The Psychology Of Fitness

Mindsets, Body Types and Everything In Between
CrossFit Review

CrossFit Review

So this weekend, I took my level 1 Crossfit certification. I’ve known about Crossfit for a while and I’ve tried some of the workouts – but that was a LONG time ago.  Probably 3 years ago.

I’ve always said that I don’t know enough about CrossFit to actually form an opinion on the workouts.  Going into this certification there should’ve been some preparation – some workouts done on my end, some reading completed and some more Crossfit workouts completed.  At the very least I could’ve visited the Crossfit in Hoboken.  But NOooo!  Not me.

Personally, I haven’t had the time to do the workouts.  Work has been busy and I’m doing my own workouts for Fat Loss.  Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been giving you workouts for women.  I said, for my training, there’s 7 different levels that I train people on.  Truth be told, I rarely venture out of the 4th realm.  People rarely stay on level 1 – just learning the basic movements – for more than 2 – 4 sessions and then they have “homework” and warm-ups to elicit some positive benefit that they can do on their own.  Level 2 workouts are circuit styled type workouts which has it’s own levels of progressions.  Beginners without experience, but with good form, start with two back-to-back movements on antagonistic (think chest back or quads/hamstrings) muscle groups for one set.  This is followed by 2 other movements done back to back.  Followed by a second set that follows all 4 movements.  I usually have 2 blocks of those (so 8 total movements), plus drills to work on their weak spots in between as “active rest.”  Those are followed by some metabolic conditioning (bike intervals, rowing, etc) – and this can vary WIDELY.

So within each level of progression, there are levels of progression.  Each level builds upon the next – so unless the clients can handle basic movements well, there is very little circuit style training.  This just means that there will be almost no rest and the exercises will vary to keep the workouts moving and at a fast pace.  Aka, movement comes first.

After movement comes some conditioning through interval training.  On this level, there are progressions within it, so that clients get the movements right and they work their metabolism.

Level 3 starts to add much more dynamic work and different progressions.

My point with talking about all these levels is to say that CrossFit, to me, is a Level 7 type of workout.   It combines highly coordinated and complex movements (which don’t get introduced until level 4 for me) with heavy weights, done as fast as possible.  With these workouts, you need to have everything firing at once.  There are things I like about this concept and things I dislike.

First what I like:
1 – If you’re generally healthy and slightly masochistic, the workouts are amazing.  They will kick your ass and challenge you like no other.
2 – The workouts will make you extremely healthy.  Do the workouts consistently, follow their dietary recommendations and you will be healthy.
3 – If you can actually do the workouts, as described, and eat correctly, you will look amazing.  Bottom line.
4  – There’s a great environment and camaraderie for the workouts and getting the work done.  All the people are positive and I think they are because everyone gets humbled with CrossFit.
5 – CrossFit promotes the Growth Mindset – No one started as an “expert” and you will definitely be pushed and even “fail” on your road to becoming better.  As you do so though, you are surrounded by people encouraging you and who have also “failed” yet have gone on to achieve more.

These workouts are great for younger ex-athletes, military personnel, firefighters, cops or those who simply love pushing their physical capabilities on a consistent basis.

With that said, there are definitely things that I have issues with when it comes to this style of training.

What I don’t like:
1 – Most people have atrocious form on some basic movements – and I’m not talking about mid-20 or 30-year olds.  I’m talking about mid-40 and mid-50 year olds who have never worked out a day in their life.  Their kinesthetic sense is off and they usually have some musculo-skeletal issues.  Therefore, although you could probably scale the workout down or adjust the workouts for the individual, I just think there’s better ways to get the progress you are seeking without needing CrossFit.
2 – You have to have a tough mentality.  If a person is just starting to workout to “feel better” I don’t think CrossFit would be a good fit.  This isn’t good or bad, it’s just reality.  Again, I think there are other methods that would work better than jumping into CrossFit.
3 – Most people are looking to lose fat and be more lean so that they can have a more muscular or “womanly” shape.  Although CrossFit can get you there – I think unless you’re at least ready to do Level 4 workouts, these workouts would be overkill for 99% of the population.  For the 1% though, CrossFit workouts will be the best thing for them.
4 – It’s almost impossible to specialize in any one area.  CrossFit is great at health and fitness across a broad spectrum of definitions.  That is really it’s purpose – It’s specialty is not specializing.  If you have an athlete though that needs to specialize or someone who wants to gain max strength or muscle, CrossFit really won’t fit into that model.
5 – Recovery times, especially for beginners, can be too high.  One workout every 3-4 days is not good progress.
6 – Most people want to be pushed to their limits, every once in a while – not every workout.  Working out at your max capacity, every single day, while holding a stressful job and having other responsibilities can be highly demanding – from a psychological stand-point, more than physical.

In other words, my biggest complaints with CrossFit, for the general population, is that most of the general population probably shouldn’t start with CrossFit and in the interim can spend their time seeing results and adhering to exercise via “better” methods.  Once you get to a certain level though and there are no other conflicting goals – which would be almost anything else – CrossFit can and is an Amazing workout.

With that said, a Level 7 workout is one of their “benchmark” workouts called Fran.
The workout is:
21 Squat Thrusters
21 Pull-ups
15 Squat Thrusters
15 Pull-ups
9 Squat Thrusters
9 Pull-ups

This workout is simple on paper, but absolutely brutal in execution.  For me, I had never done a kipping pull-up in my life.  All I can say is that on Saturday I would’ve paid ANYTHING to know how to do one. This is how I looked at the end of the workout!

After working out on Shoulders and Back the night before, I was hurting from the previous workout and this workout left me incapacitated for a while.  BUT…afterwards, and I do mean afterwards, I felt amazing.  That’s because for the next hour after I finished the workout I thought I was going to die.  There are a few things I enjoy less than getting punched in the face.  Doing that workout on Saturday was equivilant to being punched in the face.

In the end, just like any other exercise modality, CrossFit has it’s uses and benefits that can be used for one’s benefit if used properly.  If you can complete the workouts, as prescribed – even if you struggle through them – CrossFit can be a good fit for you.  If not, I think there are better methods for achieving the goals you want. 

So that’s my CrossFit review – if you have any questions about this post or about personal training in Hoboken, email me at John@PersonalResultsTraining.com.

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3 comments found

  1. kipping pullups are so ballistic… and yet i see so many women pulling them off it’s ridiculous…

    props on getting punched in the face and surviving! :]

    1. Yeah… we didn’t learn the kipping pull-up technique until day 2… and even then, they weren’t pretty… but they’re definitely “ballistic” and overall interesting…

  2. Great article on CrossFit. I have been doing it for a year now and at times it can be challenging, but I have never felt better in my life! I have a great community in my gym that keeps me motivated for every workout. The trainers are also wonderful at making sure you are doing everything proper. If you are thinking about trying CrossFit, I would highly recommend you do. You won’t regret it!
    Meet me at my box: guerrillafitness.net

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