Go CrossFit!

It’s time I devote an article to CrossFit, and in so doing, reveal the secret origins of a pillar of the CrossFit lifestyle, WOD. What most of you don’t know is that WOD did not originally stand for Workout Of the Day.

I mean, think about it: it doesn’t even make sense. Why include the ‘O’ and not the ‘T’. Both are minor articles. Maybe it’s Work Out of the Day, but that, to me, says therapy—I worked it out in my session. Why not have WD or WOTD, or be creative and come up with Daily Ritualistic Training, DRT. That’d be cool: let’s DRT-it! Time to get DRT-ee. And, as a bonus, it describes the religious-like zeal of members. No, the WOD acronym may seem strange, but its real meaning is poignant to the entire CrossFit philosophy.

Most people think I hate CrossFit and, by extension, CrossFitters. I do strongly dislike CrossFit, but I’ve spent time with CrossFit practitioners and almost every member—not necessarily instructor—possesses two attitudes: they don’t mind working hard and they want to improve. How can you do anything other than respect this? But I still hate the CrossFitters who set up ten pieces of equipment to rotate through, each of which will sit empty for 20 minutes of their workout, and each they’ll use only for 30 seconds. If you don’t want me to hate you, then do and teach CrossFit at a CrossFit gym.
 

CrossFitters like hard work.

There, I admitted it: I have some respect for most CrossFitters. You may want to peek outside and see if the sky is falling or if a mushroom cloud is forming off in the distance because this surely signifies the beginning of the end.  No, seriously, expect the sun to swell and engulf Venus any minute and bake us and the atmosphere to oblivion. In our final moments, I want to tell CrossFitters why they should hate CrossFit even more than I do.

First, let’s face facts. If you take an average CrossFitter, their performance in one segment—strength, endurance, power, agility or speed—is pathetic compared to trained athletes. It’s elite fitness for couch potatoes and just because you’re in extra-ordinary shape compared to your 600 lb neighbor that can only leave their house via a forklift doesn’t mean you’re impressive. For the average American, walking a mile constitutes extreme performance.

CrossFit masks this less-than-elite reality by creating a beautiful façade: why be exceptional at anything when you can be pretty good at some things? Run a sub-4 minute mile? CrossFit says you’re not fit…do WODs until you’re slower, then you’ll be elite. That makes so much sense to me. If you train to be amazing at everything, you’ll end up lame at everything then everybody gets a trophy. Awesome. Sign me up. I’m tired of being a freak. Why stay muscular, strong, lean and sprint-ready? I want to work harder for less, dammit. CrossFit me, baby!
 

Lance Mosley: CrossFit did not build this physique, powerlifting did. CrossFit did make him loose 100 lbs on his deadlift, though.

How could I like such an ideology, one that says don’t be elite, be one of us and pretend to be elite? I can’t. The CrossFit establishment fools its adherents to believe they become magically elite by working out without a goal. They don’t train: training implies improving in some direction, having a plan. CrossFit goes every direction without a plan. You can’t compare CrossFit, as an entity, to say Olympic-caliber training. Sure, there are some impressive CrossFitters who were top-level athletes before taking it easy as a CrossFitter. CrossFit has never created an incredible physique, it only softens them, in a sense, bringing the elite a little closer to the couch.

It’s akin to comparing Weight Watchers® to advanced and extreme-result-generating diets such as Carb Nite® or Carb Back-Loading ™. Using these dieting strategies, I’ve stayed lean and muscular for over 6 years eating anywhere from 3000 to 5000 calories depending on the day (sometimes as much as 10,000 kcal in an afternoon). An independent study of Weight Watchers and similar diets found that people who maintain their success for more than 2 years eat 1600 calories or less per day, regardless of exercise, and many eat less than 1000 calories per day1-5, not the 2000 to 2300 calories Weight Watchers promises you’ll be able to eat once you hit your target weight. Like Weight Watchers, CrossFit promises something it doesn’t deliver, making you work harder for less.

I know CrossFit claims it is the best method to achieve anything and everything—like endurance, power, strength and even hypertrophy—with profanities and vitriol instead of data. Why? There is no supporting data. Not that data doesn’t exist—because it does—but it makes the CrossFit mantra look, well, stupid.
 

CrossFit says she’s out of shape because she runs too fast.

The idea is called the acute interference hypothesis: if you train for everything at once, you make crappy gains across the board. Research strongly supports the hypothesis6-24, 32-36 and from my experience with CrossFitters, CrossFit may be developing the largest body of evidence to prove the hypothesis once and for all. For example, if you want to increase power output, you must reduce endurance training6, 36. The only people who disagree with these consistent findings are CrossFit gurus (yes, I know, it seems oxymoronic, can you be a guru of made-up shit?). As a matter of fact, you achieve the absolute worst results when you attempt to train all modalities in a single workout7, 32, the exact CrossFit protocol.

I would be remiss if I did not touch on CrossFit’s dietary recommendations. The CrossFit community comes mostly in two flavors: those who use The Zone Diet and those who go Paleo. The Zone is a Mediterranean-style diet dressed up to look cool—the proverbial “putting lipstick on a pig”. Don’t believe me? If The Zone is so magical, why does it decrease athletic performance25, 26, not burn fat faster than any other diet27, 28 and why has Dr. Sears even been caught—I don’t want to say lying, but…—falsely interpreting research trying to defend his diet25, 29-31? The point is: it’s crap, it’s always been crap and if you use it with CrossFit, it’s amplified crap. And the Paleo Diet? Don’t get me started on how stupid it is to think we had vast fields of nut trees and fruit orchards during an evolutionary period in part defined by the absence of agriculture, but in all fairness, it’s a fine diet for an average person. Silly CrossFit, Paleo is for kids, so to speak. It is not a performance-oriented diet.
 

Former gymnastics practitioner and life-long athlete, Jen Morris, another shady-advertisement for what CrossFit can do.(she asked to have her picture removed, but you can still see what she looks like here.)

While I dislike CrossFit and its variations, I do like the community it creates and the desire of people to get better…but better at what? I think the community would be served best if it stopped posting pictures of the elite-level athletes who retired into CrossFit and instead took up-and-coming athletes to an elite level by helping them find a direction in which to continue, whether it be Olympic lifting, marathon running, powerlifting or figure competitions. You can’t train without a goal and CrossFit (and the CrossFit games) lack anything resembling a goal.

So CrossFitters, wake up. If you’ve been CrossFitting for more than 6 months, it’s time to move on. You’ve had your warm up, now move into the world of elite competition. Don’t be fooled into thinking that CrossFit will take you anywhere except under the knife when you destroy your shoulders from performing 20 clean-and-jerks with poor form—Olympic lifts are designed to be performed for one repetition after a solid set up at the bar. The CrossFit establishment is not operating in your best interest as an athlete, hell, they don’t even think of you as an athlete, just a graduated couch potato with some vague and meaningless asset called elite fitness. If you were a real athlete, they’d make fun of you and say how unfit you are as they do jumping pull-ups for 30 grueling reps (I guess kipping got too hard and heaven forbid you see a CrossFitter ever perform a hanging pull-up).

Oh yeah. I almost forgot to tell you the original meaning of WOD: Without Obvious Direction. Goooooo CrossFit!

 

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  • Lance

    This is the gentlemen that you pictured above. Just to set the record straight, CrossFit did not make me lose 200# on my DL in fact I pulled 601 raw at a CF competition. Obviously, there is a huge difference in training between CF and powerlifting. If one trains to be his strongest then they will not be doing the incredible amount of volume that is involved with CF but thats a whole different story. However, CrossFit will make an individual good at many things and what is wrong with that. And BTW Kristan Clever, the 2010 CF Champion not only is great at CF but her numbers would of ranked her in the top 10 for the Jr. Nationals in weightlifting. So stop hating!!!

    • Kiefer

      Hi Lance,

      I can’t express how much I appreciate you responding. We have a mutual friend, Brian Carroll, who speaks highly of you as an athlete. I will fix the caption under the picture, as I got your current dead lift number from a CrossFit-centric site that used you as proof of how strong CrossFit can make someone. I had to, of course, go to another site to find your best lift.

      That article inspired me to finally write something about CrossFit. I am clear in my article: I respect CrossFitters because they bust their ass. What I hate is how CrossFit, as an entity—the establishment—uses people like you to get newcomers hooked. This article is about false promises and misdirection. Just as you state, which is the point of this article, if you train for CrossFit, you’re not going to be awesome at any one event; it’s a totally different type of training.

      The point of this site is achieving extreme results. You were an elite level athlete. You know what it takes to have single minded focus on a goal, the kind of focus that drives humans to new and higher levels of performance. CrossFit can never promise that, although, it often does.

      I’m not hating, I’m only justifying my opinion about why I dislike the CrossFit establishment. And I appreciate you sharing yours.

      • Sonny

        DH,

        I really like this post. I actually have a ton to write about CrossFit, and will likely air down and do what I’ve wanted to do for a while and blog it out, from an insider’s perspective. There isn’t anything you mentioned that is t true, but there’s more I can add and some points to consider that lend a little credence to the community, and even the HQ mentality. There’s a perspective that many miss, especially those who don’t encounter the community or HQ on a daily basis. LOVE your work!

      • Sgt_Superhero

        “What I hate is how CrossFit, as an entity—the establishment—uses people like you to get newcomers hooked. THIS ARTICLE IS ALL ABOUT THE FALSE PROMISES AND MISDIRECTION.”
        Just like over the half the fitness industry/ health industry and food industry has been doing to people for literally years just to make a buck. It’s not JUST crossfit. Crossfit has it’s pro’s and Con’s. I hear you and what your saying and to a degree I agree with you. But as a former crossfit member who went from being fit in Law Enforcement then taking an injury on the job and getting out off shape and not being able to train for 8 months. It got me in fairly good shape faster then any other training program I have used over the years. Yes there is a point where you have to walk away from it and focus on the direction of your training. But it was the boost I needed and I could say the same for a lot of Law Enforcement Officers and Military Personal.
        I saw a lot of couch potatoes go from sitting on the couch to being able to do so much more then if they had just showed up to any old gym.
        It’s not about how fast you go, how hard you lift, or how strong you are. It’s about getting out there and making the life choices for the better for yourself and you alone.
        Will crossfit make you an Elite Athlete? Maybe, Maybe not. But so what for the 10% of the population that actually WANT to become elite, does this really affect people in the way they make their training decisions? Look at all of the advice for years people were misdirected on simply with nutrition “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” As an elite athlete when YOU realised this was garbage and crap, did it make you mad, how many people were truly effected? Elite athletes? Everyone?
        I just feel that in this article you really show so much anger and almost hate towards people for, well making healthier decisions then sitting in front of a television screen eating nothing but hamburgers, chips and soda.
        Which is a shame, as I have so much dam respect for you and your opinions in the fitness community.

    • Sonny

      Agreed. What I’ve noticed though also is that since she’s devoted more time to Oly-specific training her Games performance has diminished. We’ll see what 2013 holds.

  • Jennifer Morris

    Who ever you are….I WAS NEVER A COMPETITIVE GYMNAST- in fact I was never competitive at the elit elevel in any sport- I was alwys athletic, but nowhere near elite. I look the way I do because I do CrossFit and have been doing it for 3 years and I eat Paleo 90% of the time.
    Get your facts straight and take my picture this post.

    CrossFit changed my life and continues to help people get in the best shape of their lives. This article does absolutely nothing good for anyone.

    • Kiefer

      Jen,

      Thanks for the response. I never said you were competitive or elite, but thank you for confirming that you have always been athletic. Again, that is the entire point of this article. If someone wants to look like you, the average individual will not do so by using CrossFit. It’s fooling people into thinking that if they CrossFit long enough, they’ll look like you, or pull 600 lbs like Lance Mosley that I dislike.

      This article is for the people who bust their ass day after day and yet, much to their confusion, aren’t shredded, are relatively weak and still want more. So they pay for another 6 months of CrossFit when they should be seeking to build on the excellent foundation that CrossFit provided. Sure, they may be in the best shape of their lives, but that’s relative.

      Like I said, Paleo is a fine health-oriented diet. But it won’t take someone who isn’t already naturally ripped and make them so. Carb Nite® can do that without CrossFit.

      I think this post is of great value to everyone who believes CrossFit can provide something it can’t. If all you want is to be in better shape, then, like I said, I like CrossFit because of the community aspect. It keeps people motivated and coming back day after day. I only question the wisdom of coming back day-to-day. I even work with CrossFitters on their diet and training, helping them to understand that they can’t have it all, so they should decide what they want most and go for it. They can always go for something else later.

      Thanks again.

  • TJ

    The goal of cross-fitters isn’t to become an “elite level athlete”. And I’ve never once seen HQ claim that by doing CrossFit you will magically become one. It does however claim that you will increase your GPP (General physical prepardness). CrossFit’s primary goal is to increase human performance in all areas of life no matter what challenge is put in front of you. Your making some pretty ridiculous claims here man. And honestly probably for two reasons. One; you tried CrossFit and it took you out of your comfort zone and probably made you cry. Or two(which I’m hoping is the reason) just for attention. Bottom line, if you don’t like CrossFit that’s fine. But the results that it has given people around the world are undeniable. And judging from your article YOU have never done a CrossFit regimen. So how the hell are you qualified for and opinion?

    • Kiefer

      @TJ:

      Again, I appreciate the CrossFit advocates who take the time to write in and, without realizing it, prove my point. I’m a little disturbed at the lack of reading comprehension, however.

      I do want to comment on a few things. General Physical Peparedness sounds cool, but what does it really mean? I would agree that CrossFit may toe the line as a method for preparing Navy Seals or Hellfighters for their daily routines, but the average person? I don’t care what life throws at you, when is the last time you had to do 30 muscle ups to clear one fence, sprint a quarter mile to the nearest burning house, drop and do 50 burpies before entering the blaze, clean and jerk the unconscious body 40 times before carrying them over one shoulder to safety, where you drop them to the ground and start beating the tires of their car with a sledgehammer for 10 minutes? CrossFit may generally prepare you to become a hybrid urban-racer/construction-worker, but not much else.

      No, I have never done a CrossFit workout because I have always trained for something…I have never had a need to train for nothing. No matter what my goal—cycle 100 miles in under 5 hrs (4 hrs, 47 mins), run a sub 5-minute mile (barely), bench press double my body weight without assistance, become an A-level racquet ball player, get down to sub-5% body fat—I trained to accomplish those goals in the shortest amount of time possible. I have accomplished them all over the years and I plan to set new ones. When I’m 80 and run out of things that I want to train for, I’ll give CrossFit a go.

      I’ve taken CrossFit athletes with goals they could not achieve using CrossFit, even though their trainers told them CrossFit would get them there if they just kept at it…maybe do two or three CrossFit workouts during the day instead of one. One woman used CrossFit and Paleo to prepare for a figure competition under the guidance of a CrossFit trainer. After seven weeks she looked the same. I took her off of CrossFit and Paleo and transformed her body in 4 and ½ weeks. Someone else was training for a marathon and could not get under 8-minute miles. After working with me for a month, she dropped 30 seconds from her 1 mile pace and only needed water—no gel packs or food—for the entire marathon and demolished her previous PR. A male athlete I worked with wanted to get his bench press over 300 lbs and was stuck at 245. A trainer convinced him that CrossFit would get his bench up in no time. After a month, his bench was 225. Two months under my training and diet program (specifically the Shockwave Protocol) he pressed 335 on the bench, clean. So yes, I think I am qualified to talk about getting people to their goals after CrossFit could not and the reasons CrossFit failed.

      CrossFit has a rare opportunity. With such a large group of hard-working potential athletes, CrossFit could easily develop programs to transition those with specific talents and desires into a sport or activity without jeopardizing the fitness base already achieved. But this would require a higher level of knowledge and expertise on the part of CrossFit trainers and maybe they would rather not leave their comfort zone and continue doing the same mindless routines day-after-day.

      • Johnny J

        Kiefer, I love your article. I am a former professional/elite athlete who was seeking something different in my training since retiring and going into law enforcement. After a year of Crossfitting at a Crossfit gym I finally woke up after being pissed off at the “pull a workout out of a hat” WODs. The coaches were very nice and attentive folks but they really did not have an understanding of how to train. Crossfit certifications are B.S. They should require university degrees in P.E./Kinesiology, etc. to open a gym. I became very fed up with the random nonsense we would do with piss poor results. I think Crossfit is great for someone that is clueless about training and has zero goals other than displaying a smaller number on the weight scale = aka soccermom/housewife. The workouts are outrageously catabolic and fatiguing to the point of stupidity. I got weaker and lost muscle. There are better ways of training. Sorry to burst the bubble of all the Cultfit enthusiasts but Crossfit is really not how law enforcement officers should train. IMO, law enforcement requires explosive power, speed and strength. You need to be able to run someone down and overpower them in as short a time as possible. Criminals don’t give a sh!t if you can do a fast FRAN. Linebackers are much more suited to policing than wimpy marathon runners. Ironically, most Crossfitters really don’t have great physiques. For all the tremendous effort and time they put into their workouts, their physiques certainly don’t reflect it. Go figure! Crossfit is sure good at marketing and convincing the masses that their training methodologies are the greatest. BTW, since stopping Crossfit I’ve become considerably stronger, more powerful and explosive. I only do sprints, plyometrics, heavy and explosive lifts. I have specific goals and I’m striving for them with some logic and not random nonsense.

        I’d also like to acknowledge that virtually none of the “elite” Crossfitters started off Crossfitting. They seem to nearly all have backgrounds in real sports and trained for years before starting Crossfit. I also doubt that the “elite” Crossfitters actually do the WODs. I bet they do their own strength, oly, powerlifting and mix in WODs once or twice/week.

        One last thing…The shorter you are the more competitive you are at Crossfit. Having shorter limbs enable mechanical advantage, hence doing WODs faster. People cheat like hell in Crossfit. It’s ridiculous how form gets thrown in the garbage in a quest to do a fast workout.

        BTW, I’d love to see that top Crossfit guy from the 2011 games dunk a basketball or run a 40 yd dash. I bet his results would be only average for a college baseball player.

        Lastly, it wouldn’t surprise me if Crossfit pays people to troll websites and attack anyone who would dare criticize Crossfit.

        • kage

          I am a professional military firefighter, and I hate crossfit. It does no good for firefighting at all. I have met hundreds of fellow firefighters and ya’ know what we all do? We lift heavy shit in the gym and do sprints when we feel spunky…thats about it. Everything else is training specific to firefighting.
          Kiefer, awesome stuff man!

  • http://crackheadfe.blogspot.com Sheila

    Good stuff! I am an endurance athlete (I guess you could say elite level) and I respect CrossFit as ‘a way’ for people to learn to enjoy a fitness lifestyle of sorts, although it could be P90X or really anything taken to extreme.

    I have respect for athletes in all disciplines, but there is a big difference, as you said, in doing something to “be fit” vs. to be competitive. I guess if you want to compete at CrossFit then you should just do CrossFit, right? But the assertion that CrossFit is beneficial to be competitive at other sports? No.

    Are there things about yourself to be learned from adopting parts or all of a protocol that has you working harder than you ever have in your life and learning about how to fuel yourself in a way to avoid gaining weight/fat? Yes.

    But you want to be competitive at a sport? Specificity, BABY!

  • ADTS

    Crossfit sucks, but not as much as this hater-fest of an article. I know the basics of cross-fit, and for the average former casual athlete or even couch potato, it certainly provides great results.

    Your example of “doing 30 muscle ups to clear one fence” holds no water. Practice makes perfect, thats why anyone does multiple repetitions of an exercise. So when you do have to clear that fence, you are prepared.

    Once again, not a fan of crossfit so no need to lump me in with the rest to support your argument.

  • Moe

    Dear Kiefer,

    A herd of CF mice and MILFs are doing endless thrusters in preparation to swarm your site and attack you. You might be a leader of a revolution, but to them you are the Devil incarnate.

    Thank you.
    Keep up the good work.
    And I promise I’ll pray for your soul if you get shot/stabbed/run over by a divorced 38yr old blond with a photo of Lord GG’s belly on the back of her minivan.

  • Mike

    @ADTS, You refer to this article as being: “hater-fest” then you go on to say exactly what the article is trying to describe, that crossfit is indeed NOT for the elite, and will not take you to the pinnacle of your respective discipline, it provides “great results” for couch potatos and casual athletes who would no doubt get even better results from a real goal orientated program…you clearly take the short bus to your crossfit gym

  • TJ

    I’d like to also thank you Keifer for proving my point! YOU have never done CrossFit. I can obviously end my rebuttal now but whats the fun in that. I like how you point out all your accomplishments because it really proves how unaccomplished you are. You put such an emphasis on meaningless goals. Wow! you specialized and ran a sub five mile and bench pressed twice your body weight(probably not simultaneously I’m guessing). Here’s some news for you. Its been done and its nothing special. The reason why “Elite” level athletes specialize is primarily for money. How big of a check was waiting for you after you benched twice your bodyweight? I’m guessing nada. I also love the baseless examples of goals you’ve helped people achieve. Right when you said someone you knew was doing CrossFit and strict Paleo and didn’t see any results you lost all credibility. As an affiliate owner I see it everyday. And unless your blogging from a different planet I assume its the same wherever your from. The goal of any fitness regimen should be improved health and longevity and improve your quality of life. By spending countless hours specializing and achieving your meaningless goals like “benching twice your bodyweight” makes no sense to me if it ultimately isn’t steering you towards the main goal of improved overall health.

  • Gin Master

    [QUOTE]The goal of cross-fitters isn’t to become an “elite level athlete”. And I’ve never once seen HQ claim that by doing CrossFit you will magically become one.[UNQOUTE]

    So it doesn’t say “Crossfit: Forging Elite Athletes”, the winner of the Crossfit Games is not the “Fittest On Earth”, and people like Castro don’t claim that Crossfitters could dominate other athletes in their specific sports but not vice versa? Well, then maybe my eyes are not elite enough.

    And benching twice your bodyweight is a way better achievement than SLAP-tears, herniated discs or rhabdo. Who the hell ever heard of rhabdo before the advent of Crossfit?

  • TJ

    Common man you and I both know it says “Forging elite fitness”. No need to take things out of context to prove your point. And yes the CrossFit Games is a fitness competition. So claiming the winner “The fittest on earth” is exactly right. If you can post a thread of Dave Castro saying CrossFitters will dominate other athletes at their sport then please do. And good luck finding that Gin Master, I wont be hearing from you for a while. You can get injured doing any physical activity whether it be CrossFit, snowboarding, basketball ect. Are you seriously trying to make the point that injuries don’t occur in powerlifting!? That really is ridiculous

  • Boomer

    Quote:”I also love the baseless examples of goals you’ve helped people achieve. Right when you said someone you knew was doing CrossFit and strict Paleo and didn’t see any results you lost all credibility”

    Quote: ” The goal of any fitness regimen should be improved health and longevity and improve your quality of life”

    Your argument is so weak that I really doubt that you are an affiliate trainer.
    First of all, who are you to tell someone what their goals should be? The job of a good trainer is to make an effective plan to reach one’s goals, NOT tell someone what they need. Keifer’s accomplishment’s are excellent, period. Go bench 2xbw and tell me thats not damn strong.

    Second,
    The fact that you actually criticize Keifer for getting people to accomplish their goals faster and more effectively than crossfit is dumbfounding. I don’t even know what to say. Good luck running a fitness business where you freely criticize those who get better results than you.

  • Tyler

    I’d like to point out that people are stupid and insecure.

    Okay, now that I’ve gotten that out there, this was a good article. I agree that the practitioners of CF should be respected for trying to better themselves and for trying hard. I also agree that it’s incredibly mindless programming.

    Along with the goal oriented stuff you were commenting on above, I used to practice parkour before I began lifting (powerlifter here) and I thought and still think that the type of training I was doing was about a thousand times better for GPP than CF. Parkour is literally gettting away or getting to something quickly. Training those movements that got me places quickly are still with me 3 years later and could save my life or someone else’s some day (especially with the added PL strength). CF would not.

    I have friends that do CF and I don’t argue with them. I’ve tried some MetCons and yes, they’re difficult. That doesn’t mean it’s doing anything. Rounded lower back deadlifts hurt, but that doesn’t mean they help anything other than your rounded back deadlifts. CF gets you better at CF, nothing more.

  • TJ

    Obviously Boomer you missed my point. If someone says “I took someone doing strict paleo/CrossFit and didn’t see any results he lost his credibility. Helping people reach their goals is the most important part of my job. I think its a good trainer’s job to tell people what they need to hear. Not what they want to hear. If a potential member sets up an intro appointment and asks me if doing CrossFit is going to increase his bicep curl, I’m not going to lie to him and tailor a program for such a retarded goal. I’m going to explain to him what fitness is and how CrossFit can help him achieve that goal.

    Tyler I’m not insecure at all, maybe stupid if you ask my girlfriend so I can’t argue you on that one haha I’m not sure what WOD you did where you where rounding out your back. But I agree with you on that. You probably did a WOD on your own using rx’d weight when you should of scaled it down so you could maintain proper form. All CrossFit gyms believe in form first, consistency and then intensity. Even if you can lift the prescribed load completely fresh with proper form doesn’t mean you can when your in the middle of a workout. That’s why as a CF trainer you have to know your members and scale their weight properly.

  • Steve

    Good work Kiefer – totally agree with your article. To the bafoon that asked if you had ever done a Crossfit workout, I say you don’t have to hit yourself in the face with a hammer to know its going to hurt! I am sorry but I have to use analogy that Crossfit folk understand.

    The rep ranges performed on certain exercises are pointless at best, injuries waiting to happen at worst.

    All the best Kiefer.

    • steve

      its high volume at a lower weight…whats the difference of doing a set of 20 seated shoulder press with 135-175 vs say a power clean?

  • Pingback: How to incorporate Crossfit into SL5X5

  • TJ

    Bafoon huh? Haha Steve, there ya go! When you don’t have anything constructive to say just throw out insults.Is that were this debate is leading?

  • Danny

    I see this article, well written and cited as it is, really brought out the hoards to defend.

    Here is the bottom line, anything you acquired in terms of GPP/WC or fitness from Crossfit, you could have acquired in less time, with less effort, from a truly periodized, and structured program of individual workouts with specific goals, rather than these stupid combo workouts that target no goal, repeated ad nauseum.

    Crossfit is guilty of the typical fitness industry issue if ignoring what works and subsituting, instead, what sounds like it will work.

    The article is SPOT ON when it states Crossfit makes people work harder than they need to, to achieve less.

  • Ty

    TJ, you say the main goal is to have improved general health. Why can’t I have great health and be able to bench twice my bodyweight? Why can’t I have great health and bike 100 miles under 5 hours. Would you say Lance Armstrong has poor health because he is specialized (testicles withstanding)? The fact is that you can absolutely be healthy and specialized. So if I can be healthy and specialized why not excel at something, why not be great? You continue to say that goals such as 5% bf, benching twice your BW, and running sub 5-min miles are all irrelevant next to the goal of health, but why? Why are goals such as those irrelevant? Because someone isn’t getting paid? For that matter, why should you do anything you do that you don’t get paid for? Plenty of people want to excel at a variety of goals, some of which can be obtained simultaneously, some cannot. Crossfit interferes with achieving many of “elite status” yet specializing in something doesn’t necessarily interfere with great health.

    Why does he lose credibility by saying he has worked with someone following a protocol, in this case crossfit and paleo, that failed to see the results they wanted? Maybe you work with someone at your affiliate gym that is following the protocol of not training and eating garbage and you say they aren’t having results. Does this make you lose credibility? No, it means you’ve pointed out one corollary issue that is affecting that persons performance. It does not mean you somehow magically have lost your credibility.

    You continue to prove Kiefer’s point of Crossfit not being suited for elite level goals, regardless of whether or not you think they’re good goals.

    All crossfit gyms do not worry about form first and foremost. I’ve been to a few crossfit gyms, worked with quite a few crossfit trainers, and many of them place emphasis on intensity over form, which at times may serve it’s purpose but more often then not is a slippery slope towards injury.

  • Steve

    @TJ Would you prefer Jackass? LMFAO! No seriously though, it stopped being a debate when Crossfitters get their lil feelings hurt because not everybody wants to be a “Jack of all trades – master of none”. Oh, sorry for another CultFit analogy, nah I’m not sorry. Lighten up fella.

  • Adam

    Kiefer, I have no doubt you’re an accomplished athlete and you are obviously a passionate trainer and these are all good things. I also understand the pressure any competitive athlete can put on themselves. When you’re focused on being the best, you’re also constantly comparing yourself to everyone else. This is a recipe for developing deep insecurities and feelings of inferiority. Left unchecked, those feelings can easily manifest in articles like the one you’ve provided above.

    I don’t know you so I’m going to assume you’re an intelligent guy. Being such, I’m sure you know your article is filled with anger, sarcasm and negativity. When was the last time someone in history made a lasting change or started a movement by attacking his opposition in this fashion? Your words are offensive to thousands making positive changes in their lives. I will go out on a weak limb here and suggest the theme of this article is maximizing effectiveness. In the spirit of that theme, I would like to encourage you to use your accomplishments, your passion and your intelligence to be a positive voice in the fitness community.

    CrossFit is not perfect but it changed my life in ways I never thought possible. I’ve also watched it transform other peoples lives in such positive ways that their inspiration now lives and breathes in me everyday. As a former all state football lineman and firefighter, I have been exposed to many different schools of thought on fitness. CrossFit is the most effective program I’ve ever found to accomplish what I want out of myself. That’s true for a lot of people Kiefer. As I said, it’s not perfect but it is here to stay. If you have specific and constructive suggestions on how CrossFit can be improved, then please sir, your audience awaits your humble wisdom.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ndg-Rj/100002888714044 Ndg Rj

      Very well said.

    • Luis Velasquez

      Amen brother!!!

    • karl simpson

      He denounced crossfit as the most effective way to train and supported those claims with evidence aswell as a humorous journalistic persona. I think his “beef” stems from professional athletes, unprofessionally promoting crossfit as the best way to train, when it is in fact proven to not be. That being said he never said anything about crossfit not being effective for most people, its just not even close to the most effective way to train. I don’t think he wants to fix crossfit, he just wants to inform you on how to lift effectively and maximize your gains. That’s just my perspective on the article as I think it was well written.

  • glenn

    @TJ: If you can post a thread of Dave Castro saying CrossFitters will dominate other athletes at their sport then please do.
    – seriously?! BARBER is in the CFJournal on VIDEO stating exactly. (Roundtable in Tahoe: Outside Domination)
    http://journal.crossfit.com/2010/12/roundtabletahoe-outside.tpl
    CASTRO only said that professional athletes don’t have the MIND-SET to compete in crossfit competitions (note: mindset, not skillset?!?!?)

    @ADAM: When was the last time someone in history made a lasting change or started a movement by attacking his opposition in this fashion?
    –um, COACH GLASSMAN!!! (filled with anger, sarcasm and negativity)

  • glenn

    CrossFit is the most effective program
    1]do you mean crossfit.com
    1a]if not, please provide THE PROGRAM that you are talking about (not a theory/philosophy/culture/TM)… and the respective outcome/result of said such program

  • glenn

    people are funny. the so called ELITE crossfit atheletes do NOT use mainsite programming. they do not train Constantly Varied Functional Movement. they train classical powerlifting and oly lifting programs… and SUPPLEMENT with some additional ‘high intensity’ metabolic conditioning… at some point, at what point does what you are doing not become CrossFit[TM]… it’s like CF’ers on zone. they zone but half the carbs, 5times the fat, don’t weight the protein and don’t count blocks anymore, but they state they zone?!?!?!?! all the best KEIFER!!!

  • Teekam

    TJ: This is Tyler (had to register to post). I wasn’t saying that the MetCon I did included rounded back deadlifts. I was saying that crossfit only helps people do crossfit, just like doing rounded back deadlifts won’t help anything other than that movement.

    The stupid and insecure thing has to do with people flipping their shit because someone that hasn’t tried something is saying it’s dumb. That’s like saying you can’t hate on cocaine until you try it. Extreme, yes, but it’s the same reasoning.

  • Christopher

    The best part of this thread is the immediate ad hominem in response to the article, some folks need to learn to read the whole article and articulate a proper response.

    I have no emperical evidence that crossfit is stupid, however I have plenty of anecdotal. I have seen all to often someone doing speed deadlifts (and not the PL version of speed for a DE workout) totally sacrfice form as their fatigue increases. Then complain later of a hurt back or some such. There are also the guys that are doing a ridiculous number of sets/reps on the bench, who as they fatigue, bounce the weight off their chest and wonder why they have a bruised sternum.

    Will CF perhaps help you in some aspects? I reckon. Is is a solution for strength? Not at all, at least from people I know who do it…….

  • Speedster00

    While I’ve never done CF, there are 4 co-workers in my office that do. I dont actually see them make progress. They maintain the same strength and body weight month after month and only complain about how sore they are and how brutal the WOD was. We’re all pretty athletic guys and being more of a power lifter myself, their cardio is definately better than mine…but during 2010, I didnt see them make any progress at all. I think CF is a good org, but I have to agree with Kiefer. Other than beating the crap out of yourself, the only good I see is burning massive amounts of calories and really going no where.

  • bucksauce

    The ad hominem is quite stupid, pointless, and needs to stop. People do hard work. It doesn’t matter if they’re endurance athletes, powerlifters, crossfitters or whatever. Its all very hard and props are deserved, especially if someone can do something that I cant (I give lots of props).

    BUT
    The point of crossfit is to achieve elite “FITNESS” by their own definition of fitness: WORK CAPACITY across BROAD TIME and MODAL DOMAINS i.e. moving the most amount weight the furthest distance in the least amount of time possible, and the amounts are subject to change, all the time. This does not mean that crossfitters will be able to beast the ultramarathoner in a 100k, nor the powerlifter in a max DL.

    WHAT IT DOES MEAN: The crossfitter will MOST PROBABLY* deadlift a metric sh*t-ton more than the runner, run much further and faster than the powerlifter, and completely school both of them in events at which neither has practiced such as gymnastics, parkour, uber kickass hybrid construction-working, firefighting, skiing, etc.

    ALSO, firefighters, policemen, and military operators especially love crossfit because they face the unknown everyday and crossfit is thus far the most scientifically sound and proven method for preparation for the unknown. Don’t believe me? ASK THEM (your local FD/PD/MIL probably either does it already or would love to learn about it!). Although a police officer might not have to clear a fence 30 times, WHAT IF he has to clear one after being shot? Although the firefighter doesn’t have to do 50 burpees before entering a burning house, MAYBE something went terribly wrong and he has to carry 50 more pounds of equipment. Although it wouldn’t make any sense for a soldier to clean and jerk a lifeless body 40 times and hit a sledge hammer against a tire for 10 min, but what if 40 of his buddies get wounded and need to be evacuated after the perimeter gets overrun and hes got nothing but a rifle and half as many bullets as there are enemy combatants? All three of those people could just sit there and bitch about how “I didn’t train for this shit.” Instead, since crossfit encourages performing WODs with CONSTANT VARIATION (i.e. reps, weight, sets, elevation, L-pull ups** with an extra weighted vest, doing a WOD with your gas mask on, etc.) they will most likely say to themselves “If I can do 30 muscle-ups, I can clear this fence, even though my arm was shot,” or “I’ve done plenty of workouts with a heavy weighted vest, 50 lbs more will be no problem,” or “BRING IT YOU SONS OF BITCHES.”

    Crossfit isn’t about being the best at everything, its about being damn good at most things. It wont get you the body of a body builder, but if you tweak it properly*** you can get damn close, and still be able to run like nobody’s business. Specialization is for insects.****

    * Science is about finding what is most likely probable, which is enforced by empirical data. Its not about finding what is ABSOLUTE TRUTH, just what is most likely probable. Crossfit HQ and affiliates do this by quantifying and measuring everything from weight, duration, distance, VO2 max, flexibility, overall strength, etc. and they have a LOT of data which shows that performing CONSTANTLY VARIED FUNCTIONAL MOVEMENTS at HIGH INTENSITY will most likely improve VO2 max, overall strength, flexibility, etc. UNLESS you were already an elite specialist. If you were a specialist, you can expect to lose what you were great in to become damn good at everything else. its like losing one thing in order to gain 8 more.

    ** L-pull ups are very strict in motion and VERY common in WODs

    *** There are different forms of Crossfit (see Crossfit Endurance, Crossfit Football, WODshop.org, etc) in which you can tweak your workouts to be short and sweet (8-10 minute range) or long and grueling (30+ min range). You’ll be primarily explosively strong, fast, and agile, or primarily have the stamina of a horse, but still be very well balanced in other areas of athletics.

    **** “A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.” – R.A. Heinlein

    • Kiefer

      Geez…and rants like this are for the insecure. “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.”*

      *Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Act III, scene II

      • Bucksauce

        Actually all I was trying to do is clarify everything you got wrong. You’re an educated man but all you did was strawman. You never actually attacked any of the claims that crossfit made. No one is unfit because they run too fast. However, if all you can do is run, then what happens when you have to carry something heavy? If all you can do is lift an ass-load of weight, the what happens when you have to outrun someone high on bath-salt trying to eat your face?
        You have a PhD for god’s sake. Try attacking the argument instead of the person.
        “You can lead a horse to water, but you shouldn’t have to stick your head up its ass and suck to make it drink.” – Anonymous

        • Go Heavy

          I know this is old but I just couldn’t help myself. If what I can do is lift an assload of weight, then when I meet a bath salt snorting, face eating zombie, I’ll simply rip it’s head clean off. Simple. No running necessary.

          If you run and lift equally poor, you won’t be able to pick up the heavy thing or escape the pavement licker. Just sayin’

          “He who chases two rabbits catches neither.” Anonymous.

          • Sonny

            You’re so cool.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=534374847 Katie Peavy

      I’m a firefighter, certified personal trainer, corrective exercise specialist and performance enhancement specialist. I’m also a marathon runner and weight lifter (training in different seasons for each). As a firefighter, I know that crossfit will only set us up for more injuries and make us unable to do our jobs due to injury and lack of functional training. As a corrective exercise specialist, I see the muscle imbalances crossfit causes because of the lack of form thus giving me a good number of clients. As a performance enhancement specialist, I see that crossfit does NOT improve performance AT ALL in people who are already trained athletes. But Yes, a crossfitter will probably be able to run faster, lift heavier or do more pull-ups and push-ups than someone who refuses to get off their couch so in today’s society of unhealthy people, I guess crossfit DOES breed elite fitness.

      • Bucksauce

        Thank you, Katie. Im sure the entire Firefighting community agrees with you. Its funny how you say that Crossfit does not provide enough functional training, yet their entire premise is that “Constantly varied FUNCTIONAL MOVEMENTS executed at high intensity” will make you fit. I am unaware of any muscle imbalance that properly executed functional movements cause. I agree that form is important. The entire crossfit community agrees with you too. Their progression ladder is form first, intensity second, and volume third. Any instructor who is not following that protocol is not teaching crossfit properly. As you should know: Anything good and useful used improperly can be a bad thing.I am in the military and I am also a “Certified Personal Trainer.” (I have crossfit certs as well as NSCA).
        You got one other thing right. Crossfit DOES breed elite fitness.

        • Sonny

          Functional training is a made up term that really doesn’t have a clearly defined definition, much like the words “health” and “fitness”, unless you give them your own definitions.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ndg-Rj/100002888714044 Ndg Rj

        I am doing crossfit exercise for 4 years, no injury. I can do way more in any kind of exercise than the other 50 people working in the office, being 10 years older than the 2nd oldest. Muscle imbalances ? Give me a break.

    • Beretta Heart

      wow .. thank you … i rly needed ur oppinion .. coz this is what i understood is crossfit for … i cant understand why there r soo many ppl spitting acid on crossfit when its something so good … wow!! thank you again ::*

  • ah64

    While I think Kiefer’s article goes well beyond the “reasonable argument” line, I think he does have one good point. Everyone should have a goal.

    I’m currently in the military and, having seen some “action”, I’ve been able to build a model for what kind of fitness I need to thrive in that environment. Short sprints under pressure, carrying light-to-heavy loads while maneuvering tough terrain (both urban and mountains), in extreme temperatures, sometimes at altitude, characterize combat. I Crossfit because its the best program to meet those demands and my end-goal: thriving. That being said, I don’t think Crossfit is the end-all. One of my best friends started Crossfitting with me a year ago and it didn’t work for him. Why? Because his goal was to lose weight, he didn’t lose any while Crossfitting and was sore constantly, so why continue? He’s now on a program that he’s losing weight on, without all the pain the morning after. My point? Whatever your goal is, and you should have one, use the program that will best help you accomplish it. Maybe its Crossfit, maybe its not, but do your research and be smart about it.

    Kiefer, like I said before, I think you crossed the line in your article, to the point of sounding stupid. That being said, I want to thank you for bringing the question “why am I doing what I’m doing?” to mind, it hasn’t been there for awhile and I’m already looking for ways to tweak my Crossfit workouts (gasp!) to optimize them towards my goal- combat fitness.

    • Kiefer

      I find it interesting that you say I sound stupid then back up exactly what the article says: train for your goal using a proper modality for that goal. You find CrossFit appropriate for military action. And, given your situation in the field, it’s probably adequate for that goal. Could you do better: yes; could you do better with certain time constraints: maybe not. Most CrossFitters train to look like sports models. Then they don’t and can’t understand why: because CrossFit is not adequate for that goal.

      Make one thing absolutely clear: I am not ridiculing people who do CrossFit; I am criticizing the establishment of CrossFit that says, without any discrepancy, that CrossFit is the ultimate training modality for EVERY event.

      Thanks for sharing.

  • Coltrain

    This whole crossfit we can do anything but sorta suck atmost of it is getting old. 6 weeks ago I competed raw at 152 pounds, benched 276 and deadlifted 467.5. The next day i somehow got dragged to a sealfit competition and knocked off 31 dead hang pull ups, 109 push ups and a 7:46 mile and a half. Pull ups are the only thing i train for reps. All others are 3 reps or less. So dont tell me you need crossfit to be fit while being semi strong

  • http://crossfitamped.com rob

    Why be amazing at one thing when you can be really good at a wide variety of things ?? Take money for example : a smart investor doesn’t out their entire worth in one hedgefund or stock. They diversify their portfolio to get a return on all investments. Same with exercise…if you train to bench press 600#s then great! Nothing wrong with that, but ill he nervous for you when your child falls off the swingset and its up to you to run to the back yard, hop over the fence, pick her up and bring her to the car, then carry her into the hospital. I’ll be impressed if you can do all that without hurting yourself along the way. The idea is simple and accurate, to be an athlete, you are physically capable of many things. The more you are limited , the less of an athlete you are. Ask yourself…how many things are you really good at? Then find a crossfitter and challenge him. See how that goes !

    • http://dangerouslyhardcore.com DH Naomi

      Investors do that because investing is little more than high-brow gambling.

      Are you gambling with your fitness? You don’t need to be…

  • Rick

    Not everyone wants to be a professional competitor or an “elite athlete”! The average person just wants general fitness, improved health, and to have fun getting there. Criticizing people for NOT wanting to be “elite” is stupidity.

    Crossfit may not be the bet program out there, but it has done a great deal to change the way people approach health and fitness and improved tens of thousands of lives. If that wasn’t the case, there wouldn’t be thousands of affiliates around the world and thousands more “garage” gyms using the Crossfit method.

    Maybe your are just bitter because YOU don’t have that kind of following. Get over yourself!

    • Kiefer

      The above post is an excellent example of why I stress that everyone practice reading comprehension skills before spouting off. Maybe I’ll have a “complete these questions” form before you can post a comment to an article to ensure they not only read it, but comprehended the point. This happens way too often.

  • Aidan

    I couldn’t agree more. On paper I think the concept of Crossfit is a good idea, it certainly beats the general fitness industry/commercial gyms focus on 60 minues of steady state cardio while watching a T.V. I like the idea of giving people a focus and introducing them to multiple disciplines but I agree that after a while focus should be then directed towards more specificity. I think the true concept of CF got lost somewhere along the way, more than likely as result of someone gaining a big pay cheque. To me it seems CF is simply helping to (further) breed a mass of people who think more is better or ‘quantity over quality’ . CF may claim that quality is important but at the end of the day smashing out reps becomes the main focus. The vast majority of the general public measure a good workout/training session by how tired they feel – Crossfit helps to reinforce this. This leads to an increased likelihood of injury, beyond that of what constitutes the risks involved in sports.

    Sure, encourage people to join a community, get them engaging in mutliple disciplines and improving their overall health, fitness and strength. However don’t encourage people to try and become advanced or ‘elite’ at multiple disciplines, whilst depleting every energy system, in every workout. Furthermore, don’t then encourage people to think that when they aren’t achieving their goals they need to train harder and more often. Don’t encourage people to engage in demanding workouts and training sessions requiring technical lifts when they haven’t been shown how they should be correctly performed or the time has not been taken to ensure a high standard has been met. I think this is the problem with CF getting too big and popular, there isn’t the necessary standard of coaching available. Finally, don’t encourage people to perform these techical lifts for reps when tired! It annoys me to witness CFers performing ugly OLY lifts for reps or seeing legs buckle in an OH squat.

    In my opinion, I think the moto really should be “Crossfit: Making People Tired and Sore”.

    I found this article pretty interesting

    http://www.cathletics.com/articles/article.php?articleID=118

    I like your a article Kiefer, and you were bound to step on a lot of people’s toes.

    Thanks

  • Roberto

    A lot of butthurt crossfitters… Good job Kiefer!

  • Anonymous

    This article has definitely caused me to question “Crossfit” and its objectives. However, I remain a proponent of Crossfit and think there are some flaws with the arguments made in this article. The first flaw occurs when the term “elite athlete” is used. How do you define an elite athlete? One who competes at a professional level? If so, I have never seen or heard of a credible source that says Crossfit will turn you into a professional or elite athlete. If your goal is to throw a baseball professionally, or run marathons, then throwing baseballs and running long distances should make up the majority of your physical activity. Crossfit does not promise to maximize your performance in specialized tasks, however, most Crossfitters experience tremendous personal gains in many areas of “fitness”.

    Another flaw in the argument presented is that Crossfit lacks a specific goal. I would argue that Crossfit in fact has a very specific goal, which is to improve the overall level of “fitness” in an individual. This can be somewhat subjective as the idea of “fitness” is often undefined or elusive. Crossfit attempts to define fitness as a balance between 10 facets of physical activity: Cardiovascular respiratory endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, coordination, accuracy, agility and balance. It also quantifies fitness by measuring work capacity across broad time and modal domains mentioned in bucksauce’s comment. I would say that Crossfit is the best way to improve overall fitness based on this definition. Will Crossfit maximize my 1 rep bench press or maximize my 1 mile time? It can definitely help, but it may not maximize your bench or run time. The best way to do that is to specialize training in that one area. However, there is an inherent tradeoff when you specialize training. For example, if I decide to strictly run long distances 5 days a week to prepare myself for a marathon, I am giving up the opportunity to improve my upper body strength on those days. In this case, an argument could be made that by specializing training, you are missing out on improving other areas. And if you begin to train other areas at the same time, another argument could be made that you are approaching a Crossfit style workout regimen.

    Another flaw in the article is the comparison between trained athletes and average Crossfitters. Keifer says “If you take an average CrossFitter, their performance in one segment—strength, endurance, power, agility or speed—is pathetic compared to trained athletes.” Of course it will be. Trained athletes specialize in one or several of those segments and should therefore be better at performing in those given segments. But while an Olympic weightlifter will be able to lift a heavier weight than a Crossfitter, the Crossfitter will most likely be able to run faster for a longer period of time than the Olympic weightlifter. I think a better statement would be “The average CrossFitter will perform better in more segments compared to the average exerciser.” Or, “The best CrossFitter on Earth will perform better in more segments than the best marathon runner on Earth.”

    I’ve been doing Crossfit for about months and anticipated losses in strength with improvements in cardiovascular endurance. However, I’ve experienced incredible improvements in all of the 10 facets mentioned above. Overall, I think the article was good for stirring up debate and attracting views, but the bottom line is; Crossfit will not make you a professional athlete, but it will make you as “fit” as possible by providing a set of guidelines to follow.

    • DH Naomi

      I really appreciate this comment. Even Robb Wolf has problems with Crossfit, but he’s not jumping to close his Crossfit gym.

      The basic argument Kiefer has with Crossfit is that it has no concrete goals attached to it. “Getting fit” is not really a goal — ask any figure competitor how well that ever worked for them.

      Crossfit also gets people expending considerable time, energy, and (most importantly) recovery fuel on combinations of things

      My personal beef w/ Crossfit is only with its tendency to get people doing really, really crappy reps of both basic AND compound movements, which results in minimal strength improvement and a nasty habit of causing micro-injuries every muscle in their bodies. People don’t see that kind of damage until a year down the line when they aren’t improving anymore, and it’s not obvious what the problem is.

      “Getting fit” is a perfectly OK goal for normal people, and it’s great that people will stick with it and tend to become paleo and feel better and all of that stuff.

      But it’s TELLING that competitive athletes don’t really see the point in Crossfit (and often have an earful for you about why they don’t do it, if you ask). Even the competitive Crossfitters switch to those basic compound strength movements when they want to get stronger and more competitive — and dial down their Crossfit activities considerably.

      Kiefer is speaking to an elite crowd here, so the fact that he puts down Crossfit has everything to do with his audience and nothing to do with whether he thinks Crossfit is a good activity for office workers and weekend warriors.

      • Anonymous

        In regards to the idea that Crossfit does not providing concrete goals.
        You say,’”Getting fit” is not really a goal.’ Let’s assume “Getting fit” means improving one’s level of fitness. Then basically, your statement says that Crossfit does not accurately define fitness or provide a means to improve it. Then I would ask “What is a better way to define fitness than an individual’s level of cardiovascular respiratory endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, coordination, accuracy, agility and balance?” And, “What is a better way to measure an aggregation of these facets than to perform workouts that capture most if not all of these facets?”

        In regards to Kiefer’s intended audience.
        I found this article without having any “”elite athletic” designation or affiliation. So the intended audience is obviously anybody with a computer and internet.

        Also if anyone has ever told another person that they can become a professional athlete by doing Crossfit, they are naive. And if the individual believed that they could become a professional athlete by doing Crossfit, they are just as naive.

        My main concern with this article is that it conveys the message that Crossfit tells people they will become “elite athletes” by doing Crossfit. Again, I have never read this, or heard this anywhere. All Crossfit does is tell you that your overall fitness will improve if you do it.

        Furthermore, as far as I can tell, Crossfit does not encourage sacrificing form for more reps. While it does endorse competition and self improvement, I’ve never seen a workout that said, “Perform as many reps as possible (and don’t worry about your form).” In fact, I’m pretty sure the judges at competitions don’t count reps if improper form is applied.

        • Anonymous

          >>> In regards to the idea that Crossfit does not providing concrete goals. You say,’”Getting fit” is not really a goal.’ …

          I do. I say this from a managerial perspective: people who set nebulous goals such as “I want to be BETTER AT X” or “I want to get healthier” are very unlikely to make any positive difference in their lives.

          Crossfit is a remarkable institution because it does cause people to get fitter — but not because people are good at working towards nebulous goals like “I want to be fitter”, but because Crossfit is really good at CREATING concrete goals for people: “get a better time on Ethel”, etc etc.

          >>>What is a better way to measure an aggregation of these facets than to perform workouts that capture most if not all of these facets?”

          Well, for starters, I wouldn’t lump all of these factors into variegated catch-alls where you can’t isolate variables… but that’s just me being a science nerd.

          >>>I found this article without having any “”elite athletic” designation or affiliation. So the intended audience is obviously anybody with a computer and internet.

          Fair enough, except that “intended audience” implies choice on the part of the author. Kiefer intended this article to be read by the people he knew to be reading it — not “people on the internet”. Just because you found it, doesn’t mean Kiefer wrote it with you in mind.

          Just sayin’.

          >>>as far as I can tell, Crossfit does not encourage sacrificing form for more reps

          We’ll have to agree to disagree, because my perspective (and many others have said the same thing) comes from observing some pretty scary stuff at the Crossfit gym from my office window in Sunnyvale for half a year.

          >>>I’m pretty sure the judges at competitions don’t count reps if improper form is applied.

          Well, that’s good.

          • Anonymous

            My conclusion from this discussion is that we have very different opinions of “fitness”. I believe that fitness is an identifiable and measurable concept, which makes improving one’s level of fitness a concrete goal. I would say that most people who do Crossfit or support it, would agree with my opinion. Additionally, there are many people who agree with dhnaomi, in that fitness is a nebulous concept.

            Another difference of opinions lies in the dangers of Crossfit. I believe that the individual is ultimately responsible for their own health. Therefore, if injury occurs while performing a Crossfit workout, the individual is at fault, not the program.

          • Jonny

            I know this is old, but I think part of the responsibility should lie with the supposed ‘coach’ who is moderating the workouts. If they see someone performing bad reps, they should be stopped from doing the workout, not be given a ‘no rep’ or advice – for their own safety, they should be stopped outright. How would one know if they had a rounded back, loose core, no triple extension when they’re mid way through a workout that’s making them hallucinate?

            The establishment are the ones at fault for allowing so many affiliates with sub par coaching who are in it for the money to open. There should be regular testing of coaches to ensure standards, not a weekend certification that allows you to open your own gym (provided you pay) and coach the public.

          • dhnaomi

            Whole-heartedly agree.

          • Sonny

            I’ll add that the trainer has a huge responsibility. If he or she jinks otherwise because someone signed a waiver, they’re not a professional. “Do no harm.” It applies in the trainer-client relationship, and it applies to ourselves.

      • Sonny

        Great comments and I agree. Kiefer should have made that point concisely up front, for he has a wide ranging audience. His work is fantastic and I think could benefit a lot of CF’ers, me included. Oh, the irony.

  • http://armilegge.com Armistead Legge

    I agree. Well done Kiefer.

    Here is an interesting study in support of your article. It shows that the effort you put into your weight training is more important for developing power than the speed at which you move the weight. It kind of defeats the purpose of O lifting if you aren’t an O lifter, at least according to why crossfit people do it (gain power).

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8444715

    • Sonny

      Not sure how you’re extrapolating the referenced study of 8 people doing a dorsiflexion exercise with whatever results into a statement that CrossFit exercisers shouldn’t be doing Olympic lifting. Benefits of Olympic lifting are varied, and there is plenty of research correlating the speed at which a weight to be moved as an indicator of increased power. That’s kind of the point with CF and Olympic movements to a point, but I also have some opinions about the craziness of its competitive aspects. I’ll be blogging about it, and you’ll get the invite.

  • http://www.facebook.com/andrea.strom2 Andrea Strom

    I have several auto-immune disorders, which is why I went Paleo. Since making the change, my symptoms have all but disappeared (most importantly for me, my vitiligo and RA have stopped progressing). I would be very interested in hearing more on your analysis of a proper Paleo diet- specifically why you couldn’t back-load carbs AND go Paleo.

    • DH Naomi

      Awesome. Inspiring to hear.

      Absolutely no reason why you can’t go Paleo and do Carb Back-Loading. I do it all the time.

      Kiefer’s stated in several interviews that the main reason he eats the pastries most of the time is basically to satisfy his inner fat kid.

      But bananas, dates, and sweet potatoes (for example) will work perfectly well. Waxy potatoes are recommended even above these things.

      You will be interested to hear the upcoming interview with Kiefer on the Upgraded Self podcast hosted by Dave Asprey ( http://bulletproofexec.com )

  • steven

    What’s your take on EPOC and HIIT ? You recommend HIIT as a great fat burning protocol, but it seems that EPOC “afterburn” had been overrated. Is it Low Impact Aerobics still better for fatburning ?

  • Donyen Chu

    Greg Glassman…is Pukie posting on Facebook?

  • http://patrickhitches.com Patrick Hitches

    Keifer -

    I love how you just let all these “Born Agains” post and comment on this article. I literally get a chuckle every time I see the fire rise inside the cult addicts. It’s amazing at how crisp and clear it is from the outside and how muddled people’s minds can get when they are so obviously brainwashed and sucked in to their little community.

    Keep fighting the fight as I believe it’s the duty of every strength and conditioning coach, trainer and fitness professional to advocate proper training methodology that is safe and effective. We need to continue to have clients and general population at the forefront of our minds as their well being is reliant upon it.

    In strength and living “the dream diet”…

    Patrick

    • Sonny

      Patrick ,

      I get the cute equation of religion and CrossFit. I’m convinced that the 11th facet of functional fitness is a good sense of humor. I completely agree with your statement regarding the duty of fitness professionals to advocate for proper and safe training and instruction and methodologies. I definitely chose to do that but in the context of CF. If the thing that makes people sit up late at night wondering how they can dismantle CrossFit is that there are programming and methodology issues then it makes perfect sense for good and knowledgeable folks to be the light, the voice of reason, and perhaps the professional who trains and coaches champions, instead of making good meaning people who have found a lot of health and benefit feel like they’re doing something worthless. It’s a put-up-or-shut-up situation in my opinion.

  • Sean

    Hey get a hobby.. Crossfit is more fun then writting hate blogs about other training ever methods. Crossfit appeals to me and many other ex-competitive athletes because it gives us something else to compete in. I’d rather be doing crossfit then working out at a globo gym gaining muscle mass, not athleticism. And yes since starting crossfit i have become much more athletic and I’ve improved my endurance, strength, speed, jumping, the list is endless..
    So don’t hate, I’m sure tons of crossfitters could put you to shame in the gym.

  • Garcmoldman

    Crossfit landed me in the hospital with exertional rhabdo and near kidney failure….and the kicker is I’m a D1 athlete…convinced it is pure stupidity. Thanks for your article.

  • Pingback: Crossfit - To Be or Not to Be | Patrick Hitches

  • http://www.facebook.com/dancerninja Kristin Laine Newman

    I guess you posted this a while back and referred to it on Facebook in light of the upcoming World Series of Exercise? Anyway, I’m an Olympic weightlifter, I definitely don’t CrossFit. However, when I was a martial artist, and that sort of strength-endurance was needed, CrossFit worked great to supplement my training. I didn’t need a huge 1RM deadlift, my opponents were 78kg. I didn’t need to run miles fast, my matches were 5 minutes long.

    I use a CrossFitty style of interval work for my clients, and and it works for them. I do encourage them to do a Carb Nite protocol, because I think your work in nutrition is great. But unfortunately, people in general need hand holding for anything they do and I’m only with them 2-4 hours a week.

  • JLD

    Wow, Bucksauce… Is that his name? By far the biggest douche bag I’ve ever heard of. My husband played for Missouri & the Vikings. He started CrossFitting in 2007 and has never been stronger or faster. CrossFit makes you a better all around athlete & ready for ANYTHING! Not to mention his body is to die for!

  • Alex

    Man, you know some stuff about crossfit, but you really know nothing. I have been a crossfiter for 5 years and according to your article I should not exist :) )) let me tell you I am in fenominal shape and the best of my life at the age of 42. BTW there are too many false statements in what you are saying, I will even bother to list them. Rubbish article.

  • TheStew

    The funny thing is… I went to a crossfit gym to try it. All I heard was crossfitters calling us guys that work out at the local gym (which is only $20) “muscleheads.” I then proceed to destroy their fran with a 3:20, which isn’t bad for someone who doesn’t “crossfit”. I then finished 1st in another WOD. Do crossfitters really think guys like Rich Frowning are built like that from only crossfit!?! Get real, the dude has to do body building style workouts. Super slow motion workouts increase strength really really quickly, not jerking your whole body for that one last rep. Quality reps will win anyday over quantity. Another crossfit gym proceeded to tell my friend he has a hernia because it’s “genetic” or “hereditary”… Really? I mean Really? No its because he’s moving up his weight way to fast trying to compete with other people using poor form to lift heavy weight. Ill save my money and use it on quality of life things, not waste it doing 10 minute workouts. BOoOOO.

  • Beretta Heart

    hello mr. kiefer, hey there fitness-friends ..
    my name is Beretta and i am from austria-europe … i recently found CF for me very interesting … as i understood its ment to train a lot of different sports so u can become a good overall and fit state of phyisque … this makes sense to me … so i have some difficulties with understanding ur point of view why exactly CF should be something bad … it sounds like u manly do not like their attitude ??? am i right ?? .. because whats so bad about combining sprints/swimming/biking/running with lifting weights and bodyweight exercises … when u do over and over the same thing – i assume its not good …. thats why i came about CF … i thought – i train different sports – which keeps me different fit in a general meaning ??? is this way of thinking wrong ?? … i do not want to become a powerlifter – or a sprinter – or a gymanst – or a boxer – or anything else …. i just wanna be superhealthy and superfit … and combining different sports and different ways of training i think is the best to achieve this ?? but maybe i just do not understand ur point of view correctly … could it be some cultural thing ?? … coz i also understood – on the interweb with some friends from far countries abroad – we do have different approach to a lot of things regarding also fitness – and we concluded its some kind of a cultural thing … so maybe u do not like the idea of CF coz of ur cultural background – american?? – u guys r very wired to us europeans in general – lol – no offence pls !!
    i would be very happy if u could answer my questions and bring some clearity to me … also mr. kiefer: could u give me maybe an advice how i can achieve my goal of becoming a excellent fitness level ?? trainings, nutrition, … etc ?? …
    sincerely yours
    Beretta Heart

  • Paul

    Good article. I’m a former DI wrestler who has been non-competitive for 15 years. I’ve gotten fat, skinny, big and everything else. Throughout I’ve been a coach. Trained a lot of athletes (some “elite”). Also worked with MMA athletes.

    This article is spot on. The bottom line is science, not psychology. If I want results, I have to understand the SCIENCE of how to achieve those results…not random case studies. Having used CBL and some aspects of Shockwave I can honestly say it is better, more efficient, more effective, and easier than anything I see the Crossfit posse doing. I still use wrestling for my HIIT training (I mean, done right it is the supreme HIIT training imo), lift, and diet…but I am working SO much less and getting FAR better results for one, simple reason: Science.

    Religion is awesome (see: cults), but science is better imo. To each his own I guess.

    I’ll stick with feeling awesome, looking awesome, and still being able to kick the high sh*t out of crossfitters without even crossfitting. Oh, and I’m eating home-made Macadamia Nut cookies…u mad bro?

    • João Golino

      Dear Paul, go study Sports Psychology on a good Sports Science University and after that, you come again.
      The problem is not Crossfit at all! The problem is that there are so many Crossfit coaches all over the world who doesn’t even know what Blocks Periodization is! So what do they do?! Create a random circuit every single day of their lives.
      Although, there are plenty of people who dry everything that’s good out from Crossfit’s metodology and use it in their periodization, like I’ve been doing and having great results on Strenght gaining, Speed, Endurance, Power and everything. Why am I having these results? Because I know how to periodizate and how to create a proper circuit for each Block. BTW,

      Just to conclude, everyday that goes on we’re seeing lots of changes in sports science evidences, like a new mechanism responsible for muscle growth called PGC-1 alpha 4, stimulated by the exercise itself. We don’t know EVERYTHING about training. No one does!

      • Sonny

        João,

        I appreciate your position on this topic. I’ve decided to write a blog on this and shed some light on both sides of the fence. I think Kiefer has whimsically editorialized CF, and all those who have never done it stand on the outside and chuckle.

        CF has issues and I will speak about them from a CF’ers perspective. However, what I won’t do ever is sit back and talk about something I’ve never experienced as if I know it all. The passionate responses of the CF’ers here are valid, because they’ve experienced real change in their lives. Kiefer’s observations are in many ways accurate observations but aren’t delivered with a living touch necessarily. It’s like kicking someone’s mom in the balls and telling her child that you like them.

        Some of the issues I see with CF though are the result of its organization and the hands-off business approach to affiliation as opposed to a tighter control CFHQ would have with franchising. That’s a different topic but its a valid factor as to why CF has some of the issues it has and has organically migrated to where it is today: that’s good and bad. The lack of a more significant level of fitness background and training is a BIG issue in CF. Rare are the folks who have valid certifications outside of CF. the CF Level 1 is a joke, and as a M.S. student in. Sports science program I can tell you that there are other issues that CF has in its programming. Affiliates though are interpreting and creating their own CF concept. Mentality is misunderstanding are the two barriers I see to CF building any level of respectability in the extemporaneous fitness community. I agree that we should be able to point to the daily average person. More so than the Regions or Games competitors for anecdotal and scientific proof of concept. The reality is thought that the things that make people better at CF are traditional training approaches like strength specificity, and periodizing into short periods of MetCons. That’s what the Games athletes do, and its the only thing that will make you perform better than where you are currently. Constantly WODing works in the beginning just like a beginner in weigh lifting sees huge gains in strength and hypertrophy because its new. That changes though and eventually the body reAches a homeostasis and needs more stimulus.

        Concerning periodization, Glassman (founder of CF) specifically states that he doesn’t believe in periodization (years ago) but that’s how you make gains, and that’s how you avoid randomly exercising your way to an unknown destination. More in my future blog. Maybe DH will be kind enough to link it.

    • Sonny

      Paul, how do you intend to “kick the shit out of CF’ers”? I’m sure you have a scientific approach to this. I could recommend signing up for the Open, and putting your money where your science is. Look forward to seeing you at the 2014 Games, then, unless you’re just not up for it.

  • Nolan

    Interesting article. I repeated the joke, “What do Physios, Osteos & Chiropractors call Crossfit? – Job security” on twitter recently and got backlash for it. After I explained that I don’t really like it, promote it(for most at least) or feel the need to “try it before I knock it” I got this response, “Thousands globally would disagree with your opinion.”

    I’m sure they would. As Kiefer points out, while the Pros include team spirit/camaraderie and a mantra to work your butt off, the trainers I have seen look proud of themselves if their clients are prolapsing after a workout. They’re like WWII fighter pilots marking off their kills on the fuselage with a piece of chalk.

    While I was assured that the disgruntled person on Twitter had a great trainer was, by account, teaching pretty good form/technique(this came from another Coach I have nothing but respect for) I still don’t condone olympic lifting for repetition, the balls-out philosophy on intensity(not one-size-fits-all) and the severe lack of direction. As I said the other day to somebody, the most dangerous gym-goers are the ones with no goals – they attend 2-3 classes a day, 7 days a week. A couple of them are friends of mine: they always looked burnt out, they’re always getting ill and they never seem satisfied after 3 hours of cardio/Les Mills classes. Funny that.

  • Sonny

    Pretty hilarious, and 99.9% true, at least in the parts that matter. When I’m in a position to write more from a (reluctant) CrossFitter’s perspective, I will. It is better than a treadmill though.

  • Callie Pygian

    yeah, I’m posting on an old article. Anyway, I wanted to say that my neighbor has been doing Crossfit for years. As far as I can see, she is still overweight and out of shape. There’s like 50 people in her morning class and they do the WOD in smaller groups and usually are allowed only 5 minutes per WOD. The Sat morning class is longer and intense. The reason she still goes is because her entire social circle is Crossfit. It’s a social network. People like the community, they like being part of something cool, and that’s it’s biggest appeal. My irritation with Crossfit is how they pretend that the Games competitiors are Crossfitters. No, they are professional athletes. Rich Froning is doing hours and hours each day.

  • Obama Zombie Killer

    This is true.

  • Michael Andrews

    As a crossfitter, I’m probably supposed to be all pissed off at this, but I’m not. I know there is a lot of science out there that you’ll get crappy gains doing everything at once, but I don’t think most crossfitters that know what they’re doing train that way.

    A lot of the more elite CFers actually do a lot of oly lifting training most of the year to get stronger. They’ll throw in metcons to maintain a sense of cardio, but they really focus on oly lifts. Then, about a month or so before competition, they work on getting their cardio back up.

    You’re absolutely right that if you try to focus on everything, you’ll just be mediocre at best. But, I’ve really been focusing on my lifts for a few months and have been seeing awesome gains. And you know what, if it wasn’t for CF, I’d never have gotten into oly lifting. Also, it’s nice to go to a gym (yea it costs more) where I have a trainer who actually knows the proper way to do these lifts to critique my form. I lift heavy and slow. I’ll do the wods, but I don’t care about the time, it’s more because I just like to work out.

    That’s what you’ll find about most CFers. They just simply like being in the gym. It’s a hobby as much as it is about fitness.

    I don’t know where you would find a CF gym that would call any professional athlete out of shape.

    On the paleo/zone diets, they suck. They’re too low carb and you’ll end up on a long plateau if you stick with them. I actually have adapted your diet to a crossfit lifestyle and when I did, holy Jesus the gains were ridiculous, so props to you on that!

    I just don’t get why you hate CF so much, it’s not what you do, so what. I don’t like running marathons, but I don’t run around bitching about how running that much distance is bad for you. To each his own. I don’t understand why you just can’t live and let live.