Why CrossFit Isn't For Everyone


Over the years you've probably noticed the growing community / cult known as CrossFit taking hold of Millennials and middle-aged fitness enthusiasts alike. It has in fact helped hundreds of thousands of people across the world get in the best shape of their life while building a strong community of positivity and self-improvement.

But CrossFit isn't for everyone. In fact, it probably shouldn't be an option for a large portion of the population. While you should also speak with your doctor and physical therapist for their professional assessment, here are just a few major factors to keep in mind when deciding to start or continue pursuing CrossFit:

Expense

I'll start very objectively with a very obvious flaw in CrossFit for the average person: Cost. While an average gym or health club membership ranges from $10 - $50 per month per person, a CrossFit membership is usually $200+ per month. That's a massive added expense for the average person, especially families with heavy expenses or Millennials with crushing student debt. And the fact that running and working out at home is free or nearly free should always be in the back of your mind. As the owner of Frugal Fitness I could obviously go on about cost effective workouts but I'll leave it at that.

Trainer Credentials

This is really the precursor for a lot of other factors I'll discuss later in this post. CrossFit instructors are only required to get a weekend certification to teach clients and be in charge of everyone's well-being. In addition to a plethora of certifications, I earned a degree in Sports Medicine with a concentration in Exercise Physiology over a period of years while being instructed by top doctors, physical therapists, chiropractors, athletic trainers, strength coaches, nutritionists, research scientists, and elite sports coaches. Most CrossFit instructors just don't have the knowledge of the human body that they need to make appropriate judgement calls for their clients.

Yes, questionable trainer credentials has always been an issue throughout the fitness industry. But it usually isn't much better in a CrossFit gym than anywhere else, including lower-priced facilities and classes.

Fitness Goals

CrossFit training is not specific enough for several specialized athletes or individuals seeking personalized results. While it's pretty effective for some sports training and lean muscle building, it isn't adequate for other goals. It's not viable training for bodybuilding because it's not focused on building sheer muscle mass and burning bodyfat. It's not completely viable training for powerlifters because a lot of the exercisese and training methods don't make sense for someone working to build up 1 rep maxes on bench press, squat, and deadlift. It's clearly not specific training for cardiovascular athletes like runners, cyclists, triathletes, etc. It's also not the right training for those with injuries, medical conditions, or other special needs. 

While CrossFit training will burn fat, build muscle, improve explosive power, and increase endurance... it isn't always the safest or most effective option.

No Customization

The WOD (Workout Of The Day) is what it is for everyone and it isn't customized. It doesn't matter what workouts you did outside of CrossFit classes, what joint is bothering you, how your back feels, etc. You just have to do it. It could be 8 sets of squats or a plethora of total body training but if you want to go by the book. Fitness programs should be fully tailored to the individual's needs unless it is a team sports practice or military training. The smartest "Crossfitters" I know (elite athletes usually with a lot of experience) go to their CrossFit gyms but do training specific to what they want to accomplish and not what everyone else is doing. 

Drug Use

I'm not saying that drug use due to CrossFit is a primary area of concern. But it definitely can come up due to the competitive nature of culture and the competition side. Keeping up with the competition can get participants interested in anabolic steroids, testosterone, growth hormone, stimulants, clenbuterol, and other dangerous compounds in order to look and perform better. With all the injuries you can incur from CrossFit (see final point below) it could even spur abuse of other substances like alcohol, marijuana, and pain pills to help numb the pain. In fact, 5 CrossFit competitors were just banned for using dangerous banned substances ranging from steroids to clenbuterol to growth hormones.

Performance enhancing drugs have always been a problem in the world of fitness and sports. But common sense and experience has taught me that people are at least a little more likely to seek dangerous performance enhancing drugs when they're looking to level up in a competitive environment (or competition) at CrossFit as opposed to taking a spin class or going swimming at the local health club. 

Health

CrossFit can be good for sport-specific training as well as Olympic lifting, gymnastics, martial arts, and even powerlifting at times. It's good for burning fat and building lean muscle. But it's not always the best solution when you're trying to reduce blood pressure, lower cholesterol, and improve general cardiovascular endurance. This is more of a concern for older fitness enthusiasts or those with underlying heart issues or history of heart disease. While not quite as efficient, interesting, or glamorous as CrossFit, doing your 30-45 minutes of low-moderate cardio is often times better for the heart and related areas than busting out as many pullups as you can or lifting 200 pounds over your head. The chance of getting a heart attack or stroke can certainly be higher as well. And let's not forget about rhabdomyolysis from repetitive muscle damage. 

CrossFit also isn't a great idea for most youth or teen athletes since they are more susceptible to injuries due to incomplete bone growth. 

Injuries

And finally, probably the biggest factor in CrossFit not being for everyone is the high rate of injury. If you search "CrossFit injuries" in Google you'll get about 500,000 results, including many from trusted sources like Web MD and 60 Minutes. It's no secret that CrossFit is a high intensity training regimen with higher risk exercises and a higher correlation of injury. Doing Olympic lifts for 30 reps and going for speed or pushing your new 1-rep max squat will clearly subject you to more potential injuries than doing crunches or bicep curls. Most people I know that do CrossFit or have done CrossFit have had a significant or suffer a nagging injury because of it. Even genetic freaks that have been elite athletes their entire lives. Tearing a ligament and being sidelined from the gym or even from your day job just isn't worth it. 

You could also think about it this way. The average person can't realistically train like a gymnast, Olympic lifter, powerlifter, professional athlete, or Marine. There is bound to be fallout when someone tries in a competitive environment with less than adequate supervision.

As you can see, CrossFit is not the most viable solution for everyone out there looking to get healthier and stay in shape. If you're already doing CrossFit and love it then I say more power to you. But if you're not sure if you should give it a try, or have had mixed experiences with it, I encourage you to keep some of these points in mind.



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I hope you enjoyed this article about why CrossFit isn't necessarily the best workout option for the average person.

Interested in more articles about different workout methods? 

Read My Posts:

- Total Chest Training Guide

- 5 Frantic Frugal Workouts For A Busy Life

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