Another day. The alarm is ringing. I open my eyes and it is still dark outside. But this doesn’t matter. I wake up immediately. The day is not gonna wait for me. I grab my bag and I head to the stadium. It is dark, I am cold and I am still sleepy. It doesn’t matter. After all, you got to pay the price, in order to receive something that you want. At least that is what I’ve been taught and what I have fallen to believe. I am trying to warm up, but my body is still sleeping. In my mind, I am trying to grab a picture of my dream, a picture of my goal. A picture, which is gonna lead me and give me a sense of meaning, when my body is trying to break me and force me to rest.
That’s how my mornings used to be like, a couple years ago. I used to wake up at 4:30a.m. and I went to work out, so I can fit everything in my schedule – work, University, workouts and so forth.
The time when I found Crossfit. A moment when something inside of me flickered and as if I once again met my old love. Everything in Crossfit, reminded me about the physical conditioning in basketball. I decided that I finally found, what slipped away a couple years earlier.
I started reading and following everything that had to do something with Crossfit. I subscribed about all Crossfit Journals. I read every single issue. I used to read hundreds of blogs and I followed popular crossfitters. I was giving my best to become better.
I used to train hard and initially I had great results. I felt more athletic and my appearance changed.
I will make long story short and I will jump right to what matters. I reached to a point, where I felt tired and over trained. Instead of feeling better, my body started feeling worse and everything hurt. My body felt stiff, old and forgotten injuries started to remind of themselves. I have tested everything – 6 days on:2 days off; 2 days on:1 day off and so forth.
I still remember a day, when I was doing another WOD with n- number of squats and burpees and I was wondering how it is possible to feel so exhausted.
I came home and I decided that this was not the way to do it. I decided that I need to do what I always do – when walking in one direction takes me to a dead end street and I don’t see a way out, I should just make a complete turn. To go back and see where I made a mistake or where I could do things differently.
I started reading more and experimenting more. I got to the conclusion, that the principle 80?20 is true for workouts, i.e. 80 per cent of the results come from 20 percent of the effort. I was supposed to find which are these 20 percent. Thus, I came to the training method I use today, but I will share it in my next post. Now I will share my point of view about Crossfit.
What I like about Crossfit
1.Crossfit combines functional exercises and it doesn’t force you to specialize in one particular thing. It gives you an opportunity to challenge yourself in different sports, to test every physical skill – strength, endurance, agility, balance, speed and so forth.
2.Crossfit gives you an opportunity to be in a community, where you are surrounded by people who share your interests and encourage your goals.
4. Crossfit gives an opportunity to every beginner, to train together with the advanced – to receive inspiration and experience.
5.Crossfit is a sport, that requires the trainees to have patience and look on their physical preparation in a long term perspective, while they are still dedicated to the basics.
6.Crossfit educates discipline.
7.In Crossfit workouts, everybody is defined as an individual, while still, the behavior to him is like to a team player – i.e. everybody trains up to his own abilities, but he is expected to help others, encourage them and the same is expected from them, as well.
8. Crossfit gives you an opportunity to try different moves, that you thought were just for professional athletes. It divides complicated movements, into a simpler, scaled and easy to perform movements. After consistent practice, you can put them together and finally have the opportunity to perform the “complicated” movement with ease.
At the beginning, Crossfit definitely laid down the foundations of a positive movement, which encourages people to move more, train more and be more conscious about the choices they make and lead a better lifestyle. Crossfit, started as a sport for the average person, but became a sport that pretty much neglects the needs of the body and focuses on achievemnts.
Here is what I don’t like about Crossfit and the reasons I quit on this type of training:
1.The focus on the quantity of the work done, without giving enough priority to technique.
The myth, that Crossfit has standards about the technique, has its real proves just among professionals. Crossfit became a professional sport and we are once again fooling ourselves that Crossfit for the average person is the same. Just watch a video of trainees, which are not professionals. It hurts just to watch them squatting, jumping or running.
When the focus is on the quantity of the work done, we often ignore the signals of the body in our strive to reach the final goal. We reach to a point, where we force our body to perform a particular movement, even when the supporting muscles are tired and they give us a signal to stop. This increases the risk of overtraining and injury.
2.Too much work
Every one of you has heard about the diminishing norm of return or in other words, after a particular quantity of work done, more is actually equal to less. This is true for workouts, as well. The measure of a good workout is not exhaustion. Actually exhaustion and too much soreness are a sign that we are doing something wrong – we are not structuring our workouts properly, we are not picking the right weights and we are not recovering well.
From the beginning, I used to find the WODs, that contain 100 squats or 40-50 push – ups in just one round, to be strange. How many people do you know, that could perform 50 push – ups with PROPER technique, while in a complex with other exercises? I don’t know many!
Here, you will say that you can scale them down and do kneeling push- ups or band assisted push- ups. But do you really need to do it? Aren’t you gonna have more use, if you perform 5 sets of 5 push –ups – in a controlled and conscious manner. Feeling how every fiber in your body, endures the load, how every muscle from your chest, through your abdomen to your glutes is being activated!
Less work, done in a conscious manner, leads to better results!
3. Too much repetitiveness
If, on a daily basis, we repetitively load our body in a similar way, i.e. with the same movements, done a bunch of times, we wear it out. We stress the same muscles, tendons, ligmanets. We load the body in the same planes, we make it strong in one directions, and we leave it weak in another. Do you think that 400 squats in a WOD are good for the body? 400 reps from a similar movement… 400 reps that wear out the body in one direction and load the same muscles.
4.Workouts are directly connected with the hormonal balance of the body
Exhausting workouts, that are common for Crossfit, often lead to depleting hormones and super production of other hormones. Inadequate recovery, leads to inhibited immune system, too much stress on the soft tissues and joints, increased risk of overtraining. Overtraining is a stress for the body. Stress decreases the levels of sex hormones and growth hormone and increases cortisol, increases inflammation in the body.
5.Olympic movements are not meant to be performed in sets of 30 reps or for time.
Olympic movements are complex when it comes to technique. They combine power, strength, coordination. They should be performed with less reps with enough rest. They are demanding on the muscles and the nervous system and you should be recovered in order to perform them without high risk of injury.
Crossfit WODs, have Olympic movements, which should be performed for time and with reps that do not lead to compromising with technique.
6.Variation has nothing to do with being chaotic
Adherents of Crossfit, say that the foundation of every WOD is variation. I will tell you that the foundation is more chaotic. At the beginning, when Crossfit was founded, the WODs had more variation and purpose. But nowadays, it Is not quite like that. You will see WODs, that combine a bunch of knee – dominant exercises or pushing movements. Exercises with high repetitiveness, that load the same muscles. More often than not the goal of the exercises is exhaustion and going to the limit.
Variation has to do with variety of exercises, done with the goal, to load the body in different planes, from different angles and with different intensity. It challenges you to train different qualities, which combines together increase physical preparedness.
7.There isn’t an individual approach. The WOD is just the norm.
How could you train with 20 people at the same time and ask all of them to do the same thing? Even if you use the argument with scaling of the exercises – scaling has nothing to do with the needs of the body. You are asking a person, who is obviously having tight pecs and mobility restriction in the shoulder, to perform a bunch of push presses and a bunch of push – ups in a single WOD. Does his body need it? No! Why is he doing it? Because this is the WOD.
The body of each one of us is different and has different restrictions, which a good workout should target. The goal should be to turn our weaknesses into strengths and to find the weak links in our body. Then, through the right selection of exercises we should help it function properly.
8.Crossfit is for professionals, not for beginners.
The arguments with scaling come short again! I train with a lot of people and I will tell you that the beginners who can jump, run, lift weights and so forth, while performing everything with proper technique are… 0%.
Beginners should focus on technique, on learning to feel their body. Their task is not to set records. The task is to learn how to move their body through space. Running, jumping, exercise that require more coordination and have a more complex technique are a part of a workout based on a progression in the load. You can’t ask a beginner, to do dynamic exercises, when he hasn’t mastered his body in a static position.
9.Crossfit is not meant to improve health. Crossfit gives more power to ego.
Crossfit is a great… sport! Professional sport has nothing to do with the desire of the average person to be fit, healthy and look good in a bikini.
Professional athletes do just this – they train. During the rest of the time they are recovering.
The average person, doesn’t have time to recover from such an intense workout. And he doesn’t need to!
Crossfit became a professional sport. Professional sport is not for health. The average person sees just fragments from the life of professionals and then tries with jus a couple pieces, to put together his own puzzle. The problem is that in order to put together the whole puzzle, we need to know much more. Workouts of professional athletes do not fit the goals of the average person. Even if you think that you are extremely athletic, until sport becomes your profession, you are just fooling yourself that you can follow these protocols and be healthy and feel good.
Do not get me wrong – Crossfit is a wonderful sport and it gave me lot! Still, Crossfit can be done properly, just when you have enough experience in the gym; when you recover properly. Crossfit, the way you see it for professional athletes is not suitable for the average person. For the past two years and a half, I’ve been training differently and I feel great and I am in the best shape of my life.
In my next post I will share with you how I train and what I left from Crossfit.