ve never done Crossfit before, get ready to be smoked by girls.. even during lifting. It is bananas.

    Anyway, you do have to have your eyes opened though. Crossfit, as an organization is still in its fledgling years where regulation is concerned. So, you definitely have to make sure that the trainers are a knowledgeable. How do you do that? Watch a class and make sure that there aren’t a lot of people that look like they are trying to put up too much weight. If they look like they have bad form, then they probably do. That’s the trainer’s fault.

  29. Victor says

    You are an absolute idiot and your opinion lacks all scientific proof.
    True, crossfit missguided can be harmfull but just as much as any other exercise; but yo’re saying that constant changing to avoid adaptation is only a trick to make people spend more money. So I guess all the clinical studies about HIIT are lies, right?
    Maybe you feel threatened coz more and more people are joining CF, in which case you’re just another old man who will keep doing the only thing he knows how to do… The same as usual. Keep doing the same thing over and over expecting to get different results, that’s really smart.

    • Kevin Geary says

      I’ve found, in my time here on Earth, that people who begin arguments with, “you’re an absolute idiot” are highly likely to make an argument that lacks substance. You’ve proven that to be true here.

      HIIT is interval training. Intervals have nothing to do with avoiding adaptation.

      I don’t feel threatened that people join Crossfit. I have many clients that do Crossfit. I have many clients that love my program because it gets them results while not requiring the complication and risk of injury that is inherent in Crossfit.

      I’m also not an old man.

      I’m also very comfortable with where I’m at in my health and fitness, so I’m not expecting to get different results.

      Thanks for your comment.

  30. Trey says

    I joined carolina crossfit two weeks ago. I did the ramp up which the coaches talked about many crossfit gyms and the fact that you are correct not all do it right.

    I have never felt more comfortable in a gym before. They make sure you are using proper stance and form prior to overloading the weight. Nor do I feel I have to increase the weight I’m using until I am comfortable in doing so not because someone tells me too.

    If carolina crossfit is the exception then more places should explore their model.

    My thanks to carolina crossfit.

  31. bryan blade says

    I couldn’t agree more, Kevin.
    I know most of these “Cross-Fitters” are similar to a cult like group of people and can be very defensive about the pros and cons of Cross-fit.

    Everything has pros and cons, I’ve seen People doing Cross-fit for a month and quit, just because it’s too intensive. While a few who are extremely dedicated and disciplined would choose to love it.

    The hilarious part is that some of them treated Cross-fit as the number one solution for fat loss, even without any nutritional guidance.

    The “intensive culture” does not work for everyone, just because everyone can do cross-fit , it doesn’t mean it should be done by everyone.

  32. Shannon says

    Hi Kevin,

    I have been crossfitting for about 2 months now and can honestly say I have never felt so challenged (but in a good way). Weight loss has not been a success so far, but I can say that my legs, butt, and arms are more defined and lifted already – I have stopped standing on the scale – weight loss is not the goal anyway….. looking and feeling good is…. and seeing as 1lb of fat is much larger than 1lb of muscle, weight is not a clear depiction of fitness goals anyway.

    Just to play devils advocate and to offer some opinions for those that may be considering crossfit, the main component to Crossfit that has made it a success for me is the motivation and encouragement. I am motivated to get there directly after work to see my personal improvement and growth… and while I grow, I am encouraged by my peers. There is a comradity there that you simply do not get working out at home, in a gym, or with a personal trainer. It motivates me to get my ass there and do the work and IT’S fun…..really…. it’s fun! While I completely agree with you that you need to find a legit “box” (that video was royally cringe worthy…. totally frightening), when you do, it can be immensely rewarding. Just my 2 cents :)

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