Cross-Fit to Be Tied

June 3rd, 2014 | Posted in General

popeye lives

Forgive me as I digress a little about working out. Back to art on Wednesday.

Last week while wasting time on Facebook I ran across a link to this post about the evils of cross-fit training. In the article, the author derides cross-fit training as being unsafe, unhealthy, leaving you wide open to injury, and being in general a very bad idea. The Facebook post was followed by a lot of people agreeing and saying things like “why would I want to fail everyday?”, “I ripped my arm out of the socket doing cross-fit!”, and the ever popular “cross-fit sucks!!!”. For those of you who might not know what cross-fit is (and who are miraculously still reading this) it is a style of workout where you do circuits of compound and functional movements, often ones involving complex techniques like Olympic lifts combined with intense cardio like box jumps, kettlebells, sprints, etc. They are designed to be maximum intensity with little or no rest time in between sets of the circuit, and lasting however long the torture is supposed to go on.

I am not the biggest fan of cross-fit training, but that article really is misleading. What it says could be applied to any kind of exercise routine: if you don’t know what you are doing or badly overdo it, the results will be disappointing at best and harmful at worst. Yes, many cross-fit routines incorporate movements like deadlifts, snatches or cleans that frankly take a lot of time and practice to master with good form, and cross-fit requires them to be done at breakneck speeds which makes you lose whatever form you might have been able to uphold in the first place as you tire. Some cross-fit trainers seem to expect clients with no where near the necessary capacity, understanding, or fitness levels to do crazy stuff like power-cleans or kettle-bell snatches combined with 3 or 4 other constant movements with only 30 seconds of instruction first. You can say the same for some trainers in weightlifting, cardio or function training programs. There are always people out there who aren’t smart about their workouts, and think the reason they aren’t getting the results they want is they are not working hard enough… and people who are unscrupulous enough to get paid to tell them that exact thing.

There is a place for cross-fit in anybody’s exercise routine, but like anything else you have to do it smart. You can’t just do cross-fit all the time, just like you can’t just do weightlifting for hypertrophy (building size) all the time. Eventually your body stops responding, and injury is often the result of the same type of training for too long. The smart workout warrior changes their training often to keep the body guessing and not becoming stagnant with results. You do not overdo anything. You take the time to learn proper form, and you push your limits a little at a time. That gets sustained results, and avoids an injury setback.

I work a little cross-fit into my workouts here and there. If I am working on endurance lifting, I’ll probably do a bit more cross-fit as it works well with high-rep counts sets. When I am training for strength and power, I might have a day where I back off on that and do more cross-fit stuff, or I might work a cross-fit circuit into my day’s routine, concentrating for example on leg cross-fit movements on leg day, chest cross-fit on chest day, etc. I don’t attempt movements I am not familiar with the technique for, and certainly not to utter failure.

Cross-fit can be a powerful fitness tool, if done right and smart. Just like any type of training.


  1. Virginia says:

    A question came to mind after seeing your picture and reading your article. Have you done work for body-builders and/or bodybuilding magazines? Seems like it is one of your passions.

    • Tom says:

      Nope, I never have. I’ve done work from some professional sports teams like the Twins, the Golden State Warriors and the San Fran 49ers, but never for “Muscle and Fitness”, “Flex” or similar magazines. Just never sent them any work to see if they had any interest.

  2. Waldo MatuS says:

    I agree. I do crossfit , run , and gym. I think that it is good to alternate activities in order of having a balance. Maybe thats what we do in real life. Anyway , crossfit is a great way for achieving good form and condition.

  3. Joey says:

    Thanks for actually posting a thoughtful comment about Crossfit (I recently started doing it a.k.a. interval training, and do it to supplement my lifting and judo). I get more people hassling me about “you’ll get hurt doing Crossfit” than I do for playing judo, which I think is hilarious. There’s ignorant morons in every fitness field. Well put, Tom. “You’ll get hurt if you do physical activity! Bewaaaaare” (spoken in Vincent Price’s voice)

  4. julio says:

    Hey Tom its been a long time ive been working a lot on an advert agency hope youre ok…well Ive been doing crosstraining like more than a year, now and im gonna step up into crossfit but like you said you have to be smart thats why Ive training on having more control, endurance and strength cause I had the worst time on gyms with irresponsible trainers that tought me how to injure myself faster, I know more technique and control now but crossfit is a serious workout program and its better to take it slowly. Ok Tom hope to be aorund more often. Take care.

  5. cademan says:

    I read similar articles like this before giving cross fit a try. I can see where the writer in the article is coming from but like you said, you can over do anything. I was doing traditional weights with some short runs for cardio. I switched to doing some interval training and some runs. Some of the interval training would be considered crossfit and some of it is just like doing a series of supersets with a few different exercises with no rest in between sets. Crossfit is just interval training with a new name.

    Crossfit is not bad just as exercise is not bad. But overexertion with bad form is a recipe for injury. That is where crossfit culture could possibly be bad. It teaches maximum exertion with power lifting movements in many of it’s workouts. Not bad by itself, but not something I would suggest for a beginner that doesn’t know there own body or how far it can be pushed or when to stop or recognize how important form is when doing a deadlift.

    When I learned to weight lift I was taught to keep good form especially in the powerlifting movements like squats or deadlifts. Keep your head up and your back straight!

    I would recommend crossfit for anyone, but I would suggest beginners stay away from the workouts that involve powerlifting movements for time until they have done some normal workouts with just those movements. If your a beginner, you are not going to learn a proper clean and jerk in one workout let alone trying to do that exercise while exhausted from some other exercise just before it.

    I think for the general population the goal is to be fit and healthy. Getting injured is the opposite of that. I think that is the main gripe with Crossfit. It’s not bad by itself but in the hands of bad trainer, it can be. But I guess that could be said of anything.


New profile pic courtesy of my self-caricature for the Scott Maiko penned article “Gotcha! Mug Shots of Common (but Despicable) Criminals” from MAD 550

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