I get asked all the time if I’ve tried CrossFit, my friends text me without fail when the games are on and tell me I should be there, and I’m asked my opinion of it on a weekly if not daily basis. So I’m going to share that opinion with you. I know that a lot of people won’t like it, and Crossfitters may react quite negatively, but the goal of my page is not to simply go along with what is popular or to avoid tough subjects so that people won’t “unfollow” me. The goal of my page is to educate people about fitness and health and to warn against potentially harmful or unhealthy diet and exercise practices, and that’s what I’m going to do in this article.

I’ll start with a few personal anecdotes. When I first stumbled upon CrossFit, I was working on a Navy base and started working out with some of the guys there. CrossFit was just starting up and military guys were loving it. The first workout I did was a series of pullups, pushups, and dips, and I couldn’t move my arms the next day. No big deal, I’d been sore before. I did a couple more WODs (CrossFit-speak: Workout of the Day) that were these types of circuits and they were fine. But one of my friends later invited me to the gym she taught at and I jumped in on a WOD. First of all, I got there as people were attempting to do muscle-ups. No one was succeeding. The training they’d had in CrossFit really hadn’t prepared them to do this movement, so it was just a matter of attempting it over and over again. These were people who had been doing CrossFit for years at this point, and I’ve never gotten as many looks as when I jumped up on a pair of rings and pumped a couple out. What was my secret? How could I do this without having done CrossFit ever before? Well, I had trained as an athlete, lifted, and done many bodyweight exercises over my years as a collegiate athlete. CrossFit doesn’t translate into body control . Secondly, the workout was going to have deadlifts, which I had never done and to this day I still don’t do them (but that’s another post altogether on risk:reward ratios). Having never done deadlifts, I got less than 5 minutes of instruction before weight was piled on. Then, I got 5 minutes of instruction on the “kipping pull-up”, which I also refuse to do and that is a separate post as well. Then I got 5 minutes of instruction on kettle bell swings (yep, you guessed it, I don’t do those either because it is not a beneficial movement for the body and typically puts the back in bad positions) before I was given a 35 lb bell. Then the timer started. I was constantly yelled at to go faster, to take shortcuts, and to do movements that previous injuries precluded me from. It was a whirlwind and all I remember was stopping at one point and watching some of the bad form that people were using around me. And that’s when I started to worry. A few months later, a guy I was seeing tried to convince me to try CF again and I did a workout with him. He was pretty knowledgeable of form, but the workout we did involved thrusters, burpees, and kettle bell swings as fast as you could possibly go. I should have known better that the thruster combination of cleans and push press shouldn’t be done for speed/time, but I did it anyway. I was dead afterwards and incredibly sore the next day, with some aches and pains that didn’t go away for quite a while. I started doing some research and I’ve never done and will never do CrossFit again, and here’s why.

First of all, let me say that I have been an athlete for years. Let’s just disregard high school, and jump right to collegiate athletics. Never once, in the 5 years I was at Florida State University working out with a 3 time back-to-back national championship team, did my strength coaches give me a workout sheet that told me to do Olympic or Power lifts for time. Never once did they give me a workout that told me to do sets of 15, 20, or 30 Olympic or Power lifts. Never once did they tell me to do as many as I possibly could. Never once in the nearly 2 years I’ve been at A&M working for a men’s 4-time national championship track and field team and women’s 3-time national championship team, have these things occurred. Why? Because Olympic and power lifts are not meant to be done in sets of 30 or for time. They are extremely technique-oriented and are meant to be explosive and powerful over very short periods of time with plenty of rest. Subjecting your muscles to those movements continuously for time or for reps sets you up for injury. Every coach I’ve trained under has done one of two things: given a workout with heavy weight for low reps, or given a workout with lighter weight for higher reps. When I say higher reps, I’m only talking 10. Anything higher than that were ancillary exercises, such as abs, push ups, pull ups, and the like. But rarely were even these ancillary exercises performed for sets of more than 15 or 20. The point here is that subjecting your muscles to extremely high stress repetitively is not good. CrossFit seems to think that the more pain you are in, whether on that day or the days following the workout, the better. The more you disregard the pain and keep pushing through it, the “tougher” you are. But this is not true, and more importantly, it’s not healthy.

Secondly, CrossFit coaches are able to get certified in a weekend. The only real barrier to opening up your own CrossFit gym is how much money you have. Very few of them have any real knowledge of proper form, which is especially critical for Olympic and Power lifts. So on top of having an already overly-strenuous, very high intensity program that sets you up for injury to start with, most people are doing the lifts and other exercises all wrong and there is no one there to correct them. The strength and conditioning coaches that I have worked with as an athlete all have master’s or doctorate degrees in kinesiology or a related field. They have interned as graduate assistants for years. They have attended and presented at conferences, taken numerous certification exams, and have had to pass demonstration practicals in order to work with athletes in the weight room or on/in the field, track, court, or pool. These professionals have dedicated their entire lives to providing a safe and effective strength-training program for high caliber athletes, NOT a single weekend plus some cash. And not a single one of them recommends CrossFit. Not a single one of them has ever given me workouts that look like CrossFit WODs. Even athletic training staff (medical/PT/rehabilitation/chiropractors) that I have talked with have said that they would love CrossFit if they didn’t work with athletes, because they would always have people to treat. Translation: CrossFit means job security for medical professionals due to the high rate of injury among the ranks of Crossfitters. These same athletic trainers warn every single athlete against CrossFit and tell them the health risks of being involved in it. Kinesiology professors have told their students that they better never find out that they have anything to do with CrossFit. No entity of professional athletics promotes CrossFit.

With all of that said, one has to wonder why people still do CrossFit. Why would so many people ignore advice of professionals and risk injury? For the most part, I think people want a workout to follow, they want to be part of a gym, and they want fellow sufferers and coaches to motivate them. People think that hurting is a good thing, that pushing past your body’s limits means you’re getting stronger, and that not being able to walk the next day means you had a good workout. People should be properly educated on form, acceptable rep numbers, and the warning signs of when to stop. Until gyms step up to the plate and accept the responsibility to do so, there will be injury both now and in the future for CrossFitters.

Many articles have been written on the dangers of CrossFit, and I’ll share just a few with you here.

The following link describes some of the health issues with CrossFit, especially the extremely scary possibility of CrossFit’s unofficial mascot: Uncle Rhabdo. It also addresses the “don’t quit” mentality of CrossFit, which is a dangerous one to have in athletics. Huffington Post’s article shares the stories of Crossfitters who have pushed their bodies so far past their physical limits that they put their health and lives in jeopardy. The moral of the story: it’s just not worth the chance.

Even WebMD recognizes the risks and problems of CrossFit:
“be aware that the CrossFit coach may not have an appropriate educational background in sports conditioning. Strength and conditioning specialists spend years learning proper technique of explosive exercises and some have degrees in exercise science, biomechanics, or kinesiology.”

“CrossFit claims that the system is “empirically driven and clinically tested” which insinuates that the methods are scientifically supported. A review of the current scientific literature, however, shows no published studies about CrossFit in top-rated peer-reviewed strength and conditioning or exercise physiology research journals.”

“Not only are the exercises themselves risky, but performing them under a fatigued state, such as during an intense circuit, increases the risk of injury even further.”

The following article looks at the findings of a study by the Consortium for Health and Military Performance in conjuction with the American College of Sports Medicine. Dr. Michael Esco, associate professor of physical education and exercise science at Auburn University at Montgomery, is quoted saying, “Even though you go to an affiliate, the coaches have a weekend certificate. I’m in a field of academics where we teach students; it takes years to learn the proper mechanics of an Olympic lift, for example, or a plyometrics exercise – far more than just a weekend certificate.”

I’d also like to highlight a quote from a Dutch neurophysiologist, Kenneth Jay, in regards to using weights for cardiovascular gains (this actually includes kettle bells as well):

“With an increased HR to VO2 relationship it will never be as good as typical cardio exercises. It is simple physiology really. Increased heart rate decreases the time available to fill the left ventricle of the heart, which means that the left ventricle will contain and eject less blood per contraction. This means that the “stretching” of the heart wall, which is necessary to increase your stroke volume and your VO2, does not happen. It’s the Frank-Starling mechanism in full effect and it’s basic cardiorespiratory physiology. Moral of the story: STOP thinking you can “get your cardio in” by lifting weights – no matter how fast you lift them!

Science of Running has posted a couple of great articles that show why CrossFit’s workouts and claims are invalid. The first article addresses why CrossFit seems to work for people, at least at first:

“in CrossFit’s key demographic, we see a lot of initial change. Why? Because it’s random highly intense exercise. For the unfit or formerly fit, this works great initially. People see results because it’s a very high stress workout. It’s why you see results when you do insanity or any of those workout videos.  It isn’t that the exercises are super awesome targeted muscle sculpting patented exercises. Instead, it’s that the people who generally do them weren’t doing anything before.”

And what happens when it’s no longer new?

“We get stale, we stop improving, or our body breaks down.”

The writer also makes a great point about the difference between variation in workouts, which is necessary for the body to improve, and randomness in a workout:

“Variation not randomness- Variation is good, but the direction you take that variation matters!”

Why is random variation bad? Because you don’t have a plan to progress, you don’t build on previous gains, and you don’t balance or strategically target your workouts:

“What’s worse is that there’s nowhere to go. When your bread and butter is randomized intensity, performed at near max or to exhaustion, you can’t just simply push beyond exhaustion to the next level. Once fitness gains flat line, no amount of pushing will create a new stimulus. You’re maxing out the intensity, and because you don’t believe in progressive, controlled, low-moderate and high intensity mixes, you’ve got to nowhere to go. There’s no way to progressively overload and create new stimuli and adaptation.”

The second article addresses CrossFit’s claims that it enables people to become better endurance athletes. If you’re an aspiring endurance athlete, you may want to read the whole article, but I just wanted to highlight a couple important quotes:

“if you’ve been in the coaching business long enough you know that hard stupid work doesn’t get you anywhere.  You can’t just do work that is painful just because it hurts and expect to get better.”

The goal of a workout shouldn’t be to hurt! I’m not saying that workouts won’t push you, or that you won’t ever hurt during a workout, or you won’t ever be sore the next day. I AM saying that hurt isn’t the goal. Just because you feel exhausted or your muscles are burning doesn’t mean it was a great workout. A great workout targets specific muscles, specific actions, specific and PERSONAL goals! Hence, the next problem with CrossFit, the lack of individualization:

“There is no individualization.  Workout of the day.  That’s the norm.”

Finally, Livestrong.com has a good article on the subject as well, addressing rhabdo and injury risk. Perhaps the best quote of the article is the last one: “while CrossFit motivates its followers to exercise, the growing fear is that the current model and lack of monitoring is more likely to build broken bodies than create a healthier nation.”

So my question to you is this: do you want a broken body? Or do you want to get fit in a healthy way? Do you want a coach screaming at you to finish the set even though your form has crumbled and you’re experiencing pain? Or do you want to train smart? Do you want to follow a coach that got certified in a weekend? Or do you want to rely on decades of research and training that strength and conditioning coaches have acquired?

I can tell you that I have worked and trained with collegiate athletes, national champions, world champions, and Olympians. The goal of these athletes is to challenge the body, but stay within their body’s limits. Pain is not gain for them, pain could mean injury, and injury means being unable to compete. Maybe for a season, maybe for life. These athletes must be smart with their training, and know when to stop before serious injury occurs. Coaches, athletic trainers, and other staff educate them on staying within these limits and developing their strength and athletic abilities safely. So my advice: don’t do CrossFit for weight loss, to get ripped, or to throw around heavy things. Train like an athlete, but train safely. Combine sprints/cardio with proper lifting and clean diet and that will get you where you want to be: fit and healthy!

Aside: I’ve showed this article to a couple people who have been in CrossFit for a little while, and I’ve noticed a slightly disturbing trend. There is a sort of “brainwashing” that occurs from the first time a person steps into a box (CrossFit-speak for “gym”) that creates an “us vs. them” mentality. Boxes have attempted to combat the bad reputation of CrossFit by saying that other gyms do bad stuff but their gym is different, their coaches know good form, their gym focuses on safety. This is simply not true and every single thing that I’ve posted in this article refers to EVERY SINGLE GYM THAT FOLLOWS CROSSFIT. There are no exceptions, if you’re following the WODs, it’s not good for you, it’s not safe, and you’re putting your health in danger. Take it for what it’s worth, but please believe that your box is NOT different, no matter what your coach says.

 

 

 

 

 

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Comments
  1. I do not even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post
    was good. I do not know who you are but definitely you’re going to a famous blogger if you are not already ;) Cheers!

  2. […] the risks of extreme activity like CrossFit truly worth the benefits? Fitness expertErin Simmons, RhinoCo Fitness creative director David Tao and orthopaedic surgeonDr. Kenneth Alleyne joined […]

  3. […] Simmons, from ErinSimmonsFitness, describes why she will never recommend CrossFit to anyone. Simmons, who holds a Master of Science in Biology, has worked with many trained athletes and […]

  4. […] A&M and has created her own brand of fitness and health advice with Erin Simmons Fitness. Erin Simmons wrote a blog post about her opinion on CrossFit. She had many interesting things to say. Here are […]

  5. Steve says:

    That is a great article! Well said!

  6. Jan says:

    I am an avid crossfitter and am not annoyed or angry with your comments at all. On the contrary, your article is very thoughtful and well written. You raise some very good issues with the sport and the way crossfit in general is run as a business.

    I do believe that coaching expertise and gym quality varies from facility to facility. I think it’s important to find a gym that emphasizes good form and doing things safely as much as possible. If a coach shames you for wanting to modify a workout, I would not recommend going back to that place.

    I stay healthy and injury free doing crossfit by practicing body awareness. If a WOD is too difficult for me, I modify it to my fitness level. I go slow and focus on my form more vs lifting heavy weights or completing the high reps. I often use lighter weights than what is recommended. I have been known to not finish a workout at all or be the last in my class to complete a WOD. I ignore the competitive crap you often find in the crossfit community. Instead, I focus on what works for me and speak up when it doesn’t. I have been known to tell off my coach when pushed to do things that I’m not ready for. I don’t give a shit what my fellow crossfitters think.

    It’s easy to blame the sport for the high injury rate, but it’s up to us as athletes to know our bodies and speak up when we are pushed to do things that are beyond our capacity.

    As for the soreness, after crossfiting for over a year, the soreness post-workout seems to be rather mild now. I suspect if you had stuck with crossfit, you too would have experienced less pain over time.

    I do crossfit because I enjoy it. It gives me the energy and strength to enjoy my life to its fullest capacity. And yes, it is not for everyone.

  7. […] the risks of extreme activity like CrossFit truly worth the benefits? Fitness expert Erin Simmons, RhinoCo Fitness creative director David Tao and orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Kenneth Alleyne joined […]

  8. What’s up, I read your blog like every week. Your humoristic style iis witty,
    keep it up!

  9. […] the risks of extreme activity like CrossFit truly worth the benefits? Fitness expert Erin Simmons, RhinoCo Fitness creative director David Tao and orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Kenneth Alleyne joined […]

  10. […] the risks of extreme activity like CrossFit truly worth the benefits? Fitness expert Erin Simmons, RhinoCo Fitness creative director David Tao and orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Kenneth Alleyne joined […]

  11. […] the risks of extreme activity like CrossFit truly worth the benefits? Fitness expert Erin Simmons, RhinoCo Fitness creative director David Tao and orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Kenneth Alleyne joined […]

  12. […] I was shown a couple of videos today from a local gym, which made me cringe. They showed clients performing what looked like maximal Olympic lifts with poor technique, which yes I know is affected by load. However, regardless of load, the technique used appeared to be lacking anyway.  These lifts are highly technical and need to be taught correctly. I might step on a few toes with this next statement, but I feel the recent trend of Crossfit and it’s use of Olympic lifts for all has had some of an effect. I’m not saying that everyone who does Crossfit has poor technique, but I do feel it is a contributor. I saw a post recently that went further in to detail as to why these lifts are not suitable for all and how they are being used incorrectly in Crossfit so I wont go in to much detail, but it boils down to the high number of reps used for an exercise that is typically used for powerful explosive actions. If you want to read the post you can find it here. […]

  13. […] (FYI- This blog/rant/nonsense was a blatant rip-off of the Erin Simmons’, “Why I Don’t Do Crossfit” article. Available here:http://erinsimmonsfitness.me/2014/04/17/why-i-dont-do-crossfit/) […]

  14. […] an article by Erin Simmons called Why I Don’t Do Crossfit started making the rounds. It even made it to the Huffington Post. It got a lot of people fired up. […]

  15. TH says:

    Hi Erin,
    I just saw your post so I apologize for being a little late to the game. You make some very good points and I think you will agree that nothing is truly black and white. I am also a former D1 athlete and I have had plenty of doubts and concerns over the years about crossfit. That said I am a crossfit convert – it took some time and some missteps along the way though. My journey has been long and complex but I can sum up my transition as follows: Crossfit, as practiced in your traditional crossfit box, or as displayed in the daily wod at crossfit.com is NOT how the best crossfit athletes train – it is not even close. There are some incredible coaches that are thriving right now in the crossfit community that have amazing backgrounds and have worked with athletes from all walks of life (not just crossfit). You are doing yourself a disservice if you do not seek one out to get a peak behind the curtain. Their prescription will look very much like the programming you experienced as an athlete and almost nothing like the traditional crossfit programming you describe in your post. NFL football players do not practice football by running into each other at full force like they do on game day. There is a huge difference between testing and training. Good crossfit coaches understand this very simple principle PERFECTLY. There are a few really good coaches out there. I recommend you reach out to James Fitzgerald (“OPT”). He is expensive but he is flat out the best and he will absolutely have your best interests in mind and he will understand your concerns perfectly. Spend a year with him and you will have a revelation. And just so we are clear, I do not work for him and I do not benefit in any way by making this recommendation. I do not care if you post this on your website. He has been my trainer now for some time and I know first hand that this guy is legit (theory and practice). Either way, good luck in your future endeavors!

    • Sir the fact that you still require a personal trainer is evident that you do not understand exercise in relation to the human condition. Certainly at some point one understands the mechanics, techniques, principles and simplicity of exercise. Its not rocket science. i suggest you start with learning how to use your muscles and use them correctly, dynamic tension, the stretch positions required to fully activate deep tissue muscle fiber, at which point you will know how to exercise properly. You can have all the degrees you want, that doesn’t mean you know how to exercise, it only means you know about exercise,not necessarily how to exercise. only through experience will you necessarily learn, understand and know how to exercise.
      A weekend certification is just about right when it comes to all the online certifications worth.what a scam the certification business. If you want qualified fitness experts let’s at least start with license state and federal. this industry has long since needed licensing, that would do away with all this scam marketing, worthless certifications, and trademark infringing,inexperienced personal trainers, spreading misinformation like it was fact, all of which has all but destroyed the integrity of the fitness industry. At which point there wouldn’t be a discussion about crossfit and their $3000 a year affiliate program which is nothing more than a very successful ponzi scheme. There wouldn’t be a crossfit if there was integrity and regulation in this industry. But as it stands fitness like everything else in this media driven culture today is dumb downed. If you don’t think so explain why obesity is increasing while fitness centers are increasing at the same speed. More crossfit gyms than every and more obesity than ever. Did you ever wonder why? Well for one it is evident that what we are doing is not working yet we continue to repeat expecting different results…insanity…yes? at least they named the insanity exercise program appropriately … buy the whey…or is that by the way?

  16. jt says:


    but you workout at a crossfit gym and do “crossfit” movements…including dead lifts…

  17. Sarah says:

    “Not a single entity of professional athletics promotes crossfit”
    Fredi Gonzalez, manager of the professional athletic team known as the Atlanta Braves, does crossfit and his players often join in. http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article/mlb/atlanta-braves-skipper-fredi-gonzalez-enjoys-intense-workouts?ymd=20140504&content_id=74367174&vkey=news_mlb

  18. Diana says:

    I wish your comments were backed up by research rather than a brief experience and supposition. I could argue many of the points but i’m choosing just one and also supplying anecdotal evidence of my own.

    Deadlifts can be done safely. See research performed by Human Kinetics, Champaign, IL.The Strength Training and Anatomy Workout II states, “This is the most complete strength training exercise; it works a lot of muscles in a short period of time.” Hmmm.

    When I started CrossFit 3 years ago I was recovering from a stress fracture in the radial head of my left femur. I also was diagnosed with osteopenia. (I have been running marathon distances for the past 20 years.) 3 years and 3 bone scans later I no longer have osteopenia, my density in my hip improved 5% and in my spine 20%. I no longer have osteopenia and all the measured bone density is in the normal range. The difference is 3 years participation in Crossfit. (Calcium and vitamin D are the supplements I’ve been taking)

    I don’t believe that CrossFit is for everyone. It is particularly dangerous for former athletes who jump into WOD’s without proper training.

    I also believe that it is dangerous for people to use a brief experience to condemn a practice that has benefitted so many. You don’t have to like CrossFit, and you don’t have to recommend it, but don’t dismiss it without doing the research.

    I will be participating in CrossFit for as long as I can. After 3 years I continue to improve. This is my gift to my children so they don’t have to push me around in a wheel chair.

    I must also mention the sense of community. You don’t get that in a health club or a one-on-one training session. Nothing wrong with those but it you want community and support, think CrossFit.

  19. Valerie says:

    Additionally, I’ve read through some of your replies to people’s comments and I think you’re confused about the use of the name CrossFit. Gyms cannot call themselves a CrossFit gym unless they pay to become affiliates and have coaches with at least a L1 cert. If you’re doing a WOD from the main page (crossfit.com), then you’re doing a crossfit workout. There’s a reason Greg Glassman et. al started the website and posted workouts for free.

  20. Valerie says:

    I highly suggest you educate yourself on guys like Kelly Starrett. If you do, you’ll read about him, his book Supple Leopard, and his crew of Carl Paoli, Diane Fu, and a slew of others who dedicate their lives to training athletes to CrossFit effectively AND safely. I have no issue with the fact that you dislike CF, it truly isn’t for everyone. There are underqualified coaches everywhere and in every sport, CF is no different. You have completely generalized and essentially hyperbolized what could’ve been a rational argument against the sport in your last paragraph. Have you been to “every single CrossFit gym”? Have you met every single CrossFit L1 coach, or USAW coach, or physical therapist/physiologist/kinesiologist, for that matter? Again, take a few minutes to educate yourself on Kelly Starrett alone and he might change your mind a little (or at least get you to thinking that not every single coach or trainer is focused on intentionally harming their clients in the name of fitness, as you accuse them).

    Most CrossFitters don’t have a problem with your disdain for the sport. That’s cool, a lot of them don’t like to run. I love to run and have been running (mostly for fitness) since high school. Any time I ever attended a camp or a conference led by top running coaches, you know what they told us? Girls cross country has more injuries than high school football. Granted, that was a few years back, so I’m sure the stats have changed, but the point remains. People get hurt running all the time. And, as a coach, I don’t need to tell you that most of these injuries are due to overuse or lack of strength or mobility. So please, just consider that the next time you want to make a broad, all-inclusive attack on CrossFit. Your sport is not without hazard either. It, like any other sport in the history of sports, is not without flaw.

    CrossFit isn’t for everyone. Neither is running. Neither is golf. Or yoga. Or tennis. Or water polo. But I’m pretty sure you won’t here a well-known or respectful CrossFit athlete say that “every single water polo coach/facility” advocates piss poor, unsafe, and uneducated training.

  21. Tay says:

    First off maybe you shouldn’t write an irritating article about something you obviously know absolutely nothing about (i.e. you do not know what crossfit IS nor do you understand it’s “functional movements” claim, doesn’t refer to that of a civilian’s function but military personnel which comes back to what crossfit was created to be). Second, don’t not allow comments that point out how irrelevant your article is for those that do crossfit in order to be excellent at their job so that you can safely get on your computer in your home whenever you want and write a very inaccurate and ignorant blog post (you’re welcome from Afghanistan).

  22. […] “Why I don’t do CrossFit.” by Erin Simmons […]

  23. […] have seen this article a few times recently on social media. Apparently, this woman hates Crossfit. And I am generally […]

  24. Stephen Slater says:

    As a Strength and Conditioning coach and bodybuilder I have seen every fitness and nutrition fad since the early 1970s and their is no archetype for something as stupid as CF.Pairing complex high skill movements with crappy high rep spasms disguised as exercise movements (with a clock to compare you with the other kool aid drinkers )is typical of the same extreme weekend warrior mentality that the Spartan/Tough Mudder obstacle race fad brings out.Why do instant experts always want to reinvent the wheel and why do the disciples always get the arrogant attitude before the dust ( or spinal injuries) have
    settled and what is trade markable about this cult like circus?

  25. heather says:

    dear erin,
    I just read your article. as a passionate crossfitter, I thought it would anger me. on the contrary, it brings up some very good points. I changed my approach to crossfit after an injury due to these very things. now when I WOD (2 days a week) I go slow, light, and make every rep count. if I can’t do a rep without compromising my form, I don’t. if a coach is pushing me to do something I’m uncomfortable with, I don’t.
    thank you for your extremely well-written words and for saying things that badly need to be addressed.
    the criticisms you outlined are true and issues that need to be addressed, and I hope that some change can come to the sport. thank you for being willing to speak truth. I still love crossfit. hopefully others can hear the things you said and make adjustments instead of being defensive.

  26. Mike Meade says:

    The father of High Intensity training “Arthur Jones” would be rolling in his grave! Well he already has! Prolonging any explosive movement over a length of time is like forcing a Square peg down a Round Hole. You may have the benefits in the short term but in the long term you will destroy your own skeleton.

  27. […] Thoughts on this response to this article? […]

  28. What would you say to Jason Khalipa and what would you say about his training regiment at NCCF lab? Do you have respect for someone like Jason Khalipa? Can you give an example of a dangerous crossfit workout? Because I have seen some workouts on your site that were high intensity. Of course they didn’t have lifting involved but I do plenty of workouts like the ones on your site and to many they would be broadly labeled as a “cross fit” workout because many would find them as workouts on a cross fit website.

    As a college business student it seems that cross fit’s success in marketing and branding is allowing them to engulf all forms of exercise and label them cross fit. I know that if I showed someone who does cross fit some of your workouts like the sprint workout they would just assume it is a cross fit workout.

    What do you think?

  29. GatorJoe says:

    So if I’m understanding some of the article/comments correctly…
    -“EVERY SINGLE GYM THAT FOLLOWS CROSSFIT. There are no exceptions” You stand behind this, but discredit yourself along the way. So, it’s only crossfit if I do a WOD with high weight/high rep? It’s not a WOD (“crossfit”) if I modify the weight/reps to match my strength/abilities and achieve positive results without injury? In that case, the high, high majority of people who go to crossfit aren’t actually doing crossfit (by your definition that crossfit is only high weight, high rep WODs). Everyone else modifying their workout isn’t really doing crossfit, so your article is pointless.
    -“Coaches aren’t truly fitness certified, and all they do is yell and scream at you.” As a traveling salesman based in Nashville, I don’t belong to a cf gym but drop-in to cf gyms (boxes, if you will…) two or three times per week (expense account) mainly in the midwest and great plains cities. I’ve never experienced anything even remotely close to what you described, so sorry if I take your sweeping generalization with a grain of salt. I don’t check the certifications of the coaches, as long as they seem knowledgeable, but I’ve never seen any of them yell, scream, or get in anyone’s face. More importantly, I’ve never seen any of them make, or encourage, any member to lift outside of their capabilities. They teach, observe, and correct, with everyone’s safety as a priority.
    -“You will break down or get hurt doing WODs.” Not if you modify the weights/reps to match your abilities/strengths (but then again, doing that isn’t really crossfit, is it?)

    I could go on but it’s late. My point is you make all these sweeping negative generalizations and defend them by redefining what cf is by only your definition (high weigh/high rep WODs- nothing else is crossfit), or you simply backtrack (I meant American KB swings are bad! Russian are okay! (btw, I only learned of russian swings at a box that recommended their use. how ironic)). It just all comes off as sounding like a jealous ex girlfriend.

    -injury free soccer player/golfer/crossfitter (or not, by your definition)/softball player

  30. Still Confused says:

    I found your article very thought provoking, but I’m still confused and waiting for a reply, because there seems to be an awful lot of CrossFit WODs that don’t fit your generalization:

    “If you don’t Olympic or Powerlift for time or high reps, then I don’t see it as CF”

    There are 21 named CrossFit benchmark WODs that I am aware of (“The Girls”). Of those, 7 are strictly bodyweight movements, and four more include props such as kettlebells and medicine balls.

    Only 5 of CrossFit’s most famous named WODs include Olympic lifts. So is it O.K., according to you, to do only those WODs that require bodyweight movements? If a CrossFit facility programs only bodyweight movements as designed by CrossFit HQ are they not, in fact, a CrossFit gym?

    This is all very confusing, please explain.

  31. Sam Poppe says:

    Erin, I really enjoyed your article. You detailed many of the reasons why I don’t like group exercise classes in general, as working out to me involves my body and my goals and I have very individual needs. I also see many people doing exercises with poor form and know that there are many injuries that can be prevented.

    Reading around on your blog a bit you come across as very intelligent and experienced in workouts/training. I have several personal questions unrelated to Crossfit, whenever you have time for a response:

    I am a competitive ultimate frisbee player rehabbing season-ending knee surgery. Mainly as an ultimate player I need explosive strength in my legs as well as good cardio endurance, and I often focus on track workouts and cycling for training. However, I am still unable to seriously work on my legs at this point. I am therefore focusing on upper body work (less crucial, but obviously still important to being able to sprint, jump, dive etc.). I have not worked out in months in general (surgery) and have never really focused on upper body work before. I have been working in the gym 3-4 times per week in addition to rehab exercises at home and in the pool.

    As per the recommendations of a friend, I have begun most of the new exercises I am doing with 3 sets of 15 repetitions at a reasonably light weight that challenges me some by the third set. He has recommended that I gradually transition to 5 x 5 at higher weights.

    Do you agree with this? Also, do you have a rough guideline of how many weeks I should spend at 3 x 15 before increasing weight and moving to 4 x 8 or 5 x 5?

    Do you have a strong opinion regarding dumbbells vs exercise machines?

    Do you believe it is important to take full rest days in between workouts or is it enough to do chest/core one day and back/arms the next day? Is there an ideal number of days to work out per week in your opinion?

    Thank you so much for any help that you can offer!
    -Sam

  32. […] week there was a fire storm that took place over the legitimacy of crossfit, why you should do it, why you shouldn’t, why people don’t care, why they do, why your dog should do it, and why you […]

  33. Abi says:

    I will be a senior in high school this fall. And at my high school, CrossFit is what’s up. Protein shakes are everywhere and almost everyone has tried at least one or more fab diets. Now I have never been overly athletic, fit, and possibly even in the best health. I like pizza, and ice cream, and a multitude of other probably-not-so-healthy things. And I wanted to get in shape this last spring. So I thought. “Hey, why not go in and give this a try.” See, I work normally three week nights and usually weekends as a housekeeper at a hotel during the school year (and insanely long hours during the summer), so of course I couldn’t go in everyday like everyone else did. They had a zero hour workout in the mornings but I usually got home from work at about 8:30 or 9. Not terribly late but I also had homework to do, laundry to keep up with, and I always try to spend a small amount of time talking to my parents each night so we all know what’s going on in each other’s lives. So I usually got to bed somewhere in between 11 and midnight. And I am not a morning person anyways and did not want to get up at 6 am to go be miserable and cranky and sore. So going in the morning wasn’t an option. I normally didn’t work on Tuesday’s and Thursday’s so I thought that would be a good schedule. However I quickly learned that though there was only one day in between Tuesday and Thursday, there were four between Thursday and Tuesday. That meant that I had four days where the most I could was walk what I did at work and maybe if I got a chance use the hotel’s gym that had about 4 leg machine’s one arm machine, and an ab machine along with the normal tredmill and such. And my muscles lose memory fast. Each Tuesday I was having to start all over. Then I would sore and miserable (and walking like a duck) at work on Wednesday, then go and try and bust my butt some more on Tuesday. And all we did was lots of reps with lots of weight. I don’t know how many times I was sure I was going to pass out. Then for the WOD it was some insanely impossible thing that I could barely do. And they timed it! So you were supposed to go as fast as you could. And because everyone else had already been doing the training they could do it (most with very poor form – I might not know a lot but I know body parts don’t look right while doing certain moves) I cheated so I didn’t take too much longer than the rest. And no one noticed or cared! And honestly I don’t even know if our adult menotrs that worked out woth us are CrossFit “certified.” One is our boys’ football coach and the other is our girl’s basketball coach. I thought they would know what they were doing to help me get fit safely and in a healthy way. But all I was feeling was sore and honestly way worse mentaly, physically, and emotionally than when I was used to being the lazy fat girl. I sure am glad I decided that this wasn’t for me and stopped going after about three weeks. This article described perfectly what was going on in my high school weight room. They are all so brain washed thinking that this is helping them that they don’t notice that it isn’t doing anything for them anymore.

  34. Ron says:

    Erin makes a lot of valid points in her article. Being that she was a former collegiate athlete, coach, and trainer, she definitely has knowledge of fitness, training, and competition. I also respect the feelings of crossfitters because folks like some of my friends have become healthy, fit, and changed their lives with this system, and I’m sure that they do not like reading someone else dumping allover something they love. Crossfitters also surely benefit from the camaraderie and sense of belonging to these gyms as well as the training.
    Hopefully folks do their homework when looking into this type of lifestyle and do not let $$ and a sale’s pitch suck them into it. It’s not for everyone. In my own experiences, I feel like I was duped into joining a crossfit system when I had moved and needed a local gym to perform my workouts. This upstart gym was offering crossfit, and I bit on the sale’s pitch hook, line, and sinker despite my fairly serious lower back issues from previous injuries. I had gone a full year pain free, no treatments, no narcotic painkillers, so I felt pretty good and up to it all. I am a bit butt-hurt over the fact that I specifically told the head trainer about my injuries/issues, and he gave me the predictable, “Aww you’ll be fine.” The guy was a fulltime fireman, and no he wasn’t a doctor, but he definitely had medical training and should have known better. Yes, this was a pretty pricey membership.
    I specifically remember on day 1 doing deadlifts (heavy from the get go) and tweaking the heck out of my back, but like the proud former Marine and Soldier I was – I soldiered on. I had no problems at all with stamina because I was a former athlete and military man, but each day I was in grueling pain trying to accomplish those workouts. I have two bulging and herniated discs, and a whole host of other issues, and after about two weeks I could not take anymore.
    I had damaged myself so much that I could hardly walk, and unless I was sitting or standing, I was in EXTREME pain. Since the VA was messing me around, I called a good friend of mine that is a medical doctor, and explained my situation, and he lashed out at me good: “WTF were you thinking doing that with herniated…two herniated discs?! You cannot be doing deadlifts and crossfit workouts!” The doc also offered up that he was VERY disappointed that this off duty fireman and crossfit coach sold me on all of this without hesitation. Anyway, I finally made it to the pain clinic, and after some aggressive treatments, I was finally feeling 100% after a few months. It definitely threw me off my rocker for a while, but I learned my lesson!
    Lessoned learned was deadlifts, deep squats, thrusters, and a few other things are not good for people like me with lower back issues. And as the author stated, doing heavy Olympic style lifts quickly and with high reps can negatively affect form, and bad form on Olympic lifts = injury. In addition, the author mentioned why she did not do deadlifts because of the risk/reward ratio…I agree.
    I once had a friend that started having the same issues as me (intense pain radiating to feet), yet when I suggested to her that crossfit wasn’t for her, she nearly tore my head off. You see, she was so engrained with that gym and culture that she refused to let it go…even at the expense of severe injury. That is where the brainwashing effect that the author mentions comes into play. Ever hear the joke, “You know how to tell that someone crossfits? They’ll tell you about it.” It’s kind of like a cult.
    Anyway, to each their own and live and let live. If you like it go for it…just understand the risk and don’t fall for a fancy sale’s pitch if it’s not for you. Finally, the author mentions training smarter, not tearing yourself down, and honoring recovery. There is a reason why many athletes of very intense sports do not crossfit and that is because they need their bodies sharp and injury free for competition. Also, the Pentagon is outlawing crossfit gyms on bases because soldiers that need their bodies to make a living are no good for battle if they are injured. I’m not sure that Uncle Rhabdo should be a crossfitters main concern. How bout their joints and their spine?

  35. Matt says:

    I am not nearly the athlete you are but I think your analysis is spot on. The idea of doing any significant weight ‘as fast as you can’ is just stupid. Lifting should be done with constant attention to proper form. From big injuries like disc herniation to little ones that will nag and nag you for years like joint bursitis, going fast without concentrating on the muscles will leave you putting too much pressure on your joints, bones, and ligaments.

    One point I’d like to make: I personally think the deadlift is one of the single greatest exercises you can do. I’m not talking about some ridiculous crossfit thing. I mean a careful, controlled, well executed lift. I’m a 36 year old male. I’m also a physician and I don’t have a lot of time for exercise. Once a week, I do deadlifts and I love them. Testosterone starts to wane after 30 and I think it is important for men to do some strength training. The deadlift works everything and in the right proportions.

  36. I was an athlete before I was ten years old, doing gymnastics, ballet, swimming, playing softball, basketball and running track. When running track, specifically for the purpose of gaining speed at doing 100 yard sprints, we were most definitely asked to give it 300% and more. That’s the only way you get any faster, by pushing your muscles. Tabata sprints are a perfect example. One gains strength, speed and can achieve tremendous fat loss, if that is your goal. I don’t think CrossFit is for me because I personally like to train alone and wouldn’t want anyone yelling at me for health’s sake or any other reason. I went to one CrossFit gym to interview the owner about the Paleo diet and all he talked about was CrossFit and didn’t answer any of my questions. So, I do get where you’re coming from, but I do disagree about pushing yourself as hard as you can. On another note, I injured myself in a gym, only to end up in bed for 2 weeks, and go to the ER 3 times before an MRI revealed that I had a herniated disc, 2 pinched nerves, Cervical Osteoarthritis and Bursitis. As such, I have no business doing CrossFit and don’t want to, either, based on my observations. As I said, I do still enjoy sprinting, running and walking but as I age, I enjoy more peaceful and relaxing exercise such as Yoga (good for the mind, body AND soul!) Best of luck to you.

  37. Gemma Lee says:

    One thing I want to point out is that your coach in college told you to do olympic and powerlifing as part of your training but you had never done a single deadlift prior to your visit to a CF box? Do you even know what oly lifting and power lifting consist of? It’s almost scary how someone lack of knowledge in fitness (yes, you) has such strong opinions towards it.

  38. Jordan says:

    I have been doing Crossfit for one year. I am in my mid thirties and have been involved in athletics my entire life. I was also a collegiate athlete. The major issue I have with your article is the generalization you are making about all Crossfit programming, gyms, and coaches.

    I truly feel blessed to have the gym and experience I have had this past year. We have very regimentied programming that is consistent for months and focused on a various aspects of fitness. For example, we just started a 8 week program where each class consists of skillwork/mobility, strength, and then conditioning (or a WOD). The skill and strength are consistent by day of week and we write down personal progress and goals. We are also encouraged to do extra challenges that focus on mobility and conditioning and typically have a nutrition component. Our coach also offers special classes of pilates/yoga, olympic lifting, gymnastics, and strength training to allow those with various weaknesses to have the opportunity for additional coaching and work.

    Unfortunately, I have had 7 knee surgeries all stemming from an injury playing basketball. I have not had full mobility in my right knee for at least 5 years due to arthritis and was told my next surgery will be a full replacement. I am proud to say with focused strength and mobility training offered by my Crossfit gym I can consistenly squat will a full range of motion (with or without load). Even better – my pain is manageable. I am no longer on a daily regimine of anti-inflammatory medication.

    I am pregnant with my second child and crossfitting while pregnant am even more impressed with my gym and coaching. Workouts have been tailored to my needs and I literally have zero pregnancy symptoms. I also have not gained a pound nearing the end of my first trimester. My Doctors (OBGYM and Orthopedic) are both very supportive of what I am doing and impressed with the results. Since I am advanced maternal age, I see my OBGYM very regularly and am having a “textbook” pregnancy.

    From a fitness perspective, I am stronger than I have been in my life. I do think my cardio was better when I was playing collegiate level soccer, but is the best it has been since those days. I have not been running for years with my knee (I run the little that is required in various WODs) and when longer/endurance training is programmed usually row. I also try to fit in my own cardio 2-3 days per week for 45 minutes only because I enjoy it.

    When I first started I was very sore and eased into the programming starting with attending 3 days per weeks. A year into this I get moderate soreness, but nothing extreme and I consistently go to class 4-6 days per week and participate in the extra challenges/do my own cardio. I also was not inactive before Crossfit and have seen huge results and gains this past year.

    The biggest thing for me is the first time in life I am not completely obsessed with how my body looks. I have shifted my focus to instead concerning myself with what it can do. As I see improvements in my strength, mobility, an overall performance I feel confident, happy, and healthy and it carries over in every aspect of my life.

    So before you generalize an entire way of fitness that is working for so many people and spread inaccurate information please do more research. There are good gyms, good coaches, and great results happening at Crossfit gyms everywhere.

  39. Carolyn Kalish says:

    Hi Erin – I have rewritten what I wanted to say about Crossfit. I posted similar thoughts yesterday but this says it much better…can you delete the previous post and just use this instead…if approved? Thanks! CK

    Hi Erin – My husband and I are avid Crossfitter’s ..We have been Crossfit devotees for two years now and CF 3 to 4 times a week. My husband likes to read opposing points of view on controversial subjects and Crossfit certainly has become a ‘hot topic’. In April he showed me your article, and I must admit while reading it my objections came fast and furious. How could something I loved so much be bad for me? I filed away your well researched opinions to think about another day. You see I was starting to have some doubts about this method of training but was not ready to address it head on. I started CF two years ago to enhance my performance in biking, running and to help my overall fitness as I approach 60. I have been an endurance athlete for 25 years…Upon joining CF I quickly fell in love with it. I loved the intensity, learning Olympic Lifts, the friendly competition, and the RESULTS!!! The first year I was riding better then ever, I was running Half Marathon’s and placing in my age group, I was leaner, faster, and stronger. That has not been the case this year. I am tired, beat up and injured. My biking is sluggish, my running is slower but worst of all is being injured. My first injury was a Achilles Tendon injury that I have been working through. The second injury is way more serious. Two weeks ago we were practicing ‘ditching the bar’ during a heavy back squat…I did not feel comfortable with this…I had a 75 lb. bar on my back and told our coach I did not have the movement down. She demonstrated what I should do to get the bar off my back while in a deep squat. I felt a lot of pressure from her that I needed to learn how to do this. I should have insisted that I practice with a PVC pipe. I tried again and did not get out of the way fast enough…the 75 lb. bar landed directly on my lower back. I now have trouble doing most simple life movements. I am in physical therapy for a severe lower back strain. While I sit at home sidelined, your article so neatly tucked away in my psyche has made its way through my denial. I have reread it may times. I am also reading what others in the field of sports training have to say about Crossfit. Everyone knows that those who push the limits; run, ride a bike, lift weights, ski, or have a active lifestyle can get injured…with or without Crossfit. However, I do agree with the critics that certifying as a Crossfit Level 1 Trainer in a weekend is a huge weakness in the Crossfit business model. Looking back, I am wondering why I handed over my safety and training to people who just took a weekend course and got a certificate? I do think that the athlete and the trainer have a shared responsibility for safety and correct form. I signed up. I accepted the risk. While I am very concerned about those issues in Crossfit, not only for myself but for my friends who love Crossfit; I am asking another important question. After two years of consistent Crossfit training why were my performances diminishing? Why have I been sore, tired, and fighting injuries? I know that nutrition and recovery are huge factors in performance. I do not think these were issues in my case. I eat clean, have a low stress lifestyle, and work in recovery days. I am beginning to think that Crossfit does not work to help train an endurance athlete. I think the jury is out on others who just Crossfit and nothing else. All of this saddens me because of the wonderful people I have met at Crossfit. I feel a sense of community when I walk in the door. I believe our coaches care and try to make sure everyone is safe. However, in a class of 25 with one coach and varying levels of competence, fitness, and ego, one person cannot watch or help everyone. For example, our gym was doing the Hatch Squat Program (a very intense Oly program). I was resting after a heavy 85% of max lift w/ 8 reps. I noticed one of our smaller female athletes trying to back squat ~140 pounds…she was obviously struggling trying to get out of the hole because the bar was lopsided, her lower back was contorted and twisting, she was on her toes…her lifting buddy was encouraging her to ‘get it’ instead of telling her to ditch that bar. Our coach was across the room and did not see this at all. I am sure this scenario is being repeated world wide everyday in Crossfit. My experiences have lead me to have concerns about a one size fits all approach (WOD) even with scaling. Instead of just handing over my safety, my fitness, and my health to someone with a ‘certificate’ (even if they are the nicest people I have ever met), I am asking some hard questions about Crossfit. I am afraid that the Crossfit mantra of ‘constantly varied’, high intensity’, ‘functional movement’ may not be forging ‘elite fitness’ after all. For me, constantly varied has left me a weaker cyclist and runner. The high intensity has not built the aerobic conditioning and base I was hoping for. And finally, my functional movement patterns were not corrected and have lead me to chronic hip pain under that strain of high intensity work loads that varied each time I went to a WOD. Having said all this, (and no I am not crazy), I am not sorry I did Crossfit! Thanks to Crossfit I fell in love with Olympic lifting. Thanks to Crossfit I have become a tougher athlete mentally. Thanks to Crossfit I learned that being just a runner and cyclist is not enough to be fit and that I need to incorporate strength and agility training into my life. My back injury is super scary and I want desperately to heal and be okay again, but I look at most setbacks or challenges in life as a opportunity to grow and to learn. I learned a lot in Crossfit and I loved it. When my back heals will I return to Crossfit? Probably not. For me the risks are just too great. But I will take what I learned with me and be thankful for the experience.

  40. Andrew M. says:

    Great article! I’ve been sharing the same info with friends and coworkers (but without as much scientific backing). I was doing CF type workouts 20+ years ago before CF was even around or became popular. Now I’m in my early 40’s. Believe me people, the stress you put your body through (especially when you do it improperly) in your 20’s that you think you can handle REALLY HURTS in your 40’s. Just ask my knees, back, neck, and shoulders! That’s all the proof I need! Thanks again for the article!

  41. Monica G says:

    I just re-read your post and feel compelled to comment. First of all, I am not a super athlete with years of professional training or experience. Rather, I am a well-educated over achieving 45+ mom who sort of fell into fitness a few years back. Through my journey from unhealthy, unfit and out-of-shape to fit and healthy I have experimented with a variety of fitness programs including big commercial gyms, professional running coaches, long-distance cycling groups, personal trainers without years of formal education, personal trainers with extensive training and of course CF.

    Without a doubt my CF experience was the bottom of the barrel. Not only was the cult/clique mentality alive and well but the lack of attention to detail and hands off “training” (dare I call it that) was a recipe for unnecessary pain and injury. You simply cannot take an average person with no lifting experience and teach them to safely handle a variety of weight lifting maneuvers in a just few minutes. And you definitely cannot keep adding weight just because a person is strong enough to lift it. After just 3 months of this ridiculous regime I had knee troubles, back pain and all sorts of other problems that had not plagued with me with any other program. But like most people with a competitive bone in their body, I choose to suck-it-up rather than acknowledge that there was something terribly wrong with that approach to fitness.

    Now I love a crazy hard work out just as much as the next person. And I realize there are a lot of people out there who insist CF is the best workout around. But CF is a fad and like most fads we won’t know its true impact for years to come. In the meantime because of my experience and others like mine, I refuse to be a lab rat in this flawed experiment.

  42. Michael says:

    This post was written by a person who doesn’t know CrossFit methodology and therefore is an example of the strawman fallacy. Anyone who has read the L1 trainers guide to CrossFit can address and dismantle each and every claim made in this post. It’s the equivalent of a person criticizing Christianity after only going to church a few times and maybe reading various parts of the Bible without commentary. Go to crossfit.com and read for yourself. The information is 100% free.

  43. Kyle says:

    Great article. I used to crossfit all the time, and injuries came with it. Even as a 23-24 year old guy they set me back. I transitioned into regular Olympic and power weightlifting and away from the WODs and ridiculous Kipping pullups. The only thing crossfit did for me was introduce me into real lifting. I am interested to hear more about your view on dead lifting. I hear all the time that dead lifting is a great overall move, but nothing negative about it. I realize it can be risky without proper form though. What are some good alternatives to dead lifts that you use?

  44. Jason says:

    If your scared go to Zumba… Exactly the kind of whining I would expect from a Beta Male #HTFU

  45. Jason says:

    If your scared go to Zumba… Typical whining I would expect from a Beta #HTFU

  46. matt says:

    you said ” CF is built on heavy, high rep, minimum time lifts.” Yet the CF training guide constantly puts forward “function and form over time and weight” so…your wrong.

  47. […] A&M and has created her own brand of fitness and health advice with Erin Simmons Fitness. Erin Simmons wrote a blog post about her opinion on CrossFit. She had many interesting things to […]

  48. Kelly A says:

    “This is simply not true and every single thing that I’ve posted in this article refers to EVERY SINGLE GYM THAT FOLLOWS CROSSFIT. There are no exceptions, if you’re following the WODs, it’s not good for you, it’s not safe, and you’re putting your health in danger. Take it for what it’s worth, but please believe that your box is NOT different, no matter what your coach says”

    Anyone that claims that every person, every box, every coach is unequivocally bad is obviously suffering from some serious narrow-mindedness. As for the cult mentality, well, if you show up at a box and you are an asshole, sorry, but yup you’ll be ostracized. Don’t be a dick- general rule of life. I am also disturbed by the undertone of jealousy and hatred in this- and a sad lack of proof that this is coming from a place of genuine concern for the well-being of others. if you don’t like it don’t do it. Do what works for you, and we’ll do what works for us. it’s better than sitting on the couch.

  49. Carolyn Kalish says:

    Hi Erin – My husband and I are avid Crossfitter’s ..We have been Crossfit devotees for two years. My husband likes to read opposing points of view on controversial subjects and Crossfit certainly has become a ‘hot topic’. In April he showed me your article, while reading it my objections came fast and furious. How could something I loved so much be bad for me? I filed away your well researched opinions to think about another day. You see I was starting to have some doubts about this method of training but was not ready to address it head on. I started CF two years ago to enhance my performance in biking, running and to help my overall fitness as I approach 60. I have been an endurance athlete for 25 years…Upon joining CF I quickly fell in love with it. I loved the intensity, learning Olympic Lifts, the friendly comp, the RESULTS!!! The first year I was riding better then ever, I was running Half Marathon’s and placing in my age group, I was leaner, faster, and stronger. That has not been the case this year. I am tired, beat up and injured. My biking is sluggish, my running is slower but worst of all is being injured. My first injury was a Achilles Tendon injury that I have been working through. The second injury is way more serious. Two weeks ago we were practicing ‘ditching the bar’ during a heavy back squat…I did not feel comfortable with this…I had a 75lb bar on my back and told our coach I did not have the movement down. She demonstrated what I should do to get the bar off my back and told me I really needed to learn how to do this. I should have insisted that I practice with a PVC pipe. I tried again and did not get out of the way fast enough…the 75lb bar landed on my lower back. I now have trouble doing most any simple life movement. I am in physical therapy for a severe lower back strain. While I sit at home sidelined, your article so neatly tucked away in my psyche has made its way through my denial. I have reread it may times. I am reading what others in the field of sports training have to say. Everyone knows that those who push the limits; run, ride a bike, lift weights, ski, or just hike can get injured…with or without Crossfit. It is not just that I am injured that is bothering me. I take responsibility for that. I am asking the question two years in why my performances were not improving and why was I sore and tired all the time? Also, I am finally allowing myself to think about some of the things I have witnessed over the past few years that have really bothered me. First let me say that I have met wonderful people at Crossfit. I feel a sense of community when I walk in the door. Our coaches TRY to make sure everyone is safe…but in a class of 25 with one coach and varying levels of competence, fitness, and ego, one person cannot watch or help everyone. For example, our gym was doing the Hatch Squat Program (a very intense Oly program). I was resting after a heavy 85% of max lift w/ 8 reps. I noticed one of our smaller female athletes trying to back squat 140 pounds…she was obviously struggling trying to get out of the hole because the bar was lopsided, her lower back was contorted and twisting, she was on her toes…her lifting buddy was encouraging her to ‘get it’ instead of telling her to ditch that bar. Our coach was across the room and did not see this at all. This is just one example. I now have concerns about a one size fits all approach (WOD) even with scaling. I now have more questions than answers. I am not sure that ‘constantly varied’ will get me where I want to go. I am not sure that constant workouts with ‘high intensity’ that neglect form and building a aerobic base are beneficial. As for ‘functional movement’, Crossfit has taught this 58 year old woman about mobility. Thanks to Crossfit I fell in love with lifting. Thanks to Crossfit I have become a tougher athlete mentally. I look at most setbacks or challenges in life as a opportunity to grow and to learn. I learned a lot in Crossfit and I loved it. When my back heals will I return to Crossfit? Probably not. For me the risks are just too great. But I will take what I learned with me. I am thankful for the lessons learned.

  50. Ben says:

    “CrossFit seems to think that the more pain you are in, whether on that day or the days following the workout, the better. The more you disregard the pain and keep pushing through it, the “tougher” you are.”

    Is this a direct quote from somewhere, or where did you get this from? Because if Crossfit gyms really teach this then I am definitely never trying it. You would have to be crazy to sign up for that right?

  51. Pat says:

    Excellent article, especially the points about doing the powerlifts and Olympic lifts for time. I’ve rarely seen anyone doing the Olympic lifts correctly for single reps, much less for high repts. The risk-reward ratio on them doesn’t make sense for most athletes.

  52. jo says:

    “EVERY SINGLE GYM THAT FOLLOWS CROSSFIT. There are no exceptions”. I found very few facts in this article. You can’t possibly know what every crossfit gym in the world does on a daily basis, not every day is filled with WOD’s like “Isabella”. Crossfit isn’t only about the WOD, it’s also about getting involved with the community and supporting others around you. Whether it’s supporting each other in the gym with proper nutrition and exercise or getting involved with organizations like Habitat for Humanity, Salvation Army, Breast Cancer Awareness, and numerous others. My life was good before I joined Crossfit, but I had no idea what it could be like with it, I’m truly grateful I found it!

  53. […] article making the rounds on social media criticizing CrossFit. Here’s a link – Why I Don’t Do CrossFit. While these pieces are increasingly common lately, and given the fact that everyone on the […]

  54. Karen says:

    Erin,

    My husband and I both have degrees in Exercise Science. He is a director of Corporate Wellness and I am a personal trainer. We both agree that your article is well written and on point. I’m constantly telling people not to base their fitness on a trend and since we both always get asked what we think about cross fit, I was happy to share your article on Facebook. My joints are important to me now (age 39) and I want them to remain healthy and functional as I get older. Thank you for also citing accredited sources on this highly debated topic.

  55. Ivan Madrigal says:

    So True Erin! I trained under Dan Riley, Strength Coach of the Houston Texans 8 years and winner of 3 super bowl rings with Redskins as Strength Coach 19 years. Took Penn State to a National Championship and before that was at Penn State where Arhur Jones taught him High Intensity Training. Arthur Jones invented Nautilus equipment. His son invented Hammer Strength. Need more proof of what works? He reminded me of physics, weight x speed = force. Slow = Safe. That simple. I followed his training and at 40 years old was 50% stronger in my upper body and 100% stronger in lower body than in college at 20. I’m 41 now and my only injuries have occurred when I fell off the wagon and went astray. I got a little chunky one winter and decided to do a quick fix (with Dan’s voice in my head saying DON’T DO IT!) so I tried cross -fit. Even hired an individual coach. Third day i broke my tibial plateau doing squats for time. I had never broken a single bone in my body before that. My orthopedic surgeon used to play for Dan Riley. He said, “Ivan in all my years with Dan not a single person had a single injury in the weight room.” WHAT? That’s in the NFL guys where people are benching 500+ and squatting 700+ on a regular person. Repeat that. Not a single person had a single injury. Go ask your local orthopedic how safe cross fit is. Business has never been more booming….

  56. Gary says:

    I normally do not write and post to someone’s blog but I have to say that much of what you wrote here is completely misguided and also narrow minded. Much of what you wrote is an old regurgitated sound track from other anti crossfit blogs. Like you I am a former division 1 athlete but unlike you I am not looking to garner a million people to follow my blog. Also I olympic lift and mix in some crossfit as a way to have some conditioning. I will first get this out of the way if I were still training to be a competitive soccer player would I do crossfit. The answer is no because it is a GPP program. However I would use plyo metrics, oly lifts, and squatting and incorporate it into the backbone of a program. The truth is that anyone can get hurt doing any type of workout. If crossfit is so bad then almost all HIIT needs to be lumped into this category as well. P90x and everything beachbody needs to be out into this category. Anything that has to do with intensity has the potential to cause injury. Actually now that I think about running also has to be outlawed as there are more injuries through running than almost any form of excersize that exists. A training program crossfit or otherwise is as good as the coach. So absolutely there are bad crossfit gyms, but there are bad gyms around period with poor coaching. Oly and powerlifts weren’t supposed to be done for high reps. That is actually an opinion not a fact. However long ago when these lifts came into existence no one said they couldn’t be done for reps. Overtime olympic and powerlifting has turned into a sport where the focus is on 1 rep maxes for the sake of competition. By the way Donny Shankle and John North 2 top American Oly Lifters have no problem with high rep olympic lifts for fitness. These lifts are a fantastic skill to to learn but you need to find a coach that’s does it the right way. The lifts themselves are not inherently bad.
    Then there’s the whole rhabdo thing. It’s almost mind boggling you brought this up. As a collegiate soccer player I’ve seen more than one case of rhabdo. I have yet to witness it in crossfit. You can over exert yourself doing almost anything. It he documented cases of rhabdo in crossfit is almost non existent. Funny how a few cases 5 years ago still is brought up as an argument. That is like saying my iPhone has bad reception so the other 60million iPhones also have bad reception. You can’t generalize like that. I could go on and on and debate this at greater length another time. Any workout methodology is as good as the coaches/ trainers. My advice for anyone is do your research no matter what gym you go to. One persons poor experience should not deter others from trying it.

  57. Colleen Nicolai says:

    Erin, Great article on CF. I’ve considered it but I’ll take a pass.
    I’m curious what your thoughts are on the Les Mils Body Combat workout. Each circuit focuses on 1 muscle and there are several reps in each. I take it twice a week. I lift weight that is challenging but not to the point where I struggle and lose form. You voice concern regarding high reps in this article so I was curious what your opinion is. And I understand you’re busy!! ;)

  58. PJ says:

    I own a CrossFit gym. I also have a CSCS, a Nutrition and Exercise Science Bachelors, plus some Graduate School Coursework in Human Movement, and have Olympic weightlifting and Powerlifting Certifications, among others. I have been working in the fitness industry for 10+ years. Our CrossFit gym has beginner’s, intermediate and advanced classes that are programmed appropriate for their level. Our busiest classes have multiple coaches on staff to provide optimal attention to our athletes. We have seen tremendous positive changes in our clients with very few injuries, and regular hold charity events for the community. Even a well-run CrossFit gym isn’t entirely safe, but no physical activity is. People can and do get hurt running, playing recreational sports, doing videos on their own at home, working out at a gym, and even working out with “certified” personal trainers. Then again, we all know the health implications of being sedentary.

    I would love to have you visit our gym sometime to show you how positive an effect a smartly run strength and conditioning facility (CrossFit or Otherwise) can have on it’s members and it’s community. I would even be happy to work with you on the third pull of your cleans which seem to be missing in some of your fitness videos you’ve posted on youtube:

    (was that video filmed in a CrossFit gym by the way?)
    I would also like to help you work on your pushup technique so you don’t put your cervical spine at risk by reaching with your neck as seen in this video:

  59. Hmm…. Not sure what happened to my comment, Erin!! Here it is again:

    Hi Erin!

    I realize it’s fashionable to write about the dangers of CrossFit. Though, wow!! I’m sure glad I didn’t see any of these when I started: I’m 66+, have been doing CrossFit for three years, and am in better shape than when I worked with trainers who used standard strength and conditioning approaches. Not only that, but it’s really offered up some powerful life lessons, as I point out here: http://bit.ly/1dQYWW9

    Frankly, while you seem to have presented lots of evidence that argue against CrossFit, I’m troubled by how selective you were. For example, it’s not the conclusion of the WebMD article you referenced that people should not do CrossFit.” Rather it’s this:

    Like most other exercise routines, CrossFit has advantages and concerns. The workouts are fast-paced, challenging, and constantly varied.

    If you are healthy and can endure grueling workouts, then give it a try. You will probably enjoy it, just like most “Crossfitters.”

    Yes, they do say, “the CrossFit coach may not have an appropriate educational background in sports conditioning” – but that’s true of lots of personal trainers out there!! You also point out the lack of active coaching when you did your CrossFit workouts. But wouldn’t that also be true for people attempting workouts that are posted on line? Sure, there are going to be CrossFit gyms with poorly qualified trainers, but that’s not true everywhere. My gym is great, and the quality of the coaching is outstanding.

    I can respect the fact that CrossFit may not be for you. But that doesn’t make it true for everyone.

    In fact, even Dr. David Geier, in a source you cite, says he “…has no real problems with CrossFit when performed correctly, and he appreciates the variety of exercises available to participants; however, he insists that individuals must discriminate when looking at a CrossFit program.

    Bottom line: I think this would have been a better piece, and you would have been of more service to your readers, if you’d offered some tips for people who want to try CrossFit anyway.

  60. BrandyP. says:

    Really?!? Any validity you had the possibility of lending to the logical, reasonable concerns of the safety & efficacy of CrossFit lost all credibility with your final paragraph:

    “Boxes have attempted to combat the bad reputation of CrossFit by saying that other gyms do bad stuff but their gym is different, their coaches know good form, their gym focuses on safety. This is simply not true and every single thing that I’ve posted in this article refers to EVERY SINGLE GYM THAT FOLLOWS CROSSFIT. There are no exceptions, if you’re following the WODs, it’s not good for you, it’s not safe, and you’re putting your health in danger. Take it for what it’s worth, but please believe that your box is NOT different, no matter what your coach says.”

    Wow. The bigotry is astounding. To lump all boxes into one is not only irresponsible, it’s ludicrous. Despite the “brainwashed” fog you seem to think all CrossFitters walk around in, I see a clear correlation between your statements & saying that all schnauzers are bad because one bit your friend or that all people from Minnesota are crooks because a Minnesotan ripped you off. So asinine, it’s comedic.

    Shame on you. Being a box owner, I may be (slightly) biased. That being said, I am constantly seeking ways to better serve my every-day athletes in their journey toward better health & longevity. The source doesn’t matter. I am open-minded to all avenues to that end. I am not brainwashed & I don’t think that CF is the answer to everyone’s problems. CrossFit-based or no, any info that will make me a better coach is taken in, ingested, absorbed, digested & utilized to produce results. Your one-sided, unresearched article holds no water & only serves to make you look foolish. Its a shame, really, since it sounds like we have at least a couple of common goals – fitter, happier, more healthy clients & exposing fraudulent, irresponsible, unsafe boxes.

    CrossFit is not for everyone & I’m ok with that, but the CrossFit methodology is not the problem. Just a little research on your part would have revealed a myriad of articles that refute your claims & actually explain what CrossFit really is. One of our founding principles is 1) Mechanics – must come first & above all else, 2) Consistency – consistently performing the mechanics of a movement, 3) Intensity last & only after 1 & 2 are firmly in place. If this very basic heirarchy isn’t being adhered to, then its not really CrossFit, anyway. Plain & simple. Based on this fact alone, it sounds like you’ve never actually done CrossFit at all!! A little ironic, no? (I invite you to my box anytime. No judgements.)

    A little research may also have revealed this little gem, written by CrossFit’s creator, Greg Glassman. It’s a very short read and, to me, defines what a good coach (or box) looks like. In closing, I’m a realist & know there will always be naysayers, but I choose to continue to move forward with Virtuosity.

    Fundamentals, Virtuosity, and Mastery
    An Open Letter to CrossFit Trainers
    Greg Glassman

    http://library.crossfit.com/free/pdf/Virtuosity.pdf

    Here’s an exerpt:

    “What will inevitably doom a physical training program and dilute a coach’s efficacy is a lack of commitment to fundamentals. We see this increasingly in both programming and supervising execution. Rarely now do we see prescribed the short, intense couplets or triplets that epitomize CrossFit programming. Rarely do trainers really nitpick the mechanics of fundamental movements.

    I understand how this occurs. It is natural to want to teach people advanced and fancy movements. The urge to quickly move away from the basics and toward advanced movements arises out of the natural desire to entertain your client and impress him with your skills and knowledge. But make no mistake: it is a sucker’s move. Teaching a snatch where there is not yet an overhead squat, teaching an overhead squat where there is not yet an air squat, is a colossal mistake. This rush to advancement increases the chance of injury, delays advancement and progress, and blunts the client’s rate of return on his efforts. In short, it retards his fitness.”

  61. Ami says:

    http://derzfitlife.wordpress.com/2014/05/27/response-to-erin-simmons-why-i-dont-crossfit/

    Would love to hear what you have to say back to this Erin! As a fairly new crossfitter I find it extremely weird ( and flattering) that so many people try to ‘disprove’ crossfit. What’s up with that? Any sport comes with injury, overuse, etc. but there doesn’t seem to be “marathon bashers” or “iron man haters” as frequently . Why is everyone so concerned/threatened by Crossfit? ???

  62. Chris Dockray says:

    Erin,

    I can tell that you are intelligent and have a passion for your craft. I guarantee that if we (wife and I) went to your gym we would love it and have fun and be fit.

    But we don’t, we go to Crossfit, and we love it, have fun, and we’re fit. Are we wrong?

    (I’ve been doing it since 2007, Wife since 2010. No major injuries. Keep your fingers crossed)

  63. […] recent article was written by Erin Simmons entitled “Why I Don’t Do CrossFit.”  Many of you have already read this and arrived at the same conclusion – mostly […]

  64. Tyler Kowalczik says:

    While I might agree that the Crossfit business model could use some upgrades, it would be a shame to throw out the benefits associated with this particular style of a training regimen. It’s not fair for you to quote webMD’s article on Crossfit’s lack of peer reviewed studies in the academic world and provide none at all to support your claims. You quoted editorials and typical dot com websites and used them to support vague statements about the dangers of crossfit. Crossfit is intended to be a means for measuring work capacity over broad time and modal domains. Regardless of what you think, Crossfit is not just about heavy weights with many reps for time. Look at the main site’s backlog of exercises and you’ll see that it’s usually pretty well balanced.
    Anyways I’ve been an athlete have been doing crossfit for a while and it has been both fun and profitable. Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. There are great things about crossfit as well as drawbacks. It all depends on what you want to do with your fitness.

  65. Dina says:

    Where did you find that doing more than 15-20 reps of an exercise is not good? Any articles or research? Thanks. Dina.

  66. Brian says:

    Perhaps most importantly, you’re kind of a total hottie. I don’t know why that hasn’t been mentioned yet. I thought you could use a compliment given all the hostility being thrown your way. Now on to the more intellectual observations…

    I initially had a reaction much like the rest of the CF community upon reading your article. However, after coming here and reading the comments (mainly your responses) I’ve changed my tune. You’re not condemning every single CF box in the world, but rather the style of what I’ll refer to as “traditional” CF (such as “Isabella”). I think many of the criticisms you’ve aimed toward this traditional style have been recognized by the CF community. From my experience, there has been a movement to address many of these criticisms.

    At least at my box, the workouts aren’t truly “random.” Rather, they’re thought out, discussed, and designed to work together over a period of time. That sounds an awful lot like programming, because, well…it is. The box owners aren’t just going to crossfit.com and pulling a random WOD to run their students through. Rather, they’ll target a specific lift (such as deadlift, front squat, etc…) and have that be the “focus” for a period of time, with workouts designed to improve the student in that category. The box also offers classes specifically catered to Olympic lifting, which again moves away from the “traditional” approach. So, I suppose you can’t classify this box as purely traditional, although it still maintains some elements of the traditional approach. The benchmark WODs will still be run from time to time. So, I suppose I will call this a “modern” style of CF.

    I wouldn’t want to work out at a purely “traditional” box, with no broader vision aimed at improving the student. I’m definitely not a fan of Isabella, but the “modern” style box that I go to has taught me more about my body and improved my fitness in ways that I never thought possible. Outside of professional and collegiate athletes, the common person has no way to reasonably access training in powerlifting, Olympic lifting, etc… Although CF is expensive (typically 100-200) per month, the cost of a personal trainer is exponentially higher (I’ll estimate at 75/session on the low end). Given that estimate, three one hour sessions would top the price of one month of CF. That’s why CF has put more barbells in more hands than anything else in the world. Given those options, I have to choose CF, and that may not be such a bad thing.

    The “modern” boxes seem to be moving away from the “traditional” style, although they still maintain some remnants of it. Over time, the change may continue, and all of the criticisms that you have pointed out may be addressed. I’m glad I came here and read these responses to grasp the subtle distinction between CF as a traditional style and the CF boxes that most people know today. I don’t think most people are seeing that, and that’s why they keep saying “but my box has coaches correcting our form.” That’s not your point at all. The bottom line is that your article has sparked thought and that makes it successful. I look forward to reading your follow ups.

  67. Liz says:

    Hi,
    I just wanted to say that you should not put every crossfit training facility into one box. I attended one gym where the training was very poor and I was getting hurt. A friend then recommended Blended Athletics here in Dartmouth, NS. In my first WOD the instructor actually told me to slow it down so I did not hurt myself. The classes are capped and the trainers are with you the whole time. My WOD’s are scaled down to what I can actually do. I would suggest you take a look at their website and actually speak with them. http://blendedathletics.com
    Regards,
    Liz

  68. Evie says:

    “Secondly, the workout was going to have deadlifts, which I had never done and to this day I still don’t do them”

    Correction- you’ve never done a proper deadlift before (or cleans for that matter). This video was recorded before you created this article.

    Another thing, I’m pretty sure that the elite military trains with instructors that are more knowledgeable than your strength coaches. CrossFit is highly endorsed within the military community for a reason! Their training a lot harder and smarter than you, my friend.

    You’ve done CrossFit a total of 2 or 3 times, you do not know what you’re talking about. Stick to studying your fishes.

  69. Cathy says:

    Wow – Erin! Not so true. My box is small and we get yelled at for improper form and trying to lift too much! Like it doesn’t happen at all. In fact we are encouraged to scale back always!!!!!! Oh and people talk to each other at the box (I know right!) and don’t walk in wearing headphones and walk on the treadmill for an hour.

  70. Bryan Silva says:

    I read this and intially was in slight agreement with you, however as I read on it was clear to see that you were making your entire case based off of your small handfull of WODS and what you believe to be true. Believe being the key word there. This entire article is based on your personal opinion. It is easy to google some quotes from articles from other authors and and ad them in. This post provides no evidence that you did any actual real research of your own. You make a false statement that all Crossfit Boxes are the same and that all Crossfit coachs are equally under trained and unprepared to effectively provide sound, effective and SAFE training to the collegate athelete or very beginner. That is irresponible of you. I previously was member of 808 Crossfit in Honolulu, HI, there I was trained by Coache Elyse Umeda, Kyla Evers, and Josh Akiona. These three very dedicated individuals are in constant concern for the safety, health and over all improvement of every athelete in that box. For you to say all Crossfit coaches are the same and untrained is an insult. While at 808 I was never bigger, faster and stronger and with guess what! NO INJURIES. So it is ok for you or anybody else to have a preference on a particular way of exercise and fitness, it is NOT ok to speak out against one in a manner that is both uneducated and false. Running a marathon or better yet a triathalon can very dangerous to ones health. Do you speak out and post against those types of fitness? I would venture to say not. Don’t be so quick to judge and learn more about something before posting to the world about it. You owe yourself that much. Finally you mentioned uncle Rhabdo. I wonder how much about Rhabdomyolysis you truley know. If a person gets Rhabdo then that is because they are one under hydrated and not ready for any physical activity and two made their own conscious decision to lift or work beyond thier capability and nobody is to blame but the victim, NOT the coach or trainer. So please think more and base your statements on facts not opinions.

    Sincerely Bryan Silva

  71. Claude says:

    Completely agree!! I am an endurance athlete (triathlon) and started working with a coach ~3 years ago…best decision of my life. In working with these coaches, the single most important thing (and this applies not only to endurance athletes) is recovery. You address that in your article about the short term recovery during a workout, and how the next day they are right back at it. The other piece is the long term recovery and building in training blocks with rest. CF does not understand what a training block is and does not give their members (I call them members b/c the term athletes really does not apply) adequate rest. I’ve talked with a few people who have done CF and most of the time, they end up talking to me about being tired and fatigued. Once I explain the concept of overtraining to them, it clicks and they usually take a few days off. CF is driving people to injury as you have explained above, but also to overtraining, which as I’m sure you are aware applies both physical and mental overtraining.

  72. Trevor Reid says:

    This is a painful read and not because I don’t agree with everything said. You are spot-on that certain (many) CrossFit facilities throw unprepared clients into workouts without proper progression and loading. You are also correct that certain (many) CrossFit worshippers think that their sport can do no wrong. However, you’ve missed the point completely and here are a few quick observations…

    1. I click on your ‘pictures’ section only to see a Workout that looks like it could have been pulled from an number of CrossFit Gyms websites. Funny.

    2. I Google your name, only to find the internet littered with photos demonstrating your true fitness goal – body composition. Clearly you are coming from a different perspective. The CrossFit methodology is performance based in nature. I understand that you train athletes but I just can’t take someone seriously that post pictures of their abs all of the internet. Seriously, how many bathing suits do you own? Maybe take some of that swimwear money and hire a fact-checker because…..

    3. Your references remind me of a 6th grade school report. I mean seriously, did you just Google “CrossFit + Bad” and cite off the first three hits. Amateur to say the least. Step 1 to be taken seriously – don’t undermine your audience. Which leads to me point out that……..

    4. Your generalised statements are preposterous to say the least. This has already been pointed out in numerous posts so I won’t beat it to death. To say ‘all’ of anything is unscientific. aYou seem like a smart person, you should know this.

    5. Congrats on your muscle ups hero. That is a basic gymnastic movement and I would hope that anyone that has the audacity to post pictures of themselves all of the internet can back it up with a basic movement. I would say it’s safe to assume those other classes members don’t have fitness blogs and NCAA athletic backgrounds. I better stop trying to hit free throws because I’m only 5′ 10″ and have a shitty vertical.

    LASTLY, AND MOST IMPORTANTLY – I encourage you to back up your claims by proposing challenge with even a regional level CrossFit athlete. Test a variety of performance and health markers. Now I understand that a regional level athlete will likely have prior athletic training before starting CrossFit, but I mean someone who trains CrossFit vs. you who trains your way.

    Are you willing?

  73. Tom Pappas says:

    Erin, I’ve made a living for a decade competing in the sport that you are a “volunteer” coach in. I now also own a CF gym.
    I’m not here to argue your rant because frankly I don’t think it’s needed. The negative claims you address about CF are, IMO, so off basis it’s laughable and most will clearly see that your statements have no credibility .
    Mostly though I’m curious as to why go to a few different CF gyms and then make such bold statements such as “every single gym that follows CF is not good for you, putting yourself at risk, etc..no exceptions”?

    A note about injuries- My experience in track AND CrossFit is extensive unlike your 2-3 visits to a gym. I’ve had 12 surgeries throughout my collegiate and professional track career. We also have a few former Olympians and NFL players that work out at our gym, and they consistently claim that they have no injuries compared to the dozens they suffered while competing/playing. After 3 + years doing CF my health couldn’t be better. (I did break my wrist twice but that was playing recreational softball) I will make a bold claim that A&M’s track team this season probably had more injuries than our gym has had in two years.
    You also keep talking about “because every coach I have studied under” trains like X and CrossFit trains like Y, then it’s not right. Erin, come on! Of course the training that a world class track and field athlete does is COMPLETELY different than the training CF does to improve fitness. That doesn’t mean it’s wrong.
    By the way, I assume the coach that mentors you at A&M is Vince Anderson. Vince was my sprint/hurdle/LJ coach while at Tennessee. If you read this, please tell Coach Henry and Coach Anderson I said hello.

  74. Erin says:

    I respect your opinion and your experience but can only say that mine has been drastically different. I’m a physical therapist and went to a box for my veey first day of CrossFit. I hated it, I was given a WOD to do and the instructor didn’t give me any feedback, even when I knew that my form was suffering due to fatigue. Since then I have continued to do CrossFit but instead I’m going about this through a personal trainer. I did everything with PVC pipe until I mastered the form and then slowly progressed.

    Now I love it! My coach is very very picky about form and I’m told constantly that if my form fails, I stop. Simple as that. Now I can totally see how class forms fail to provide the appropriate coaching for skill and form. But if you have the time/money to have 1 on 1 sessions, it’s a fantastic workout.

    Oh… And I’ve never done a powerlifting for AMRAP.

  75. Great article Erin, you seem to have really struck a chord here! I was wondering what you think of StrongLifts 5×5 ( http://stronglifts.com/5×5/ ), a program that introduces Olympic/Power lifts to a similar population. The program seems to reverse the logic of Crossfit by focusing on building up to very high weight/low reps via the overload and progression principles, while just about ignoring variation altogether.

    I tried the program for about six months and saw some very satisfactory gains, going from essentially beginner to squatting and deadlifting just above body weight.

  76. Josh says:

    I tried Crossfit for about a year. The results were great and I was really drinking the kool-aid and enjoying myself. By the 8th and 9th month there though I began to notice a dull pain in my lower back that wouldn’t go away. This really scared me because I shouldn’t have back pain in my late 20s. The crossfit instructors at my gym told me my form was good and that I should just take it easy on how much weight I lifted. Even at the lower weights I still felt the same back pain.

    I ended up leaving crossfit because I was scared. Within a month the pain was gone.
    This article completely makes sense to me. The high intensity/lifting for time is not sustainable.

    That being said, I haven’t been able to lift what I could lift while in crossfit since I left. I don’t think I could get results like that anywhere else. Like you said though, it’s just not practical in the long term.

  77. John Veit says:

    John Buol (funshoot.com) had a link on his blog to your article. It is a verying interesting read.

    I used to jog and run alot, and found that you can overdo and hurt yourself if you wish, and also that stuff can happen now and then, and who knows for why.

    I also enjoyed reading most all of the comments, some of which were about as long as the original article. :-) I thought only shooters had never ending and extended arguements over which shooting method/s is/are best, or discussionsf over competition vs other training.

  78. eric says:

    I don’t understand why you just didn’t slow down, grab a lighter KB, tell the “screaming coaches” to fuck off. You are you’re own person, do WHAT you like. CF has done a great job of getting women to pick up Oly bars and learn how to lift.

  79. ckimp says:

    Where can I find the article that you quoted the dutch neurophysiologist?

  80. […] and have many clients who have given it a whirl. I felt compelled to write a posting, but honestly this article is dead on and sums up my opinion […]

  81. Honestly… I have to agree with most of your concerns, but I would not say that CF is that bad.
    The real problem is what you said. Unprepared and ignorant coaches „teaching” 10-20-30 people.
    The story what I can share, is that I went to CF-LV1 course, to be a certified CF coach. I easily succeeded the course and the exam.. but…
    I arrived to the given city to the given box a few days before the weekend. And to do my workouts I went down to this gym where we spent all the weekend.
    1st day we had a Kettlebell based workouts. During the strength/technique learning period people (20+) were “thought” to do Turkish Get-Ups. Just in 5-10 mins… Impossible… During my RKC/SFG trainings it always took a lot of time and many sessions to teach “acceptable” TGU to the people.. (After they had enough shoulder/ankle/hip mobility, and strength enough to hold the bell overhead + they had core strength etc.. after many-many Kettlebell classes… )
    Then we had a WOD with Kettlebell snatches and running.
    At the end the Coaches asked me if I will teach on the weekend, as the form of my movements were “too nice”. (I have a long experience with Kettlebells.)
    The movements I saw during the TGUs and the Snatches were very very disappointing. In my gym I never let any of these things happen…
    The next days it just continued… then I was very said…
    During the weekend we had really good coaches, movement patens, coaching instructions and everything. So what I was thought was far away from what I saw before.
    Again… What you say is true in many cases, but luckily not for everybody.
    I know some CF coaches who have degrees in different areas of sports/rehabilitation/medicine/etc, Who had long professional athlete carriers …

  82. Melanie says:

    Only got through the first few paragrahps because you have said the same thing that every other person who disagress with Crossfit has already said in the past. However, I thought your opening statement of how your friends believe you should be participating in the Crossfit Games was laughable especially after reviewing some of your You Tube videos. You also noted your college S & C coaches never mentioning working for speed with regard to the olympic/power lifts, but I am guessing they said work for quality…again, the videos show something different than quality. Your opinion is just that… an opinion. It’s just difficult to appreciate your opinion when your videos are questionable with regard to “form” and you later post your workouts for “speed” (as you call it).

  83. Paul Cook says:

    Great article and opinion.
    My son has been on a national team for the past 6 years in a very physically demanding sport and I have seen his workouts on video and have listened to him describe a typical workout.
    They have never been subjected to “CF” and have been subjected to more traditional training methods that seem to work.
    CF appears to be another marketing ploy to get people to spend money on something that is different but not really time tested, and like everything else in our instant society, instant.

  84. Mike CFnoMAS says:

    The craziest thing is all the Crossfitters on my facebook are now posting videos of Erin doing box jumps, cleans, and pullups and accusing her of being a liar and “stealing” from crossfit. That is just wacky. Did CF invent the clean? Funny I remember doing those in high school before CF even existed. Does CF own the box jump? People have been doing plyometrics for decades. That is my opinion the worst thing about CF. All these “elite” athletes, who have no other perspective, but CF. As I previously stated, I had been lifting for decades before I started CF. I had even competed in weightlifting. That didn’t stop the 22 yr-old crossfitters at my box from pointing out my “mistakes” because they had been doing crossfit longer. In one humorous instance, a young fellow WODDER felt he needed to point out to me that I was wearing my lifting belt wrong and that it was supposed to be worn higher on the stomach. I asked him how old he was and he said 23. “Really”, I said, “This belt is 25 years old”. Its this group (cult) mentality that if its not crossfit or its not the way “we” do it, Its wrong that I can’t stand. A fish rots from the head down and it is Glassman, himself, who promotes this “Everybody else is wrong” mentality. But, here’s something strange about Glassman. Do a search online and try to find even one picture or video of Glassman doing a WOD or working out. You won’t find it. I’ve tried. In fact, try to find one picture of him before he was a fat slob. You won’t find that either. Its as if where Glassman is concerned cameras did not exist until 2009. Even Joe Weider, who, in the 1980’s was basically doing the exact same thing with bodybuilding that Glassman is doing with Crossfit (there’s nothing new under the Sun), had pictures of himself when he was younger and in shape (although they looked nothing like the bronze bust of himself that he used as his logo and trademark. That was his head on Arnold’s body). Is there anyone, even remotely interested in fitness, who wants a body, like Greg Glassman’s?

  85. bjorn says:

    on so many levels I agree and I hear you. even so there are many points that are wrong, in my opnion, professional regard and empirical. to state “Crossfit doesn’t translate into body control” is one of them, another is strength does not correlate with endurance,
    then to state that lets say yoga og personal trainers lack knowledge compared to a medically studied, Is true but we all know that many medically trained get lost on the way and lack passion. to send everyone who are working with peoples health through the exact same konwledge is in a way good, however the new ways and new waves coming are shining exactly because the barriers left behind in your mind are simply not there
    – simply put, CrossFit can be good, maybe its not exactly perfect right now but it will evolve.

    anyone I will take your points to heart and see what I make of it.
    we do not have all the answers yet ;-)

    sincerely, chiropractor in Norway

  86. jen says:

    It would probably behoove you to respond to the fact that you posted videos of you doing high rep cleans with bad form in a crossfit gym

  87. lewis says:

    Fantastic article. Supports many of my personal feelings about crossfit, but then… what would someone like me know? I only have a PhD in Exercise Physiology. Prepare for hate…

  88. ronak says:

    Your just simply wrong… anyone who has trained for years with various programs and played various sports will know this. Why in the world would you need to do deadlifts as a track and field runner anyways?

    http://derzfitlife.wordpress.com/2014/05/27/response-to-erin-simmons-why-i-dont-crossfit/

  89. Chris de Klerk says:

    http://www.thetoptens.com/most-dangerous-sports/

    Track and field is positioned at 69.
    Crossfit is at 97. Safer than synchronized swimming haha

  90. Chris de Klerk says:

    Is this not a video of you doing crossfit, at a crossfit box? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IyUmWOWYL_Q

  91. Brett Page says:

    This is propaganda that’s always pumped out by the world of conventional gyms and trainers who’s livelihood is being threatened by a cheaper and more effective method of gaining results.

    The fact is crossfit can be bad when the instruction is bad just like conventional training can be bad when the instruction is bad!!!!! If crossfit is approached in a scaled manor starting with low weight and building up slowly it can be highly beneficial.

    At most decent boxes a percentage of the workout is always spent with PVC pipes working through gaining good technique.

    In regards to multiple reps of Olympic lifting movements this is only done with relatively light weight compared to what is lifted in conventional powerlifting.

  92. Mike CFnoMAS says:

    Wow! I did Crossfit for a year before I sprained both my forearms (with a “Coach” looking on and yelling for me to “keep going”) in a WOD that contained high rep snatches, high rep cleans, and kettlebell swings. I can say that most if not everything you say in your post is dead on accurate (especially the aside). I had lifted for years, played football in college, was an Army Ranger, and I NEVER had as many injuries as I had during my year of Crossfit. And I was training at a box that was considered to be the best in my city and which had been in business since 2010! Right before I left, a guy that started CF right around the same time as me got his level one and became a “Coach”. So, had I stayed I would have been paying $200 a month to be “coached” by a guy with the same exact level of experience as me. While I was there other people were constantly getting hurt. One girl, who tore up her shoulder still came in and grimaced through WOD’s wearing a sling. And the coaches applauded this and held her up as an example of “dedication” to the other “followers”. This lady tried to come back way too early in my opinion and hurt her shoulder again and of course she finally had to quit crossfit all together because she couldn’t do much. The crazy thing is if you look at most of the pictures on the boxes website, most of the members are pretty fat (even the one’s who have been doing it 5 days a week for years). If it weren’t for the fact that they post EVERY burpee on their Facebook page you wouldn’t even know they workout. They do Crossfit day after day, year after year, and their bodies never change. The funny thing is during my year I took a month off and just did regular workouts and all my lift, which had been pretty much stagnant when I was doing crossfit began to EXPLODE! I cam back from that month off and was much stronger and did way better on the WODS, after not doing crossfit. So, not doing Crossfit made me better at crossfit. Since leaving cf I found a locally-owned small gym, where I work out with competition-level olympic and powerlifters (who all think crossfit is a joke). I get the same sense of community and support. But now I pay $30 a month instead of $200. My strength has doubled. I do “light” cardio a couple of times a week and I am in better shape and feel much better than I ever did while I was doing cf. When I am sore now it is that good “I’m growing soreness and not the “crap I messed something up” soreness you get from CF.I had fun doing Crossfit (at times) and I met a lot of nice people. But, I don’t really hang out with any of them anymore, because I am out of the cult. But, of course they are all still on my Facebook, which is how your article came to my attention. The level of BUTT HURT in the CF community over you calling them out is UN-FRIGGING-BELIEVABLE! I’ve even seen posts with people talking about how lawyers in the cf community need to sue you. People only get this upset about something when they know it is true on some level. Crossfit is a FAD and it will be gone (or at most be a shadow of its former self) in 18 months. I know a “Box” owner would try to stab me if he heard me call it a FAD. But, no one, who is invested in a fad believes it is a fad while it is going on. If you had a time machine you could go back in time 20 years and go to one of the thousands of STEP CLASS Studios that existed and their owners would tell you STEP Aerobics are here to stay. By the way, what sport shoe company “licensed” th step movement? Reebok. Enough said. Anyway, loved your article. Looking forward to the verbal attacks and death threats I will receive for posting this.

  93. doveydragon says:

    I Don’t Care If You Don’t CrossFit
    May 28, 2014 By Chris McCune 89 Comments

    I’m supposed to be writing a post about my Murph experience. That will just have to wait. I’m fired up right now. I’ve seen that “Why I Don’t Do CrossFit” article shared one too many times. I’ve seen one too many haters on social media bashing my passion when I know damn well they have never dropped a bead of sweat inside a CrossFit box. When I had to engineer piping system designs in the past, I placed relief valves in the system to open and vent when the system pressure got too high. This is my relief valve.

    Hey, you, come a little closer. A little more. Yeah that’s good. I want to tell you something important, something you need to know. Here it is…

    I don’t care if you don’t CrossFit.

    Did you get that? Let me say it again.

    I DON’T CARE IF YOU DON’T CROSSFIT.

    I do not care if CrossFit is not for you. That’s awesome. Do you have another form of fitness you love? I’m legitimately happy for you! Like running marathons? Sweet. Is that for me? Nope. Am I going to bash you for it? Nope. Am I going to create a social media account dedicated to spewing venomous hate towards your 26.2 miles? Nope. In fact, here let me help all those haters out right here.

    You can get hurt doing CrossFit!

    Yes you can! You can get hurt pretty bad! You can mess yourself up doing a weight that is too heavy for you. Loaded barbells dropping throughout the box can be a hazard if you aren’t careful. Try doing high repetitions of kipping pull-ups without the prerequisite strength to do a strict pull-up can damage your rotator cuffs big time.

    I guess we should stick to doing “normal” stuff like running (shin splints, rolled ankles, cracked heel bones, serious dehydration, poisonous snakebite as you’re running) or low intensity globo gym work like bench presses. No one ever gets hurt doing a bench press, right? Ever heard of Stafon Johnson? If the name sounds familiar, he’s the USC running back that was seriously injured doing a bench press.

    Johnson was performing a “bench press” lift with what doctors were told was 275 pounds when the bar apparently slipped from his hand and landed on his throat. USC officials said an assistant strength and conditioning coach was working with Johnson as a “spotter” when the accident happened, but he was unable to stop the bar from injuring the player.

    Gosh. Hey Erin Simmons, I sure hope they don’t do bench presses at Florida State. I hope that, in the 5 years you were at Florida State University working out with a 3 time back-to-back national championship team, never once were you asked to do a bench press by one of your strength coaches.

    People, you can get hurt doing any form of physical activity. You sign a waiver with ANY training you do, be it a sporting event or signing up for a gym membership. There are risks inherent with any type of training. That’s why trainers and coaches get paid! Which reminds me…

    There are bad CrossFit coaches out there!

    Holy hell, no way! You mean there could be one bad egg out of a whole chicken coup? Wow. Let’s go on a CrossFit witch hunt! I mean CrossFit coaching has to be the only profession with bad apples, right? Surely there are no dishonest accountants (Enron), no football players that commit murder allegedly commit murder, no greasy slime ball attorneys that get child molesters off scot-free, no trainers that would allow an athlete to ever push past the point of exhaustion into a potentially compromising condition or allow an athlete to use bad form… surely there are ZERO bicep curls done when a dude arches his back to complete a rep, surely that NEVER happens.

    Yes, there are some poor CrossFit coaches. It’s true. But before you cast the first stone, remember there are poor coaches in every profession. It’s important that any athlete in any sport be educated enough to be able to tell if a coach is full of shit or not. Is your coach on his phone while you workout instead of watching you? Ok, chances are he is a lousy coach. Use common sense people. If you want to meet quintessential good CrossFit coaches, come to my box CrossFit 865.

    Can you “get certified in a weekend?” Well, the course itself lasts a weekend. But you have to study beforehand. You have to have a working knowledge of exercise and kinesiology and motivational techniques. You can’t go from nothing to certified in a weekend. The fact that Erin or anyone else would state this is preposterous. The exam to become a Professional Engineer is only 8 hours long. That’s shorter than the weekend of CrossFit certification. OMG! CrossFit coaches are trained more than engineers! Quick, tell everyone you know to never cross a bridge again, they are dangerous! All bridges are dangerous!!

    CrossFit pull-ups look like a fish out of water!

    First of all, they are called kipping or butterfly pull-ups. CrossFitters do strict pull-ups as well. And yes, they look a little funny at times. You know what else looks funny? Jim Furyk’s golf swing. But man that golf swing sure does work! I find driving a race car in a circle 500 times a little odd. Running for 26 miles straight is questionable behavior in my opinion. So remember, something that looks funny is only that way from your perspective. I can’t run a marathon and I don’t want to, but I am in awe of each and every person that can. If you want to hate CrossFit because of high rep pull-ups, then that’s your prerogative. Just keep your mouth shut because all people hear is your ignorance when you open it.

    You’ll lose gains if you CrossFit!

    Um… what? Ok, maybe? I guess if you truly believe that you need a separate “arm day” then perhaps you will lose a little bit of muscle mass by adding in the CrossFit metcon cardio to your bulking regimen. Sure, if your sole purpose is to get big for the sake of being big, then maybe you will lose gains. Personally, I prefer muscle that is a little more functional and I like the ability to be mobile enough to put my arms straight down by my side. That’s my choice. I don’t call you out for your 5 different tricep exercises in what I believe is rather silly. And also, I’m the most muscular I’ve ever been in my life, and it is 110% thanks to CrossFit.

    CrossFit is a cult!

    You’re damn right it is! Look up the definition of cult. CrossFitters DO care about what they do a lot. We ARE very dedicated to our passion. If that’s wrong, then I don’t want to be right! I LOVE my CrossFit family. There is no more supportive, more highly motivated group of people that I’ve ever met. Go to a college football game and see all the ugliness from opposing fans. Curses, derogatory names, threats of physical violence, all are very present. Go to a CrossFit competition and watch everyone cheer for each other. It’s that simple. CrossFit is love people. If you want to hate on love, I guess you’ve told me everything I need to know about you.

    CrossFitters never shut up about CrossFit!

    We don’t really. When I hang out with my fellow box mates, we generally talk about CrossFit, WODs from the past week, news regarding popular CrossFit athletes, paleo food, and health in general. We love it. Parents with children, you post photos of your kids on Facebook and Instagram, right? You love them. You could talk about them all day right? (some of you do!) Just because I sometimes get tired of seeing and hearing about your kids doesn’t mean I hate you or them!! It’s natural for someone to share their passion and what they love! I’m sure it does get annoying to see all my CrossFit status updates, and if it bothers you, guess what… you can filter me out or unfriend/unfollow/whatever! It’s that easy! You don’t have to hate!

    **

    Look, I don’t care if you don’t CrossFit. I don’t want to only do CrossFit. I want to golf and swim and hike and yes sometimes run. We aren’t meant to sit around in a chair or on the couch all day. Physical fitness is so directly related to life longevity and overall health that you can’t possibly make a case that it isn’t. I don’t think I’m alone when I say that I don’t care if you don’t CrossFit. I’m happy for whatever fitness you find. I hope you love whatever fitness you find. Going to the gym shouldn’t be a chore. Going for a walk/run shouldn’t require a sigh and a huff and puff to get dressed and do it. Humans were born being fit. Our primal nature craves to sweat.

    i don’t care if you don’t crossfit

    Let’s be clear about one thing. There is no reason to hate another form of fitness. There just isn’t. There’s also no reason to publish articles or support articles by sharing them when the author clearly a) is not an expert on the subject, b) has an agenda they are pushing, c) states “facts” that are clearly not true or are simply the author’s opinion. You can share the same beliefs as the author, just try not to perpetuate hatred and misinformation.

    I hope everyone is happy being active in a way that they love. I love CrossFit. I truly hope you will respect that, as I respect whatever you do. If you have questions about fitness activities, ask someone truly knowledgable instead of relying on someone that is “trying to get into fitness modeling”.

    /pressure relieved

  94. Kawika Kaeo says:

    I am interested to get your take on a fitness model and former track athlete’s workout routine I was reading about on the internet. It states: “I try to make most of my lifting workouts into fast-paced circuit training, so I do a lot of supersets. For example, I’ll do 3-4 sets of 2 different circuits. One circuit may be push press, squats, and calf raises with abs in between each exercise. I stay moving quickly between them pausing just for a drink of water.” I’m worried that this could cause that Rhabdomyolysis right? Also it’s like you state in your post “subjecting your muscles to extremely high stress repetitively is not good.” I agree with you 100%. We should just stay away from fitness altogether.

  95. Chris Sanders says:

    I think that the biggest issue that I have with the large majority of CrossFit gyms and Boot Camps is that aside from the horrendous form (I’ve been in college weight rooms that let some bad form get through the cracks), the program is not progressive in nature and fails to ever look at exercise from a movement and/or biomechanical standpoint. Being healthy isn’t just about how good you look naked and/or how much weight you lost. Weight is a horrible indicator of fitness, anyway. Body composition is really more meaningful. Being healthy is how well the body functions in all aspects. It takes a very holistic approach and an important quality missed by many is how well you actually move. Most people have a left hip internal rotation deficit, poor shoulder mobility, and a hyper-kyphotic posture – should they be doing a one-size fits all program? Is that program going to fix their hip IR, shoulder mobility, or restore a proper kyphosis to their thoracic spine? Now, you might say that these are issues for the PT or chiro. But, what if these individuals are not pathologic and have yet to experience pain? They are not going to spend money going to a PT. Hell, most people probably have no clue what these movement issues are and probably don’t even know that they have them. Again, most Crossfit facilities do not address these things in their programming. Furthermore, exercise is a MOVEMENT. And, movement occurs through specific neurological programming. In many instances, once we restore proper biomechanics, we need time to re-groove the movement pattern neurologically. This is where a proper progressive, customized program is most warranted. In the end, there are a very select few CrossFit programs worldwide that have their sh** together and do consider these things. But, those programs are probably in the very small 1% while the other 99% of CrossFit programs are go hard, go strong, or go home. Another important point before I end this is that you cannot develop sound technique in the Olympic lifts or any exercise really in a fatigued state. Don’t believe me? Go watch some of our top Olympic weightlifters work out. When I took my USAW course at the USOTC in Colorado Springs, I got to watch the resident athletes train. They lift and then they walk over and sit down for about 5 minutes. The most reps I saw done was on a variation and it was 5. They do higher rep stuff on some of their assistance work, but these are not Olympic lifts or variations. I’m talking about things like RDL’s, etc. Good article overall. But, I do not completely agree with your assessment of the KB swing. People can safely perform that movement, but it depends on the person. There is not necessarily a bad exercise per se; there are only exercises that are bad for certain people and/or certain conditions (i.e. in a fatigued state, etc.)

  96. Lloyd Shaw says:

    ust a thought for the CrossFit Coaches who do believe discipline is the key. The ones who feel let down by CrossFit selling out and letting every PT / Coach wannabe open a box.

    The ones you KNOW are dangerous.

    What did you do about it. Show us your online comments regarding this topic. I mean you must had said something public right. You had no problem coming on here…… Because people passionate about safety do not keep silent.

    Or did you lie down with the dogs to make some money, and are now complaining about the fleas.

  97. Kevin H says:

    Hi Erin,

    I have to admit, there are a few paragraphs I only skimmed. I apologize in advance. I don’t like to respond to an author without reading what they wrote in its entirety but I just couldn’t take your assertions based on very limited experiences with Crossfit. I’ve only been doing it since September and I don’t post about it daily. Actually, I only go 3 days a week, so daily wouldn’t even make sense. But I digress. Here are my main issues with what you’ve described:

    1) At my gym, (I still call it a gym, not a box, so I don’t think the brainwashing is complete yet.) There are two trainers at all the classes. We practice the movements several times with empty bars or even PVC for beginners. Both coaches monitor everyone. There are certain movements that I’ve done a ton of times and have just naturally been good at, like the back squat. I still do a back squat with an empty bar with a coach watching only me and my form at least once before I add weight. In addition, both coaches monitor all participants and especially pay attention to beginners and those who are pushing their limits higher. They encourage people to add more weight if they don’t seem to be challenged, but they never push us past our limits. They encourage us to try but also tell us when to stop or when to drop a bar. They also keep the area clear so dropped bars don’t hit other people. Are there other gyms where this isn’t the case? I don’t know, I guess so. But don’t accuse all coaches and all gyms of not monitoring form unless you have been to EVERY gym.

    2) Your simplistic explanation of WOD’s confused me. There are times when an AMRAP or RFT include lifts, but there are also many that do not. One of the “Benchmark” workouts involves only running and pull ups. And while time matters, my coaches have always said that form and technique trump time. If you need to stop and breathe, stop and breathe. The coaches do stop individuals and give them more advice even during timed workouts. And, again, to be clear, sometimes those don’t even include lifting. AND all of this ignores the EMOM (Every Minute On the Minute) exercises. An 8 minute EMOM means a movement is only done 8 times. That’s not uncommon at my gym. I have to imagine it’s not uncommon at other gyms either.

    3) I get the impression that you don’t appreciate the fact that most of us who do Crossfit aren’t college athletes. We don’t have Olympic coaches. We don’t have scholarships to top universities. We’re normal people. And so, if my coach hasn’t been coaching for 20 years and didn’t train some famous athlete before me, that’s ok in my book. I’m not looking to go to the Olympics or the Super Bowl or the World Series or any other such event, so I’m not seeking out the same types of coaches as you. That should be acceptable. If you go to Harvard, and I go to Valencia Community College, we’re both getting an education. You putting mine down only makes you look like a jerk.

    4) I really did not like the “aside” at the end. Again, you lump ALL of us who go to any Crossfit gym/box together to make us seem crazy. It showcases two things. First, your strong bias against not only Crossfit but against the people who do it and their opinions and points of view is almost offensive. You make it clear that if anyone defends Crossfit, you’re going to call them wrong and do so using opinions you’ve based on EXTREMELY limited experiences. Second, it shows once again that you are willing to make broad statements about entire groups of people without ever meeting them. You basically called everyone who does Crossfit brainwashed. We haven’t met (at least I don’t think we have) so I don’t know how you can even claim that about me. I think most people who know me would say that I do not fit the typical Crossfit mold of checking in and posting pictures and PR’s constantly. It’s almost June, I’ve been doing Crossfit since September, and there are still people on my facebook who don’t know I do Crossfit. We can then extrapolate that to say that there are likely many others like me who are not “brainwashed”. Such a statement is nothing but adversarial in nature and completely unnecessary.

    If you left your opinions out of your post, I would have read it more carefully and taken what you said with me to my gym to pay closer attention to my form and direction from my coaches and I would have been more concerned with the things that I think you want people to be concerned about. Instead, I started to tune you out. Your post was offensive at times and relied heavily upon assumptions you’ve made based on limited experience and research. I only hope that someday I can just skip over these kinds of posts rather than spend a long time writing a response that I suspect you won’t approve and to which you probably won’t respond (I know, I saw above that you’re really busy).

  98. David says:

    I am a high schooler who does Crossfit over the summer to stay in shape for lacrosse. This coming summer will be the second. My goal is to maintain my speed and endurance will getting stronger. I agree with some points you make but want to know alternatives. I like having a place to go and a specific workout to do. What would you recommend being a sufficient alternative that yields the same or even better results? Thanks

  99. Graham King says:

    Don’t do CrossFit? Isn’t this you? Kinda looks like CrossFit to me. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IyUmWOWYL_Q#t=82

  100. Levi Hoggard says:

    I’ll start by stating that I am an avid Crossfit follower and have done Crossfit almost exclusively since I started training myself, about 3 years ago.

    I really enjoyed your article, it’s been nice to see someone with true credentials and an argument besides attacks on the unique approach to exercise that Crossfit is.

    I have been asked the same questions that you have addressed in this article but have always been reassured by credentialed professionals such as Crossfit’s token “movement specialist” Kelly Starrett. What is your response to the reassurance that people find through Starrett’s approval?

    I taught myself all the Olympic lifts (I can almost hear the sniggers haha) but have been affirmed in my technique by Collegiate athletes and others that have received much greater training than I have (though, admittedly, not the top tier coaches and experts you reference). I have been able to perform these workouts and seen almost astronomical improvements from when I started in every movement.

    I completely agree with your assessment of the boxes, I often catch myself wincing while watching some of the other/older members lift, and even more embarrassingly, I caught myself slipping into the anger and outright disapproval of your article before I even read it. I DO agree that this is a very dangerous phenomena when peer pressure can overcome the warnings of trained educators and successful athletes themselves.

    At the expense of blabbering on, do you approve of the training methods approached by trainers such as Ben Bergeron of CrossFit New England? He leads his gym in the training methods referenced to by your remark above about Crossfit’s top athletes, including traditional Olympic lifting with the daily WoD.

    It makes me sad to think that Crossfit MAY be the overhyped fad that many claim, however I too have also witnessed the injuries (some life-altering) that have come through it. I try to convince myself that if I continue carefully I’ll get the best of both worlds…

    I look forward to your responses.

  101. Megan says:

    I find it hilarious that you based your entire article off of comments and assertions that have no backing. And it infuriates me that you assume all CrossFit gyms and coaches are alike. First off, some boxes, yes, don’t practice what CrossFit teaches, technique before weight or intensity, but some of us do and hold true to keeping client’s safety as our #1 priority. And some coaches, including myself, have a Kinesiology degree and have done research and have spent countless hours watching in collegiate weight rooms in which you speak so highly of. The thing that’s funny about this is that most of the athletes in those weight rooms are performing Olympic lifts completely incorrect, but of course the strength and conditioning coach only has one goal in mind “lift some heavy crap”… Even if your form is terrible! And yes, some athletic professionals have attended seminars, but so do CrossFit coaches. Many of us have attended US Olympic lifting certs, strength and conditioning seminars, mobility seminars, gymnastics seminars, etc. Why would we do this since, as you think, CrossFit coaches are incompetent? Because we want to better ourselves and improve our knowledge base for our clients, just as I’m sure you would do with Track and Field. So actually many of us CrossFit coaches are actually extremely able and knowledgable to teach movements as complex as a snatch or a clean and jerk. Not just because we went through a weekend certification, but because we have made it a priority in our coaching career to better our knowledge of movements and teaching so that we can better our clients and their movements.

    As for all of your other outrageous accusations, I wish I had as much time as you or I would refute every lie and misconception you portrayed.

    As for everyone who has never tried CrossFit, give it a try before you jump to conclusions because of an article that truly has many of these claims completely exaggerated and is using the minority to portray to majority of the CrossFit boxes.

  102. Lloyd Shaw says:

    CrossFit motto should be…

    ” Jack of all movements, master of none “

  103. Matthew snow says:

    Would you please let me know where you got your quote from Kenneth Jay? I looked around the web for it, and found more people who have used it, but I wasn’t able to find the original interview or article it came from.

  104. Lisa says:

    Until you’ve been to every single gym you can’t make the statement that these articles apply. That’s BS. You haven’t been to my gym. You don’t know my qualifications outside cf of which I have many and I know many crossfit affiliates the same.

    Stupid uninformed article

  105. Temp09 says:

    http://www.t-nation.com/training/crossfit-apology

    Maybe this article will shine a little light

  106. cary says:

    I think this is the appropriate response: https://medium.com/p/45e6c8057640

  107. Stevie Rae Lucas says:

    I just wanted to thank you for writing this article. It’s like you took my words and put them on paper for me. I actually saved it as a bookmark on my phone so that I can just pull it up next time someone asks for my opinion on CF. Bam.

  108. Lloyd Shaw says:

    Dear Erin,

    This is the problem in a nutshell. You come from a place of discipline.

    CrossFit comes from a place of fear and desperation .

    ..of being fat. of not belonging……

    The trainers … are 99% marketers. 1% sports scientist.

    They are desperate to make money. At any cost.

    Lloyd Shaw Ex-Navy WEM

  109. trokspot says:

    Interesting take and I agree to a large extent. I am curious – you mention Insanity (briefly) as having similar pitfalls. I’ve done (most of) Insanity and didn’t like it very well; I often found myself sore in a different way than from sports stuff (I am a longtime athlete and still young).

    I am curious about your thoughts on P90X. That one is a bit different than CF and Insanity in that it targets specific muscle groups and has a clear, defined plan. Thoughts?

  110. AU Pole Vaulter says:

    THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!
    I have argued for years against cross fit. As a collegiate athlete as well, division 1in the Southeastern coference with a team that has national championships to it’s name, we were drilled on proper form to avoid injury and never ever pressed to do more than we could handle. We followed progressive workouts with an end goal of more power, quickness, and strength. Even after 15 years I am able to proudly say I can still do Olympic lifts with the correct form and have some strength left because I built up properly by using a program from educated coaches/trainers and used correct form. As a pole vaulter I cringe when I see cross fitters doing their so called pull ups. There is no control or strength in what they call pull ups. Nothing to gain other than injuries.
    Ask a cross fitter if they can say the same thing in 15 years.
    I couldn’t agree more with Erin. Thank you for finally putting it in words what I’ve been trying to say since this cross fit gimmick started.

  111. k says:

    Something I don’t think was discussed was entering new “boxes” as a “new” person and feeling so overwhelmed by the “cliques”…unfriendly and intimidating groups of people…

  112. This is an inspiration for fat people everywhere! Keep America Fat Ya’ll!!!

  113. Ana says:

    While I agree with some points in this article I also think it is highly opinionated and based on little real experience in the Crossfit arena. Each box really does vary, as does each non-Crossfit gym. I have to say that my first injury weight-training was with a conditioning coach who a bachelor’s in exercise science. With said coach I was pushed passed my limit and got an injury as a result. I wasn’t a newbie to fitness either. Prior and after seeing said coach I did all kinds of sports and different exercise regimens. This was a matter of the coach not being a right fit (notably this was before Crossfit was even heard of). Needless to say Crossfit isn’t necessarily the one one to blame for exercise-induced injuries. In fact, I received three benefits of Crossfit when I was introduced to it last year. I gotta say Crossfit got me into the strongest shape I’ve ever been in my life; even my chiropractor commented on how much stronger I was (he was witness to my poor frame following the effects of 3 different car accidents). Yes, there are some intense Crossfit boxes; that is what a free trial is all about and what someone should take advantage of at any gym, Crossfit or not. Likewise an individual should be careful who they choose to coach them. I’ve witnessed as a personal trainer in a regular gym was texting and generally not paying attention to his trainee, who had obvious poor form. Certainly your article errors in pointing a strong injury finger toward crossfit. Injuries happen in sports, in regular gyms, and in Crossfit. It’s ultimately up to the individual to make a choice in choosing a regimen/gym/PT that fits them and also for them to pay attention to their body, informing a coach prior to the workout if they have injuries to be aware of, or quitting/stopping a movement or workout when things don’t feel right. There’s always a choice.

  114. Ramsey Warner says:

    Hi Erin,
    I don’t know anything about you or your background, but my sister forwarded me your article. Sadly, I think there is a lot of truth to your article. I say sadly, because I loved Crossfit. I started Crossfit in November 2010 and instantly loved it. I weighed 235 and in the first six months I shed 20 lbs and felt the best I had felt in years. I was a high school athlete and after college, dental school, and several years of practice I was pretty out of shape. I love to compete in all aspects of life and fortunately, the first gym I went to had an excellent coach. Early on, I did not experience any injuries and felt that I had a lot of personal attention and very good coaching. He put a huge emphasis on Oly technique and had several extra certifications. A year after starting Crossfit I decided to do the Level 1 trainer certification. I spent my $1000 and a weekend getting certified. The two day class was a good experience, but I was surprised to find people there who had never set foot in any gym (literally obese and unable to do one correct air squat or strict pull-up) leaving having passed the test with certificate in hand. I thought, that’s scary, but that wasn’t me: I bought books on Olympic lifting and exercise physiology and took the small amount of coaching I did for friends very seriously. Fast forward 3 years . . . I have not been able to exercise or even get out of a chair without pain for the last 10 weeks, why?, L5-S1 disc herniation that occurred during the “Open” WOD 14.3:

    Complete as many reps as possible in 8 minutes of:
    135-lb. deadlifts, 10 reps
    15 box jumps, 24-inch
    185-lb. deadlifts, 15 reps
    15 box jumps, 24-inch
    225-lb. deadlifts, 20 reps
    15 box jumps, 24-inch
    275-lb. deadlifts, 25 reps
    15 box jumps, 24-inch
    315-lb. deadlifts, 30 reps
    15 box jumps, 24-inch
    365-lb. deadlifts, 35 reps
    15 box jumps, 24-inch

    Did I use proper technique? Sure as hell I did, until I got to 275lb round then on one of the reps I probably let my lumbar curve falter for a split second. Then searing pain, numbness and tingling in my right leg and into my foot. I thought I’d pulled my hamstring. Kept going to WODS for three weeks, trying to stretch, etc. Turned out after an MRI, I had a badly herniated disc impinging on my L5-S1 nerve distribution. I’m now doing PT, lumbar epidurals, and hopefully never surgery. But I can’t even extend my right leg without pain. Sitting in a car for an hour, even worse. The funny thing is that you can watch the games and see amazing athletes compromise form to get another rep all the time. Now, most of them aren’t 35 years old like me so maybe they have a little more elasticity in their spine, but eventually it will catch up to them. Oh, and Rhabdo, I had that in Feb 2012, was hospitalized for 3 days and nearly went on dialysis when my CPK level was 117,000 units/liter (normal is under 200). That was following the WOD Angie: 100 pullups, 100 pushups, 100 squats, and 100 situps for time. Somehow my fat ass kipped those 100 pullups. Then over the next 72 hours my arms swelled up like Popeye’s and my urine turned the color of Coca-Cola. But, I was called a badass at my gym and by my friends for pushing beyond the limits. If you ask me, I’m just a moron that doesn’t know when to quit when I get in a competitive environment.

    The truth is, it’s hard to find good coaching anywhere, and when you do it’s usually very expensive. Going forward I think I’ll pass on high weight, high intensity, Olympic lifts for time. I think there are some really great Crossfit coaches and WODs, that can help you get fit and not get hurt. But I thought I was a good coach and look where I ended up. Know your limits, and if you still can’t control yourself, get a coach that can.

  115. Tase says:

    Erin,
    I appreciated the article and your expert insight. I think your caution against the high rep Olympic lifts is well founded. I’ve learned the hard way a couple of times and have scaled down the weight when faced with those workouts.
    I do think that is the main point of your criticism, but it represents a pretty small portion of CF workouts. You might be surprised to find many WODs with exercises such as box jumps, double unders, rowing, burpees, wall balls, and body weight exercises which are similar to some of your workouts. Throw in some running intervals, and it does spike the heart rate which makes for a time efficient workout. I won’t bore you with a list of workouts to look at, but they are out there. I get most of mine from Patriot Crossfit.
    My personal experience has been very good. I’m a military guy, and it has been the best way for me to get in better shape for work in limited time during the week. It gets the core work and cardio that I need for my job.
    Coaching varies. I’ve seen good and bad. But there are a lot of trainers out there who do not have the credentials to teach recess at my kid’s preschool. You can find them at Gold’s or similar locations. If I had regular access to a college or pro trainer, I would welcome it in a heartbeat. Instead, I am an amateur student on lifelong fitness.
    Best of luck, and Gig ‘em!

  116. C says:

    Wow, I have to say that this article is just awful. Just because you did a few wods certainly doesn’t make you an expert of ANY sort in regards to Crossfit. I’ve been crossfitting for over 2 years and I’ve never experience anything that you’ve described in your couple of visits to a box. So either you went to the WORST box ever, or you’re embellishing a tad. I’m going with the latter. Crossfit is no more dangerous than any other sport. Your research is certainly lacking.

  117. Steve says:

    http://ifailedfran.com/i-dont-care-if-you-dont-crossfit/

    Interesting points the other way which you apparently failed to recognize. I’m sure there are studies upon studies contradicting your studies as well that you fail to acknowledge. I think you should look at all angles of a fitness regime (and maybe try it for more than three workouts and some sore muscles) before thrashing it in a public forum. You had some valid points here, but they were lost in the self-promotion of yourself and your program in a quiet little educational environment.

    I wonder if you would change your opinion on being physically prepared if you were taken out the educational environment and thrown into the breech when it really mattered what your body could and couldn’t do. Maybe a combat or law enforcement environment. A program that has been adopted by just about every major SpecWar Unit in the world and the majority of Armed Forces, and police departments has to have some validity to it.

    I personally am glad you are fit and probably helping others become that way, but I would stick with that which works for you and perhaps allow people to make their own decision and do their own research (such as exposure) in order to find what works for them.

  118. Craig says:

    Thanks for your opinion, duly noted and discarded!

  119. sam says:

    just another article worth the read. Written by a person actually qualified to respond to this article.

    http://derzfitlife.wordpress.com/2014/05/27/response-to-erin-simmons-why-i-dont-crossfit/

  120. Iron Instinct says:

    Wow…lol. Every single thing you talked about can be refuted by another so called expert but in the end it’s all opinion. I never program a heavy Oly lifts in the conditioning portion of my daily work outs. The weight and reps sceems are always relative to each other the higher the weight the lower the reps but the only time my classes lift heavy is durring the strength portion of the day. There are Bench Mark work outs but as a quality coach I don’t push anybody that I see has poor technique. I coach and teach form and technique constantly along with explanations on why they should move this way or get into this body position. I program specificly so no single lift ,movements or muscle groups are repeated excessively. I’ve been coaching for 2-1/2 years and just opened my own box almost a year ago and have yet to have an injured client. Your whole article is short sided opinion and regergitated opinion and it’s too bad you never had a quality coach or good expirience. For someone who claims to be so knowledgable saying a dead lift or kettle bell have no benifits just shows how partially educated u really are. Check out the article just posted by T Nation “a crossfit apology”. It’s just dad that this article will actually turn people away from CF an bring your blog numbers up.

  121. Sharon says:

    You’re ignorant. This post is stupid. Plz get a life.

  122. Matt Buckley says:

    There are a lot of good points made in here, and this is a very well-written argument, However, your statement “every single thing that I’ve posted in this article refers to EVERY SINGLE GYM THAT FOLLOWS CROSSFIT” is patently untrue.

    The entire scenario noted in your second paragraph is a perfect example of poor coaching. If your form is failing, you need to either slow down, or lighten your weight — every time, no exceptions. The box I’ve regularly attended has always required a weekend of “fundamentals” before anyone is permitted to join in a WOD, and even then, they are monitored for the initial weeks of their first WODs to ensure that their form is good and that they are not using too much weight. They’re also not going to be joining in on every WOD exercise just because the rest of the class is. If they’re not ready for that movement, they’re not doing it.

    There is such a thing as a Crossfit box that holds form in the highest esteem, and does not subscribe to the “faster at all costs” approach. There are certainly issues to address, but the approach of “Crossfit is bad no matter what” feels disingenuous.

  123. Kieran says:

    “There is a sort of “brainwashing” that occurs from the first time a person steps into a box (CrossFit-speak for “gym”) that creates an “us vs. them” mentality. Boxes have attempted to combat the bad reputation of CrossFit by saying that other gyms do bad stuff but their gym is different, their coaches know good form, their gym focuses on safety. This is simply not true and every single thing that I’ve posted in this article refers to EVERY SINGLE GYM THAT FOLLOWS CROSSFIT. There are no exceptions”

    Yeah, they’re the ones creating an “us vs. them” mentality. You’re not doing that at all. Was that aside intentional trolling, or are you a colossal hypocrite?

  124. Sam says:

    I started with a much longer comment then the one you are now reading. I decided my long response would do nothing to change the minds of the people you have already gained control over with this article. You did a great job in providing facts yet leaving out counterarguments. It’s sad knowing people will only know CF based on articles like this. This article is nothing but another CF bashing. I’d hope no one would limit themselves to this one article and would take the time to read these: (there are so many articles out there, read them all)

    http://ifailedfran.com/i-dont-care-if-you-dont-crossfit/

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/eva-m-selhub-md/how-crossfit-saved-this-d_b_5227617.html?&ncid=tweetlnkushpmg00000067

  125. propstjm says:

    For someone with your educational background and acheivements, I find it laughable that you cite Huffinton Post and WebMd. I do understand this is a casual forum, but you are a doctoral candidate.

  126. propstjm says:

    As someone with your educational accomplishments, I find it laughable to cite Huffington Post and WebMd.

  127. etomd1107 says:

    I was also a Division I college athlete. I have a B.S. in exercise physiology and have worked out continually since the age of 14 (I am 49 1/2 now and CrossFit is, *by far*, the best exercise regimen I have ever done, including my training in college.

    I have seen more wasted energy and shitty lifting techniques at “real” workout facilities than I care to mention. You will get far more quality instruction at a legit CrossFit facility than ANY L.A. Fitness, 24 Hour Fitness, etc.

    Regardless, stay active. Whether it be power walking, traditional gym training, running, boot camp, yoga, martial arts…or CrossFit, get off your butt and exercise, eat right and spend less time “educating” me on why the CrossFit training program that has reversed my aging process 20 years is so bad for me, scientific studies and “expert” analysis be damned.

    I have never felt better, even as a 21 year-old D1 college football player. I have far less aches and pains than I did before starting CrossFit 3 1/2 years ago and I go hard 5 days per week. I have better flexibility, cardiovascular and muscular endurance, strength, agility, etcc. than I had decades ago.

    Maybe you should write a bizillion word essay on why one shouldn’t snow ski. Even though millions of people love it there are many, many injuries due to skiing including, but not limited to, broken bones, paralysis, massive head injuries and even death. I can’t wait to read that article!

    If you don’t like CrossFit then don’t do it!!!

  128. Disclaimer: Not an expert, two year CrossFitter.

    The owner (and coaches) of the CrossFit gym I go to, CrossFit South Brooklyn, has/have addressed a few of these topics, including randomness vs. variation (through 8 week macro-cycles – see http://www.insidetheaffiliate.com/blog/2014/2/24/effective-programming-strategies-for-crossfit-affiliates.html), one size not fitting all through leveling (see http://www.insidetheaffiliate.com/blog/2013/12/30/the-benefits-of-leveled-programming.html), and by the owner insisting that the coaches have more training than just the weekend level 1 certificate (a huge problem from what I can tell, as you point out — addressed a bit in http://www.insidetheaffiliate.com/blog/2014/1/27/an-open-letter-to-new-crossfit-coaches.html).

    We also have mobility, gymnastics, endurance, a starting strength program (based on the Rippetoe “Starting Strength” book; the coach was coached by Rippetoe), yoga, and Pilates programs to get people to think beyond “just CrossFit.” We’re also pretty religious about both form and mobility and I’ve seen people been stopped (altogether, not just paused for correction) in the middle of WODs for poor form. I think some of the concerns in this article are valid and I enjoy going to a gym that is thinking about ways to address them.

  129. Shane says:

    Olympic lifts for time is bad? I don’t even….know what to say!

    Isabelle (30 snatches) is not done at heavy weight…..135 lbs for men is not heavy. I have been doing CrossFit just over 1 year now with no injuries, large muscle/endurance/confidence gains. I can. I disagree about high volume training being bad, if you have built a proper strength base and have a coach that wants you to succeed, you will have learned the skills required to complete 30 snatches for time-to continue with that example…

    Sure, it is fine to say.. “CrossFit style of training is wrong”, but the proof is in the elite crossfit athletes. Maybe you should register for the CrossFit open next year and prove what “good” training is. Cant simply say “XXX is bad because it promotes injury”, many things promote injury….like: Football, Baseball, Hockey, powerlifting, Rugby…..do they all train “wrong” too?

    CrossFit athletes train for the sport of CrossFit. They cant be “training wrong” when they are training for their sport.

    Having a bad coach that rushes you into things is another thing….I am just glad I have great coaches with backgrounds in Fitness beyond the CrossFit level 1 course.

  130. Tnatural says:

    Joined Crossfit for a year. Drank the Kool-Aid….it does draw you in. The “coach” basically walked around didnt correct bad form – just started a clock and played loud music. I injured myself twice doing Crossfit. Seperate your strength program from your cardio. Showing someone how to master a Squat in a quick ramp up period is just asking for injury. It’s hard to understand what this article says if you are a crossfiter that thinks you are some supreme athlete because you can do “Fight gone bad” etc. Hopefully the fad will fade when people hear about all the injuries that may come later from these programs. I still do Cardio but I ordered a book called “Starting Strength” which breaks down the main compound lifting moves. I am lifting heavier and safer than I ever did at Crossfit.

  131. balraj gill says:

    holy shit, I put your article up on FB business acct.. oh boy the backlash! Check it out:

    https://www.facebook.com/23SevenSurrey

  132. Your opinion is like saying sex cannot be enjoyed in the missionary position. The athlete is the only person responsible for what they do, how hard or far they push themselves. It is unfortunate that some coaches out there don’t offer alternatives to movements, or scale them properly, but judging a methodology which has made a difference in the lives of a lot of people is rather immature. Since you are a self deemed expert in Olympic Weightlifting, you probably well know that there is more than one way to get the barbell from the ground above your head, there is no right way, it’s highly individualized. From what I can tell about your support of the Spartan Race, I do see hypocrisy in your message. When it comes to lifting heavy weights then, I would really like to see a criticism of Westside Barbell and Louie Simmons’ methods, since you are all knowing. I mean, he believes in the clock and moving a lot of weight in a short period of time. Oh and please discredit Prilepin’s Chart while you’re at it.

  133. Chelle says:

    I’ve never been much of an athlete and have always hated excercise, I’ve attempted several different excercise routines and been a member at numerous gyms, but i always gave up because it wasn’t working and I wasn’t enjoying it. I started crossfit 4 months ago and immediately loved it because I have fun doing it. I understand there are risks of injury involved but there’s always that risk no matter what your doing or where your exercising. I have excellent coaches at my box who are encouraging you, not yelling at you or pushing you. And there always watching your form making sure your doing things correctly. No one is ever forced to add on weights they shouldn’t, instead your told to get your form correct first before adding weight. I’m frustrated because people talk bad about crossfit and how dangerous it is, but honestly it’s not crossfit (or the coaches) fault if you don’t listen to your body and no your own limits. Ive had knee issues my whole life and I know I can’t do some of the things others can but there’s always an alternate thing I can do. For instance I can’t run without my knees hurting so I row instead…box jumps aren’t possible for me so I do step ups. I think some people get hurt because they’re trying to outdo others or aren’t listening to their bodies which isn’t good in any gym/excercise routine…but that’s just my opinion. I love crossfit because it works for me and I’m not there to prove anything except that yes I can do it even if I come in last place.

  134. Head Coach says:

    The CrossFit WOD for today, 5/28/14, (according to CrossFit.com) is 7 sets of 3 split jerks with no mention of weight or time. This would seem to directly refute your assertion that:

    “I can make that generalization because if it is truly CF then it does heavy lifts for high reps and/or time, and that is the wrong way to lift. If you’re not doing that style of workout, it’s not CF”

  135. ed says:

    I am an avid Crossfit athlete, several competitions under my weight belt. I played collegiate sports and live a very active lifestyle, and have a demanding profession as a firefighter. I have had two separate major surgeries as a result of accidents on the job, one on my shoulder and one on my lumbar spine. Returning to work was difficult, and even once I had returned to work, it was questionable if I would be able to continue working as a result of my lumbar injury.

    However, one year ago today I walked in for my first Crossfit wod. A year later I am healthier, stronger, more fit, and have more body awareness than I have ever had in my entire life. People who are so against what Crossfit has to offer, are of the same mind set that raw spinach is bad for you. They use bits and pieces of information and studies that always proves the information that they are usually trying to SELL you.

    There is no denying that Crossfit works. Sport specificity is just that, specific to ONE sport or activity. You never did a deadlift in your life because it isn’t beneficial for track athletes. It does work for the housewife that needs to carry 6 bags of groceries and pick up two kids. Or for the fireman that has to pick up an obese patient at 3am. Or the athlete looking to further their overall fitness.

    Crossfit has prepared my body for the demands of being a fireman, a father, and to live an active and healthy lifestyle. To blame the coaches that you encountered for too much weight or too many reps, is just like the parent who blames the teacher because their kid is lazy or stupid. If you chose a box with bad coaches, that is on you. If you lift more than you can handle, that is on you. If you don’t take the time to learn the complex movements, guess who is responsible for that?

    I wish people like you would just come right out and say you are trying to sell something. Honesty is now about as common as personal accountability.

  136. boo says:

    You’re a bitch

  137. Marcus says:

    While I agree with all of the technical comments in your article, what fascinated me most were the comments pertaining to the culture of CF, which were repeatedly confirmed by many of the criticisms you’ve received here.

    Our Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu school shared space with a CF “box” and while the culture of bjj was inclusive & supportive in every way – honestly some of the most positive men & women I’ve ever known – we were continually amused at how arrogant & “exclusive” the CFers were. It takes incredible stamina, strength, & core fitness to excel at bjj – one of the few combat disciplines where one can train full speed/full strength/full contact without necessarily incurring physical damage – yet the snobby attitude of the CFers made it clear that they respected no other disciplines. Which made for a strange environment because we appreciated their intensity, even though we were training to purposefully learn to tear (others) tendons & ligaments and they were the ones accidentally tearing their own. The cult-like aspect was definitely apparent.

  138. Melissa says:

    this is ridiculous, personal trainers and gyms are losing clients due to crossfit growth. (crossfit has a 100% crossfit growth) this article, in my opinion is to get the crossfit haters to go back to personal trainers and gyms. I had multiple gym memberships and not one of them gave me all I get from my crossfit gym and community. I have introduced myself to many crossfitters, and all have something to bring to the table. I wouldn’t change it. When I would go to a fitness center/gym and talk to the personal trainers there (before I ever went to Crossfit) they all seemed cocky and intimidating and not welcoming. I never felt like I could go up and ask them to help me on my form. At the crossfit gym I ask the trainers all the time to watch my form, and I don’t want to add weight cause I want to get the form down. I don’t think crossfit coaches are here to blame for the athletes bad form, or injury. The athlete has just as much to blame (they all should listen to their bodies) if it hurts or doesn’t feel right DONT DO IT, don’t push it. common sense here people. I always say at crossfit, I am not here to compete with anyone but myself, I want to be able to do this for a lifetime, not for a short time and injure myself.

  139. […] the post, titled “Why I Don’t Do CrossFit,” the exercise enthusiast and former college athlete Erin Simmons shares her experiences with the […]

  140. dave says:

    The end of her story where she writes, “every single thing that I’ve posted in this article refers to EVERY SINGLE GYM THAT FOLLOWS CROSSFIT. There are no exceptions…” tells you everything that you need to know about the writer. In short, anyone that writes “ever single (anything)…, no exceptions” is a babbling idiot.

  141. Sarah says:

    “CrossFit claims that the system is “empirically driven and clinically tested” which insinuates that the methods are scientifically supported.”

    >> *implies, not insinuates

  142. cyell says:

    I’m sorry but I’ve been doing crossfit for about a year, and while I love doing other activities as well, it seems that a LOT of the comments on here are from people who have either never dropped a bit of sweat in a box or are too afraid to try. There are bad coaches, injuries, and problems with every sport. But if your active and what you’re doing is improving every aspect of your life then don’t stop. And no need to knock what others do cause you don’t like it. I will cheer on every person that gets off their ass and moves, whether it’s a track star, dead lifter, or the obese person doing their first 5k. Here is another good response to this article you chose to write.
    Www ifailedfran.com/I-don’t-care-if-you-crossfit

  143. […] the quotation marks… but still. That is the point. For the sake of being fair to my readers here is one of the articles. I have decided to throw my hat in the ring of “those who blog to […]

  144. Jenn says:

    I totally agree when it comes to the importance of proper form to prevent injury, but one could argue that any high intensity sport is potentially dangerous. Plus, not every gym, regardless if it’s CrossFit affiliated or a basic gym, is going to have the best training around. People have to take a little responsibility and do the research to find what’s right for them AND not push themselves past their capabilities.

    To address the other side of the argument, I think Julie Foucher hits the nail on the head. I have to agree with her that I’ve also had more injuries from years of competing at the club and collegiate level than I ever have from three years of CrossFit.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/julie-foucher/crossfit-risks_b_5161112.html

  145. Erin, This is a well written article with lots of valid points. Here is an article that can help people who may want to try crossfit choose the best one for them. It is written by a CrossFit owner that specializes in strength and conditioning, is an expert in adolescent development, a national certified Olympic weightlifting coach, and will be speaking at the NSCA conference in Las Vegas this July. If you are going, I recommend seeking him out.

    http://breakingmuscle.com/crossfit/crossfit-is-crossfit-right-how-to-choose-a-good-crossfit-gym

  146. Papacrossfit says:

    As a 50 year old man who would kick the living hell out of the 35 year old me thanks to crossfit, I couldn’t disagree more with your blanket statement but I guess in trying to sell your product/services you need to bash the competition first. Thanks to crossfit more and more women are seeing the positive effect of lifting real weights many for the first time in their lives. My own daughter was a competitive gymnast and soccer player through high school and college and now she has a competitive outlet doing what she’s always done and around a bunch of other young women without a body image problem because they all have six packs and eat real food. Perhaps its harder and harder to break into the fitness modeling world with all these strong, confident crossfitter’s around and that’s a motivation for you.

  147. Good article, I am a Crossfitter, but understand and respect the critiques. I guess my question is, if CF is detrimental to health, why are so many of my friends and fellow crossfitters in the shape of their life: healthy, stronger and faster then they ever have been. Even those who have spent thousands of dollars on other trainers? Personally, within two months at CF I was running twice as fast and lifting about double what I was at the gym respectively. For those who are conscious of form, and their limits, who can say that what they are doing is bad for them?

  148. Adam says:

    I go to a CrossFit gym myself and love it, I feel like your article has a lot of valid points as well though. I’ve never been convinced that CrossFit is the only way to get fit, if it was we would have had a real problem with developing muscles and conditioning a long time ago. I think that there are a lot of great things about CrossFit, such as an emphasis on a varied approach to fitness, and the dedication to proper eating (not all CrossFitters gasp and moan about whether or not something is Paleo-compatible). On the other hand I agree with you that Olympic and Power lifts should not be set for time. I’m not a fitness expert but when it comes to workouts for time an athlete shouldn’t be doing anything in which form will significantly decrease with the speed, and that does leave the heavy weights out. Let’s be honest, buyer beware. It is up to the athlete joining a gym to investigate the gym’s practice and choose one that is safe and smart. The “box” that I attend doesn’t do any of the crazy stuff that you see in the media, the stuff that you see on the Internet. Olympic lifts and Power lifts are reserved for the skills development of the class, and the WOD involves sprints, burpees, pull-ups, sit-ups, rowing… basically your body weight exercises. I get a great workout and I get stronger. I’ll never be an Olympic contender because that isn’t what I’m training for, and I’ll never be a marathoner, because I’m not training for that either. What I get is a great workout, something entertaining, and strength development. The very first coach that I had never told me once that CrossFitters become the best at everything, just pretty good. Her realistic view shaped how I “shopped” for boxes in the future.

    So what could make CrossFit better, and I assume it would make non-CrossFitters more accepting of it:

    1) Skip the crazy fitness gimmicks, such as the front-squat pistols standing on a balancing ball. That’s going to get someone killed.

    2) Endorse a person-centric training regimen. Each athlete should be able to name their goal, and the coaches should be able to help achieve that goal. Even a simple goal like, “I don’t want to be out of breath after climbing stairs while carrying laundry.” Not everyone has to pick out their target body before beginning any regimen.

    3) Endorse safe lifting practices (separate from #1) with a focus on technique first. Meaning that an athlete shouldn’t be performing 30 power snatches for time with a weight that causes their form to degrade. Someone is going to throw a bar and hit someone, break something, or injure themselves.

    4) Get rid of kipping anything. Kipping pull-ups with the intent to focus on intensity may be OK for the advanced athlete (I honestly don’t know), but until a person has developed the musculature to keep a joint in place during these intense exercises I would argue that it is going to result in injury.

    5) Like any enterprise, hire experts and then listen to their opinion. The boxes that I have attended were staffed by people with Exercise Science degrees, Olympic Level 1 lifting certifications, and qualified personal trainers, in addition to the CrossFit certification (like you, I’m not that impressed with it either).

    Just a thought or two….

  149. […] agree with the recent post by Erin Simmons on some a few […]

  150. […] that addresses haters of CrossFit so please read her article below…  She is referring to this article. And here’s another.But here’s my spin:I never address or respond to […]

  151. luis gonzalez says:

    I’m an avid Crossfitter and while aspects of your article do make since. I think you’re overreaching. ESPECIALLY in stating that all Crossfit workouts are bad. You totally ignored the aspect of “scaling” that is commonly practiced in Crossfit boxes. I’m 57 years old and have been Crossfitting for a year. I train 5 days a week and also mountain bike once or twice a week. Yes admittedly I had to deal with a slight shoulder injury early on due to a lack of mobility. Crossfit is the ONLY fitness program that I’ve been involved in (exception team sports in high school and college) that has strongly promoted pre and post workout stretching and mobility exercises. MOST regular folks do not have access, nor can they afford world class weightlifting instructors,coaches,Kinesiologist or personal trainers. So historically their only option is some lame gym membership where they could care less if you show up or not. Or even worse, you go and you’re left to your on devices to figure out what you’re going to do. I’m the fittest I’ve been in years. I’ve been an avid mountain biker for 20 years and now ride better than I have in over 10 years. I’m can’t speak for boxes in general but I can honestly say our box has great instructors. I hear it all the time. “Focus on the technique, the weight will take care of itself. We train to a cyclical program and document every workout. Yes you an overdo it in Crossfit.
    But you can also overdo it in mountainbiking, running, aerobics and most any other athletic activity.

  152. Tiffany says:

    This post was way too damn long for me to care about reading the whole thing, but I can say from my Crossfit journey over the last year, that this is so far from anything I’ve ever experienced. Talk about a biased, one-sided, shitty excuse of an argument.

  153. Amy McClosky says:

    Crossift is fun. I belonged to a globo gym for 3 years and went twice because it was boring. I accept the risk and plan to continue because it got me off the couch and I found passion for fitness again – in addition to meeting life long friends (also something that never happened at my globo gym). Bottom line – it is a bunch of people who like each other and accept the risk and aren’t sitting on the couch. By the way, I enjoyed your CrossFit video on YouTube. ~ Dr. Amy McClosky

  154. Tim says:

    The GOOD news is Erin, you’re getting people to talk about fitness, so good on ya.

  155. Sarah says:

    I’m not sure what box you visited that you were encouraged to just do crazy lifts with no prep and no thought to form, but I would like to remind you that not every Crossfit box, regardless of your opinion, is the same. I’ve been part of a box for almost a year, and I have seen major changes in my body (for the better), endurance, and ability to do movements I never thought possible (pullups and faster mile times). I was even able to do a half-marathon because of the endurance I gained by doing Crossfit 4-5 times per week. I can’t speak for every box, nor will I generalize (there’s enough of that going on here), but I will say that the box I am part of has a wonderful coaching staff that all have degrees in Exercise Science and/or Kinesiology or they are working on their degrees and have been training for years. We are never encouraged to sacrifice form for the sake of “better times”; in fact, if a coach notices our form faltering, we are encouraged to slow down and either lower our weight so we can get the form right or rest. We always do movement prep and warm-ups before any workouts or WOD’s, especially for OLY class or benchmark WOD’s (Helen, Jackie, Fran, etc.). Our bodies don’t ever get used to the same thing, because nothing is the same from day to day…one day we might focus more on specific movements to get better and stronger, then one day we may do a WOD with more running and endurance-focus. So our bodies are constantly using different muscle groups, which make us better. We also do cool downs and stretching after each workout, and we never leave a WOD until everyone is finished. That may be “cult-ish” to some, but to others, it’s called encouraging and supportive….none of which you will find if you just workout on your own. Our coaches also would never encourage someone who has had an injury to push themselves or to hurt themselves just for the sake of a WOD, and there are always modifiers for each movement if someone can’t do that particular movement for some reason (i.e rowing instead of running, ring rows instead of pull-ups, etc.). So if you’d like to talk about the dangers you faced at a particular box, that would be much more helpful to warn people than to generalize an entire type of workout. People have also died from doing Yoga improperly, but you don’t hear anyone raging about how Yoga is stupid. If you don’t listen to your own body, listen to bad coaching, or act careless with your own body, then it’s not the coaching staff or gym’s fault…we each need to listen to our own body and what it is saying. If your body says, “stop” then you stop and rest, regardless of if you are in a Yoga class, a spinning class, a Crossfit Wod, or running a race. We each need to pay attention to our own bodies.

  156. Mark says:

    I find it odd that I found an old “workout of the week” of your on this website and it was VERY similar to a crossfit workout which included power cleans and push press for SPEED!! I commented on that and it was waiting moderation. Now, I try going to that page today and it’s been taken down. Why would you take it down? Did you once believe in this method? I’m pretty sure you posted this workout after all your education so it’s not your education that taught you to disagree with this method. You’re just jumping on the I hate CrossFit bandwagon. Seems a little hypocritical to me.

  157. Tim says:

    Let’s have a reality check please.

    70% of runners will experience an injury. Running can destroy your joints (knees, hips, ankles) not too mention your feet.

    Source: http://lifestyle.xin.msn.com/en/health/5-surprising-running-statistics-1

    Cycling can get you killed, 726 cyclist were killed in 2012 in the US.

    Source: http://www.pedbikeinfo.org/data/factsheet_crash.cfm

    Gym injuries dwarf most all other fitness related accidents:

    According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the following injury statistics occurred in 2009:

    * 1500 emergency room visits resulting from equipment related
    mishaps in gyms

    * 50,000 emergency room visits from home exercise equipment
    incidents including treadmill falls, exercise ball falls, elastic stretch
    band hits to face, and dropping free weights on feet.

    * Treadmills are the number one cause of equipment related injuries
    with 575 occurrences of falling off, tripping over, and tripping on.

    * Weight machines and free weights caused 224 injuries.

    * Common gym equipment related injuries include broken ankles,
    fractured arms, fractured legs, and fingertip amputations.

    Source: http://www.sadlersports.com/blog/thousands-injured-in-gyms-and-at-home-in-pursuit-of-fitness/

    Let’s understand something folks, Crossfit is both a sport and physical training system. It does not produce anymore injuries consistent with contact sports, and non-contact sports such as basketball, baseball, skiing, volleyball, etc.

    I have one Golden Rule in my life, only I am in charge of my physical health–period. I’m 50 years old this year and have been doing CF for 18 months. Not since being in the Army in my 20s have I been in this great of shape. And trust me, we did training that I believe was intended to hurt you back then (somewhat joking).

    Have I been injured in CF? Yep, sure have been. BUT, it was either at the point where I thought I could do more, but my body said–nope, you’re done, or if I did something incorrectly because I got lazy on with my form. It was certainly not because some CF coach was pushing me to do more or telling me I had to follow their prescribed format.

    Have I ever been hurt in the gym, running, playing basketball, a friendly game of “touch” football or racquetball? Heck yes! Too numerous to count. And in all physical fitness forums outside of CF I’ve been hurt a lot worse with more prolonged injuries.

    Bottom-line: if you want to be like sheep and follow everyone else trying to tell you what’s not good for you or what is good for you when it comes to physical training, then I supposed it’s a foregone conclusion for you–you are a sheep.

    Baa!

    Here’s a thought; be your own physical fitness advocate! Hey, and guess what? Crossfit may not be right for you! Of course staying on the couch is probably not either.

  158. As a fitness professional, I could not have written this better myself. You say what all of us non-crossfit fitness professionals think but are too afraid to share because we are all trying to be professional and don’t want to look like we are bashing others’ fitness regimes. I totally support you Erin.

  159. Roman Lombardi says:

    I like crossfit…It doesn’t bother me that you don’t crossfit…it’s like being tattooed…I am always amazed at how people are bothered by my tattoos, but I’m not bother by the fact that they don’t have them…

  160. Matt says:

    http://derzfitlife.wordpress.com/2014/05/27/response-to-erin-simmons-why-i-dont-crossfit/

    Also this one. Also not spam. I like this one because it addresses the Specificity issue. The author, being a high level athlete, has spent the majority of her training time with a goal exercise in mind whether it be running and 800, jumping a high bar, or whatever it is that she (any athlete really) has in mind. Crossfit prepares for the unknown and knowable, do I think I will ever have to snatch 30 grocery bags that magically weight 135 lbs over my head any time soon? No, but during a hard days work rebuilding my house, I could feasibly see myself doing something similar. That is what I would be (better) prepared for, in fact I was able to complete a home improvement job just this past weekend solely because I was able to SAFELY dead lift as much as I can.

    We normal people not blessed with the ability to run around in a circle faster than, or dunk a basketball over, or clean and jerk more than 99.99999% of people need to be as well prepared as we can for our collective life experiences, whatever they may be. Crossfit does that really well especially when you understand your own limits and recognize that there will be times where you need to lower the weight, or scale the reps or go a little slower. The idea being that you’ll be a little bit better the next time, regardless of what the work was.

    Whether a set amount of work, be it 30 clean and jerks, or 40 grocery bag lifts, takes you an hour or a minute, the idea behind Crossfit, is that you’ll be a little better at doing it the next time, by doing the work as fast as you can safely do. Functional fitness, for life.

  161. Johnny says:

    I ran track 1 time and pulled a hamstring so it’s very dangerous and not safe. So please don’t run track if you don’t wanna get hurt.
    See what I did there? I made a generalization about something after doing it only it a couple times and not having any knowledge about it at all

  162. jorge says:

    Dear Erin,
    I think this guy knows a thing or two about working with athletes.

    http://www.t-nation.com/training/crossfit-apology

  163. Thanks, this is really interesting. I don’t really do Crossfit, but my wife has a friend who is does Crossfit and who has agreed to do personal training sessions based on the stuff she does in CF (I guess these are sort of watered down WOD’s?). Anyway, I’ve been kind of out of shape recently, but I’ve played a lot of different sports and done a lot of training in my life (climbing, lacrosse, rugby, basketball, power yoga, etc.) and have seen the way a lot of different people get stronger. To me, it has always seemed integral to stretch, so I got pretty cautious when I realized this trainer wasn’t really having us stretch very much beforehand. I made some comments about it, and she changed it. But it started to dawn on me that this woman was not any kind of fitness professional, she simply did a lot of Crossfit. She had us do “Crossfit sit-ups” which as far as I can tell consist of just throwing your body up using your arms. It’s unclear to me how this is really working out my abs very much at all. It’s also jerking my shoulders and neck, over and over. There were just a lot of warning signs to me that maybe this wasn’t the best thing to be doing. Anyway, we’ve stopped training with her, and I don’t think I’d really ever want to do Crossfit. As you say, high reps (like 100 squats or something, only stopping when you become exhausted) with high weight seems like a pretty bad idea, and the only way I think you could make people think it’s a good idea IS by yelling at them and brainwashing them.

  164. Karina Fisher says:

    With your last paragraph, you basically imply anyone who does Crossfit WILL get hurt because you believe it is unsafe. “… if you do the WODs, it is unsafe…” Millions of people enjoy Crossfit, have become healthier and have not, and will not, gotten hurt. To make a statement saying every Crossfit gym is unsafe, especially when you haven’t visited many, makes me question all your opinions in this article. Would have liked to see more evidence/valid studies to back up your many questionable statements.

  165. Matt says:

    http://ifailedfran.com/i-dont-care-if-you-dont-crossfit/

    This is not spam, he’s just way more articulate than I am.

  166. Brian says:

    Ok first of all validating my response: I am a Licensed Athletic Trainer, for 18 years, I was NSCA – CSCS for 13 years, I have the NASM-PES 7 years, and recently just passed the Crossfit Level 1 cert. I work as Head Athletic Trainer at a college.
    I have a vast experience with many athletes and weekend warriors. Like anything it all comes down to the coaches and just like any other profession there are great, good and bad. BTW Crossfit does not teach poor form or go faster in spite of poor form. They actually teach learning and performing the movements correctly before going faster but you wouldn’t know this because you are have been coached poorly and have not attended a course. I have used this model with multiple sports teams with better success than anything else. It is not all Olympic heavy lifts either which again shows your lack of knowledge on the subject. Many of the WODs are plain body weight movements no weight added. So maybe you should find a better Crossfit gym or coach and really learn what it’s about because you really don’t know what you are talking about. I have been coaching and using Crossfit model for over 5 years and I have never injured an athlete and in fact I use it as their progress back into any type of strength and conditioning program following injury with great success.

  167. Chris says:

    Very good article. I am a former collegiate athlete (hurdler) and I have competed in multiple national and international competitions. The idea that random, high intensity, high volume workouts is going to make you a better athlete is ridiculous. Not only is every person’s body different as Erin noted, but their goals are very different as well. Having spent a lot of weightroom time with athletes from gymnastics, football, basketball, track, baseball, softball, volleyball, and even golf, the workouts are extremely different–for each team, team subset (eg sprinters, throwers, jumpers, distance runners) and each athlete, A random cookie-cutter workout will never see long term performance gains.

    Finally, as a hurdler in track and field many of our workouts involved very technical skills done very quickly. That’s what hurdling is. It was always a challenge to appropriately combine power and explosiveness with proper form and finesse. Because of this we always did our hurdling first while we were fresh. NEVER directly after our lifting or running workout because that was how people got hurt. We got hurt enough when we were fresh, there was no way in hell we were going to work on hurdles when our bodies were fatigued. It was the same with the jumpers and the throwers. So yes, CF-ers, in my opinion and the opinions of all my coaches, are asking to get injured. Please take the time to determine your fitness goals and find a trainer/coach/workout program that takes your body and goals into account.

  168. Jenn Burns says:

    it seems odd to me that 90% of your comments on here are positive. i’d really like to see your inbox and read the ones you have rejected or are still awaiting approval….

  169. Kevin G. says:

    You do have one statement in your article that is glaringly wrong. ” No entity of professional athletics promotes CrossFit.”

    Check out – http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304500404579129521880382800

    A Super Bowl winning coach certainly qualifies as professional. He also includes crossfit workouts into the Saints Training.

    http://www.nola.com/saints/index.ssf/2013/05/sean_payton_brought_back_high-.html

    I also saw in one of your replies to a comment that many athletes open gyms and become trainers. Some of them also happen to have opened Crossfit gyms. Sweeping statements never really work.

    Every sport comes with risk of injury and there are good and bad trainers and coaches in every field. I’ve been doing Crossfit for a year now and have seen significant improvements in strength and endurance. I also have not had any injuries. I listen to my body and focus more on technique than pushing heavy weights in WODs. I have never had a coach yell at me for it. Maybe I’m lucky.

    Oh and on Rhabdomyolysis, the are many causes for the condition and there are even people that are more prone to it than others. So probably the best advice is the whole “consult a physician before beginning any new exercise program.”

    While I am certainly not anywhere near the athlete you are and have been, I did play collegiate sports and have a few marathons and countless half marathons under my belt. So I am not really one of those that wasn’t doing anything before starting crossfit.

    While Crossfit certainly isn’t for everyone, it continues to work for some, including me.

  170. Diane says:

    First, yes we do a lot of reps compare to bodybuilders and powerlifters, but we are def not performing those movements with a high weight; when the reps exceed 30, the Rx weights for ladies are usually 55lbs/65lbs for snatches, 95lbs for clean and jerks and 135/155 for deadlifts. I am surprised that you found these weights heavy even though you said you are at such a high level of fitness. We are not asking ppl to deadlift 500lbs for 50 reps for time, THAT is being unhealthy and THAT will cause injuries. Second, We are not pushing people to their absolute limits, we tell them all the time that they can scale the weights, the movements depending on their fitness level, and that they should take breaks if they need to. The journey of fitness is not supposed to be comfortable, we have to work hard to get stronger and faster. Third, you said that CF is dangerous but what about MMA, football and even bodybuilding? I assume getting your shins and elbows kicked is healthy? Getting your face punched or a concussion is better than being sore the next day?? And letting your body dehydrate for 2 days, not being able to eat enough due to a bikini show is good for your body? I’ve seen multiple cases that bodybuilders faint at the gym because of that. Following your logic, many sports out there are dangerous then. CF is as hard as it looks, I am not surprised at all that even people have athletic backgrounds find it challenging, it takes time to get used to a new sport, you can’t simply say it causes injuries because you feel pain the next day.
    I suggest you to take a look at CF games athletes, many of them have been to the games several years in a row, they train extremely hard multiple times a day and yet you don’t hear them proning to injuries every second day. You seem to consider yourself as a top athlete, but I doubt you would be even half as fit as those CF game competitors. Lastly, I do agree that an educated coach is important and CF isn’t the best at providing knowledgeable coaches but it is a new growing sport so it will take time for coaches become experienced at what they do. Thank you for your patience.

  171. Trainforlife says:

    Fitness is like Art or Nutrition. Using the nutrition analogy I think you will get my point. Nobody has the monopoly of doing 100% right and claiming that the others are wrong. In nutrition you have countless diets which are backed up that researchers, scientists but having a look at the general population out there we can doubt. If traditional ways of training backed up by science were so efficient, Crossfit would not exist in the first place. The best thing about Crossfit is that it had iniated a discussion. Why people stopped training? Why people join Crossfit gyms? …

  172. Ryan says:

    Let me see if I understand you: 1) you had a bad experience at a crossfit box, 2) all crossfit boxes are the same (you cannot prove this) 3) I am a collegiate athlete and I know what I’m talking about, 4) my track coach doesn’t subscribe to crossfit 5) therefore crossfit is not safe or good for you oh and 6) if you disagree with me you are brainwashed.

    Laughable. Your arguments are so flawed and unsound, I don’t care if you love or hate crossfit, anyone with an ounce of logic should be able to see through this biased opinion.

    Do you have an answer as to why the entire New Orleans Saints team uses crossfit to supplement their training? CrossFit has gained immense popularity among military and law enforcement personnel; it has replaced or is used to augment traditional military physical training in many units. Why is my experience with crossfit so drastically opposite from yours if all boxes and coaches are the same?

    You say, “CF workouts will break your body down because of the methods they use: high rep, high weight, little recovery.” First of all, heavy is a relative term. I am told all the time to scale the reps, scale the weight. The only way you get hurt doing crossfit is if you don’t check your ego at the door and you don’t listen to your body. There are many ways to modify and scale a crossfit WOD and a good crossfit coach will show you how.

  173. Tom says:

    I like your comment at the end. The unequivocal classification of every single CrossFit gym. Little do you know that the gym I go to has hired on certified strength coaches from the local university to help with programing and training (staff and members).
    Just remember, only a Sith deals in absolutes.

  174. Fermin R says:

    People get hurt because of improper technique and unhealthy meals…. Your trainer should make sure you are doing an exercise the right way .. if a trainer does not do this then he/she is no trainer at all .. if you are not doing Crossfit workouts with proper technique then you are prone to injury..if you’re not eating well you won’t see great gains

  175. Tess Goodman says:

    First of all, I want to say that I sincerely appreciate your tone throughout this article. As an avid CrossFitter, I would usually take offense to these types of articles. This is honestly the only one that I have ever responded to, due to the fact that I usually see them as almost threatening rather than collected, well-thought out pieces debating an increasingly popular sport, so for that I commend and thank you. With that being said, I truly hurt in hearing the mentality that some people have toward this sport. As you shared your own anecdote, I would like to share mine. I’m a high schooler, and found CrossFit my Freshman year. I was horrifically unhealthy in every possible way for a year before I started, as I developed a very unhealthy body image at 14. So as not to get into the dramatic sob story of my eating disorder, I’ll just say I weighed a svelte 93 pounds at 5’7, and allow you to make your own conclusions. My brother was deployed in Afghanistan when I got an email from him in January 2012. He said that when he got back, that he was going to start this thing called CrossFit, and asked if I wanted to do it with him to get in really good shape. Knowing almost nothing about it, and thinking it would simply help me lose weight, I agreed and went in for my first class. I immediately fell in love with the sport and everything that it implied. Anyone who is/has been an anorexic can relate to the fact that it takes something special to snap you out of that mindset, and CrossFit did that for me. A lot of my eating disorder derived from the pressures of school and athletic girls, something I never was, and always wanted to be, and CrossFit allowed me to be that person, at least inside the box. The only friends I’ve ever had are at least 4 years older than me, but I relate to them in so many ways, and they help me make decisions based on their prior life choices. So in conclusion, in the community aspect, it’s hard not to love CrossFit. I know that’s not your argument, but when you look at something unbiased, you want to look at the whole thing. Also, when you mentioned that people suffer through WODs, and that we’re all fellow sufferers, I can honestly say I’ve never experienced that. I don’t see my friends as fellow sufferers mostly because, in my 2 years of CrossFit, I’ve never seen someone continue the WOD if they got hurt, and I can only think of 2 times that anyone has ever gotten hurt at all at any box I’ve ever personally been at. Of course, I’ve seen what CrossFit can do to the body if bad form is utilized, but having had a very positive experience with CrossFit, I simply cannot agree with some of what you’ve said. I’m not here to debate , but rather make my voice heard, and have the positivity in CrossFit mentioned along with the negative. Thank you for taking this into consideration!

  176. Steve says:

    For those of us that are not elite athletes, work 9-5 jobs monday-friday and that think going to a globo-gym by ourselves is boring, who are looking to improve our fitness – what would you suggest as an alternative to Crossfit?

    I agree with a lot of the things you say about Crossfit (weekend certifications, workouts for time with movements where form is important,etc), but at the same time I think Crossfit has really opened up the idea of free weights and other types of exercises besides the standard jogging/machine weights that ends up getting boring to me that I really enjoy.

    I like the challenge of all different exercises that I can’t currently do. I do scaled versions with the hope that I’ll get stronger at some point and move to the next scaled version and maybe even do the actual movement someday.

    It helps drive me to come back the next day with the same enthusiasm I had 6 months or a year ago. I put the responsibility on myself to watch my form, not to over-do something, etc. but I do admit sometimes that doesn’t always happen.

    I’d be happy to try something else but there aren’t a whole lot of alternatives that I know about.

  177. Sher says:

    Cannot agree more! As a CPT and running coach, my workouts are all functional and movement-based. Any client I trained that had done a CF workout before working with me were the tightest, most inflexible and injury-prone people I’d worked with. They were so worried about performing the reps as fast as possible that they wouldn’t get a full ROM, thus making the workout useless and I had to correct them constantly. The general pop does not want or need to look like or be Olympic athletes and lifters. They really just want to be able to look and feel better, be able to play and run around with their kids and perform ADLs without pain. It’s frustrating when you come across so much of this CF mentality. Thanks for writing this and explaining it well!

  178. Brian says:

    Great read, but I have to contest some of the ideals here. For one, I recently started CrossFit for the exact reasons you mentioned I should not, to get in shape, loose weight and gain strength. I suppose some boxes are very different than the others. I have a heavy weight training background and competitive sports (think safety football and middy lacrosse with a side of defense when needed). Through my 30’s, I slowed down, stopped playing sports, plumped up and lost the energy level I want to have. I tried cardio at the gym crossed with weights. I tried all sorts of stuff, even a personal trainer, but found the results very slow, if at all reasonable.

    Let me first agree with you. I worked out at a CrossFit-LIKE guy (didn’t have the CF franchise) and yes, the trainers here were a bit more hard core, pushing me to the point of where I wound up hurt. I knew it was too much too quickly and that I was over training, but felt that I could trust the coaches. Too much of a ra-ra environment for me personally and it was a bit of a cult. I stopped going there, although I was getting amazing results and loved feeling my power and energy return, it was too much too fast and the coaches didn’t want to hear about your limitations… So, as I healed from a dead lift gone wrong, I once again plumped up and felt terrible….

    An actual CrossFit just opened in my neighborhood and I bought a Groupon to try it out. I met the coaches, the CrossFitters and felt very comfortable here. about 50/50 men and women. Some in amazing shape, and other looking to improve slowly like myself. Some morbidly obese looking to save their lives I suppose. I discussed why I wanted to come there and they took me very seriously. I told them about my injury and they never push me to “get one more or to go faster”….. The coaches are superb and highly focused on the right way! They watch and work with each person individually as they “on-ramp”, keeping a close watch on form and weight management and ensure that each person (as many as possible), have a positive experience. I’m there to work out with a group lead by people I trust, and I found it.

    You’ll find that each box is different, just like each personal trainer, nutritionist, diet and workout plan…. Nobody or no program is a fit or right for everyone. Folks need to look at what drives them, what they need, what they can afford and of course, how they won’t wind up hurt when all we want is to be better….

    I’m doing CrossFit right now, and it’s changing my life in amazing ways (14lbs down in 8-weeks, power and energy up, lifts coming back, great group of new friends, a wonderful addition to an already strong community)…..

  179. Lisa says:

    So what you’re saying is that going to a gym and lifting weights (incorrectly) is safe? That you don’t get hurt or sore doing that? I have been doing CF for a year and a half now and have managed not to hurt myself, and have never been told to lift more then I am capable of, or to go faster. I am over 50 years old and am in the best shape of my life…just ask my husband :). I understand where you’re coming from, but really, people NEED to be a bit smarter about their own bodies and not do what they are incapable of. CF isn’t about getting big muscle it’s about be fit and taking care of the body you have been given…at least that’s how it works at the Box I go to. So please don’t lump all CF into one article because it just isn’t the way it is.

  180. R. Maddox says:

    What happen, your college boyfriend dump you then start a crossfit gym? We’re you not cool enough to join? Whatever it was, there is a tremendous amount of personal emotion tied to this piece and it’s mostly pretty much opinionated garbage spouted off as facts.

    I find it even more hilarious that under your “pictures” section, there’s a small article post that looks surprisingly similar to a “WOD” that you are encouraging people to try.

    I’m not saying people don’t do crossfit wrong, and people don’t do incredibly stupid things. However I hate to break it to you, there are thousands, millions probably, of videos on you tube of everything from track runners, power lifters, and even athletes, doing incredibly stupid things and hurting themselves.

    Cross fit is just getting singled out because it is new. I use a very simple test to determine if crossfire is healthy or not, and if all these cross fit haters, including you are just nut jobs… And it’s this, google Rich Froning. That’s all that needs to be said, go talk shit to him, tell him the system is flawed, then go back to whatever planet fitness your stumbled out of, the real world doesn’t want you advice or opinions.

  181. Thad says:

    I would like to start off by saying that I have been competing in Crossfit for about a year now and train at a local affiliate. There were a lot of valid points made in this article and I commend you for your passion for fitness! I do however have to disagree with that comment that every single Crossfit gym is a danger to athletes because of the high weight, high rep, low recover oly lifts. The reason I disagree is because I have never done high weight (which I am assuming you mean 85%+ of your 1RM), high reps (10+ reps), low recovery (as fast as possible), and the only time I have done super high reps (but really light) is during competition. I try to compare it to other fitness events, like lets say an iron man race. Now, I have never done one of these before, but I cannot imagine that someone training for an ironman race would be running the full race in training, or running, swimming, and biking high mileage in the same training session. However, they work on improving the individual aspects of the race at high mileage, or maybe a combination of the three at a lower volume. Same with Crossfit (at least at my gym). We training low reps (1-3), high weight oly lifts, and MAYBE every once in a while, we will have a workout that involves low weight (75-135lbs), high reps (5-15) reps of an oly movement, but if our trainer sees bad form, we are instantly told to drop the weight. The only time we are instructed to go all out is at a competition, which is the same advice I have gotten from coaches in other sports I have played.

    Now, when it comes to the fact that a person can train at a Crossfit gym with just a weekend certification, I agree with you that this is illogical (I have gone to the level one cert). Now tat being said, I would NEVER allow myself to be trained in Crossfit by someone that only have a weekend cert. I did a lot of research in choosing my gym, and I decided to go to a gym where one of the trainers is a former D1 athlete as well as 4 times regionals competitor, and the owner/head coach has 15+ years of Olympic lifting experience. If someone is ignorant enough to go to a gym where they do Fran, Isabelle, and Grace in one week after a quick 5 minute tutorial, then unfortunately, I blame the client as much as the crappy coaching.

    All in all, I enjoyed reading your article. You seem very informed on the topic of fitness and I look forward to reading more from you. Good luck in all your athletic endeavors!

  182. Ms. Simmons- Many of your above contentions have merit: CF Certifications are too easy to get. There is bad coaching. There are movement that have a high learning curve, a high risk to reward ratio, and are often performed incorrectly. And I’m sorry for your unpleasant experiences.

    Your last paragraph I would disagree with. There is no broader brush than the phrase “there are no exceptions”, and in assessing the application of CrossFit, the more one generalizes, the less accurate one is. In my case, I run a small affiliate with a membership that tends towards older, likely because I am older myself. We certainly do our share of metcons (the high rep lifting that you specifically object to) but members are encouraged to prioritize their ability to come back the next day (frequency) ahead of squeezing every last ounce out of their efforts (intensity). This approach has served to keep our injuries down, although by no means are we injury free. That said, my years as an athlete and subsequently as a personal trainer were also not free of injury.

    I get the sense that you would like my approach more than you’d like most CrossFits, although still you’d object to a fair amount that we do. This likely stems from a bias that runs the length of your piece and begs the question of what’s the difference between “athletic” and “fit”? This is a question I’ve asked often enough and the best answer I can come up with is that athleticism has a little bit more to do with unconscious processes (balance, timing, accuracy) and fitness a little more to do with conscious applications (mental fortitude, “mapping” your efforts etc). Athletic is little more “nature” Fitness a little more “nurture” of course, with a great deal of overlap.

    You reference to national champion track athletes who “never” asked you to perform high rep lifting. This is no surprise to anyone versed in the goal of CrossFit which is to improve work capacity across all time frames and movement types. Paraphrased and dumbed down: to get better at doing things. What kind of things? ALL kinds of things. A generalist. A- at everything, acknowledging that to be such will make you A+ at nothing.

    Track athletes (aside from decathletes/Heptathletes) are the ultimate specialists. Their efforts would have very little to gain from being A- at anything other than their event. The CrossFit metcon prescription would be ill-suited to the specialist. The fact that said athletes are “national champions” does not bolster your argument, it bolsters mine. These are national champion specialists.

    CrossFit’s main demographic is far removed from world class specialists, and I would argue that the training of a FSU 110m Hurdler or a Tour de France winner or a Olympic medalist in the clean and jerk has much less practical transfer to the demands of the recreational athlete/soccer mom/health enthusiast than does a typical (well applied) CrossFit workout, which will, almost always draw from a greater number of fitness attributes than the specialists will.

    I am the first to say that CrossFit is not the only means to the end. there are many valid ways to get fit, healthy and more athletic. But your across the board dismissal of CrossFit and the generalizations and misunderstanding therein are flawed.

    Respectfully,
    Brock Wilson

  183. […] Alrighty, now let’s have some fun. Here are some of my favorite quotes with a little insight into each (Here’s The Original Post): […]

  184. Ryan J says:

    In your ‘Why I don’t do Crossfit”, I agree with cross fit, it is a joke but how can you never have done deadlifts, esp. as a college athlete?I’m sure you’ve received some questions about this… But to say they are dangerous is hilarious! Every, I mean every elite athlete I know or come across does deadlifts or some variation of them… they are in fact THE NUMBER ONE LIFT, with squats a close second, for developing overall strength…

  185. A Chomyak says:

    I tend to do all my excercise at home and while I was recently on vacation and while I was working out at the resort gym I could immediately spot cross fitters. I could not agree more, because the telltale sign of them was their form (terrible). My wife and I are beach body representatives and I wanted to get your take on their workout programs? I noticed you mentioned Insanity and wanted to know do you feel that way about the program singularly, or for circuit training as a whole? What about things like p90x? I really only started working out because of these programs and admittedly do not have much of a knowledge base beyond the companies programs. I have lost over 60lbs doing these and feel like they are safe to do as long as you listen to the trainers instruction, but again I would like to hear what someone qualified to speak on the subject of fitness has to think.

  186. Andrew says:

    I agree with a lot of what is said here, but I think you are leaving out one major point – Crossfit is not intended for, and is unsafe, for amateur athletes/lifters who have not mastered the form of all the exercises you mentioned; however, Crossfit’s original purpose was to give these “elite” athletes a chance to compete with each other while increasing their fitness. I agree that there are tons of people who do Crossfit today who are ill-prepared and are likely to get injured, but for the athletes who know the form and are confident in doing heavy weight or high reps on these lifts, I think Crossfit is great for them.You also mentioned doing heavy Olympic lifts for time – this does go against the norm, but once again, the athletes who have mastered the form of a lift have that muscle memory and feel confident in performing their sets/reps. There is however the chance of injury when conducting the lifts, just like in any sport… I think Crossfit is great in certain circumstances, but the public has been misguided as to how it should be used.

  187. Amazing blog!! This is what I’ve been saying for years when I’m asked about Crossfit. I studied undergrad and grad in sports medicine, worked in the field of athletic training, strength & conditioning and fitness for over 17 years and continue to educate myself to learn the best ways to train my athletes/clients. Crossfitters tend to be very elitist and believe there is no other way, but my athlete/clients crush them in competition every time unless it’s a WOD…lol. Thank you for this great tool. I’ve had several resources, including some that you have mentioned, to issue to others when I’m asked about Crossfit. I am bookmarking your article and will simple send them to your blog because it as spot on. Thanks and God bless!

  188. Giselle Bell says:

    “And that’s when I started to worry. A few months later, a guy I was seeing tried to convince me to try CF again and I did a workout with him. He was pretty knowledgeable of form, but the workout we did involved thrusters, burpees, and kettle bell swings as fast as you could possibly go. I should have known better that the thruster combination of cleans and push press shouldn’t be done for speed/time, but I did it anyway.”

    ^ you shouldn’t have, not after 2 months off. You should have scaled the workout and taken it easy.

  189. SmithKr says:

    Is this you in a crossfit gym????

  190. aimee says:

    just wondering what your actual health and fitness qualifications are? i see you are an assistant coach and an athlete.. is that it?

  191. Rob Anderson says:

    Found myself agreeing with you more and more throughout this. As an S&C coach having spent 5 years (3 year BSc, 2 Year MSc plus 2 years of PT prior) gaining the knowledge and practical experience to train people in a safe, effective and scientifically proven manner using progressive and planned methods. I find it staggering that a 2 day course can ” effectively teach” you weightlifting, powerlifting, gymnastics and athletics. I have competed in weightlifting for 3 years and my level 1 weightlifting course was 2 days alone. It simply doesn’t add up. Add to that the fact the brand of crossfit and it’s immense pulling power with Reebok and you have the reason so many “boxes” are open. Money. If I wanted to make more money I would open a box, plain and simple. However I want to train top class athletes, this has taken me the best part of 6-7 years, numerous unpaid internships and many varying qualifications.

  192. Taylor says:

    It is very obvious that you (and many who’ve jumped on the crossfit bandwagon) have no idea what crossfit was created for which is military personnel and the like. Congratulations I’m very glad you’ve chosen to keep yourself in shape and play sports but thanks to my crossfit ‘never quit’ attitude (as well as a hell of a lot of military training, which includes crossfit) I am a thousand percent positive that if it came to it down range I could carry my battle buddy home and you could not. So please, on behalf of everyone who knows what crossfit actually is (and no that does not include 9 to 5 desk job guy who does “crossfit” to “get in shape”), this is not what right looks like.

  193. Ryan says:

    Hello, Interesting article! I’m a member at a local box and will actually be competing in my first competition this summer. You made some great points but i have to disagree with a few. 100 percent of the members at our gym are not allowed to use a unloaded bar until they have the form down with a PBC pipe. We always have a warm up and a cool down involving stretching and mobility. Our coaches have experience in college sports and body building and i trust both of them to the point. If our forms break down mid wod they tell us to strip the weight and never have us compromise form. Every wod isnt involving heavy weight with olympic lifts. I do think its questionable that a person can get certified in a weekend but i trust my coaches because they have been doing these movements all their lives through other sports. I didnt understand but do you believe that all boxs are unprofessional and push people pass the breaking point like this? If so, thats the number one reason I have to disagree with you

  194. Jordan Funk says:

    What do you think about Navy SEAL training? During BUD/S (Navy SEAL training, one if the main focuses is pushing body farther than it has ever been pushed before. Most of it is body weight training but, there are some things like log PT that involve lifting weight. I just wanted to hear your opinion.

  195. Unfortunately, crossfit is “the sport of fitness” and programming/coaching is up to the individual coaches or gym owner.

    Not all gyms or boxes are equal. The workouts are made by the head coach at the box. So bad coach = bad programming = bad box.

    Rule #1 is to never take shortcuts and focus on good form, go down on weight, ext. Even in competitions, if you break good form the rep/workout is void.

    “The strength and conditioning coaches that I have worked with as an athlete all have master’s or doctorate degrees in kinesiology or a related field.”

    -And some of them also coach Crossfit

    “Even athletic training staff (medical/PT/rehabilitation/chiropractors) that I have talked with have said that they would love CrossFit if they didn’t work with athletes, because they would always have people to treat. Translation: CrossFit means job security for medical professionals due to the high rate of injury among the ranks of Crossfitters”

    -Chiropractors workout at my local box. They see more issues with body builders.

    “People should be properly educated on form, acceptable rep numbers, and the warning signs of when to stop. Until gyms step up to the plate and accept the responsibility to do so, there will be injury both now and in the future for CrossFitters.”

    -They do. My local box goes over proper form EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

  196. Channing Fordham says:

    Erin,

    Based on your understanding of what a CF workout is, would the following be considered CF?

    1. A timed workout that includes only jump rope and sit-ups

    2. A timed workout that includes only bodyweight movements (push-ups, pull-ups, and squats)

    3. A workout not for time, practicing only a specific gymnastics movement.

  197. Ryan V says:

    This is an eye opening post for public. As a strength and conditions coach and sport performance coach, I can appreciate this article for trying to shed light on one aspect of CrossFit.

    CrossFit is dangerous and here’s just a couple of reasons to build on and add to this article:

    1. CrossFit Certifications can be acquired by anyone. Regardless of expertise and education.
    2. The program design is often not balanced properly to avoid overuse of a muscle. Not balanced metabolically or biomechanically.
    3. There is no zone specific to the physiological capacity of the body to include or exclude energy system development.
    4. Respective tasks are not sports.
    5. THIS IS MY FAVORITE. Can any cross fitter or instructor tell me what the effects of repetition are on the nervous system? Neuromuscular fatigue causes the body not to reflex efficiently and effectively enough to resist injury. The reason strength coaches and Olympic lifting coaches per iodized their programming is to ensure that when learning a complicated lift tthat they do not cause an exhausted neural pattern. If the 4th time you try a highly complex lift doesn’t go well then take a break. Neural fatigue reduces the body’s ability to recover with the stress reflex arc. Sure you can tell when your muscles are tired, but how many people know when their nerves are at 87% versus 95-100. How many repetitions at 70% of someone’s 1RM does it take to reduce the neural capacity by 5%?

    Why are some of the most recognized individuals in sport science and professional athletic development so against CrossFit? Cause it doesn’t take into account how to develop an athlete and resist injury.

    It’s like giving the keys to a Lamborghini to a 16 year old and saying drive to a city 300 miles away with the pedal on the floor. Some will make it some will look for the pieces.

  198. nate says:

    Un accredited opinions.

    Too long didn’t read.

  199. Alyssa A. says:

    Hi there! Thank you for this article. I have been doing Crossfit since last October 2013. Before that, I swam competitively at the varsity college level, and since I was 6. I have also rowed, done MMA, yoga, and dabbled a little less enthusiastically in many more sports. However, after battling major depression and an eating disorder on the college swim team, I put sports on hold, and consequently my physical fitness and health. It took four years of unused gym memberships, skipped appointments with personal trainers, and petering out with masters swim programs before I decided to try CF. I have read the pros and cons of the program, and seriously considered my thoughts on the movement and where I stand. I have to say, it is the only program that I have stuck to consistently, and has made me more confident in my ability to become healthy and fit post-mental-illness and eating disorder. That was something I never imagined possible before.
    I must say that I feel good about my relationship with CF and with my body knowing what I do about the risks and rewards. I do feel that my experience as a competitive collegiate athlete has given me insight into my own body and its abilities that are crucial for being able to remain safe and healthy in CrossFit. I see many members performing moves that their amount of body awareness can’t possibly delegate safely, and I fear for their physical health. So I agree with you on your point that CF doesn’t necessarily teach body movements safely, nor should it be teaching such complex Olympic weightlifting moves to exercise novices to begin with. The only reason I can perform the exercises safely is from having years of experience exploring my body and its limits in a competitive exercise setting, and being able to override that underlying perfectionism yelling at me to GO HARDER and GO FASTER so that I do not sacrifice form or something worse. Also, I have a tendency to perform a move many, many times (as I learned from traditional martial arts) so that they become ingrained in muscle memory. That way I can increase weight safely without sacrificing form.
    I think a happy medium can be achieved during high intensity WODs if you force yourself to only do what you are capable of, and to pace yourself…and more importantly to STOP when you need to. I am lucky to be a member of an all-women’s gym where there is not as much pressure put on us to go harder and faster and heavier, and our coaches will actually stop someone mid-workout if she is not performing moves correctly. I do agree that that is the exception, and that it still has its flaws, but I really think that the combination of knowing my body and its limits, and having supportive, knowledgeable coaches (who DO have many years of experience as competitive athletes and can quote all kinds of books on any subject we ask about) helps. I am aware of the dangers and risks, and continue to do CrossFit. For you, the risks outweigh the rewards. Maybe they will eventually for me. Maybe I am ruining my body. But until I can find a program that gives me back the confidence to live my life the way I have always dreamed of living it, that motivates me to get up in the morning and put my gym shoes on, or that really makes me feel I am getting my money’s worth, I will continue to do CrossFit.
    I do really appreciate your insight, however. I don’t know nearly as much about sports medicine and exercise as you do, and I am always trying to become more educated so I don’t spout pseudoscience. I constantly struggle to decide whether this is the right program for me (although I think you would argue that it is not the right program for anyone), but for now I have decided to stick with it, and just try to be as informed as possible so that I can remain as safe as possible. Would you say there are ANY benefits to CrossFit?
    Thanks!

  200. Kaitlin Westbroek says:

    This article is hilarious and extremely opinionated. The facts are completely skewed. The author forgets to mention all that is wrong with her type of “lifting” and “coachin.” It’s interesting that personal trainers and coaches can get “certified” online in an hour vs CrossFit coaches who spend hours studying and a weekend with the best of the best in CrossFit. They do by the way Erin have performance reviews and they do have to prove that they know and can complete the lifts with perfect form and technique. In the future take care to do some proper research and study before degrading something. (P.S. Some sources and citations would be nice)

    • Jason says:

      The article could have been written better, no doubt a lot of it was garbage, but let’s be honest….a level I CF cert takes two days and some bucks to achieve. If what you are saying is true, there wouldn’t be the astronomical amount of soft tissue injuries coming out of CF “boxes” (we’ll call them that because they don’t deserve to be called gyms). They have almost single handedly put Airrosti on the map, in Texas. Chiros and Orthos couldn’t be happier right now. All because some jerk who has zero experience in Olympic lifting….but has his 2 day cert…is making the average Joe believe he’s the next Rich Froning.

  201. Ron F says:

    I just wanted to point out that you have videos posted on youtube that show you doing power cleans with improper technique as well as improper kettle bell movements. It also appears your doing them in a Crossfit gym. You appear to be a fit runner but its obvious strength training isn’t your thing. There is nothing wrong with that if that makes you happy. My concern is you are telling people not to even try Crossfit. Thats just bad advice. To remind and warn people that not all “boxes” are created equal and to check your coaches creditials might have been better advice. However my guess is you wanted to drive traffic to your blogs and get attention. If that was your gorilla marketing plan kuddos to you. I do think you are being unfair and wonder why so many feel compelled to trash Crossfit. Find the exercise you like and do it but don’t hate on Crossfit just because it wasn’t your thing.

  202. Karlsen says:

    Firstly, I really enjoyed this article. I served in the Australian Army for a number of years and have witnessed some of my colleagues suffer horrific injuries caused by CF. Many of these injuries required surgery and extensive periods of rehab. In my opinion the negative effects of CF training drastically outweigh any supposed benefits. There is one thing I would like to clarify, however. When you talk about “kettlebell” swings and their apparent negative effects I’m assuming you are referring to CF method of performing this movement, as opposed to the correct methods employed by Girevoy Sports Athletes around the world?

    Girevoy Sports, or GS as it is sometimes called, is a technical sport which requires athletes to lift kettlebell(s) continuously, for periods of up to 10 minutes, while being strictly observed by a judge. At the end of their 10 minute time period the total number of correctly performed repetitions is recorded and the winner is decided. These athletes are able to perform numerous repetitions of exercises such as jerks, clean & jerk, and snatches, without injury or negative effect. GS style Kettlebell swings are sometimes employed by GS athletes during training.

    You took great care to illustrate the differences between CrossFit lifting and proper Olympic and Power lifting. I would suggest you provide the same courtesy to Girevoy Sport by making a clear distinction between CrossFit and proper Girevoy Sport lifting.

    Technical accuracy and safety is of prime importance in Girevoy Sport.

    Best Regards

    KK.

  203. John Heagle says:

    Erin,
    I don’t know where to begin: Let’s start with you completely hit it out of the park! Great article. I have been a staunch adversary of Crossfit for years. I have tried to give it a chance…tried to see the potential in the underlying premise (reality is they will not eliminate the high rep, timed circuits that include power and O lifts), but too many have imbibed far too much Koolaide at this point to turn it around.

    Anyone that has followed my gym FB page over the past few years knows how I feel about CF. I see kids in their late teens and early twenties with injuries generally reserved for someone that has been training or playing sports for decades not just for months or a few years. It truly is sad. It is an injustice and is being perpetuated for reasons unknown or incomprehensible to me.

    I have been the gym business for nearly 30 years and CF is by far the most dangerous form of training I have ever seen. Please continue to speak logically and intelligently so that people may be educated on how reckless and unnecessary CF is for achieving any fitness goal. Your comment about ‘risk v reward’ is perfect. The risks far, far outweigh any rewards that may come from CF.

    Best regards,
    John Heagle
    Owner – Adrenalin (no we will never have Crossfit) Gym.

  204. Christina says:

    Im not sure it’s fair to say all CrossFit boxes (gyms) don’t focus on control. It’s unfortunate this generalization is an easy one for you & others to make. Also, I’ve never been encouraged to take shortcuts to complete a WOD or workout, maybe a scaled or modified version of an exercise for my own comfort or respected level of experience, but never a straight shortcut. I found that statement to be rather dramatic and/or perhaps based on frustration, which I completely understand, as many of your points are valid. Also, CrossFit diets are always optional in our program, where I attend and no one is brainwashed into thinking they are better than anyone else because they do CF. That is just plain ignorance. As for thrusters; clean to push press combo, they are parts of timed workouts but many, smart CF people (& athletes in general) know that control is more important & even results in better time sometimes due to saved energy, rather than simply busting out a high % of uncontrolled movements, which could obviously result in injury and pain felt later. I guess it’s fair to say “to each their own”.

    As I was a college athlete at one time, I venture to say your strength coach in college never gave you a workout of Olympic or power lifts for time because that was not your goal as a collegiate athlete, rather basic strength training was. Though time becomes important in the CF world, do know that form is both encouraged & valued but that those without it still have the right to compete, just like the athletic kid with no skill has the right to try out for the team and/or learn along the way should he make the team.

    While I will agree that it is skeptical (sh!tty to be frank) how quickly/easily a CF coach can become certified, I find that no one persons goal is “the more pain, the better”. I can still remember how much pain I was in the first few weeks of CF…it was daunting really. The more I focused on form as opposed to amount of weight lifted, the better I felt & the more weight I could lift, & I’ll admit, as a very competitive person & former college athlete, this wasn’t easy for me to do. I can’t say the same for all CF members/programs and again, to each their own. In my experience, scaled versions & modifications are always encouraged where necessary OR DESIRED to prevent serious injury or to ease the body into specific movements. Like with any workout, but especially weight lifting, recovery is vital and time should be taken to nurture the body as much as we challenge it. This however, is up to the athlete to do.

    I’d also like to mention that in my CF program, like many I’m sure, our trainers have done Olympic lifting for years and as you mentioned, have dedicated time “to providing a safe and effective strength-training program for high caliber athletes, [rather than] a single weekend (training program) plus some cash”. I do, however realize the same can NOT be said for all CF instructors, which is unfortunate. But I hate to see all CF deemed detrimental, if you will, because such a view as yours, even with your supporting facts/data, is so common. I can find many facts that validate why running is bad for the body, why fat is bad in your diet, why marijuana is bad for the brain and so on. But there are also reasons why these things are positive and/or beneficial.

    In regards to random variation being bad because there’s no plan to progress, to build on previous gains, or balance and strategically target your workouts, I agree. I’d also like to address this on a very basic level & say that it’s false to assume there is no plan or goal in every CF program. We work with multiple, monthly targets/goals, whether it be WODS based on Olympic weight lifting WODS, agility, flexibility, body weight & skill training, endurance, and various lifting routines that aren’t necessarily Olympic based, etc… Strict records are always kept for the purpose of growth & progress (for the purpose of “building on previous gains”).

    As with any sport or fitness program, if one’s goal is to learn quickly and disregard form and/or the body’s overall health/nutritional needs, ANY workout can lead to a “broken body”. It is up to the athlete (& yes, the guidance of smart instructors) to make wise decisions that replenish and recover the body, all the while becoming stronger, better and healthier. I’m not sure it’s fair to generalize all CF as so negative, and as existing under this uneducated, careless, brainwashed, pain driven umbrella that you and many have placed it under. Perhaps the approach that some may take is such but we don’t all fit under the same umbrella, ella, ella…

    Lastly, let us not forget how easy it is to talk about & sensationalize what everyone else is doing because it is different than what we are doing. We may not agree with what others are doing & yes we have the right to discuss why or to simply discuss why CF, like any workout regimen CAN BE dangerous, etc… But perhaps our time could be better spent focusing on that which we share, which is a dedicated & driven will power to be better than we were yesterday. After all, the strongest people are not those who show strength in front of us, but those who win battles we know nothing about. And perhaps they have a reason for choosing the path they do, even if it is different than our own.

  205. Bill says:

    The study by the Consortium also listed several hazards that I like to point out to people questioning whether or not to get involved with crossfit. Those hazards highlight the problems I find with the structure of the program. Fitness training of any type should account for where the individual is starting from, have a clear instruction to focus development in specific areas, and periodically evaluate that progress to determine effectiveness. That is not anything I have seen from the crossfit practitioners that I have been exposed to. If they are the exceptions, I think there are a lot of exceptions, which again is a critical problem with the program, in my opinion.

  206. vinceturk says:

    I’ve submitted my comment on April 23 and it is still awaiting moderation. You should disclose that you are simply filtering out comments that contradict your arguments rather than encouraging an open conversation.

  207. Mr. Mojo says:

    Unfortunately, the gross generalizations diminish the credibility of this blog. I trained with USA Weightlifiting Level 2 coaches – also Crossfit Level 1 coaches – for over a year. The programming follows Crossfit principles, with an emphasis on overall work capacity, skill/technique development, and safety. I’ve also dropped in at about 15 different boxes, and have seen exceptional coaches with thoroughly developed programming – strength, skill, stamina, speed, power, etc. built in – and I’ve been to a few boxes that sound like the author’s description. My point is that like ANY personal trainer, there is considerable variation in every facility that offers Crossfit classes. Clearly the author has failed to build enough personal experience to recognize this very basic principle.

    Further highlighting the author’s ignorance is the gross mis characterization of the WoDs. Contrary to the blog, not all CF WoDs are high rep, timed workouts. Some are straight strength based – today’s CF HQ wod was seven sets of three split jerks, untimed, and at the athlete’s selected load. Some are strictly sprinting workouts, some are distance rows, and many are combinations of “functional movements over broad time and modal domains.” If the goal is overall fitness, functional movement, and work capacity, no programming compares to the basic CF approach.

    As with most criticism of ANY fitness approach, this blog suffers from a poor understanding of Crossfit and large mischaracterizations of how boxes employ Crossfit concepts. Probably not long before the author – if academically honest – posts this kind of a blog: http://www.t-nation.com/training/crossfit-apology

  208. Ben says:

    Erin, good read. I wanted to know where you got the quote from Dutch neurophysiologist, Kenneth Jay. I’m interested to read more on the subject. I don’t want to sound like this is a personal attack on you or your site but I have few questions I would love to hear back from you on.

    In a previous work out of the week (01/2012) post you have listed pullups, planks, power cleans, pikes, and push press for speed at 4 sets. You do mention not to compromise form and keep the weight light; however, isn’t this very similiar to a crossfit workout? If a crossfit coach had this workout and emphasized form and weight restrictions as you have, wouldn’t it be the same?

    Would you recommend that someone do a crossfit WOD 2 or 3 times per week in combination with some standard cardio training. Keeping in mind that they follow your advice to keep their form and the weight light.

    I am also curious about your support of adventure races (Spartan Race, etc) and the high occurrence of injuries associated with such events. It seems that advocating for them and against crossfit could be seen as conflicting ideals. Again, not attacking, I just wanted your take on it.

    PS: I’m all for adventure races and do them every summer. And have only tried a free teaser crossfit class where the coach made me sceptical about the gym.

  209. Kelly Wolslayer says:

    I’ve always been an athlete and I’ve always run and lifted weights. I’ve never been as strong or cut or cardio fit as I have with crossfit. I’ve lost inches and have stopped relying on the scale to validate me.

  210. RB says:

    I workout at a crossfit gym and your understanding of crossfit being high rep high weight is WRONG. There are prescribed weights for the workouts but few people are doing those weights. Out of a couple hundred wods I’ve probably only done the prescribed weight a couple times. I feel great and I’m injury free as is everyone else at the gym. The coach is a games athlete and maybe you could teach her things you have read and studied about fitness but she will out fitness you any day of the week.

  211. Sarah says:

    This might as well be a wikepedia page. I find it EXTREMELY suspect that as an “elite collegiate athlete” you have never done deadlifts? So even though powerlifters, weightlifters, olympic lifters (which you claim you have experience with), collegiate football players, baseball players, and every other sport you can think of, considers deadlifts and squats the EPITOME of basic exercises everyone uses? Power cleans and anything with a kettlebell put a lot more pressure on the lower back, which if you had any actual certifications or degree you would know….and 2nd, if you are a life long athlete, how would you not know better then to let someone else “pile weight on the bar”? You are the kind of person that does give crossfit a bad name and gets people hurt, because you have a serious ego problem that lets you think your slight experience reigns supreme. This is a highly opinionated, biased article. And if anyone wants to call you an expert at exercising, lets talk about how “long and hard” it is to get a PT cert which I’m sure is the credentials you’re tooting (which you can also do ALL online with no actual in person instruction unlike the crossfit cert which may be short, but it is 1000$ and in person all day hand on training). And lastly, you’re not a fan of “fast paced minimal break high rep training” but in your examples of training, you literally quote doing fast paced supersets.

  212. Bob says:

    Hi Erin,
    Your article seems to focus on the chance of injury in CrossFit, mostly as a result of high repetition Olympic lifts. This seems like a reasonable idea, but I’m curious as to whether or not you compiled data about injury rates in CrossFit and then compared those numbers to injury rates in other high-intensity activities. I think it’s common sense that injuries occur in any/all physical activities, but I’d be interested to see if the rate was significantly higher in CrossFit.

  213. Ash says:

    Not really sure what you define as Olympic lifts and Power lifts…as well as your definition of “heavy”. I use a 35lb kb as a door stop, while others may struggle to get 10 good reps. My coach can easily deadlift 500, while I just capped 350. What I think is “heavy” weight may be the equivalent of a broom stick to someone else. And for someone who has such a high disregard for deadlifts, you sure do a lot of them…but they are probably not “heavy”.

    Not to mention, everything in life can be dangerous depending on how it is defined…walking across the street, being out in the sun, eating certain foods, owning big dogs, mowing the grass, etc., etc., etc. And any Globo gym trainer can get “certified” over a weekend…not just crossfit. It strikes me as though you are attempting to make a name for yourself by throwing around the word CrossFit…pretty timely publishing.

    What you call circuit training, others call general physical preparedness, and still others call Crossfit…constantly varied functional movement. Best of luck in your anti-crossfit/deadlift which I call circuit training campaign, and to your clients that should probably avoid shopping at wholesale places since they won’t be able to deadlift the large bags.

  214. Tristan says:

    I’ve never been to a cross fit gym myself I have thought about it but now I’m glad I didn’t I do do high reps in a circuit but I always stop if I feel my form will suffer. I have trained for years and the only timed I’ve suffered any type of injury was my own fault from ignoring proper training

  215. Sounds like a Chevy salesman complaining about a Ford…

  216. […] This post is in response to a blog post that’s gone viral written by Erin Simmons, an ex-track athlete from Florida State who is currently an aspiring fitness model. If you want to read her blog follow this link: http://erinsimmonsfitness.me/2014/04/17/why-i-dont-do-crossfit/ […]

  217. Charles Lozner says:

    Can you post an article (or email me) about your thoughts on Deadlifts?

  218. SR Stewart says:

    Thank you for this piece. It is wonderful to hear another athlete bark out against Crossfit. The evidence of injury is appalling, and yet gym-goers are forking out 100-200 per month to suffer. Great article.

  219. steve says:

    Yet another Crossfit hater… So if you go to a terrible trainer with lack of training skills and they hurt you, then all trainers are bad right? Way to spread false blanket statements about something you do not have enough information about!

  220. Troyrininger says:

    There are some agreeable points to your post but some statements that might be far fetched. What makes cross-fit survive is the feeling of being a part of a family and having structure. Does that make it a great training methodology….no but what is does build is accountability, which lacks for most beginner exercisers. Its business model is set and thrives due to post like these and the other 100 I have read over the years. All of them,like yours, say alot of the same points you do but years from now we will still be watching The Crossfit games and having this same discussion. That is because they have brilliantly marketed their business and i don’t see this trend of workouts going out for awhile due to their HARDCORE NATURE.
    Here is the problem with Cross fit in my mind! Members of this facility WORKOUT but do not train. Training means to professionals like me ( MS Sports Science, CSCS, CES) there is so goal that will be or trying to be reached through phases of WORKOUTS and progressions. This is where the model is flawed. No one walks in and goes my goals are to do FRAN (WOD of crossfit) in under 2 minutes. If you want to workout, cool, do CF. If you want to jump higher….you need to do exercises that mimics its energy demands and allows for triple extensions…not what CF does! That is their problem in my eyes and being well educated allows me to stay away from that training method but we all know its HARD CORE training catch phrases grabs attention the eyes of a lot of individuals.

  221. Justin says:

    Erin, I read your article entirely. As one of the head coaches at a CrossFit gym, I try to seek out all articles, positive or negative, regarding CrossFit. Myself and the other coaches at our gym do this to keep an open mind and a wide perspective on what other educated, insightful people have to say regarding the sport. It’s so we can continually improve what we are offering, how we program, how we coach-not so we can say “This person is an idiot and doesn’t get it”, or to share with our members so we can all rag on the author on our private page.

    You brought up many points that we as educators/coaches have to deal with. You lost my interest and respect though, as soon as you boldly lumped EVERY SINGLE CROSSFIT AFFILIATED GYM IN THE WORLD in the same category. To say that every gym lacks experience and education of its staff-that we all just took a weekend course and paid $1000. To say that every gym programs in a way that is unsafe. To say that every gym says that their gym is different, but isn’t. To say that due to your education, background and anecdotal evidence, that you are confident CrossFit is unsafe, expensive, and sinister, and that nobody should partake.

    How dare you.

    You have not been to every one of the over 6000 CrossFit affiliated gyms on the planet. You do not know every single man or woman who has gone through the CrossFit Level 1 Certification process. You do not know their background. You do not know their programming emphasis or direction. You do not know how they work with their clientele or what is taught in each class. You do not know how their classes are devised or divided up. In reality, you seem to know very little-but the very little you know, you do a great job of bundling into the package you want the reader to take away.

    I will not take up the space here to go over my gym’s accolades, our coaching staff bios, our education, our experience, our programming techniques, or anything else to simply puff our chests out and argue with you online. I am speaking on behalf of any of the gym owner/coach/athletes out there who would disagree with you on many of your points. As I mentioned above, it’s too bad too-you had brought up some points in the article that I wouldn’t argue or deny, They are things that we at our place take into account and avoid. We don’t need to blast it out to everyone. Our members are witness to how we conduct our business, and we do not change how we do things so we can fit the mold of the “typical” CrossFit gym. If you are going to go as far as stating that you have cracked the CrossFit code and 100% of the gyms out there run CrossFit the same, wrong, deadly way, you better damn well be able to back it up in more than just a few personal experiences, some highlights from medical and sports articles, and anecdotal evidence.

    If you would like to respond to me, privately or publicly, I would be happy to answer any questions you might have about myself, any of our coaches, our gym, our ideology, our programming, or our injury rates.

  222. Jason Swinford says:

    Just curious how you can be so against something like CF when you use injuries but then such a fan of something like Obstacle course races which I would imagine has as high or higher rate of injuries? Either way interesting article. If you’re still in Tallahassee there is a local CF Gym that has a owner who is pretty much opposite of everything you say is wrong. I think your article is a very generalization of CF (which CF has done to itself) but there are good people out there and one of them is in your back yard. Also not all of FSU coaches and trainers would agree as a couple of FSU athletes do training at this same gym.

  223. Erin Kelley says:

    “This is simply not true and every single thing that I’ve posted in this article refers to every single gym that follow CrossFit. There are no exceptions, if you’re following the WODs, it’s not good for you, it’s not safe, and you’re putting your health in danger.”

    WOW. That’s … that’s really setting yourself up to make sure that you can ignore or dispute every single comment you get on the article.

    Maybe you should try CrossFit at a box where the trainers are HIGHLY interested in your form, stopping you between reps (actually taking weight OFF your bar) to discuss weight in your heels and upward hip thrust momentum on your power cleans. Maybe you should try CrossFit in a box where the trainers would NEVER scream at you to keep going but check on every athlete at least twice during the WOD to make sure they aren’t pushing their limits of pain, clap for and encourage the last few people to finish, and give you a sweaty hug before you leave. Maybe you should try CrossFit at a box where you’re REQUIRED to take an entire week of Foundations or OnRamp training, during which you get personalized focus on form, stretching, pain signals, etc. Maybe you should try CrossFit at a box where the trainers review proper technique at the beginning of every WOD and warn for specific ways you need to make sure you don’t fail in that technique when reaching fatigue.

    Oh and at MY box, there is a combination of cardio (sprints, rows, etc) mixed into every WOD alongside the strength. Also, individualization (we call it scale) is key to every WOD. You do what you can to your ability not to the person’s next to you. If you’re ever in Kansas City, join me at Brookside Crossfit. I’m there 4 times a week at 6am!

  224. Andy Lai says:

    I’ve been involved with CF for a few years now. Outside of normal wear and tear from the rigors of serious training, none of my associates nor myself have suffered any kind of serious injury. This all boils down to proper programming and awareness with coaching. CF brings in people of varying abilities and goals. The box should know how to adjust to these factors accordingly. Each box is also different. There are boxes that cater to elite athletes and there are boxes that cater to those just looking for a fun way to get in shape. You have to find the right fit for you. I’m not sure how many different boxes you went to or how many occasions you worked out at the boxes but if it is limited, I’d suggest finding other boxes to test. It’s not fair to make a blanket statement without first investigating all avenues. Find people with the same goals and ability level as you that like their box and give it a go. You are a runner. Someone that has never run before may try running out. They could find a running group to workout with. Let’s say it’s a group of 100m specialist and all they do is sprint/power work. The newbie is a marathoner through and through but they don’t know it. They don’t enjoy the sprint work and says that running sucks and is no good. They missed out on the opportunity to grow because they didn’t dig deep enough.

    Your issue with heavy weights for time is all relative. What might be heavy for you might not be heavy for somebody else. It’s up to the participant and the coaches to decide what is safe for any given workout. If there is a disregard for this on either end you’re looking at disaster.

    Also you goal of being a fitness model doesn’t line up well with the purpose of CF. Your goal is purely aesthetic not functional. You’re not trying to build a 1rm of 200lbs on snatch. You want your musculature to be proportional and well defined. That said, having to endure a 30min chipper wod won’t be fun for you. You won’t get the results you are looking for. When we don’t have fun is when we start to pick at all the negatives.

    There’s possibility for injury in any kind physical activity. I could break an ankle jumping off the curb to check the mail. One never knows when injury will occur. You are promoting Spartan Races which is a run of a substantial amount with obstacles. Running by the way has more injuries per year than anything else. People tend to think it’s a simple task yet a large percentage of the population has no idea on what proper running form looks like. Being a collegiate runner I’m sure you can attest to this. No prerequisite is required to attend a Spartan Race. No coaching is present. No practice run throughs are offered. So basically anybody can sign up, show up the day of, and run. That provides more chance of injury than a gym with supervision, provided the supervision is quality. Yet it’s marketed as a great way to get in shape and have fun. I think it’s ironic that you are dismissive of CF which is heavily marketed by Reebok but so acceptive of their other baby in Spartan Race. Both can be extreme and present possibilities of injury if not done right.

    CF, as well as any training regimen, has it’s pros and cons. It all depends on what your goals are. To say that it’s bad and injury prone based on your limited experience and hearsay takes away from the legions of people that CF has helped. For every negative blog post about the dangers of CF there are literally 100s of success stories and testimonials of how much their lives have changed because they found CF.

    CF is not for everyone but for those that have found it and continue to build up on it, having to defend it is unfair.

    Where are all the hate threads on professional body building and fitness modeling? These two fields put their bodies through more extreme things than CF. With extreme diets, steroids, and prep for competition the list of people that have life long negative conditions (physically and mentally) is pretty extensive.

    I noticed that you were running in an A&M facility. If you are still at A&M reach out to Matt Bird. He’s on the A&M CF team. He’s a good guy and can give you a run down what’s proper.

    By the way your Sprint Circuit video is in essence a beginner level CF workout.

    Good luck with your journey into fitness modeling.

  225. M Howell says:

    I have tossed around whether to comment on this all day, since reading it this morning. I have done crossfit for two years, love it, and am in the best shape of my life at almost 45yo. So, I’m definitely biased. But I’m not looking for an endless debate. haha. I don’t care if people don’t like CF. As long as they aren’t trying to tell me that the last two years of success and strengthening and improvement I have personally experienced is full of danger and injury. I haven’t had any injuries. I’ve been super sore less than 10 times. (Yes, I know exactly when they were and know what exercises led to that soreness.)
    I actually don’t disagree with every single point of this article. Do some people in CF push way harder than their bodies can handle and get hurt? Yes. Are there lousy CF coaches out there? no doubt. Is YouTube full of videos of people with lousy form who think they’re awesome. oh, gosh, they make me angry. Those kinds of cases might end up being the demise of CF as a “brand” some day.
    BUT I am always leery of a person who claims to know the opinion of every single trained, professional, degreed trainer in the whole universe. And I’m equally as leery of a person who claims to know that every single CF gym is the exact same as the one or two he/she happens to have visited. To assume that not one CF coach knows a thing about proper form (your words, not mine) is very much creating an “us vs. them” mentality. I know several CF trainers, and have visited a few other affiliates, and I’m not sure I’ve met any who had ONLY the level 1 certificate from one weekend. Granted, I don’t know them all. I’m not claiming to (unlike the author). But people need to see what credentials their potential trainers have and make a decision based on reality.
    Not everyone has the ability/means to be a collegiate athlete on a national championship team, working with a trainer who holds a doctorate in kinesiology. Every single person who works out, no matter their age or the methodology they choose, has to find what works best for them. If they can afford a personal trainer with a masters or doctorate in kinesiology, good for them! They all have to use some self-awareness and wisdom in HOW they execute exercises to avoid (or at least minimize the risk of) injury. With a background in gymnastics/dance, although certainly not elite in either, I have a lot of flexibility and awareness of proper form. If I bought a fitness program to do at home alone (and actually did it), I might be ok with my form for most things, without a trainer watching me. But that’s not going to be true for most people.
    Since the author happens to sell her own brand of fitness, and doesn’t really mention any real-life options for the average person, or the non-athlete, I’m kind of left wondering what her bigger purpose was for writing.
    There are so many inaccuracies I could never go into them all. Our trainers plan workouts with a purpose and goal in mind, not randomly. I am pretty sure I’ve never done exactly the same workout as one other person in the gym. One of us goes faster, one lifts heavier, one can do pullups and the other not, one is ready to try more technical things while the other is not. And it works for me. So, I’ll stick to it, and be smart about taking care of myself if I’m sore/tight. If I get injured, I’ll chalk it up to the result of being mid-40’s and not being content to sit on the couch. I’ll take that risk. And if at some point I decide to move on, I will have learned a ton about how to effectively train to get results.

  226. Davide Cannucci says:

    Every cloud has a silver lining. More people practicing crossfit means more people getting injured which means I need to spend time waiting for a power rack or bench to be vacated.

  227. EC says:

    Great article. Did CF for about 3 years, but it was a gym that offered other less intense HIIT and specific sports training by ex-athletes. I felt like the other training got me results. CF got me injuries.

  228. Marcus Thrace says:

    I would agree in that not all Crossfits are made equal and the downfall of Crossfit may one day be the lack of educated ‘boxes’ and there coaches. To all reading, please know that ALL BOXES ARE NOT MADE EQUAL. Do your research and be your own advocate please. Just like Yoga, personal trainers, coaches, etc, there are good ones and bad ones.

    That being said, generalizing to say that ‘All Crossfit WODS are not good for you’ is a bit of stretch and a scientific falsehood – that’s a fact. I mean let’s take a simple WOD like Murph for example: 1 mile run, 100 pullups, 200 pushups, 300 air squats, 1 mile run. No heavy lifting there, all body weight movements – so what’s the issue? I’ve noticed you worked for the Department of Defence and I’m curious what your take on the Navy SEALS training and Delta Force training? Similar to Crossfit in many regards perhaps? I’m not saying people should walk into a ‘box’ and expect to be a Navy SEAL a year later as most will never be, but if the point of the sword of the military is implementing this type of workouts day-in and day-out to some extent, can you not give some credit to that? Clearly you never operated in the special forces community where pain is a mandatory component and pain in most cases mean you get to sleep safely at night.

    Essentially I believe people should be informed of the risks and pursue fitness on their own terms but not to degrade an entire fitness methodology. If you have an issue with 1 or 2 gyms, hey let’s here about it cause they need to get ‘their shit together ASAP’ but you clearly do not have a grasp on the entire Crossfit world – very few people do even in the Crossfit community. Each gym is individually owned and each owner chooses their programming, nothing is mandated by HQ therefore to pool all CFs into one is touch naive no? On the other hand, who much do you charge per hour to train with you? You say Crossfit is expensive so can I pay less, training with you, with no more than 14 people in a group and I get 5 hours a week with you at less than $160.00 a month? Be honest ;)

    I don’t agree with everything Crossfit does and I do believe there a various ways to become fit and there are different definitions of fitness and being able to perform various tasks and different intensities. People need to do what drives them and sometimes injury does occur. So you’re telling me that no athlete at A&M gets injured and every athlete works within their limits? You’ve stated that ‘staying within your limits’ is what a good coach and trainer will do….It’d love to take a month off and interview every athlete at A&M and see if they’ve stayed within their limits and are injury free? Again, let’s be honest here, hard work will always entail some pain, whether physically, emotionally, etc. let’s not fool the general public. You look really fit and lean which is awesome by the way, and I congratulate on your success – so do you eat whatever you want when you want? Is there some pain involved in your daily routine being in the shape you are in? Does it not just feel a little good to feel a little pain in the workout? Be honest ;)

    Essentially what I’m saying is that I believe you’re being a little hard on Crossfit and generalizing a bit too much. People in the fitness community should guard against generalizing and rather educate ‘muggles’ on what to look for if you are considering Crossfit rather than dismiss the idea all together. I live in a town with one very good Crossfit and one that is lacking in terms of programming and safety. Probably like yourself, I get asked what I do to stay in shape. I say Crossfit, along with track workouts and cycling are the biggest parts of my routine which help me in my job but I always tell them to be wary of the Crossfit they go into because Olympic movements are complex and need constant supervision. Some coaches simply aren’t at the level to be able to coach that aspect of CF and that’s a fact.

    Anyways, good article to spurn some good conversation. Good debates are always necessary and if those who enjoy Crossfit aren’t willing to engage in a polite conversation regarding our methodology in a fact based way, then our methodology is flawed but I sincerely believe your generalization of all Crossfits is wrong.

  229. Maz S says:

    interesting article.Although I haven’t done Crossfit myself, I personally believe in quality of movement and technique, not quantity. The “pain = gain” mentality seems to have become very popular for the past few years, and I wonder if the current economical and social context can explain this popularity. “Surviving” the recession, showing our strongest side, where no weakness is allowed. What are your thoughts on the subject?

  230. edenlost says:

    Hi, thank you for your thoughts about Crossfit. I have never done it, but I do regularly do a workout called Spartacus 2012 (see http://trainerjosh.com/workouts/spartacus-workout-2012/ ), which may be similar. I like the efficiency of it, and that it does not involve heavy weights. How does that workout look to you? Thanks.

  231. LB says:

    While you appear to make some valid points, I don’t believe a lot of those are specific to CrossFit. Injuries, bad form, ego over ability, all can have a negative effect on any person participating in any exercise regime. Do you see bad form at CrossFit boxes? Certainly, I’m sure we all have. Do you see bad form at “global gyms” as well? Certainly, I’m sure we all have. The bottom line with exercise and getting fit is that people need to listen to their bodies. If it feels too heavy, it probably is; if it hurts to do it, you’re probably not doing it with correct form.

    I’ve been doing CrossFit for about six months and I have found it extremely rewarding, both physically and mentally. I’ve been in the military for 19 years, have always passed my PT test, but it wasn’t until I started CrossFit that I was able to see significant improvement in my PT scores. I’ve taken three in the last four months and each time I have improved.

    Maybe I am lucky to have a close-knit CrossFit family that encourages people to do their best, correctly. It’s not an AMRAP of how many can you do, it’s an AMRAP of how many can you do correctly in the time allotted. Our coaches do not hesitate to stop someone in the middle of the WOD to correct form or have them strip weight because their form isn’t the best or it’s just clear their ego has convinced them they are stronger than they truly are that day.

    You may perceive CrossFit as nothing but negative; but, personally, for me, I have seen nothing but positive changes for myself.

  232. Haden says:

    Erin, I found your article particularly engaging. I have weighed in on the subject in my blog, strengthstuff.blogspot.com and would love to dialogue about it further with you!

    Respectfully, Haden Roberts.

  233. Molly says:

    Thanks for your blog! I wanted to share my blog on my experience with Rhabdo from Crossfit last summer. The high rep as fast as you can combination can be very dangerous.

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  234. Thank you for this Erin! Really eye opening. I usually read articles like this and just shrug as there are no credible citations within, so thank you for pointing me to a ton of other credible sites that back everything you say.

  235. This is exactly the kind of sentiment that makes fitness professionals look fearful of a more effective business model encroaching on their paycheck. There are several other “I was a college athlete and have some E.S. phD friends who don’t like CF so I’m certain CF injures everyone because I had a bad experience” articles and they all say the same thing – poor supervision and improper scaling increases the potential for injury. No duh. That’s the case in any fitness discipline. The problem you fail to address is the fact that if everyone could afford a former athlete with a masters degree as a personal trainer, they would hire one. But they can’t. So ~$150/month for group workouts and some coaching via CF is the most they can afford above going at it alone at Planet Fitness and below paying you an exorbitant hourly rate. You also fail to address the fact that not everyone has to have world-class athletic sports programming in order to improve their lifestyle. They just need to move and sweat a few times a week after sitting in an office all day and CF (if supervised properly) can provide just that in addition to a social, community aspect that individual training can’t provide. I am a personal trainer and when I started seeing clients jump ship to CF, I didn’t write an anti-CF manifesto to warn everyone. I joined a CF gym, became proficient at the benchmark movements and workouts, then got a level 1 CF cert to supplement my other certs. I don’t prescribe my clients exclusive CF programming but I use some of the good principles and provide more individualized attention to my clients that CF can’t provide in a group setting. That’s how I justify charging more when you can get just as many workouts at most CF gyms in town for $150/months – better quality but with similarly effective approach. Not by badmouthing an entire community that has millions of members and plenty of success stories to counter your anecdotal horror tales. Of course, ACSM, Science of Running, LiveStrong, and even Erinn Simmons Fitness are anti-Crossfit. It’s stealing their business and thinning their take home. But what else is bad for business is spitting on something that educated, fit people take seriously and enjoy. You’re doing nothing more than preaching to the choir and alienating a big chunk of potential paying customers. As a personal trainer, you’re not helping

  236. As a personal trainer I am constantly being asked my thoughts on cross fit. I am definitely going to use this article as a reference for my curious clients. Keep up the good work! I will definitely be following your blog from now on. I am also interested in your view on dead lifts.

  237. Marcus says:

    I agree with a lot of what you said. Lots of Crossfit gyms are started by people who like “fitness” and have the disposable income to take the thousand dollar cert and open a gym. Thats crazy but true. But I disagree with your blanketed statement that all crossfit gyms are dangerous. Lots of gyms properly coach body-weight, strength training and Olympic lifting. I myself am a Crossfit coach but I’ve studied under former coaches of the Greece and USA Olympic teams. I’m also NSCA-CSCS and NASM-CPT, as well as tons of other certs. I’m trained to develop a proper strength and conditioning program. The other coaches I work with (as well as myself) are USAW level 1 and 2 coaches and we NEVER program workouts with high rep Olympic movements because of the dangers you speak of and that I agree with. Lots of crossfit coaches seek out continuing education opportunities to hone their craft and provide their members with a program thats smart, diverse, and progressive. I hate that I am roped in with the bootcamp instructor that wants to all of a sudden wants to teach olympic/power lifting BUT thats life. Eventually, the cream will rise to the top.

    Different crossfit gyms crossfit differently though. I have my members go through a 1-month EDUCATION process where they learn the basic movements (Strict Press, Front Squat, Deadlift, etc). The focus here is to learn and not just get a good sweat, if they cant properly complete a movement then we don’t have them do it and/or we give them a substitute to build that foundation. I later move them into a progressive linear strength training program where they track their sets and reps via a log. In Crossfit all of the workouts are suppose to be properly scaled for the individual. You don’t have someone doing muscleups on their first day or any day until they express the body awareness and strength needed which could take months or years. Some coaches forget that or don’t know how to scale. As a coach, if you don’t scale someone when you should then injuries will happen. “Do no harm” is the motto.

    Here’s the deal…there’s Crossfit the “Sport of Fitness” and Crossfit the training methodology. For the general public the use of crossfit as a training methodology is great. If done responsibly it fuses the best elements of flexibility, mobility, strength training, kettlebells, gymnastics, Olympic & power lifting into a neat safe package. What happens is that lots of coaches at crossfit gyms angle their programming towards the “Sport of Fitness” where scaling for an individual isn’t accounted for. Fitness requires scaling with regard for volume, rep scheme and weight for each individual.

    So to make such a blanketed statement from your limited experience of crossfit is kinda lame on your part. Example…I love music; however, I’m generally not a fan of country as a genre. I’d be ignorant to say that there aren’t any good country music songs. There are some that I like but most I don’t. I won’t say “ALL COUNTRY MUSIC IS TERRIBLE” because that’s not true. It would be more responsible to say that crossfit as a fitness genre isn’t your thing but there maybe some elements of it you like.

    Also, you mentioned that you don’t deadlift or do kettlebell swings? How do you build your athletes posterior chain? The DL and all its variations are a cornerstone lift. Dan John, Mark Rippetoe, and Louie Simmons to name a few are highly revered S&C coaches and they heavily feature the deadlift for the athletes that they train. So what are they saying thats wrong?

  238. Great post.

    The content of what you wrote is, in my mind, completely accurate. Although you could have written it in a way that was less offensive to cross-fitters, everyone knows those people seriously look at CF the same way followers in a cult look at their cult and its leader. Thus, no matter what you or anyone else writes or how much proof you throw at them, they’ll never believe it because they don’t want to believe it. And this brings me to my point.

    Aside from the content, what’s interesting to me is how this information is taken by the public. I don’t know how anyone could honestly look at the majority in CF and not agree that it’s basically a cult. It has all the characteristics of a cult. Since it’s a cult, information like that discussed in your article is really for those people who aren’t yet in CF, because anyone already in it is deaf to anything that tarnishes the image of CF in their mind. I mean, it makes sense. If CF weren’t so expensive then maybe we could have a chance to reach those people, but it is expensive.

    It’s a well-known fact that people tend to justify their purchases. People who were undecided on something before purchasing it will all of a sudden justify the purchase and the product after they’ve spent the money. Why would you want to believe you just wasted money? That’s how CF is. It’s so expensive that people NEED to believe that it’s money well spent.

    Then you have the community aspect of CF. To me, a former D1 athlete, most people I know who do CF are athletes who weren’t good enough to play in college. There are exceptions, but that’s usually the case. Doesn’t mean there aren’t great athletes in CF, but most of them didn’t play in college. Because of this, it seems like the idea of the team aspect of CF is extremely appealing to them. Most college athletes got their fix working out morning and night with a team for four years. We still love working out, but we’re over the whole brain-washed mentality of working for a common goal.

    And so you have these people forming relationships with other people who are in the same boat: spending tons of money, time, and energy working towards a common goal. They have to buy into it. If they want to actually be a part of the community then they have to buy into the whole thing, without questioning anything about it, or they’ll be ostracized from the group.

    It’s a tough thing—to argue with someone who’s already been sucked into it. It’s almost impossible. What makes it harder than most cults is that this cult’s objective IS positive. The truth is that people in CF, and CF itself, do want to be healthy and at the top of their physical game. This is a great goal. Many of them even prescribe to the CF diet. So these are people committed to improving their lives… Which makes them even harder to reach when you question what they’re doing.

    As far as I’m concerned, anyone in CF is blind to anything negative about it. They don’t hear it and won’t hear it. Thus, the best thing the fitness community can do is to try and inform and educate the people who aren’t yet a part of it.

    In the end, CF is a fad like any other. It will fade in time just like every other craze that’s come before. Unfortunately for many people who partook in it, their bodies will pay the consequences

  239. Bo says:

    Great post.

    The content of what you wrote is, in my mind, completely accurate. Although you could have written it in a way that was less offensive to cross-fitters, everyone knows those people seriously look at CF the same way followers in a cult look at their cult and its leader. Thus, no matter what you or anyone else writes or how much proof you throw at them, they’ll never believe it because they don’t want to believe it. And this brings me to my point.

    Aside from the content, what’s interesting to me is how this information is taken by the public. I don’t know how anyone could honestly look at the majority in CF and not agree that it’s basically a cult. It has all the characteristics of a cult. Since it’s a cult, information like that discussed in your article is really for those people who aren’t yet in CF, because anyone already in it is deaf to anything that tarnishes the image of CF in their mind. I mean, it makes sense. If CF weren’t so expensive then maybe we could have a chance to reach those people, but it is expensive.

    It’s a well-known fact that people tend to justify their purchases. People who were undecided on something before purchasing it will all of a sudden justify the purchase and the product after they’ve spent the money. Why would you want to believe you just wasted money? That’s how CF is. It’s so expensive that people NEED to believe that it’s money well spent.

    Then you have the community aspect of CF. To me, a former D1 athlete, most people I know who do CF are athletes who weren’t good enough to play in college. There are exceptions, but that’s usually the case. Doesn’t mean there aren’t great athletes in CF, but most of them didn’t play in college. Because of this, it seems like the idea of the team aspect of CF is extremely appealing to them. Most college athletes got their fix working out morning and night with a team for four years. We still love working out, but we’re over the whole brain-washed mentality of working for a common goal.

    And so you have these people forming relationships with other people who are in the same boat: spending tons of money, time, and energy working towards a common goal. They have to buy into it. If they want to actually be a part of the community then they have to buy into the whole thing, without questioning anything about it, or they’ll be ostracized from the group.

    It’s a tough thing—to argue with someone who’s already been sucked into it. It’s almost impossible. What makes it harder than most cults is that this cult’s objective IS positive. The truth is that people in CF, and CF itself, do want to be healthy and at the top of their physical game. This is a great goal. Many of them even prescribe to the CF diet. So these are people committed to improving their lives… Which makes them even harder to reach when you question what they’re doing.

    As far as I’m concerned, anyone in CF is blind to anything negative about it. They don’t hear it and won’t hear it. Thus, the best thing the fitness community can do is to try and inform and educate the people who aren’t yet a part of it.

    In the end, CF is a fad like any other. It will fade in time just like every other craze that’s come before. Unfortunately for many people who partook in it, their bodies will pay the consequences.

  240. Bob Slate says:

    While there are some valid points here, I think you miss the point of crossfit entirely. While it does boast ridiculous claims such as “Fittest in the World” crossfit was designed as a training methodology to quantify exercise and provide scale able movements so that the workouts can be completed by anyone. The anecdotes you provide are simply examples of poor coaching, which is prevalent in every area of the fitness world.

    I think it is incorrect for you to compare crossfit workouts to the workouts you would give to college level or professional athletes. They just aren’t the same. But on that note, many top level crossfit athletes have been shown to excel as many other sports, particularly weightlifting. Example, Lauren Fisher, who just qualified for the crossfit games, is also an USAW junior champion. Aja Barto, a long time crossfiter has qualified for the USAW nationals. Furthermore, many top weightlifting athletes such as Olympic medalist Dmitry Klokov have embraced crossfit as an accessory methodology to training, and he can be seen performing workouts consisting of these high weight Olympic weightlifting movements. If you take a look at the top level crossfit athlete, their numbers are amazing. Many can run a sub 1:00 400m and deadlift over 500lb. Thats fitness across the board.

    Now while crossfit can lead to injury, so can all training programs. The problem isn’t crossfit, the problems you describe are just bad coaches. Find yourself a good coach or become your own, and crossfit can become a terrific training tool and you can minimize risk.

    While not perfect, crossfit has completely revolutionized the fitness world, brining people together to live healthier lives. That much is just plain fact. And of you think that’s a bad thing, well…

  241. RichR says:

    Erin – Thanks for your article. I have been doing CrossFit for about 8 months so am still somewhat new to it. I myself approach it all with a healthy degree if skepticism. However, I do take issue with your response – used several times in these comments – on the point that it doesn’t matter which gym or coach that you use. I think your view of Crossfit is overly narrow. My gym uses WODs but in my 8 months there has never been a workout with high rep/high weight Oly lifts. As you may know, some Crossfit gyms follow a “national” WOD and others do their own programming. Our gym owner/lead coach does not follow anyone else’s programming and would be one of the first to criticize crazy programming at another gym. Oly lifts are taugh but with careful progressions using ultra-light weights (PVC) to start. And then once a person has the skills down we rarely do higher rep lifts, and then only at low weights (and using a reasonable number of reps, nothing excessive) and then it is not about time. Do not say “well then you aren’t doing Crossfit” because that is exactly what we are doing. Sure, some WODs have high rep exercises but they are things like Burpees, sit-ups, push-ups, pull-ups, etc. Just because we don’t use Isabella (I think that is the WOD you referenced) doesn’t mean we aren’t doing Crossfit. Our gym owner and coach has educational and professional qualifications every bit as impressive as your own strong credentials, and form always comes before speed, even when something is for time. But again, we never do Oly lifts for speed or time. Our Olympic lifts are incorporated into class before the WOD and reps can be anywhere from 1 to 5 depending on how heavy we are going, with plenty of rest in between. As with pretty much everything in life, you simply can not make such sweeping generalizations. Sure, Crossfit not perfect and not necessarily for everyone. But I have been extremely impressed with the high level of customization that we incorporate (whether that be scaling or outright substitutions for some individuals with in class or WOD). Thanks, Rich

  242. james says:

    Stopped reading when he said he has never deadlifted. Zero credibility.

  243. Di Loeffler says:

    Everyone is entitled to his/her point of view — but sweeping generalizations don’t really paint the correct picture. I take issue with your “every single gym that follows Crossfit” comment. Because, clearly, you’ve not been to/observed/assessed every single gym that follows Crossfit. As a social science researcher, I too value empirical evidence and data to support a point. Much as you seem to – as indicated by your search for information on crossfit in any of the journals important in your discipline/area of study. Thus, I was saddened to read your exaggerated comments about Crossfit. I agree with some of what you’ve stated – there is indeed somewhat of a “Crossfit culture” that can have a negative impact on some people/bodies… but there is also an amazing culture at many affiliates. Take my affiliate… I have the distinct pleasure of working out at a Crossfit affiliate on campus at a Division 1 university in the mid-south. My Crossfit coaches are strength and conditioning coaches and graduate assistants for the university’s varsity athletes. We work out in the weight room with the coaches and athletes. In the almost two years that I’ve been working out at this affiliate, I’ve found nothing but well measured coaching and support. I spent a month in orientation, learning basic techniques for body weight movements and Olympic lifts alike. I have never been pressured to do a WOD “as prescribed” – I’ve been encouraged to use a lighter weight, scale back reps, insert an exercise that better suits my abilities if I was not comfortable with the day’s workout. I’ve never been made to feel “less than” for going to my knees during push ups or choosing not to do thrusters (I’m with you, those are awful). Thus, I’ve never been injured and I’ve not seen my peers injured in the gym. I’ve seen my coaches take a great personal interest in my progress and in me as a person. I’m more than the reps/time I write on the board, Have I made some poor decisions and pushed myself harder than I should have, yes… but that’s not unique to my time at Crossfit – many a time as a collegiate athlete I fell off the erg (indoor rowing machine) and puked… and my coaches and teammates celebrated that effort… I’m pretty sure that my coaches at my Crossfit affiliate would not celebrate if I puked, they’d take me aside and talk to me about being reasonable in what I attempt/staying healthy. At 41, I’m more fit than I was when I was 30… but not quite as fit as I was when I was 20. I’m a strong role model for my daughters and I value Crossfit for helping me to stay motivated and fit.

    I appreciate that there are a wide range of Crossfit affiliates and I do agree that there is a limitation to the training/certificate that the coaches receive. I’ve read much of the criticism, and I challenge the critics to seek out the really good gyms, like mine, where coaches are well trained in their field and where everyone is encouraged to modify a workout to his/her ability. That’s the true spirit of Crossfit.

  244. Tom Smith says:

    Since colleges and universities operate as businesses, can I automatically say that Florida State cares more about ticket sales and profits than the well-being or education of its players? That, after all, is the core driving principle behind business. While I do believe that to be true at many institutions, I would never publish such a generalization. Mainly because I don’t think EVERY reader is ignorant enough to believe a generalization about ALL institutions.

    The only people I have talked to that did not like Crossfit were either hung up on a myth about “getting bulky” or were former athletes that did not like getting smoked by the cross fitters that were “skinny fat.” If it’s not for you, move along. Be an advocate for something that has benefitted you. Don’t advocate against something others benefit from.

  245. Phillip Green says:

    I found this via FB, and I’ll admit to doing CrossFit. Erin, I think you bring up some good points that should be debated among the owners and coaches of CrossFit. They’re legitimate issues, especially on the health side of things. I’m not really qualified to speak on the health and fitness science, so I’ll leave that to others. What I can speak to is the individual perspective.

    The biggest thing that bugs me about this article is the lack of a decent alternative. Show to me a place where I can spend $125 a month to get semi-personal training with a great community, and I’ll gladly sign-up. The reason that the average person joins CF isn’t because they really think it’s any better, but because they’re sick of the average LA Fitness membership. Spin classes, Yoga, battling for cardio and fitness machines in overcrowded gyms, these are my experiences with normal gyms. Even when I had a personal trainer once a week, my life is hectic. I often had to cancel or change simply because of life’s demands. CF mitigates this almost completely by giving me class options and allowing me to decide where I can best fit.

    The other reason I joined CF was so that I didn’t have to spend time earning that Master’s or PhD in Sports Fitness to design my own workouts. Why would I design my own fitness plan, you ask? Because, I work out about six times a week, and I could never afford that many personal training sessions at a typical gym. In addition, I’ve spent years in typical gyms and have NEVER run into a Master’s or PhD educated personal trainer in the gym. Those only exist at a collegiate athlete level or higher, or maybe the training manager of a gym has one. Most of the personal trainers I’ve encountered were no better, and in my experience worse, than their CF counterparts. They got their personal training certifications from some random place and were hired at a gym.

    I like the fact that someone else has designed my workout for the day, and all I have to do is come in and execute. I don’t have the time necessary to plan my training strategies, determine set/weight requirements, and conduct the workout. Because of this, I looked elsewhere for my fitness requirements when my traditional gym membership was going to expire.

    To my knowledge, and this is really the most important part, CF is the only place that offers a time and cost effective option to fulfill these fitness goals. If you know of another nationally syndicated organization that is easily available to the average person, please educate me.

  246. Matt Plmr says:

    Well, this got shared on my wall by someone. Nice to see you got your 15 minutes by ripping off every other anti-CF article ever written. Talk about Rhabdo? Check. Unqualified coaches? Check. Laughable statement saying that this is occurring at every single CF gym everywhere? Check. Congrats! I’d be embarrassed, absolutely embarrassed, to write such a rant and call it objective inquiry. If I were ever on a search committee and found out you wrote this garbage your CV would be in the trash in a heartbeat. Whatever. I’m looking forward to more articles about why CrossFit sucks written by people that don’t do CrossFit. I hope they’ll talk about rhabdo and unqualified coaches!

  247. Mike Brandt says:

    This article makes some inaccurate assertions about CrossFit. I want to point out a few things:

    1: CrossFit does not foster overexertion to failure. That just isn’t true. Do coaches encourage people in the gym, yes. But, for the most part, people are encouraged to scale to your fitness level. In fact I just attended a class that encouraged properly managing your work to rest ratio so that you don’t fail.

    2: The programming is not typically random in any given gym. At the CrossFit gym i workout at, we run programs based on scientifically supported systems such at Wendler and Hatch for our strength training.

    3: The coached don’t just get a weekend certificate and that is it. Every gym I have ever attended either puts on or encourages attendance to additional seminars and educations events. The last event I attended was trained by at Olympic athlete that will likely be on the US team for the next olympics.

    I think your article was really well thought out but some of your negative assertions seem more like uneducated assumptions from someone that hasn’t been consistently involved.

  248. John K says:

    Hey Erin,

    I’m not sure I quite understand how “cardio gains” developed by weight training do not have any carry over to traditional cardio (e.g. running, swimming, cycling). The idea of HR to VO2 ratio is not new to me, nor is the idea of stroke volume or the Frank-Starling mechanism. What I don’t understand is why it is so different for circuit training and, say, running. Do you think you could expand on that? Or perhaps provide a research journal article describing the discrepancies?

    Our Dutch neurophysiologist may think it is basic cardiorespiratory physiology, but my basic understanding of cardiorespiratory physiology seems to have a hit a wall here. Does the difference reside in the preload, afterload, or iontropic states? Does it have to do with the increased internal pressure from the weights decreasing the volume?

    I appreciate you taking the time to respond to my questions, and I apologize if it seems like an obvious answer. My degrees are in zoology, chemistry, and biotechnology and not exercise physiology or kinesiology. *shrug*

  249. John Sim says:

    Still waiting to see this post???

    Also, an interesting link here

    http://games.crossfit.com/athlete/16910

    “Rob W says:
    May 19, 2014 at 2:16 pm
    Funny thing: I took the time to respond at length and in detail several weeks ago, my comment was awaiting moderation forever, and I now see that you didn’t allow it.

    I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, since I used logic and reason to challenge your highly opinionated piece. I guess you couldn’t respond intelligently to it without undermining the premise of your original post, so you chose to pretend it never happened.

    Integrity is a thing, you should try it sometime.

    Reply

    erinsimmonsfitness says:
    May 19, 2014 at 2:38 pm
    Rob, I have very slowly been working through all the comments and trying to respond to them individually. Unfortunately, I am in the middle of championship season for track and have not been able to get to them as quickly as I would like. Sorry if you feel ignored or insulted, but I just have not been able to sit down and respond to each person yet. Perhaps you should be less quick to judge next time. Thanks for your patience.

  250. megan1028 says:

    You’ve got a lot of opinions masquerading as facts in this post. You are wrong when you say crossfit cannot be done safely. I’ve been crossfitting for over 2 years, and have never felt better or been stronger than I am now, and I too was a college athlete and later a fairly competitive marathon runner. That was much worse for my body than crossfit has been. I was skinny and achy all the time. I love crossfit for what it has done for me, my mood, and much of America. Life is about taking risks, and having fun, and crossfit is a ton of fun.

  251. Joshua says:

    Usually I don’t respond to things like this. I have to say that this is why I love our country because we are allowed on have opinions. As for certification I do agree a weekend is not long enough to be qualified but that is a different subject all together. Crossfit is crazy, hard to handle for some but the injuries are in everything we do. You need to push to get past limits lifters, runners sprinters and long distance, swimmers and so on and so on. I’ve seen Olympic lifters pushing limits and buckling their knees. The injuries are more because the numbers doing crossfit are higher than any other system so of course there will be more injuries. If you have a 100 people doing crossfit and 5 doing Olympic lifting and 20 get hurt in crossfit and 1 gets hurt in Olympic lifting yeah the number is higher but the percentage is the same. If you have a strong opinion about anything you can make the numbers say anything you want. The wods are set to be intenses but no one can do 30 of anything so they people break them down in 10s/5s but the work gets done not any different than doing 3 sets of 10. With all the exercises there are modified exercises. There are so many factors involved to blame other than blaming crossfit directly. This article is an opinion and this is mine but the only thing I see is so many people world wide exercising and challenging themselves. Soon something else is going to come along to say that I’m the best workout and that will be criticized too. I don’t think anything else will get this many people off the couch and excited about exercise and competing with others.

  252. Pam Espinal says:

    In every sport there is an “idiot”! If you are a real athlete and smart, you will know your limits and if you are a gym where you know the coaches are not doing right by you or are not instructing you on proper form, scaling your workouts and having an actual training program then you are at the wrong gym and that is on you! If you are not telling your coaches that you are hurt and continue because you think you are tough then again it is on you. i agree with that there are many poor coached crossfit gym’s. But clearly you are going based on other peoples articles and fail to recognize that body builders have probably a higher rate of injury because of how much they push. Just a very poor, uneducated written article, in my opinion.

  253. You are a moron and a hypocrite! Tell me how Spartan races are “safer” than a CF WOD? Tell us what makes you a fitness expert? And being a college athlete does not even begin to qualify you as anything other than someone who can follow directions…

  254. Jared says:

    Erin,

    To some degree I agree with your article, but I also think you are wrongly lumping the whole Crossfit community under a negative umbrella because of your bad experiences while experimenting with Crossfit.

    I have been doing Crossfit for just under a year now, and I can personally tell you that I have had nothing but positive experiences since joining my gym. I was also a college athlete, I played football at the University of South Florida so my background in olympic lifts is more advanced than your typical Crossfit athlete, and I have a good understanding of my body’s limits so the high rep/heavy weight “WODs” we do I know when to call it quits and not venture into injury territory. So I’m not someone who has been guzzling the Crossfit Kool-Aid for 3 years ready to jump into an argument as to whether you’re right or wrong with your opinions, because a lot of them I agree with but I don’t think it’s the workouts fault, but more Crossfit HQ’s fault for not being more hands on and allowing anyone to open a gym.

    I also had a chance to look at a workout you did on Monday May 5th that involved 30 meter sprints, 40 meter gear changers, 50 meter acceleration, Power cleans, Deficit clean pulls, Hang clean high pull, and hanging abs. I’m going to assume you performed these movements at the gym in Texas A&M or somewhere where you had platforms and bumper plates. That is a great workout but in my situation and for other people who don’t have access to a gym like yours I couldn’t perform these lifts at my local Gold’s Gym, because if you drop the weights while power cleaning you are immediately scolded by the gym manager and told those type of lifts aren’t allowed if you can control the weight without dropping it. So my options would be limited to dropping the overall weight to a weight that would give me no benefit, or finding a gym that accommodates these movements.

    That is the reason I got into Crossfit, and it’s the same reason a lot of former football players and collegiate athletes I know have turned to Crossfit. Crossfit is the closest thing we have found to the hard work and results we put in and saw while we were in college. I’ve noticed that someone looking to tone up will typically reach those goals sooner with Crossfit and clean eating than with their daily trainer at their gym. The WODs are also great workouts, but you have to understand your body first. I think this is where a lot of Crossfitters fail, because their pride and ego gets in the way of their concern for their health.

    I also totally agree with you that Crossfit coaches are wildly under educated when it comes to getting their certification, and I wish more people with your background would get into coaching Crossfit. However there are affiliates out there (more than you would think) with coaches who are very good and well equipped to train people of all levels, and train them adequately to avoid injury, people looking to get into Crossfit need to just do a little research before diving into the deep end.

    My main reason for responding was to point out to someone reading your article that not all Crossfit is bad, in fact I’ve seen more positive gains than negative injuries at the place I workout at. And I hope anybody reading this article who is on the fence about Crossfit doesn’t abandon their idea to get into shape because someone shared a link on Facebook.

  255. I truly appreciate this article and that it is backed up with great medical evidence. I agree with you. I feel crossfit is very dangerous. Aspects of it are good and I’m all for people living a healthy lifestyle and exercising but crossfit breeds people that remind me of those crazy meteor cult people. They blindly follow it and hurt themselves in the name of their god and it’s doing no good. I never do more than my body weight + 40lbs max in high intensity training because I know when pain is bad. I am glad you cited your evidence so I could read more. Thank you. So glad I found your blog!

  256. Adam says:

    Wow. This is a terribly written article.

  257. Don says:

    When I got to the point where you said that you don’t do deadlifts and never will is the time I stop taking your Seriosuly and never finished the article.

  258. Rick says:

    Erin,

    I’m interested to see what references you have used while writing this document. Specifically on injury rates and training methodologies implemented in crossfit gyms across the country. I see a lot of these opinion pieces that are written based off of other opinion articles.

    But where’s the research? The numbers? I think we can agree that just because something isn’t taught in kinesiology course or some higher learning institute doesn’t mean it is wrong. If that were the case than the world would still be flat in our eyes. To say crossfit is wrong because it isn’t what we have done in the past is ignorant.

    A weekend is not enough to become a crossfit trainer, and any crossfit trainer will tell you that. The intent of the certification is not to make you the end all be all knowledgable person. It’s to give a base of knowledge, a pat on the back and say now go learn more. At crossfit gyms, new trainers should not be sent out alone and afraid to teach a class by themselves. Not should new athletes. The point I’m getting at is don’t push for a harder/longer certification. You learn by doing on-job-training. Supervised and continuing education on your own time.

    One or two times in a crossfit gym isn’t enough to get the full scope of the programming for crossfit. Now every gym differs for programming, but I’ve never seen a gym do the classic wods every day. We don’t do the high rep heavy weight thing every day. We actually borrow a lot of theories from strength and conditioning theories cause like you said we do have the equipment that athletes need. But the important note here is that people seeking out a gym should ask to speak with the head programmer and talk to that person about their individual concerns and get a feel for how the gym does business, just like you would when looking for an Olympic lifting coach or any other coach. Be informed. If they give you general jargon, walk away.

    Anyway, I could go on. Just curious if you had seen actual research reports and if you could share.

  259. Jacob says:

    I just looked at your other posts, funny that you’re advocating Spartan races. People have actually died doing those races. No one I’ve ever heard of has died doing CrossFit. Do the Spartan training trainers have degrees in physiology and kiniesiology?

  260. Karl says:

    Erin,

    While we are at it would be great to know more on supplements/ diet.

    Cyclic Keto-genesis (1-2 days Carb up per week) and intermittent fasting (16 hours fast, 8 hours eat, and one full 24 hours per week) appear to have worked best for me. However not 100% convinced, when compared to the;

    Eggs,
    Pre shake
    Post shake,
    Brown rice, chicken, veg,
    Snack,
    Sweet potato, beef, veg

    Supplements..
    Fish oil/ flax seed
    Creatine
    BCAA (what ever that is)

    Style most advocate.
    If you catch my drift.

    I believe I am an Endomorph? (The fat/ thick body type). Which may explain my need for low carb/ fasting to burn fat.

    Currently 99kg 5″11 ( maybe 22% bf)
    I should be around 88-90kg I guess if I was 10% and in shape.
    Literally could not lose weight on normal diet as above (but gained muscle easy as, like from 78kg to 91 kg in 24 months) but then ballooned to 104.5kg. I have lost the 5.5 kg in last 4 weeks using keto/ fasting / HIIT.

    Any advice would be great / forward me onto some references as I feel like I have read a million articles and with so many heavily argued (often ill informed and delusioned) suggestions for how to eat / train it’s easy to get confused. Unfortunetely I then have to try everything to find out for real which leads to injuries (aka dead lift) or ballooning in weight etc. (* yes I have tried crossfit also, no suprise injured my knee box jumping and shoulder doing those Kipping “pull ups”) understandably I moved on from crossfit.

    Regards,

    Karl.

  261. Jacob says:

    I disagree with you categorizing CrossFit as heavy lifts for time/reps. CrossFit is constantly evolving, and your assertion that CrossFit is just a WOD is not the whole story. They are clearly a component of the program, but traditional strength training is as well and is becoming an increasing part of it. Most CF gyms program strength in the beginning of the hour, and then a WOD with bodyweight movements and/ or lifts (ideally) done at no more than 50% of a 1RM. There is clearly a problem with the certification system and quality control, but anyone who has been to a good box knows what I described above to be true. There is inherent danger in any exercise program. Pro athletes in any sport who train under strict supervision of what you would call a qualified trainer get injured all the time. On the flip side, I can go to LA fitness, pay 20 a month for membership and workout with no supervision and hurt myself.

  262. ithappenedlasterday says:

    Great article. I am curious on what the deadlift risk: reward ratio comment was about

  263. Mark says:

    I’m not saying you’re wrong but perhaps just not strong enough to accept only what you want to accept? Here on the link is a medical professional that adds balance to your slightly biased report on CrossFit. http://juliefoucher.com
    Perhaps this is one of the people you talk about that should be slating Crossfit?

  264. Karl says:

    Erin,

    I would be interested to hear more on your views about dead lifts (risk vs reward). Previously I wouldn’t do them as I am also risk adverse when it comes to training. After all the number one rule of training is ‘injury prevention’, Accordingly I agree with your observations of crossfit. Now I have since been dead lifting under the advice of an experience lifter, however have hurt my lower back. Now I presume this is a lapse in technique given I was using a lesser weight than normal. Would be great if you could give some guidance on either a. Proper dead lift technique , or b. why not to do them, and alternate exercises to replace the dead lift.

    Like wise you made reference to increase HR being ineffective in increasing cardiovascular fitness. Does this then preclude the benefits of HIIT? Therefor what cardio is best?

    I usually do strength training 4-5 times per week , either 4 sets of 10 or 5 of 5 and 2-3 exercise per body part. For cardio HIIT 3-4 times per week. 1-2 days rest.

    Thanks again for the informative article.

    Kind regards

    Karl

  265. N Wilson says:

    It all comes down to what works for the individual. I personally enjoy crossfit at my “box” and trust my coaches to help me in terms of form, when to stop, and when to push harder. I have never had a coach yell at me telling me to go faster, but they have told me to take weight off because my form was bad.

    Also, we do not follow the WOD as prescribed by crossfit.com, rather our programs coach sets the program for our box. We generally go in cycles that target different muscle groups for anywhere from 4 weeks to 3 months. No, the workouts are not individually prescribed per person, but not everyone has the money to pay a personal trainer to set up an exercise program specific to them.

    Saying that ALL crossfit boxes are EXACTLY as you described is simply a lie. Many Crossfit boxes encourage their coaches to keep their athletes from going too heavy or too often. I have been told to take more rest days because my coaches knew it was necessary. And in the end, I have never been told by my coaches that it was “us v. them” out there. I make the decision to go into the box each day, I make the decision to put each plate on the bar, and I make the decision to push for that one more rep. I have also made the decision that I cannot achieve one more rep and it is time to stop. Just like in ANY workout program, it is up to the athlete to understand their body, their tendencies, and their workload, and to adjust their workout accordingly. Coaches can help, but they cannot be the end all be all of keeping an athlete from injury.

    By the way, things like football, baseball, marathon running and soccer inure more people each year than crossfit, but we don’t see you writing an article on the dangers of those sports/activities. Let’s try to be a little more objective in our reporting rather than just trying to discourage people from doing an exercise program that has worked for them.

  266. […] article was originally featured on the author's blog and reposted with permission. Erin Simmons has a Master of Science in Biology. She has worked for […]

  267. walterakana2013 says:

    Hi Erin!

    I realize it’s fashionable to write about the dangers of CrossFit. Though, wow!! I’m sure glad I didn’t see any of these when I started: I’m 66+, have been doing CrossFit for three years, and am in better shape than when I worked with trainers who used standard strength and conditioning approaches. Not only that, but it’s really offered up some powerful life lessons, as I point out here: http://bit.ly/1dQYWW9

    Frankly, while you seem to have presented lots of evidence that argue against the CrossFit, I’m troubled by how selective you were. For example, it’s not the conclusion of the WebMD article you referenced that people should not do CrossFit.” Rather it’s this:

    “Like most other exercise routines, CrossFit has advantages and concerns. The workouts are fast-paced, challenging, and constantly varied.

    “If you are healthy and can endure grueling workouts, then give it a try. You will probably enjoy it, just like most “Crossfitters.”

    Yes, they do say, “the CrossFit coach may not have an appropriate educational background in sports conditioning” –but that’s true of lots of personal trainers out there!! You also point out the lack of active coaching when you did your CrossFit workouts. But wouldn’t that also be true for people attempting workouts that are posted on line? Sure, there are going to be CrossFit gyms with poorly qualified trainers, but that’s not true everywhere. Mine gym is great, and the quality of the coaching is outstanding.

    I can respect the fact that CrossFit may not be for you. But that doesn’t make it true for everyone.

    In fact, even Dr. David Geier, in a source you cite, says he “…has no real problems with CrossFit when performed correctly, and he appreciates the variety of exercises available to participants; however, he insists that individuals must discriminate when looking at a CrossFit program.

    Bottome line: I this would have been a better piece, and you would have been of more service to your readers, if you’d offered some tips for people who want to try CrossFit anyway.

  268. Walter Akana says:

    Hi Erin!

    I realize it’s fashionable to write about the dangers of CrossFit. Though, wow!! I’m sure glad I didn’t see any of these when I started: I’m 66+, have been doing CrossFit for three years, and am in better shape than when I worked with trainers who used standard strength and conditioning approaches. Not only that, but it’s really offered up some powerful life lessons, as I point out here: http://bit.ly/1dQYWW9

    Frankly, while you seem to have presented lots of evidence that argue against the CrossFit, I’m troubled by how selective you were. For example, it’s not the conclusion of the WebMD article you referenced that people should not do CrossFit.” Rather it’s this:

    “Like most other exercise routines, CrossFit has advantages and concerns. The workouts are fast-paced, challenging, and constantly varied.

    “If you are healthy and can endure grueling workouts, then give it a try. You will probably enjoy it, just like most “Crossfitters.”

    Yes, they do say, “the CrossFit coach may not have an appropriate educational background in sports conditioning” –but that’s true of lots of personal trainers out there!! You also point out the lack of active coaching when you did your CrossFit workouts. But wouldn’t that also be true for people attempting workouts that are posted on line? Sure, there are going to be CrossFit gyms with poorly qualified trainers, but that’s not true everywhere. Mine gym is great, and the quality of the coaching is outstanding.

    I can respect the fact that CrossFit may not be for you. But that doesn’t make it true for everyone.

    In fact, even Dr. David Geier, in a source you cite, says he “…has no real problems with CrossFit when performed correctly, and he appreciates the variety of exercises available to participants; however, he insists that individuals must discriminate when looking at a CrossFit program.

    Bottome line: I this would have been a better piece, and you would have been of more service to your readers, if you’d offered some tips for people who want to try CrossFit anyway.

  269. Brandon says:

    While the author has some valid points, his broad generalizations show the same bias and ignorance from the people who have been “brainwashed” into the us vs. them mentality he speaks of. I also have to admit that he pretty much invalidated himself after admitting he never does deadliest because they are too dangerous. Hope he never has to pick up anything off tyne ground, ever.

  270. […] are many articles like the following that are making the rounds on the internet (http://erinsimmonsfitness.me/2014/04/17/why-i-dont-do-crossfit/)…I have no problem with people having an opinion and I am actually glad to see that this […]

  271. gdeitz says:

    As someone who has read the comments and your post, can you take a minute and give me your definition of “CrossFit”. It seems to me that you are working from a position that CrossFit is defined by the use of heavy weights for high reps in the complex olympic lifts. This is a fallacy and makes it impossible to truly discuss this issue as the response seems to be if it doesn’t have that, it isn’t CrossFit.

    As someone who is in the field, I have been to CrossFit affiliates that only use kettlebells for their training methods. One of the pre-requisites for being a CrossFit is not a decision to make people perform high reps with heavy weights and when form breaks down…encourage them to keep going.

    CrossFit is defined as “Functional Movements performed at high intensity across broad time and modal domains”….that is it. Within that, is the use of olympic lifts as they encourage more muscle recruitment than isolation movements.

    I do agree that the barrier to entry into CrossFit is too low. I also agree that there are many bad coaches out there who have bad programming models, but I could just as easily say those people are not CrossFit. Quality coaches in any field adapt the workout to their clients as you know. Within the CrossFit universe it is no different.

    Since you are here in Aggieland though, I would welcome sitting down and talking with you. I train at one of the local gyms in the area and would love to sit down and hear how we can be better and also answer any questions about what truly defines CrossFit and what doesn’t.

  272. oz10tx says:

    So I am reading many of your responses that just continually state over and over again that the core basic of crossfit is to do heavy Olympic lifts for time as our training and you are very wrong with that. The actual training, while being intense, shouldn’t have a lot of heavy lifting for time. Again, as I stated in my post before, coaching is very key! Now our named workouts which are usually named after military heroes do but those are our game days, not trainings. And again, these are scalable and a good coach and a smart athlete should change as such and you have to be smart about when to pull back. Ego is the number one enemy in crossfit, then bad form which comes from bad coaching and/or not being teachable.

    Now what would be good is for you to actually try crossfit for a month somewhere and write an article about how to do it safely. Since you are an athlete I bet you do start to like the challenge it presents and also the competition. Blog everyday about the workout and then you can speak more intelligently about the subject. Saying you did something once doesn’t make you a expert on why something is good or bad.

  273. Rob W says:

    Funny thing: I took the time to respond at length and in detail several weeks ago, my comment was awaiting moderation forever, and I now see that you didn’t allow it.

    I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, since I used logic and reason to challenge your highly opinionated piece. I guess you couldn’t respond intelligently to it without undermining the premise of your original post, so you chose to pretend it never happened.

    Integrity is a thing, you should try it sometime.

    • Rob, I have very slowly been working through all the comments and trying to respond to them individually. Unfortunately, I am in the middle of championship season for track and have not been able to get to them as quickly as I would like. Sorry if you feel ignored or insulted, but I just have not been able to sit down and respond to each person yet. Perhaps you should be less quick to judge next time. Thanks for your patience.

      • Rob W says:

        You proved my point by responding so quickly, actually.

        1 day to judge? yes, I agree that would be too quick. 1 week? Yeah, still quick. Almost 3 weeks? Judgment is appropriate at this point. Not feeling ignored or insulted, just curious and suspect of your motivation. Clearly, when its convenient for you to respond, you can do so within minutes :-D

        I look forward to your awesome reply to my original submission!

      • oz10tx says:

        Less quick to judge yet she judged crossfit on one workout……………..

      • Tom says:

        An excuse right off the bat! HA! Perhaps you should be less quick to judge next time and go to more than one CrossFit Box or try more than two or three workouts with your “expert” friends you knucklehead! Did this article improve your hits by the % that you were expecting?

      • Timmy says:

        There is a lot to respond to in this opinion piece. You judged crossfit fairly quickly from some bad experiences and hearsay, and you tell Rob W. not to judge you? You even reference the Huffington Post, come on.

        But I want to keep it short. The best, and most ironic part is…

        You want to see a great crossfit style workout!? http://erinsimmonsfitness.me/2014/01/28/sprint-circuit-workout-video/ Check that out! Looks a lot like a workout I just did at my CF gym. You are even advertising spartan race with the same core principles seen in CF. For one, you suggest “Battle of the Mind” as one reason to do spartan race, but its suddenly a dangerous principle when applied to CF? Couldn’t you hurt yourself the same way you can in CF pushing yourself too hard doing your Sprint Circuit? CF is just a different name for the same exercise regime you are promoting on your website.

        CF definitely has its flaws in coaching certification. But come on… this is a opinion piece designed to get people to your website. I guess it worked.

      • Kbpower says:

        Wondering when you will let Rob W comments come through?

      • Nick says:

        My question is why have you removed some of your crossfit looking workouts. I loved (sarcasm) the reponse on how to power clean…. check YouTube.
        I have problems with crossfit and this article.
        No Deadlift but Olympic lift heavy as you can. Good stuff

      • Erin, you have absolutely no obligation to respond to ANY of our posts! Your piece is controversial and thought-provoking, but fully — and correctly — backed by research. CrossFit is dangerous. Ignore the critics. You owe them not one moment of your time. Their loss.

        They are wrong. You are 100% correct.

      • Diana says:

        Are you not judging crossfit without giving it a shot? Maybe you should be less quick to judge.

      • Chris Gillis says:

        wow, I used to work with a girl on the TAMU track team (she just graduated in May). Small world I guess, but I read this article as a result of one of my facebook friends who is “all in” on crossfit and they shared an article that totally calls your blog post out.

        It is a blog and you are allowed to “rant”, but people take it to mean you were serious. I am about to be finished with a master’s degree focused heavily on biology (cell/molecular) and I had a heavy dose of pre-med focused courses for my bachelor’s degree. So i have read the physiology books, the anatomy books, taken physics, struggled through biomechanics, even taking quite a liking to them.

        I think both articles have truths. In fact I got a personal trainer certification from the supposed best of the many many providers (NASM) by merely sitting for the half day certification exam (wow a half day investment and $700 to be able to make $25 an hour!) So theoretically I could say crossfit certification is an eternity compared to getting certified by NASM (which is supposed to be at the front line of the field). And the real truth is that my small time investment of half a day to sit for the exam ended successfully because I had over 7 years of exposure to their niche. I should also add that as a junior in high school I was a mere 125 pounds standing at 6 feet 2 inches tall. My spaghetti arms got me a lot of heat so I picked up arnold schwarzenegger’s encyclopedia of body building. It is a pretty thick read, but after keeping to its message, I devoted the entire summer to gaining muscle weight. I managed to get up to 160, which was about the weight I was expected to be for my height. The peak 160 came after a little over a year of a lot of devotion to the gym.

        During my journey to accomplish this feat, I encountered a lot of people in the gym that were putting too much weight and using improper form. I also saw these guys injured. Maybe they would be the future crossfitters, who knows? I would venture to say that at the core of their bad decision is lack of knowing what the correct way really is-it takes a lot of effort to really learn properly and a lot of time to get to where you can lift lots of poundage. Either way, the truth is there have always been people doing the whole workout thing wrong, and you are right about some of the points in crossfit that are not necessiarily wrong, but just carried to execution with the wrong intents.

        I dont know I can just imagine that whoever created crossfit thought it might be cool to combine a lot of separate disciplines in the whole “workout field world” into one conglomerate that took some from here and some from there then called it crossfit. Somehow it got popular and people want to jump on the bandwagon, so now the pieces and bits that the original designer started with (already leaving essential parts of body building out) are further watered down because the good intent bandwagons bring lead to more being left out. If I had to guess a potential reason about how crossfit got as popular as it is-I would say it came from criticism by people that are “all in” for their respective field (pick any of them- performance exercise training). These people spent years, decades even, getting very advanced degrees in “performance exercise” and here comes someone that cuts out so much of the content, and surely they are going to be pissed off. Their anger sparks interest of the ignorant or of whoever really, but the bottom line is that their anger caught the eyes of many, and it is like a snowball going down a snowy hill, it gains size as it progresses down the hill (or so ive heard-not much snow in the part of Texas I live in).

        I don’t know, I kind of wish I was around as an adult in the 80s or anytime ago to see if things were similar as to the way they are now. I am guessing that at the very root of it all-the more things change, the more they stay the same.

    • Dave B says:

      Rob W,
      Coincidentally the same thing happened with my comments! Why have comments if you can’t challenge/discuss an article?

    • n says:

      Funny, same thing happened to my intelligent and well thought out reply.

    • Melissa S says:

      I’m very interested in reading Rob W’s original post and Erin’s response to it.

    • cary says:

      I think this is the appropriate response: https://medium.com/p/45e6c8057640

    • Ypete says:

      AMEN!

    • maddshot says:

      Same Rob,

      She doesn’t post when people beat down her argument with facts.

    • Michael says:

      Rob, I can’t believe you took the time. I thought about it and decided against it. Many fallacies in Erin’s post. I figured it’s best to focus my energy on my clients who want to learn.

    • ilan behar says:

      This article is hilarious. When someone uses a blanket statement to classify and judge and entire community, it’s called stereotyping. No different than saying that all women are bad drivers, or every black person has a tendency toward criminal activity. To say that there is no gym or trainer in this worldwide fitness community worthy of performing healthy exercises is coming from a person who has had one or a few bad experiences and blankets it over the entire community.
      The fact that this article has gotten so much attention is really ridiculous. Injuries happen in every high intensity sport, and it’s up to the individual to understand their limits. Instead of being so negative towards something that has changed peoples lives for the better, why not be more constructive and support the people that are getting off the couches and joining a fitness move, that yes, may be “trendy” but better for people than a new food fad like cronuts or ramen burgers. Optimism and positive thinking comes back full circle to those who put it out to the world. Be safe everyone and keep challenging yourselves.

  274. hapworth says:

    Yep. I’m a massage therapist that works in a gym and had a Crossfitter come in and his body was wildly imbalanced, claimed he wanted help because of tight hamstrings to help his workouts, and was probably my roughest session for the week. The majority of his issues came from overtraining and terrible form. I tried to cue him nicely as I know how sensitive they can get and would rather him take the advice rather than feel alienated by someone talking I’ll about CF. It’s a shame. He told me he loved it because one-on-one training and just going to the gym were boring and it was the camaraderie that kept CF exciting. If only there were even more outlets like that without the pain.

    Also, I’d suggest you reexamine the kettlebell swing. It’s a Hip Hinge movement and extremely functional… When trained properly. (as in longer than 5 minutes… I once tried to learn it myself and my Left QL was shot for a week). A certified trainer broke down the basic movement in 30 minutes and I went to another for some more corrections just in case it had degraded over the two weeks. It trains your entire posterior chain, is an explosive movement, incredible at conditioning, develops hip drive, and can help correct issues such as gluteal amnesia and an anterior pelvic tilt by not just training the hips to go into extension but firing the hell out of your glutes as a pattern. Look into the work of Pavel in his DragonDoor material or in his current organization, StrongFirst as well as Gray Cook and his Functional Movement Screen, and Dan John. These guys obsess over form and function (esp Cook). And the RKC (Dragon Door’s Kettlebell Certification) and Strong First’s Cert standards are rigorous as hell. Not like these weekend jaunts CF does where everyone passes.

    Just please stay away from these so-called “American Swings”.

  275. Ariana says:

    You saying that all crossfit gyms are alike is like me saying all crossfit gyms are good. It’s just plain dumb. My box has trainers with advanced degrees and certifications. They use Wendler programming for strength, require intensive training on the oly lifts and not only do they program months in advance, they talk to us individually about scaling for our ability.

    I was a world level athlete. Prior to crossfit I was doing spin as well as weight training. I moved to crossfit and I am in far better condition now.

    I don’t disagree that some places might be bad, but your generalization is equally silly.

  276. Tim Morrison says:

    Too many fallacies here and shortsightedness to enumerate and respond to.
    I’m no over the top Crossfit guy, but safe to say the regimen can and is done completely safely by virtually anyone and to extraordinary benefit.
    Are there other methods available to achieve the same? Yes also.

    • According to exercise physiology research, it cannot be done safely. CF is built on heavy, high rep, minimum time lifts. This is contrary to every principle of correct training.

      • It would be helpful for you to post your research that finds that CF is not effective. By your current logic any new innovation is inferior because it would contradict all existing theory. The data I am seeing out there doesn’t dispute whether CF works, but it does indicate that it can push people past their limits.

        http://www.acefitness.org/prosourcearticle/3542/crossfit-sup-tm-sup-new-research-puts-popular

        http://blogs.militarytimes.com/pt365/2013/10/30/reality-check-what-science-has-to-say-about-the-latest-fitness-fads/

        http://www.realclearscience.com/blog/2013/08/finally-a-scientific-study-on-crossfit.html

      • n says:

        Must ridiculous statement I have ever heard. Done it safely, seen it done safely by countless people, lived it. ‘it cannot be done safely’… Give me a break. get out if your textbook and do it, then write an article

      • Kody Schafer says:

        I agree with much of your sentiment regarding CrossFit. However, dead lifts can be a safely practiced exercise if your form is correct and you aren’t over-doing it on volume. Personally, it has been a tremendously beneficial routine for me.

        Every person has a unique body, and one thing that might be beneficial for them might not be for another. I’ve never done kettle bells, but I can’t imagine how I would have reached my goal without the aid of exercises like DLs that hits my entire posterior chain.

      • Nolan says:

        What is correct training?

      • Aidan says:

        The injury rate of any high intensity activity is the same as in CF (powerlifting, olympic lifting etc) if not lower…depending on which “exercise physiology research” you read. Contact sports are even worse, the injury rate in things like rugby is incredibly high (which is an entirely other concerning issue). It an be done safely, it depends on the coaches!

        Equally, things like distance running have a crazy injury rate, something like 8/10 people training for a marathon (irrespective of who you are/level-forgive if the value is slightly out but I don’t have the details to hand. It is incredibly high though). All sports carry “inherent risk”, even more so without correct coaching. The important thing is that people are doing something.

        As for being the “wrong way to train”, many people have trained HI circuits for donkeys of years, as I mentioned in my comment (that is still awaiting moderation?). Specifically the military and sports that require “grit”

      • lilychef says:

        You said there were no published studies on CF… Check this out – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23439334

      • lilychef says:

        You said there were no published studies on CF… Check this out: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23439334

      • Ted says:

        The assertion that crossfit is “built on heavy, high rep” cycles is flat out wrong. You keep calling high rep, low weight olympic lift elements “power lifting”, which is something you will rarely see in a box. High weight lifts are almost never done in a wod, and if they are, they are in the 3-5 rep range. If the weight is high for you, that was your mistake. If you knew what you were doing and your form suffered, that was your mistake. Crossfit workouts are infinitely scalable and as such, are very easy to tailor to an individual. You have obviously experienced a terrible box or two and I hate that for you. We agree that lots of people are hurt by terrible coaching and affiliate boxes that have no business training people. You are wrong to accuse every gym of having non-trained, non-expert coaches. Your other assertion that no one that knows anything about kinesiology endorses crossfit, is a ridiculous opinion that you should really have kept to yourself.

      • Nat says:

        Wrong – Crossfit is built on the air squat – that is body weight only. The fact that the few CF WODS you have down have been high rep/high weight is your experience, with one CF gym. Many times CF workouts are built on high reps and low weight – and even more often, on simple bodyweight movements. To lump 8000 plus affiliates under the same generalization is about as fair as saying you will get salmonella from all chicken. Take it up with the owner of the CF you went to – don’t lessen what many others have spent 10’s of thousands of dollars in education because we aren’t satisfied with that “weekend certificate.”

      • Nick says:

        That’s just not true. You can use any weight you want during a WOD, and typically the higher weight wods have much lower reps, at least at my gym (northwest crossfit in Seattle). It sounds like you experienced only a couple or three gyms, and it sounds like the coaches were ridiculous there. I have been to two CF gyms and have friends at many others, and never, ever have I been asked or encouraged, much less “screamed at” to add more weight, and I have never heard of this at any other gym. On the contrary, coaches have regularly advised me to use less weight, to correct form, and not to push it. So you simply cannot say that “every single thing that I’ve posted in this article refers to EVERY SINGLE GYM THAT FOLLOWS CROSSFIT.” Because the screaming, high weight, and shaming has not been true for any gym I have been to. That you would make this generalization, I think, pretty much undermines your credibility and detracts from the many other good points in this article. Bummer.

      • Kara says:

        Where do you see heavy, high rep, quick workouts anywhere? It is built on “cardiovascular/respiratory endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power,
        coordination, agility, balance, and accuracy”

        Its HILARIOUS how you can put out this article to get attention, but you post WODs with powercleans for time, and how Texas A&M teams use crossfit to train regularly. I wonder how their admins would feel about such a viral article from a member of their community.

      • coachcanadan says:

        That’s not actually true. Ask USA Weightlifting about CrossFit, they’ll sing its praises, and they’re the governing body of o-lifting in this country.
        We train heavy for strength, with minimal reps (2s, 3s), and ample rest time (5 mins between lifts).
        We also do high rep / low weight movements for time, and as any good coach will tell you, form dictates how fast someone can go. Not sure why you hate this so much, but just know that there are plenty of good coaches and gyms out there as well.

      • Javier says:

        The statement “CF is built on heavy, high rep, minimum time lifts” is an indicator you obviously have no clue what CF is about.
        Do some more research you make broad ignorant statements.

      • Shannon Sherry says:

        Yeah, that’s pretty much not at all what it’s built upon. 65 lb thrusters in a workout like Fran could hardly be constituted as “heavy/high rep”. Very few workouts that a benchmark exceed 135 lbs for me or 95 lbs for woman. Ultimately, you are responsible for you, stop blaming everyone else because you can’t a way to make something to work for you. If it made you uncomfortable to be out of your comfort zone, that’s fine, everything isn’t for everyone, but the proof is definitely in the pudding in that this type of system of exercise is extremely effective at improving all aspects of a person’s overall physical fitness.

      • Matt W says:

        With all due respect, that is a COMPLETE mischaracterization of CrossFit. Yes, just as with many sports, there are metrics involved, and one of them is time; but it is built on doing the exercises, regardless of weight, as fast as one SAFELY can, without breaking form or putting one’s self in danger.

        I’ve had 9 surgeries in the last 10 years, none of them related to CrossFit. In every case, I was
        able to recover successfully and more quickly because of the attention to correct form, safety, and the like.

        I won’t say that some of the things you allude to don’t happen; but to imply that all boxes teach incorrectly and/or don’t focus on safety is simply incorrect. I can tell you for a fact that the vast majority of WOD’s I’ve performed that kick my butt the most involved no or very low weights.

      • Fermin R says:

        If you can’t handle a certain weight then yea that’s true that it may not be done safely.. this is where a “modified workout” comes into place.. a smart trainer will modify a person’s workout in order for the workout to be safe and efficient

      • Ryan says:

        Not all workouts are timed. Not all workouts involve Oly lifts. Heavy is a relative term. You are not forced to lift a certain amount of weight and you are most certainly not required to finish the workout. You can scale the reps, scale the weight and you don’t have to sacrifice form.

      • Kayla says:

        Not built on heavy high rep lifts ….. If you’re doing a lot of reps … You go lower in weight …. Higher weight is for less reps…. Duh… That’s at crossfit gyms too

      • Steve says:

        I would be interested in this “research” you mentioned. You haven’t read the crossfit journal at all. If you did you would know the foundation of crossfit is good nurition, mobility/gymnastics, conditioning, and then weightlifting. Crossfit is just branded circuit training.

      • Kdub says:

        You have no idea what CF is built on. You are completely ignorant. It is not soley based on heavy, high rep, minimum time lifts. In fact those things are only a super small percentage of what crossfit wods are. It’s ok you don’t like crossfit. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea. But don’t go bashing something you obviously don’t know anything about. Makes you sound ignorant. As a matter of fact, I’ve seen a YouTube video floating around now and I believe it’s an Erin Simmons fitness video. It was filmed in a crossfit gym. Shows you doing power cleans with not so great technique (arms bending too early without full extension of the body and shoulders and slow getting elbows under the bar), shows some pretty sad looking box jumps, and oh what is it I see you doing…deadlifts! Quite hysterical actually that you would film a video in a gym that you bash. Crossfit is not for everyone and that’s ok. I can’t do gymnastics and am not a great runner but I’m not going to hate on those who do.

      • Claire says:

        I would love to see references for this please…. And no that’s not crossfit..

      • t1flanagan says:

        If this was 500 years, you would absolutely be in the “Earth is flat” camp.

      • eric says:

        State your sources please. Here’s an interesting link: http://www.unm.edu/~lkravitz/Article%20folder/epoc.html

        Heavy deadlifts, squats, C2 Rower work will get the job done 100X faster than your treadmills or ellipticals

      • Josh K says:

        Im trying to figure out where my double under, pushup, and 65# push press workout is built on heavy, high rep, minimum time lifts?

        Once again, properly trained coaches will modify weight/repetitions to match the athlete that is attempting to perform them. Which, is so conveniently left unexplained in your article =(

      • JP says:

        “CF is built on heavy, high-rep, minimum time lifts.”

        Please define what you mean by “heavy.” You keep using that word as if it is an objective assessment.

      • Chris Dockray says:

        according to actual experience it can

      • Ami says:

        This is so false! I did a workout yesterday with 5 deadlifts at 60% 5X- that’s 25 deadlifts! I see plenty of “gym goers” doing multiple sets of 10-15 reps! You really should have done more research before writing this blog. And on a side not the workout you speak of in another reg is called ‘Isabel ‘ not ‘Isabella’ just further reaffirming your ignorance (lack of knowledge) in crossfit

      • Michael says:

        Not true. CrossFit has workouts that have heavy weight and workouts that involve no weights whatsoever. Even a quick YouTube search will show this. You are flat out lying or are extremely ignorant of CrossFit workouts.

      • Chris N says:

        What a load of rubbish, you have absolutely no idea of what you are talking about.

      • Bobby says:

        It is not built on “heavy, high rep, minimum time” as you say. There is a specific programming that is (should be) utilized. We do blocks of strength in addition to our WODs. If Crossfit is not for you, cool. However, it is for some people, and some people do enjoy it. All I ask is that you don’t judge others for their hobbies (so long as they’re not hurting others). Lastly, I can find you NUMEROUS articles, even from your original sources, that state how running can be harmful to your back and knees.

        I leave you with this question: What is the purpose of life? Is it to stay cooped up in a bubble to avoid injury, hurt, etc.? Or is it your purpose (as it is mine) to go out and enjoy life? I’m sure many people have sustained an injury over time while enjoying a leisurely activity of their choice, but I’m also sure that they feel more alive for it as well.

        On a side note:
        I would also appreciate if you didn’t speak for Kineseologist as a whole, because I do know several that Crossfit and do extensive research of their own on the pros and cons. Also, you haven’t been to EVERY Crossfit gym and experienced EVERY Crossfit gym, so you quite literally CAN’T say you know how EACH one performs.

        Truth is, we can’t control everything that befalls us in our lives. We can, however, try to enjoy life while we have it. Crossfit, for me, is fun. It is a way for me to keep in shape. It has brought me to levels of strength and fitness I’ve never before experienced. So I will continue to enjoy it. Should you choose to join our community again, we will welcome you back graciously. If not, I wish you happiness in your fitness journey.

      • Madi says:

        Actually crossfit is based on moderate to light weight, high rep, minimum time. Heavy is relative. Of course a person first trying the sport shouldn’t try to complete it “Rx” because that weight is “prescribed” to challenge the competent crossfitter. At every crossfit gym below the prescribed weight they provide other weight targets for those who need to either take it down a notch or amp it up because some workouts do allow for a little heavier than Rx for elite athletes(but not all workouts). But the vast majority of workouts stay within a 50-60% of your max workload which can be done safely and quickly, while maintaining good form; with few workouts deviating from the norm and using very heavy weights (which, again, are not often (if ever) given to new crossfit members)

      • Brandon Dawson says:

        I would love to see a link to the articles/physiological research papers that finally nailed down what “correct” training is. It’s been a mixed basket of “this works kinda good and so does that, so do what works best for you” for far too long.

      • Alfredo says:

        I have been training for over a decade with “traditional” programs. I am new to CF. I have been doing CF for the past 3 month to complement my Ironman triathlon training. Not for once I have been “force” to go heavy, high rep, etc. I use light weight for several of the Olympic movement. I always to straight pull ups. It has been great for me. My core and legs are stronger and that is really helping my running. Dead lifts??? My good…they are the best for my lower back and that is really helping me to keep a very aggressive aero position on my tri bike for hours or finish a 1 hour swim without any lower back pain….

      • peterhoffman says:

        I don’t know if you’re really attuned to what Crossfit prescribes. CF is certainly not BUILT on heavy, high rep, minimum time lifts. Sure there are timed lifts, but it is never supposed to be heavier than you can safely perform them. That’s what scaling is for. If you are doing high rep lifts, and doing them properly, you will be using a weight that is moderate for you – not heavy.
        The RX standards are for very fit people for whom the weight is not that heavy. Like a lot of things – you need to listen to your body. I’ve been doing Crossfit over 2.5 years now and haven’t been injured by it – I’ve actually been healthier than when I was just a casual jogger and lifter. My coaches have emphasized scaling every step of the way and I don’t rush lifts, but that’s the culture at the gym.

    • Justin Hughey says:

      Tim, making a comment such as, “Too many fallacies here and shortsightedness to enumerate and respond to.” automatically translates to, “My opinion is that you’re wrong and I’m right but I’m not going to give any basis for why this is the case.” Erin has laid out multiple criticisms of CrossFit based on facts. Those facts are from years upon years of research by people much smarter than both you and I (I’m assuming you’re not a world renowned PhD) into how the human body responds to exercise.

  277. great read! thank you! my gut-feeling about CF just got confirmed

    • Tom says:

      Bert, she is an uneducated little girl posting her opinion on one experience in a crossfit box. Do more leg work for yourself and don’t listen to this half-whit.

    • Kayla says:

      It’s not very accurate at all, I know plenty of college athletes and former coaches who do it. And CF doesn’t do high weight high reps, when you have high reps it’s lower weight and higher weight is lower reps so that was definitely incorrect.

    • View From the Peak says:

      What just happened to you is known as “confirmation bias”

  278. Joe Robison says:

    Excellent article Erin – where can we find the highest quality training coaches like you described above? Are there any good gyms with highly certified trainers?

    • Joe, a lot of athletes will open their own gyms or sports training facilities. Instead of looking for a traditional gym, try to find an athletic training center or performance improvement center. There are some athletes that become personal trainers, so if you only have access to a regular gym, shop around for PTs with good credentials. If you’re around a college or university, contact their strength and conditioning department to see if any of their staff train on the side or have some spare time. Hope that helps!

      • Kayla says:

        Just because someone is a good athlete doesn’t make them a good coach. And some coaches aren’t the best athletes, it takes a good eye and knowledge some people just aren’t as naturally gifted

    • cdspangler9 says:

      Love to know this as well.

  279. Joe R says:

    Great article Erin – do you have recommendations on how to find good gyms or trainers that are certified with the above degrees you mentioned? Where can we find college athlete trainer caliber professionals to help us with our exercise?

    • ANIMAL2062 says:

      Joe, if you are in College Station, TX, talk to Shaun at Athletes Prime. They are LEGIT and they will get you squared-away (979-219-0650).

  280. “EVERY SINGLE GYM THAT FOLLOWS CROSSFIT. There are no exceptions” I do agree that $3k and a weekend are not all that is need, but when anyone makes outlandish claims to be all knowing it religates the validity of the author to focusing on sensationalizing the article to garner more hype.

    • I can make that generalization because if it is truly CF then it does heavy lifts for high reps and/or time, and that is the wrong way to lift. If you’re not doing that style of workout, it’s not CF. Yes, some gyms may be more or less qualified to teach lifts than others. But even if there is a “good” coach, if they are following a bad program it is still poor training. Your coach can teach you all the good form in the world, but if your body is tired and broken down after 30 snatches (Isabella, I believe?), for example, then you have set yourself up to revert to poor form and you become extremely susceptible to injury. These workouts also put your muscles under extreme stress for too long of a period of time, which can permanently damage the muscle cells. So yes, I do believe I can make that generalization and still be correct.

      • Sarah says:

        I have trouble taking your article seriously because of the absurd overgeneralizations as Jason P points out. And yet when responding to that you state: “if it is truly CF then it does heavy lifts for high reps and/or time…. If you’re not doing that style of workout, it’s not CF”…. which explains your previous outlandish claims considering you clearly don’t even understand the foundation of crossfit. Constantly varied functional movements performed at high intensity…. I must have missed that whole ‘you have to lift heavy at high reps if you want to be an official crossfitter.’ While I respect that crossfit is not for everyone, I do also respect the opinions of those who truly take the time to understand the foundations and fundamentals of it before making blanket statements such as those made in your article.

      • Patrick says:

        But that last sentence is the issue. Your generalization is not correct. To say that you are only doing CF if you are doing heavy lifts for high reps and/or time is an inaccurate generalization. Are there workouts with that type of programming? Yes. But for every one that has that I can find another one that has no lift involved at all. There are plenty that are based solely around gymnastics/bodyweight movements only. And as for “cardio” there are also plenty with either running or rowing. I am not arguing that CF doesn’t have its flaws (it does) or that it isn’t for everybody (it isn’t) but I have been doing CF for 3 years now and am in better overall shape (a good balance of cardio endurance and strength) than I ever have been. Perhaps it is because I don’t do CF as you define it or perhaps it is because I viewed my weekend cert as just the starting point of my foundation of knowledge. I am glad I found CF because it introduced me to the olympic lifts and other lifts that I now love doing. Granted I typically save the heavy lifting/olympic lifting for the strength portion of my workouts, but I feel still follow the core idea behind CF of constantly varried, functional movements, performed at high intesity across broad time and modal domains. Nowhere in that do I see the statement that you must include heavy lifts for high reps. Are there bad coaches and bad gyms? Yes. Is some of the programming on the mainsite bad? In my opinion, yes. But the great thing is that each individual coach and box can determine their own programing. If a gym is not following your generalized idea of what CF is it does not mean they are not truly doing CF. It just means that they are doing it correctly.

      • Tom says:

        Sheepgirl, HI! Any and all lifts are supposed to be done at your speed and weight. Do people want to get a high score and sacrifice form because of it, YES. Is that the person’s choice? YES. Not every workout has heavy Oly lifts for high reps. Please stop generalizing and do some research!

      • Ken Dailey says:

        So no one in the strength and conditioning world gets hurt from lifting heavy? There is an inherent risk with anything we do in life and to make generalizations about CrossFit specifically shows fear on your part about a growing movement in the world of fitness. I’ll be the first to support any style of getting fit because isn’t that the goal at the end of the day? I understand CrossFit is not for everyone, but to write such an article really discredits your credentials as fitness expert there is only opinion based theories in your article. Don’t hate change embrace it…

      • Dave W says:

        “If you’re not doing that style of workout, it’s not CF.” So the myriad of CrossFit WODs that don’t include oly lifts aren’t CrossFit?

      • I totally agree. Generalized statements can be made when talking about an institution because it’s the philosophy of the said institution. Although cigarette companies put warnings on their packets we can still say they don’t care for your health, because they still sell the thing. I fully support your facts (not opinions).

      • David Conner says:

        Erin – You are certainly entitled to your opinion about CrossFit and if you don’t like it I respect that. While I go to a CF gym and find that it works well for me, it isn’t for everyone and there are plenty of flaws within their model to criticize. However, you seem to be hung up on this assertion that a workout or gym isn’t truly “CrossFit” unless it preaches complex lifts with heavy weights performed at high speed and/or reps, and that simply isn’t true. Many CF gyms (including the one I go to) recognize the inherent danger in that methodology and program in a more thoughtful way, avoiding things like heavy olympic lifts for time and complex gymnastic movements for those who don’t have the skills or strength to properly perform them. One of the interesting points about the CF model is that the CrossFit corporate entity doesn’t dictate the programming to the individual affiliate gyms. They are free to program however they want, so it is actually true that the gym owners and trainers have everything to do with the safety and effectiveness of the programming within their own gyms. They are all different – some are very thoughtful in their programming and others program exactly as you describe (fast and heavy for the sake of fast and heavy). Some trainers are extremely well-qualified and others have the bare minimum qualifications needed to call themselves trainers. But the fact that you don’t acknowledge this, and actually specifically argue the opposite, shows a glaring lack of research and undermines your credibility here. I’m not trying to change your mind about CF, as you’ve clearly made it up. I just wish your article was based on actual fact rather than you manipulating the facts to suit your position. It would’ve taken all of 10 minutes on the phone with actual gym owners to figure this out.

      • Met-Con4Life says:

        Extremely Susceptible?! 30 reps with 135/95lbs?? That is quite light weight for being “extremely susceptible” to any type of injury. Unless you consider muscle fibers tearing a real injury… Seems like Metabolic Conditioning is the preferred training methods of most high level athletes, that take part in serious sports like MMA. Or physically demanding jobs like being an Army Ranger, which you’ll probably say is dumb to go around with a hundred pounds of gear on kicking in doors on the daily, Because it will make your back hurt. Not your fucking run in a circle track bull shit. You my friend may have gotten so much sand in your vagina from the countless hours you’ve spent lying on a beach (not in a gym) that it will all never come out. Thus leaving you a cry ass for life. I’m sorry for your miserable existence, safe to say you won’t last long due to your refusal to evolve.

      • Kayla says:

        Anyone will agree that the prescribed weights aren’t super heavy , more reps yes but it is up to the athlete to SCALE no one makes you pick up the weight there is a lot of personal accountability. Just like if you go to the doctor YOU need to tell them if something is wrong, they can’t read mind s

      • Rachel says:

        I wouldn’t consider myself a Crossfiter, but more of a runner now. And that is just because it is what I enjoy, but will do a couple of WODs a week. I also ran Cross Country and played basketball in college. I have a questions for you. Where have you gained your ‘definition’ of Crossfit? I have searched, but have not seen anything generalizing as you have, “if it is truly CF then it does heavy lifts for high reps and/or time”. There is no way to generalize Crossfit. Crossfit specialty is not specializing. That is the point. I could be in my backyard chopping wood and it could technically be considered a WOD. Yes, there are boxes with poor trainers, just like there are poor PTs, personal trainers, coaches, doctors and college athletes. I have had those bad coaches, doctors and trainers through 20+ years of sports. As in any work out community whether it be your home gym, personal trainer, large gym or sports team, it is about who you want as your coach, what keeps you motivated and how YOU do the work. The boxes I have visited never once did I see a coach yell, or anyone yelling actually (that wasn’t normal cheering, as at any athletic event). So for you to generalize CF puts any validation you have to rest. You bashing the CF community as a whole is just wrong. And besides looking down on CF you should share with people how to find the proper box or gym for them. Meaning the right coach or trainer. Ask people to do their own research and work with a professional. It is very easy to find out. People can normally visit a box first to meet people and speak with the trainer to see if it for them. I would recommend you ask when is busiest class and go then so you see it in full swing.

        And yes, I have seen it myself that NFL players actually doing the WOD as well as current college athletes and high school students looking to improve. Professional athletes absolutely use CF boxes for the WODs not just the equipment. Please just stop making statements before during research on this or asking for yourself.

        Also, from your previous posts you have stated that you run different races and I am just assuming that as a college athlete you have put your body to the test, (as I have done so many times myself) how is this different than the thousands who are doing CF now? There are many track and field teams that have unhealthy exercise habits and often times get hurt. I am asking that you reconsider your generalization on people getting healthy and instead use your voice and education to warn people how to prevent injury as the best that they can and stop generalizing as a whole a community that is making a true difference in peoples lives. You only talking about the extremes, not the ever day goers, who are there to learn how to be healthy, listen to their coach and live a healthy life style with other who want to do the same.

        (Also, please use valuable sources when researching. WebMD is not something that should be quoted as a valuable source, any doctor can tell you this….)

      • Matt says:

        I own a CrossFit gym and write my own program. In case you don’t know what CrossFit is, it’s “constantly varied, functional movements performed at high intensity” as well as “increased work capacity across broad time and modal domains.” Please tell me where that says “heavy lifts for high reps and/or time.” I have seen 2 workouts on your blog and they are both 100% identical to the workouts we do. Am I not doing CrossFit? There are some named CrossFit workouts that don’t involve weight at all, is that not CrossFit? My gym just did a 1 mile run, is that not CrossFit? 3×5 Squats at 70% is what we did this week, is that not CrossFit? If you said that all of these workouts aren’t CrossFit then you truly have no idea what CrossFit really is and you are the one that is brainwashed.

      • Rachel.corey says:

        Isabel. Get your facts right.

      • Very poor assumptions and over-generalizations galore in your article and responses:
        1) “CF is built on heavy, high rep, minimum time lifts”. False. Many “Rx” weights are set to challenge members to fatigue and not failure. And if someone finds a weight too heavy, they scale back. For example, Fran (Thrusters / Pull Ups) is 65# for women. I would say that is not a very heavy weight. Look at all the benchmark workouts and your notion will be debunked.

        2) “[B]ad programming”. Have you followed a 12-week CrossFit workout cycle before? Do you realize that there isn’t one universal CrossFit program? Or just been two 2 classes and make a broad assumption of overall programming? Exactly. There are sport specific, strength, Olympic, endurance, etc programs depending on the athletes needs. There are new programs constantly being developed by some of the worlds top CrossFit coaches and other sport specific coaches.

        3) Poor form, once fatigued, is only completed by those who don’t check their ego at the door and try to “out-do” the other participants – these people don’t tend to stick around CrossFit too long. Those who want to become better athletes are meticulous about form and focus less on what the clock says, and more with what their body says. Coaches drive virtuosity in the heads of their clients on a daily basis.

        You do track, so your coaches get your to train for track. Therefore, you have a very narrow and subjective approach to this topic.

      • John says:

        Here is a video of well-known CrossFit athlete Ben Smith doing the 30 snatch workout you just referred to (Isabel). Could you please inform me which one of his 30 repetitions is the one that looks like he is “extremely susceptible to injury”?

      • Lisa says:

        Isabella???

        That workout would be Isabel. Fact check maybe?

      • Josh K says:

        The fallacy in that argument is the concept of modification when it comes to speed, and what the definition of “speed” is. When crossfitters are attempting to move fast, the caveat is “fast – while under control and with good form.” Trained coaches will modify the weight, and/or number of reps for an “RX’d” workout for individuals who may tire and sacrifice form. The example workout Isabel, 30x 135/95# snatches for time, the Rx version – can and should be modified for someone to complete safely and with the best form possible. If that means doing it slower and with less weight – that is encouraged. I feel bad that you had such a bad experience(s).

      • Greg says:

        The definition or style of CrossFit is not “heavy lifts for high reps and/or time,” as you state above. That is incorrect. The actual definition of CrossFit is “constantly varied functional movements performed at relatively high intensity.” You can find it on CrossFit.com as well as the entire theory behind the methodology. If you looked into it a little more you would find that most WODs don’t incorporate Olympic Lifts for many of the reasons that you cite (complexity, high skill level required, prone to cause injury etc.) and certainly not at heavy weights. Some “benchmark” WODs do, but most workouts done at local gyms on a daily basis do not. You don’t have to post this comment, in fact I would prefer that you don’t. I just wanted you to know that you are leaving yourself open to ridicule from the CrossFit community because your limited understanding of what CrossFit really is undermines your credibility. You obviously know your stuff when it comes to strength and conditioning, but writing an article in which you create blanket definitions in order to support your own conclusion makes the article invalid in its own right. You’re right about a lot; rampant improper form and uneducated coaches mostly. However, you cannot make the generalization about all gyms and truly expect it to hold any weight. I’ve belonged to three gyms. One was horrible, exactly what you described. Bad coaching, bad programming, and bad attitudes. One was really an open gym providing a suggested WOD with one on one instruction, or letting you follow programming of your choice, still giving personal coaching if you asked for it. The third is run by a couple who have strength and conditioning backgrounds, train NFL players in the off-season, and hold multiple nationally recognized certifications. Again, I understand that you have years of experience doing this, but please take a moment before you roll all of us up in the same cloth. That would be like me saying that ALL typical strength and conditioning coaches and personal trainers hate CrossFit because they are holding onto the past and refuse to embrace change and new progressive ideas. I know that statement doesn’t hold any weight, and I would be mocked for saying anything like that. So please, do yourself a favor and just look a little deeper before you write about how horrible CrossFit is again. I’m not trying to change your mind, I just really can’t stand reading unsubstantiated arguments online. Sorry to be so long winded, but I hope this helps you.

      • Head Coach says:

        From CrossFit.com

        Wednesday 5/28: WOD
        Split jerk 3-3-3-3-3-3-3 reps
        (No mention of time or weight)

        Saturday 5/24: WOD
        Shoulder press 3-3-3-3-3-3-3 reps
        (No mention of time or weight)

        Tuesday 5/20: WOD
        For time:
        100-meter walking lunge
        800-meter run
        100 squats
        (No lifts, everything is body weight)

        CrossFit benchmark WOD “Annie”
        For time: 50-40-30-20-10
        Double-Unders
        Sit-Ups

        The list goes on…

        None of these WODs include high-rep Olympic lifts. But according to you, irrespective of coaching or content, a WOD must have high rep Olympic lifts to be considered CrossFit. While there are some WODs that fit the description of what you describe, there are many more that do not. So is CrossFit.com not doing CrossFit? I’m confused.

        Please explain.

      • Adam S says:

        Isabel is not a “heavy” workout. Unless 135# is a high percentage of your 1-rep max (for males), in which you should scale the load down to a more appropriate number. If a person has been exercising for long enough, it isn’t that difficult to realize when your body has had enough (e.g. lower back strain), and they can stop.

        I checked a n entire year worth of daily logs and I found only ONE workout which I would qualify to be “heavy.” It was one in which I didn’t really agree with nor would I ever program myself, but I just took it easy. That was the CrossFit Open 14.3, which ascending deadlifts and box jumps/step-ups at 10×135, 15×185, 20×225, 25×275, 30×315 (this starts to get heavy) and 35×365. In between each stage there are 15 box jumps. With a time cap, you either go until you cannot safely perform anymore reps or abandon safety and try for a better “score.” Either way, that is up to the person doing the workout to decide. If you don’t think people that don’t participate CrossFit don’t do stupid workouts, you haven’t been a gym…. ever.

        I have been doing CF for over 5 years and even I took a look at the program and knew it was going to be too much, so I stopped before the deadlifts got a little dicey.

        Other than that ONE, SINGLE, workout, I haven’t done anything that could be considered “high rep” that is also accompanied with “heavy weight.” Doing some math, it looks like once I did some Thrusters that were about 55% of my Front Squat 3-rep max (165 vs 295) for sets of 10. I just decided to turn it into an interval and perform 2 sets of 5, each round, with a timed rest period.

        And my final thoughts, bashing CrossFit makes you part of the majority, not the minority. It is the “in” thing to do, because, you know, “science.” I don’t do CrossFit to lose weight, get ripped or throw around heavy things. I do it so I can increase my GPP as part of a Strength & Conditioning program.

  281. Katy says:

    I am SO glad you wrote this. I have felt the same way for a couple of years, since I wised up (aka released myself from the brainwashing) and left crossfit. Unfortunately, it took a very serious injury to bring me wisdom and enough strength to leave. It was after work on October 31, 2011 Halloween, and our coach had us skip the warmup because he wanted to get home to pass out Halloween candy. So we did this really strenuous WOD for time, the whole time being screamed at to go faster, harder, and all of a sudden, I felt my head explode. I stopped for a second, but picked back up after getting yelled at to keep going. I finished the workout, but driving home, with a terrible headache, my vision started to do strange things. By the time I got home, I had complete tunnel vision and could see nothing but a pinprick size and my hands were tingling. I had been speaking to my husband but then he noticed my words started to make no sense and were complete gibberish. He rushed my to the ER and it turns out, the extreme exercise, with no warmup, and the pressure to go FASTER, FASTER, HARDER caused me to have a minor brain aneurism. That was the last WOD I ever did. I never told anyone at the gym because I knew their reaction would be that it was something else that caused it because crossfit is totally safe or maybe it was my fault and I had done something wrong. I didn’t feel like dealing with the frat (er, cult) culture and just stopped going. I am so glad to hear you speak up about the dangers of this terrible exercise fad. This article is 100% right on.

    • Kayla says:

      Well that was an awful coach, you should NEVER skip warmup.

    • leamdav says:

      I have been doing Crossfit for about 18 months now. I have never been pressured by a coach to ever go faster than I am comfortable with. My experience has been all positive as the coaches are thoughtful and concerned with form above all else. If you can’t do a lift, do it with no weight, or even just a PVC pipe until you feel comfortable. It sounds like your experience was just bad coaching plain and simple and should not be associated with all gyms.

    • leamdav says:

      I have been doing Crossfit for about 18 months now. I have never been pressured by a coach to ever go faster than I am comfortable with. My experience has been all positive as the coaches are thoughtful and concerned with form above all else. If you can’t do a lift, do it with no weight, or even just a PVC pipe until you feel comfortable. It sounds like your experience was just bad coaching plain and simple and should not be associated with all gyms.

    • Mike says:

      So, your “coach” had you skip a warm up… you began a strenuous WOD for time, constantly being screamed at. You felt your “head explode”, yet continued to pick up the bar and workout because your “coach” told you to? Sounds like a completely stupid decision you made, KNOWING all these problems. Clearly you were in a terrible gym “box” with a very uneducated trainer/coach that had no regard to athletes safety or well being. Its terrible you received this injury (possibly caused by your believed reasons) however, I think it’s obvious how poor of a decision you made!! And to blame CF as a whole… LOL!

  282. Peter Nielsen says:

    You can be a CrossFit affiliate without doing the crossfit.com WOD. There are different boxes. Some require more training than the certification. Some do their own programming. It’s ignorant to claim that all are the same, unless your definition is very narrow.

  283. taplatt says:

    Thank you so much for this. I haven’t tried CrossFit myself but from what I’ve heard — and from also being a college athlete doing Olympic lifts — I completely agree with you. I’ve seen a similar sort of thing in yoga, where people go into power vinyasa classes without ever having learned the proper alignment for poses. It’s just asking for injury.

  284. JiMMaR says:

    what are your thoughts on the boot camp classes? since they are less intense more relaxed ones

  285. JiMMaR says:

    What about the boot camp classes? what are your thoughts about them?

  286. Felix says:

    I have a lot of issues with crossfit; from high rep o-lifts to the travesty during the open this year with increasing reps of increasingly heavier deadlifts to overhead kettlebell swings and other things.

    However, opening this article with “deadlifts are too dangerous, swings are too dangerous, and ‘I knew better but did it anyways and got hurt’ then going on to end with “all crossfitters at all crossfit gyms need to stop doing crossfit immediately because they’ll get hurt” doesn’t really reflect that well on the article as a whole.

    Deadlifts and swings are both very safe, relatively low risk exercises if taught in the proper manner, The hinge is a primal movement pattern that most people must relearn to do. Also, every, single gym does not follow a typical crossfit wod or crossfit programming; they do their own programming and periodize properly.

    It’s like anything else in the fitness industry; there are good coaches, bad coaches and everything in between. Bad crossfitters give everyone else a really bad name but that doesn’t mean there aren’t knowledgeable people that do things the right way.

    Finally, the body breaking down issue is more for very experienced athletes; Joe and Nancy from around the block mostly have to make sure they join a great gym with good coaching and programming rather than worrying if their bodies will break down from overuse.

  287. Emmett says:

    Great article. I’ve always had a negative gut feeling about Crossfit. Once upon a time I did the full p90x program, and it was a fun challenge. (I probably won’t do it again though, because I don’t really see the point.) The difference I think between that and Crossfit in a “box” is with p90x I could feel and logically pull back when I felt like I was getting into a high injury risk zone with bad form. Tony even warns you about this constantly throughout the program. In the cf “box” mob mentality kicks in, people start showing off a bit, and the emotional high overrides common sense. You may as well just go into a mosh pit with 50# dumbbells.

  288. Neil Sharma says:

    Great point. I’ve known of the Rhabdo argument, but never thought about it from the perspective of too quickly introducing beginners to exercises with complex form.

    What are your thoughts on Insanity? I know that you have to be decently fit to do it, and not have weak joints or stiff muscles otherwise you’d risk injuring yourself. Do you think it suffers the same problems as CrossFit?

  289. alline85 says:

    Thank you so much for voicing the ‘unpopular’ opinion in such a well-written manner!

  290. David says:

    Sounds like you simply went to a real crappy CrossFit or two. Yes, some suck. Most are fantastic. Please don’t judge us by our worst examples.

  291. Big Cliff says:

    And I’m betting you don’t have the balls to post my comment. Typical haters will only allow posts that support their “claims.” And I had such hope for you.

  292. Big Cliff says:

    Thank you for lumping the thousands and thousands of CrossFit gyms into the same category. Yes, we are all the same. You nailed it. We all have the same background…..nothing but a weekend course. Yup. Then we opened a gym, and we all yell at people to go faster no matter how crappy their form is. You totally nailed every single gym on the planet. How long did it take you to visit every CrossFit in the world? Must have been quite the project for someone who hates CrossFit. Usually if I dislike something, I ignore it and move on. You seemed a bit obsessed, like most of the haters. I guess I’m special because I still see gains, lifting PR’s and faster times six years into my CrossFit career. No major injuries either. It must only be me, because, as you say, everyone plateaus and breaks down and apparently dies a painful death. Also, please educate us more on exactly how many reps is “safe.” How sore is too sore? Should I not drive to the box because I might get in an accident? Maybe I should become a hermit and live under a rock to stay safe from all the crazy CrossFit people? I also look forward to your research backing your claims about the high rate of injury. Do you have percentages? What percentage of track athletes get injured? Maybe we should stop doing track, too. There is a chance you might get sore or tweak a hamstring. We should abolish the pole vault, at least. The injury rate is very high for that event. I have no evidence, but I just know. Bottom line, I love CrossFit. Our coaches ARE very good and keep us all in line and preach safety and form. I’ve never seen anyone blow out their back or shoulder. Are there injuries? Yes. Just like every single physical activity that man has ever done. Do I HAVE to go out of my comfort zone? No. I can do whatever the heck I want. Lift what I feel comfortable with. Go as fast as I feel I am capable. You can stick with your routine, I’ll stick with mine and keep kicking ass day after day. Oh, and I won’t bitch and moan about anyone else’s routine…..that’s what haters do.

  293. Graham King says:

    An article of this length can only be responded to in kind. However, on your own page you have the following workout: http://erinsimmonsfitness.me/2012/01/12/picture-post-and-workout-of-the-week/

    Power Cleans, et al for Speed? And then a link to a video when someone asks you how to perform the exercise? You should know that power cleans shouldn’t be suggested on an online forum without proper instruction.

  294. Ian says:

    Erin, I’m glad you took the time to write this out.

    While I don’t doubt that the points you’ve written out seem compelling, you don’t seem to have a whole lot of evidence beyond anecdotes. So let’s take some time to address them.

    First, a lot has been made about the injury-potential of crossfit. Let’s not forget– every time you walk into a Crossfit gym, the average person there is going to be lifting heavier and more complicated lifts than your average gym goer. So naturally, the risk is elevated simply from putting more weight on the bar– a fact that every serious lifter is aware of. But, much has been made by yourself (and others) anecdotally about Crossfit’s injury rates. A very recently published article attempted, for the first time, to study this scientifically (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24276294). They found an incidence rate of 3.1 injuries per 1000 training hours. A similar study on professional rugby players (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20543742)– players with elite conditioned bodies, mind you– found a training injury rate of 20.7 per 1000 hours, and injuries were most likely to occur during non-contact training drills. A similar study on semi-pro rugby players (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12547741) yielded a training injury rate of 45.3 per 1000 hours.

    Is Rugby too violent? Ok, well, here’s a study (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1941297/) that focused on 16 collegiate sports: men’s baseball, men’s basketball, women’s basketball, women’s field hockey, men’s fall football, men’s spring football, men’s gymnastics, women’s gymnastics, men’s ice hockey, men’s lacrosse, women’s lacrosse, men’s soccer, women’s soccer, women’s softball, women’s volleyball, and men’s wrestling, across Div I, II, and III. If you consider preseason training– the time when athletes are pushing their bodies to get better, Div I athletes have a training injury rate of 7.28 per 1000 practices– well over twice the injury rate that Crossfitters have. Div III athletes, the least likely to injure themselves, have an injury rate of 5.87 per 1000 practices, still almost double a Crossfitter.

    So, are some Crossfitters knuckleheads and think that pain is winning? Sure. But is that a Crossfit-centric problem? Or like any sport, are there adherents who are idiots while the silent majority toils along, not being jerks?

    The fact is– most of the issues you have are made up out of fear of the unknown. For example– the common critique you make that olympic lifts shouldn’t be done for time, or high reps– is nonsensical. Show me evidence. Show me a paper. A study. Anything. Have there been ANY studies whatsoever to provide evidence to your point that olympic lifts are not meant to be done in sets of 30 for time? Anything? No. But you know who doesn’t seem to have a problem with 30 sets of olympic lifts for time? Bob Takano, Glenn Pendlay, Mike Burgener, Mark Rippetoe, Lon Kilgore…living coaching legends of USA Weightlifting who probably have forgotten more about lifting than any of us will ever learn. Not enough? Here’s Dmitry Klokov doing 30 snatches for time. At 105 freaking kgs. http://www.allthingsgym.com/dmitry-klokov-isabel-crossfit-workout/ Here’s Kendrick Farris doing 30 snatches for time, too, as a guest at the Crossfit games. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TAZgiahlvjs (he also has a video of him learning how to kip).

    So, I think that the realization about Crossfit is two-fold– first, it’s a sport, athletes get injured. But it turns out that despite everyone’s caterwauling, the injury rate for Crossfit athletes is exceptionally low. Second, can we agree to stop w/the anecdotal evidence and fear-mongering, and focus instead on science based evidence when analyzing a sport in terms of its danger? You’re an influential voice, and a budding scientist. You should have a duty to systematic evidence, not anecdotal fear.

  295. It really doesn’t matter what your qualifications are, how many degrees you have, or even what you think you can do. Heck the program you use doesn’t even matter if your clients don’t see results. I have met many “Trainers” with all the book knowledge in the world who fail at keeping clients. Why? Because in the end they fail to understand that all the client wants is to look and feel better. If you fail to meet that expectation, your qualifications won’t save you.

  296. Alicia says:

    This is a great post. I was a member at two different boxes both had the same mentality. Train hard or go home. Once you start to question crossfit you get put in the corner and no one wants to be your friend. I have learned a lot about training and crossfit doesn’t get you in shape it gets you friends.

  297. Joe Shmoe says:

    while I am not into the Crossfit scene either, being a C.S.C.S. I do like to read other peoples opinions on fitness and why they believe the things they do. You are the only person I know to say that the deadlift and kettlebell benefits are not worth the risk. I’m not saying you’re an idiot, but you’re an idiot.

  298. Chris says:

    There are many things stated as facts about CrossFit in this article that are specific to your experience with CrossFit workouts and CrossFit coaches. You have lumped all CrossFit coaches and gyms into a stereotype that is not entirely true. All CrossFit gyms and coaches are not created equal. People are responsible for themselves to research and find the right gym/coach for them, and they are responsible to know their limitations and never push beyond good form.

  299. Jason Nevins says:

    Sounds like you had a very bad experience with CrossFit. I have been doing it for about a year and had been a gym owner for 10 years before going into the corporate world. I was also a former college football player and track athlete and a Physical Therapist by trade. I fully agree on your point of the high reps for Olympic lifts. They for sure where not designed for that sort of use. But the rest of your points I feel are a little off. The gym I train at gives modifications to the workouts for anyone that needs them regardless to the workout. There are many progressions and skill training sessions that must be achieved before attempting things such as muscle ups. You mentioned high stress for long periods of time leading to injuries. Isn’t that marathon running and triathlons to a T? Those “Sports” at a competitive level have FAR greater occurrence of injury and even the hot term “Rhabdo” than CrossFit has ever had. To me the biggest issue with CrossFit is the lack of quality control and accountability of who can open a gym and be a trainer at those gyms. That is the point that you touched on very well. I feel that instead of painting CrossFit with such a broad brush that one should do some research for a real quality gym and experience what it is like. You seem to be a very intelligent person with a ton of great training experiences but feel your argument is a little generalized. An example is the lack of wanting to do dead lifts. If you are training athletes to do one of the most beneficial exercises for a dynamic sport, The Power Squat Clean, you must first be able to dead lift the weight first showing great posture and explosion from the floor. The teach the Clean from the floor without teaching the dead lift first would be just as crazy as those idiots trying to do a muscle up with out being taught how to progress it properly first.

    Anyway, well written post but I think you went to a bad gym and are generalizing a bit too much.

    Thank you

  300. mdbritt says:

    I have enjoyed some Crossfit workouts, do a lot of Olympic lifting and will occasionally do a WOD just to see how my time stacks up. It is fun and I generally like the Crossfit folks. I have immense respect for the top Crossfit athletes. But, Erin, you hit the nail on the head; doing it all the time is not really a wise way to build lifetime fitness.

  301. amanda says:

    Interesting read. But as a previously unfit person who had been to gyms where you get shown how to do something once then never get any instruction again, I would disagree with much of what you have said. My box demo’s every move every class and individuals continually receive guidance on technique. Our weights are scaled to suit ability. Form is checked throughout. While there is a Wod, this is frequently modified to suit various individual members. And we do cardio such as running rowing and sprints as part of our wod. If it keeps me fit and strong that’s good enough for me.
    As for the cult mentality – crossfit is a community of support. You can be as involved or not as you see fit. No different to any other gym or club. The fact that it is referred to as a cult just shows how passionate members are about it.

  302. ktgreening says:

    Yep, been there done that. Got told by my trainer to not do it too! Was told by the coach at the gm that other gyms don’t do it right. Within a month I threw my back out by trying to PR a dead lift I had no business dead lifting.

    Lesson learned and I won’t be Crossfitting ever again.

  303. Tim says:

    Well written! Just curious, when you talk kettlebell swings do you mean the American (Crossfit style which goes overhead) swing or the Hardstyle Swing taught be StrongFirst or RKC which only goes to chest, shoulder or eye level.

  304. Chris says:

    Stupid article to generalize with the same bullshit CrossFit analyzation every other non-crossfit fitness professional has shit out.
    First of all, the popularity of real athletic styles of training such as gymnastics, oly lifting, and powerlifting has only been increased because of CrossFit.
    Second, you are simply using CrossFit to promote yourself because you know it will create traffic to your site.
    Third, you don’t deadlift? There is zero risk when done properly and it is extremely functional for peoples daily lives. Can you not teach someone how to do a proper deadlift? If you cant you have no business teaching Oly lifts or fitness in general.
    Last, CrossFit boxes are all different, different levels of coaching, different programming philosophy etc.
    Also your intensity argument is bullshit, Rhabdo is a and a million chance, way more likely to have a stroke or heart attack, and it exists more in ultra marathon like events and in the military. Every CrossFit coach I know understands scaling. I work with a chiro and two physio’s who both do CrossFit and preach to their clients the benefits when properly implemented.

    Hate when this bullshit pops up on my screen.

  305. April says:

    I am not disagreeing with your entire post but do have to disagree with your statement that “No entity of professional athletics promotes CrossFit.” It is well documented that during the 2011 NFL lockout many players trained at CrossFit boxes (or at gyms using CrossFit methods) to stay in shape while not allowed to use the team facilities. Some, at the suggestion of their coaches. Also look into CrossFit PIA (Players in Action) which is an investment group that includes San Diego Chargers running back Ladainian Tomlinson, Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, MMA legend Chuck Liddell and others.

    • I’m not surprised by that at all, Crossfit boxes are an amazing place to train because they have all the right equipment for athletes to work out. The problem is that CF workouts themselves are flawed. You can get a CF membership without subscribing to the CF workouts and mentality. You can pay your (very high) dues and just use the equipment. I doubt seriously you had NFL players joining in on the daily WOD with everyone else. A CF box would be the most readily accessible place for a player to train outside of their normal facilities since regular gyms don’t typically have the equipment a that real athletes use.

      • Tom says:

        Compare those high dues to personal trainer fees 3x a week…. Hummm that $120 bucks a month doesn’t look too bad now does it little miss rocket scientist.

      • dave says:

        How bout nosean moreno?

      • dave says:

        http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=BclDoaf35oIes

        I know I spelt knowshon wrong but here is your video about him actually working out with a group doing a WOD

      • Trent Shelton used to play for the Cults and goes to my local Box.

      • Gloria Hale says:

        CF works and is an amazing community if you have the proper coaches and methodology. Sounds to me like the box(es) you went to let you jump right into the wod. First, you must take a preliminary CF class that lasts a couple weeks, for the novice to learn proper movement and technique to avoid injury. Second, everything is scalable. Every weight, every pull up band, every run, every wod. If someone is stupid enough to push beyond their means (like they do in globo gyms) then they will get hurt. Third, at the beginning of each wod the coach goes over each movement to be sure everyone knows the proper technique. Also, the coach should be watching each person making sure they have proper form during the workout. I cannot tell you how many times I have seen people using horrible form while lifting or squatting in other gyms. And there is no one watching or coaching them. As for Oly lifts,it’s not a requirement in CrossFit. If you don’t want to do them, then don’t. And finally, CrossFit is the principal strength and conditioning program for many police academies and tactical operations teams, military special operations units, champion martial artists, and hundreds of other elite and professional athletes worldwide. I’m not sure it was meant for the average athletic person or soccer mom. My husband is a S.W.A.T Sergeant and it is imperative that he is in top condition, running, lifting, endurance, strength so that he and his team can save live and protect our community. CrossFit does that for him. It’s too bad you didn’t have good experiences in the 2 boxes you visited. It’s as though you’re giving all of the CF community a bad wrap because of 2 boxes. That’s a shame.

      • Josh K says:

        Knowshon Moreno.

      • Shane Sevcik says:

        I personally trained with Knowshon Moreno and 3 other members of the Denver Bronco’s during the lock out at Crossfit Verve in Denver. What about my friend who owns a Crossfit gym. Similar background to yours, just at a much higher level?

        ~Tom Pappas brings a wealth of insight and personal experience to Lane5 Crossfit. He is one of the most decorated decathletes of all time, making 3 Olympic teams, winning 2 World Championships, and 7 National Titles. His accolades include: 2003 Jesse Owens Award, 2003 ESPY for Male Track Athlete of the Year, 2003 Oregon Professional Athlete of the Year, Ranked #1 in the World 2003, 2004.

      • Gianfranco De Vettori says:

        Knowshon Moreno did crossfit as a player for the Denver Broncos at Crossfit Verve.(Now he plays for the Miami Dolphins.) Also Saints head coach, Sean Payton does crossfit at Crossfit Big Easy in New Orleans. He also has his team participate in Crossfit workouts.
        I respect your piece, and I will say that I am a crossfitter. I have seen some horrible boxes where the coaching is terrible and you won’t see the people that work out at those crappy boxes go to Regionals or the Games. People need to do some research and try different boxes out before choosing on one box to work out at. I went to 4 different boxes before I chose on the one I go to. In my box, Tekton Crossfit, all the coaches that have majored in Kinetics or Exercise and Sports Science in college. You’re right people need to do research about where they go, like a Performance center. Then hopefully less injuries will occur that give crossfit a bad reputation. But you can’t say that they don’t happen in every physical activity possible.

        Lastly I don’t see why people only hate on mostly crossfit, yes we crossfitters love crossfit and will tell the next person we see to try it out. But if they already have their workout regimen that works then we won’t push them.

      • JP says:

        “You can pay your (very high) dues and just use the equipment.”

        No CrossFit gym I’ve been to allows this. #honesty

      • Lucas petto says:

        Hello Erin,

        Two thoughts:

        1. Check out this example or Seattle Seahawks quaterback Matt Hasselback training in a CrossFit gym doing the CrossFit Wod’s: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rPSB1dSix9g or Knowshon Moreno also doing CrossFit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BclDoaf35oI.

        2. My second point is that you recommend someone go to a college campus and find some trainers or retired athletes who are now trainers and workout with them because they are certified and know what they are doing. However, these professional athletes have trainers and coaches at the highest level who allowed them to do CrossFit. Now you also mentioned that ALL professionals will say CrossFit is a terrible workout regime. But how come these professional athletes with the highest level or professionals surrounding them were not told to stray away from CrossFit? On top of that, these athletes have the resources to train wherever they would like, and they still choose to do CrossFit. I cannot imagine that there were no other gyms with all the equipment they needed to do what you would consider “proper” workouts. On top of that, instead of being trained by “professionals who know what they are doing,” they chose to be trained by CrossFit coaches.

        I just want to note that when someone generalizes and assumes, their credibility goes out the window. I can appreciate your concern for others well being, but to make outlandish statements inferring that all people perform at the same level and with the same limited knowledge is not only ignorant but down right disrespectful. Everyone who exercises, regardless of their means of doing so, have the same goals and to put them down for trying to be fit makes it sound like someone has a bit of an inferiority complex.

        I will be posting my opinion on CrossFit on my blog later this evening, and I respectfully invite you to read it. lucaspetto.weebly.com

      • Chris says:

        “I doubt seriously you had NFL players joining in on the daily WOD.” There are several current players, retired players and coaches that participate in Crossfit and even compete in the open (which are all Crossfit Based WODs). Just to name a few players Dana Stubblefield, Clarence Sutton, Gary Brackett, Sean Payton, Knowshon Moreno are a few of the names that jump out. While some of the post make good points there are too many generalized statements.

    • Tom says:

      They invested? They worked out there when locked out of their regular gyms?

      Two completely irrelevant arguments.

  306. Eric says:

    As a CrossFit trainer I agree with you on many of these points. There are a lot of terrible Crossfit gyms and terrible trainers out there promoting terrible programming to a good bunch of people that don’t know any better. I wanted to like this article as I feel you very intelligently touched on many of the flaws surrounding what is the latest “fad’ in exercise. You lost me though when you chose to highlight hearsay and opinion as fact. “every single thing that I’ve posted in this article refers to EVERY SINGLE GYM THAT FOLLOWS CROSSFIT. There are no exceptions,” This statement alone discredits your entire argument. This is opinion and not fact.
    I like what you are doing here. Please continue to offer your knowledge to others and inspire them to get healthy. I would only ask that you do so without making blanket statements.

  307. Beach says:

    This article definitely brings to light the negative side of the matter…however, not everyone has access to these collegiate coaches and strength coaches that have PHD’s. Not everyone has had the experience to do so on a college level or professional/olympic level. Not every “weekend certified” crossfit coach is how you depict them to be in this article, many have a background in olympic lifting and athletics. Being an athlete from high school on (age 38 now), I have a varied athletic background. I have seen many personal and certified trainers that are absolutely worthless and definitely do not deserve the title of trainer. So, what you have described here happens in ALL areas of the fitness/athletic world and not just in a Crossfit Box….injuries occur just as frequently in a regular gym as they do in a box, and to say anything else is a plain lie.

  308. Alexis Tremblay says:

    Hi Erin,

    First of all, great article. Well thought out and well documented. I read it and decided to sleep on it for the night. I have been avid crossfiter for the past two years and still love it. I agree with you on some points, crossfit do fall short on some aspects. I would love to hear how you would fix crossfit.

    The main positive aspects for me (and I think it’s true for most crossfiter) is the community aspect, the continuous variations of the workouts and the whole dynamic. The surprise you get seeing the WOD when you walk in the box is exciting. I’ve tried many times gym membership and it failed every time, can’t stay motivated. Crossfit is the only thing that keeps me in shape.

    It would not have been fitting for this post because they are all the reasons you don’t do crossfit, but taking the positive sides of it, how would you fix it or rather what would you suggest someone do to keep the same level of enthusiasm?

    From what I can tell you have good credentials and, truly, I would be interested in hearing your thoughts, perhaps in another post. You’ve hinted at a few things and having them said explicitly would be perfect for a full thought experiment and constructive discussion. For example, have better trained coaches (can’t disagree with you that one weekend barely makes you an expert).

    Personally, the first year I barely increased my weights at all, focusing primarily on my form. I recognized the danger of it, assessed it and decided I would do the smart thing for me. I’m in my second year now and can more easily fix my form by myself when I’m getting tired. I think it would be one of the way to “fix” crossfit.

    But really what keeps us going is the dynamic, the community and the surprises of variation. How do we keep the positive sides and fix the negative ones? Be it in crossfit or others sports entirely.

    Either in another post or an email, I would be sincerely interested in hearing you out on that.

    Alexis

  309. Rob W says:

    Re: your “aside”, I can’t help but point out the incredibly flawed logic in your statement. You made several valid points in your rant, and I can see how, anecdotally, you have a very strong case for how you feel about Crossfit. I too have heard and read the horror stories, and am concerned about the fast track that many coaches take to being certified without a proper foundation or education, and the negative impact that can have on “athletes” who don’t have the common sense to scale their workouts to their own abilities.

    But all that said, unless you’ve actually visited each and every box, and have met each and every coach and know their background, creds, programming, etc, you simply cannot say that this applies to “EVERY SINGLE GYM THAT FOLLOWS CROSSFIT”. This statement is not a result of brainwashing, unless by “brainwashing” you mean “submission to those pesky rules of logic”. You criticize Crossfit for using the word “empirically” and then go ahead and offer up your opinion as absolute empirical fact, demonstrating that you too don’t quite understand what that word means. And you cleverly and pre-emptively categorize anyone who calls you out on this as having been brainwashed. “There are no exceptions” is the most arrogant and patently false statement you could have made (and frankly, it tarnished your post), considering that even actual scientists will rarely speak those words. In any large enough sample size, there will be exceptions. ALWAYS (no exceptions! ;)). And for all you know, the “bad and dangerous” boxes might be the exception, rather than the rule. But you can’t know that until you conduct an actual scientifically and statistically valid study, which I presume you have neither the time nor inclination.

    To be clear, this isn’t a defense of Crossfit. This is just a critique of an otherwise well thought out opinion piece, and a gentle reminder that it is, well, just an opinion, and there certainly are numerous exceptions to your opinion. Instead of taking the black and white approach to vilifying crossfit, you should dig a little deeper and find out more about the exceptions that “don’t exist”, except, of course, in the minds of thousands of “brainwashed” folks who would be happy to share their experiences with someone who has an open mind.

  310. Bryan says:

    I agree that CrossFit is given a bad name because of bad coaches, but it has definitely evolved with educated coaches coming out with programming. Many CrossFit programs and trainers are going away from the random workout and designing workouts through different cycles using all forms of periodization. CrossFit is not something new it just has an official name to it. Olympic lifters have been doing it for years. People need to get away from the hype that it will injure you. I agree a bad coach will create bad workouts and in turn cause injuries, but it is your personal responsibility to do research on your own fitness regimen. This will involve reading and multiple visits to different gyms. In the end, there are great programs out there and they are doing some pretty amazing things. Honestly, how many sports are out there that the athletes have an average 425 pound back squat at 188 average body weight and can run a around 6 minute miles?

  311. Gergo says:

    Thank you for this very well written post. I thought only bodybuilders are against crossfit, glad to read a nonbodybuilder athlete’s view on it as well.

  312. Craig Massey says:

    “This is simply not true and every single thing that I’ve posted in this article refers to EVERY SINGLE GYM THAT FOLLOWS CROSSFIT. There are no exceptions, if you’re following the WODs, it’s not good for you, it’s not safe, and you’re putting your health in danger. Take it for what it’s worth, but please believe that your box is NOT different, no matter what your coach says.”

    So you’ve been to CrossFit Brand X in Ramona and Poway California?
    How about CrossFit Jozi (both locations) in South Africa?
    CrossFit Barrier Reef in Queensland Australia?
    How about CrossFit New Zealand in, well, guess.

    Those are gyms that I specifically and personally know do a better job of teaching people how to CrossFit than you’ve experienced..

    In CrossFit Brand X’ case they’ve been going for 10+ years with a handful of injuries. Less than 10 when I reviewed their statistics about 3 years ago, which they maintain for insurance purposes.

    Bombastic generalisations are easy and diminish your credibility. I can and have given specific examples.
    When you’ve looked into those

  313. Nick Headley says:

    I’ve been CF’ing for 3 years now and have been a coach for a year. I agree with a lot of what you’re saying. In fact, your comments about the coaches and their weekend classes is spot on. However, all the credibility you built up during the majority of this article took a serious hit with the last 3 sentences. Given how quickly CF is expanding through the opening of new affiliates, you simply cannot state that every gym and every coach and every wod is the same or of the same mentality. A lot of them follow the mentality you’re referring to but many do not. To put them all in the same basket is reckless.

    You sound extremely knowledgeable about fitness and I’m sure I would enjoy talking with you about it. But again, to lump every gym/coach/wod together is just disrespectful. You wouldn’t do that with the other professionals you’ve listed, would you?

    Lastly, thank you for writing this piece. People need to know what they’re getting into and that requires shining the light in places that some people like to keep hidden. Best wishes to you in life and training.

  314. Alex says:

    You just saved me from a big mistake. What makes CrossFit so exciting is the fact that you don’t work out by yourself. I almost fell for it.

    • peterhoffman says:

      I don’t think you got saved from anything. Find a gym with knowledgeable coaches and you’ll be safe and motivated by the others around you, like you wanted to be. I’m close to three years no injury, lot stronger, lot faster, feel a lot better because of it.

  315. I agree with everything you just said. As a long time CrossFit coach and gym owner I just wanted to add a few things. First I believe that the average trainer is as good or better than the average personal trainer. None of CrossFits detractors many of who are personal trainers fail to realize that you can get a personal training certificate without ever stepping foot in a gym and just taking an online exam. In my gym its all about movement first then reps time and weight second. Nobody is allowed to kip on a pullup until they can do 5 dead hang pullups. Nobody is allowed to attempt a muscleup until they can do 5 strict chest to bar pullups and 5 deep and strict ring dips. There are bad coaches everywhere who don’t know crap and are nothing more than glorified rep counters that are really good at girl talk with their clients. There is also one thing that nobody is really starting to address is that is the gym a fitness gym or a training center for the sport of CrossFit. You don’t take 48 yo Susie Sitsonherass and train her like a 21 year old elite athlete. But I guess you have to be 54 years old with 40 years of experience training self and others like me to get that. At one time I worked at a big box gym as a trainer and the “kids” hurt the middle aged deconditioned person all the time. Anyway great article I just believe that bad training isn’t just a CrossFit issue. Any trainers in any discipline up for some higher level licensing requirements? Maybe not so its back to buyer beware. Know who you are trusting your body to and you will get in great shape and be better off for having done so.

    • Jeremy says:

      great response Scott! This is one of the worst things I have seen written about CF. Erin really doesn’t have a clue.

  316. Tristan says:

    I agree with your opinion of Crossfit 100%. I’m astounded by your opinion of deadlifts and kettlebell swings though. Deadlifts are a fundamental human movement, and done correctly will give you countless benefits. And kettlebells swings, once again done correctly, have comparable benefits varying from full body connection, hip extension, core stability, increasing absolute strength, vestibular stimulation, balance, strong and healthy back, all of the benefits of plyometrics without leaving the ground, and many more. I am an educated coach, functional movement specialist, and gym owner. My gym, Primal Strength New York, is the antithesis of Crossfit. Practice perfect technique. Stop 1-2 reps before you get sloppy. Take the time to learn how to move really well, correct asymmetries, then get really strong to support a good and healthy structure.

    • eric says:

      Spot on, Tristan. I feel sad that Erin hasn’t enjoyed the feeling of a set of properly performed, heavy deadlifts.

  317. “With an increased HR to VO2 relationship it will never be as good as typical cardio exercises. It is simple physiology really. Increased heart rate decreases the time available to fill the left ventricle of the heart, which means that the left ventricle will contain and eject less blood per contraction.” If weight lifting is being compared to normal cardio in relation to HR and ventricular filling, surely the HR during cardio would increase to or even exceed the values seen with weightlifting. So the ventricular stretching and VO2 rise wouldn’t be seen in either instance ? Not picking holes, just interested and a little confused.

  318. robin mclendon says:

    I happen to love crossfit but I think you make some very good points. I think that the current corporate ownership of crossfit has continually pushed the edge of the envelope – heavier, faster, more – to the point of being dangerous. I do not believe that this is how crossfit started. Years ago we were encouraged to modify the weights and there were no time limits on wods. It was all about functional fitness which is just given lip service these days. When I first started I could rx almost everything. Now, never. And I am smart enough not to even try. I tailor the wod to my age (51) and ability and still get a great workout and huge mental buzz. It is obvious that cf is now all about the games and the open and the fire-breathers. It is just a matter of time before they start seeing significant injuries even in the ranks of the elite athletes.

  319. sdfgsdfg says:

    Very good article but I will say not all CrossFit affiliates are the same. I have my BA in Exercise Science, minor in sports psych and now a Masters in Strength and conditioning. At my affiliate form is key, without proper form, or flexibility I will not allow an athlete to do the certain movement. Consistency is key and going balls to the wall is the mentality that needs to end. You burn to quick and the end result is serious aches and pain for days. I don’t think your article was out of line or anything I just wanted to give my professional opinion. No Olympic lifts are done by beginners. Again not all affiliates are created the same. We have minor bumps and bruises but nothing serious. Every sport has those risks even body building. Thank you

  320. Mark Medley says:

    Something has always pushed me away from cross fit… this basically sums it up and then sum. Thank you.

  321. KJ says:

    Hi Erin, thanks for this post. It was well written and thought provoking. I do have some arguments against some of the points you made, however. Like a previous comment mentioned, there are pros and cons to Crossfit, and I think you hit hard on the cons from a very specific perspective.

    You mentioned being injured prior to your Crossfit experience. I’m curious as to what injuries you sustained and how they happened? All sports sustain injuries. Crossfit does not have any higher rate of injury than football, basketball, pole vaulting, skateboarding, etc. I have a friend who’s thoracic spine was flattened due to years of swimming the butterfly stroke. Another friend who’s had multiple surgeries on her ankles, wrists, and shoulders from gymnastics. Several friends who have had multiple concussions playing football. From my experience with Crossfit, I haven’t seen anything that would lead me to believe Crossfit is more injurious than any other rigorous activity.

    On the flip side of the coin you argued, I know and know of plenty of chiropractors, PTs, MD’s, kinesiology and exercise science professors, coaches, and professional athletes who love Crossfit. Sean Peyton is an avid Crossfitter and has implemented some of the elements into his strength and conditioning regime for the Saints. Tennessee Tech has a Crossfit section in their gym. Keep an eye open. You’ll see that the pool of Crossfitters is slowly reaching into the realms of athletic supremacy that you mentioned.

    As far as I’m aware, Crossfit (Inc. or methodology) does not teach that lifting weights faster is an equivalent substitute for cardio exercises. Crossfit includes cardio in the training, so it seems your argument about lifting weights faster versus cardio exercises is a bit misdirected. Perhaps you can elaborate how it applies against Crossfit specifically?

    The random “hopper” workout ideal has faded out, for the most part. Reputable gyms (in my experience) create their programs while noting the limitations and optimization of biomechanical symmetry. In other words, a lot of programming that I’ve observed and do takes into account equal pushing and pulling, posterior/anterior chain balancing, etc. In my perspective, Crossfit has matured past that point of pure randomness in it’s practice. However, the idea behind P=Fd/t is that fitness it can be applied to any random work capacity…even if it’s box jumps, deadlifts, kettelbell swings, and back extensions for time. The idea is that whoever has the higher capacity, person A or person B, no matter what the movements, is fitter. How you PRACTICE to get fitter is different, and that’s where I think Crossfit has matured past the random hopper idea. The programming has become more sophisticated to optimize biomechanical symmetry in order to build up the capacity for random movements (i.e. life).

    I agree that Oly lifting is very technical (I’m a USAW certified trainer myself) and shouldn’t be taken lightly for beginners. Your postulation that 30 reps for time of an olympic movement isn’t how the lifts were designed is not necessarily incorrect, but it’s not a founded argument either. The fact is that it’s never been done before. The data of it’s benefits or hindrances doesn’t exist. There’s an old 20 rep squat program that dates back to the 60’s or so that has stood the test of time and people all over the world still use today, and it works. Kendrick Farris and Dimitry Klokov have both done high rep Crossfit workouts (they’re on YouTube). Both are big proponents of Crossfit, but they’d have too much to lose at this point if they went out on that limb. As time goes on, however, we’ll see if high rep programming proves to be beneficial or not as more youngters with less to lose experiment with it.

    Which brings me to my last point. To quote Crossfit Inc, it’s a giant experiment. Professors, trainers, kinesiologists, and coaches can argue about biomechanics all they want, but until it’s tested and proven right or wrong, it’s just a theory for both parties. That’s a fundamental to the scientific process. Current traditional strength and conditioning training was unconventional 100 years ago. It was a theory once, too. The methodology of Crossfit has never been done before in the way it’s being done now. Just as with any new development, people will call it crazy, but then again people once thought the idea that the earth is round was crazy.

    Your point of a level 1 Crossfit certification being the only requirement to open a gym is a valid knock, in my opinion. There’s a gym very close to where I am that was opened by such a person who barely knew anything. As you’d expect, people got hurt, nobody made progress, and she didn’t make money. Another gym my wife went to a few years ago on a Groupon blew the participants through a week long introductory course in an hour, and then put them in the regular class. That gym is no longer in existence. Those gyms are out there, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Crossfit Inc increases its requirements in the semi-near future. As it is now, Crossfit Inc is revamping their level 2 course, which is much harder than the level 1 course from what I’ve heard and read. I’m optimistic that it will be a future requirement for potential affiliate owners. (That being said, I am a big proponent of personal responsibility. I’d rather that under-qualified coaches be personally responsible and take the initiative to get the appropriate training on their own than have it forced on them. However, that’s an unrealistic expectation for 10,000 affiliates).

    At the end of the day, even if you and I have opposing views of Crossfit, you have a good blog here! I’m a fan of anybody who actively promotes health and wellness to the this generation and the next!

  322. Steve Carey says:

    I welcome you to visit our gym/box and you’ll see that a dedicated group of coaches CAN produce a safe and productive CrossFit environment – http://championsclub.squarespace.com/. Your post uses a lot of absolutes but I’m here to tell you that the real world is not black & white – it is possible to do CrossFit safely, there are many, many affiliates, including ours, doing it every day.

    I’m a 49 year old guy who works out 4-5 times a week and love it. I do the WODs and have never had a serious injury – my coaches know me and they scale appropriately. The workouts vary and we are exposed to many different types of movements – this is the core of CrossFit and if you’re not completely biased can actually be viewed as a good thing. You say kettle bells aren’t beneficial, do you think only CrossFit uses them? Dead lifts are bad too? I assume rope climbs are bad too because you don’t do them…

    New members go through an eight session fundamentals course where they learn how to do the basic movements properly and safely, once they start workouts everything is scaled appropriately and only advanced when they’re ready. I believe we’ve had members quit because they wanted to do more and were held back because their form wasn’t ready.

    My last point is about how many people, including yourself, talk about all the injuries that CrossFit causes. I believe that is fear mongering at its worst – where are the facts & statistics that prove CrossFit is any more dangerous than any other workout program? What types of injuries are we talking about?

    My last, last point is this – why do people who want to tear down CrossFit always bring up kipping pullups? Because it’s an easy target that easily fits into your narrative… I agree they’re different but is different bad? wrong?

  323. Pam says:

    Fantastic piece!

  324. Margaret Joseph says:

    Interesting but generalised! You need to visit a good Crossfit establishment where the coaches teach well and would never dream of at ‘screaming’ at you to finish a workout and know the importance of scaling to suit ability. As a woman in my late sixties who has only been a Crossfitter for a year, I love it!

  325. Kalle Hviid says:

    Liked the article, just wanted to mention that Kenneth is in fact Danish, not Dutch.

  326. Ilia says:

    Check out Oxonia crossfit, at the athlete centre in oxford – all their coaches hold sports related degrees and must have a good level of strength&conditioning teaching experience to work there. They all practice good form, and all lead crossfit classes every day as well as basic strength and conditioning, olympic lifting, mobility, and other classes.

    This article is perfectly valid, but you must remember that it is simply an opinion.

  327. Sean Murray says:

    Some data on the subject instead of anecdotal evidence or opinions.

    http://www.stack.com/2014/01/16/crossfits-injury-rates/

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24276294

  328. Brian says:

    Interesting article you have written. Apparently your five years at Florida State and further time at Texas A&M have not taught you how to properly present information in a paper. Cherry picking bits and pieces is poor work and does not give people the necessary information to make well informed decisions about the proper way to pursue their fitness goals.

    For example the article where you cited Dr. Michael Esco you conveniently left out the paragraph where he supports crossfit when it is done with proper technique and with proper supervision.

    “Geier notes that he has no real problems with CrossFit when performed correctly, and he appreciates the variety of exercises available to participants; however, he insists that individuals must discriminate when looking at a CrossFit program.

    Dr. Michael Esco, associate professor of physical education and exercise science at Auburn University at Montgomery agrees. A fan of a variety of workouts, including some CrossFit workouts, he recommends caution, particularly when looking at a facility’s CrossFit trainers.”

    These paragraphs directly precede the one you chose to cherry pick out of the article. One could make the argument that the military needs to be concerned with the fitness programs their soldiers choose. Almost every military individual I have ever had the pleasure of meeting has a never quit attitude and this can get an individual in trouble if their fitness level is not where it needs to be. This is where having a good trainer is beneficial and supports Dr. Esco and Mr Geier’s claim quoted earlier.

    I won’t disagree that there are Crossfit trainers who are very under qualified and do not have the proper background to be teaching Olympic lifting. However, many of the trainers I know and have worked with carry multiple certifications and some even have Master’s Degrees in Health and Exercise Science.

    Just because Crossfit proved not to be right for you does not mean that others are not reaping benefits from this type of program. As a blogger where you dispense information on health and fitness you should do your best to present all of the information, not only that which suits your argument.

  329. Scott says:

    This is an incredibly closed-minded article. I don’t even know how I came across this but I did, and I regret reading as far as I did. There are bad CrossFit boxes out there, and you probably went to one of those if you didn’t feel comfortable with a kettlebell swing and immediately went to 35#. Either that, or you don’t know/ignore your own limitations.

    You use sources such as livestrong, which I’ve seen advocate CrossFit before, and WebMD. Why would anyone regard WebMD as a reliable source? Any time I’ve used that, they tell me I either have AIDs or a common cold.

    But surely, your trainers and doctors and surgeons are correct because they have degrees. You can’t possibly get a degree without knowing everything right? But lets assume that having a degree makes you right about everything. You then go to tell everyone that every box is the same, and that every one is bad, regardless of the experience of the coaches. But then, the coaches at my box have a combined 4 Doctorates, 5 Master’s, multiple Bachelors, 40+ certifications and 50+ years of experience between 7 coaches. So in one of your assumptions, you’re wrong.

    You haven’t been there for the success stories, and you haven’t been there for the life-altering moments, so don’t act like you know everything there is to know about it. Open up your mind a little more. Everyone has different goals, your methodology isn’t the only way.

  330. Mike Kalish says:

    I’ve been a CrossFit enthusiast for 18 months now, and have had amazing progress….and no real injuries beyond some tendonitis, which has passed. I am one of those “cult members” who talks incessantly about CrossFit. However, I did enjoy the article and believe that we should be concerned about those things you point out. Perhaps CrossFit will continue to evolve and moderate in the future to smooth out some of those “rough edges” you describe. In the meantime, I’m hooked…..on the workouts, on the results, and on the social gratification which is huge. I hereby acknowledge the risk, but am more than willing to accept it in exchange for all I’m getting out of it.

  331. Stephanie says:

    While it is true that anyone with the cash can take a cert and open a gym, to categorize all Crossfit gyms as dangerous is incorrect. As a Crossfit coach, I have an issue with the fact that a level 1 coach can open a gym and does not have to demonstrate any skill at coaching, just pass a written exam. I’m pretty sure that the highly qualified professionals who also run Crossfit gyms, (Dr. of Kinesiology an example) would take issue. The most important thing, and what you might stress instead of making a blanket statement, is that each individual is responsible for due diligence, not only in choosing a gym and checking out the coaches, but listening to their body as well.

  332. Jon Ward says:

    I’ve been doing crossfit for about half a year and this post is great. Prior to trying out crossfit I was a collegiate athlete and a firm believer of proper training with impeccable form. I have to admit that I got a little brainwashed when I first walked into my box and found it to be new and exciting. This post brought me back to this realization that it truly is harmful to your body and I can say this from first hand experience. This new “sport” is detrimental to one’s body. My box says they’re advocates of good form and I have experienced them being one on one with people urging them to fix their technique, regardless I still see a lot of people forcing the weight and making themselves prone to injury by putting themselves into bad positions. At the end of the day most people doing crossfit are not looking out for the health of their body. I couldn’t agree more with this post thanks for it.

  333. Nick says:

    Valid points. I think crossfit needs more an better coaching, and athletes should be progressed and educated more on technique before doing certain wods. However, those with rock solid form that do not allow their form to be compromised even when they are tired do not have any issues with injuries. This takes mental discipline to go as far as your form goes, not your lungs. This, however, is not usually your average joe/jane that can do this. I will say that crossfit immediately made me aware of many imbalances and weaknesses in my body. Learning all of these things made me a much better athlete, for life. Crossfit is amazing if done correctly and can be bad if done incorrectly. I do not think it’s something that everyone should do, as crossfit hq says. I think some people require months of instruction and/or physical therapy to correct imbalances before attempting certain movements.

  334. Well written article, though very overgeneralized in my opinion. Question for you is why do you not do KB swings? American swings I understand the propensity for people to lose stability in their lumbar spine but the russian swing is an excellent tool for building the hip extension used in olympic lifts, gymnastic movements, etc.

    • You’re right, I should’ve specified. Since I was talking about CF I didn’t think to specify American swings!

      • Dan says:

        Major problem is you had a video of you doing American Swings on youtube. I might add it was American Swings with incredibly poor form. It’s been removed since my first comment which wasn’t allowed on this forum despite the fact it was not offensive. The only thing I can see is that it called you out on your bs comment. Why would you advertise yourself, which is your ultimate goal after all, doing a movement you claim is terrible, terribly?

  335. Scott says:

    good article. Thank You! I do not CrossFit. I would like to share these articles, I have no affiliation whatsoever, except that I have read them in the past and thought of them while reading this article: Benefits of H.I.I.T. and LI.L.D. for the heart – http://robertsontrainingsystems.com/blog/long-duration-low-intensity-cardio/ ===== Perhaps kettlebell swings are not always bad for the back – http://www.russiankettlebells.com/an_interview_with_dr_patrick_roth_md_author_of_the_end_of_back_pain/ ===== lastly, someone defending CrossFit: https://www.t-nation.com/training/in-defense-of-crossfit

  336. Nathan Scott says:

    Since you seem to be particularly prone to an argumentative fallacy known as “appeal to authority” (ex: citing your your natural kipping ability as a lifelong athlete against people who likely are at the first gym of their entire lives, or your experiences with the “3-time back to back national champions”) I thought you would appreciate this video of the strongest 105kg Olympic lifter on earth, doing a crossfit workout. And before you accuse me of cherry picking one of the more reasonable crossfit workouts, Isabell is 30 snatches, as fast as possible.

    • Thanks for proving my point: 30 snatches as fast as possible.

      Also, you obviously didn’t read the article. I never said I could kip. I said I refuse to kip. Try again.

      • Dan says:

        After the bit of members attempting muscle ups- “The look I got when I jumped on the rings and pumped a couple out”

        You specifically mentioned you did muscle ups. Unless you meant something else entirely that you didn’t specify.

        Perhaps you didn’t read your own article?

      • rudy trevino says:

        Wasn’t your argument that exercises like this lead to bad/ dangerous form? Isn’t this your only argument for why it shouldn’t be done? Can you point out bad form from any one of three people in this video that will lead to injury?

        • rudy trevino says:

          Since I’m here, I’m just curious what the story is behind the fitness video making its round called erin simmons circuit. Are you not in a crossfit box doing a crossfit style workout? More simmonspecifically, it appears as though you are doing a high rep count of power cleans which you argue is dangerous. Was this before or after you swore of crossfit?

    • Steen says:

      Klokov didn’t build that body with crossfit either. Important fact.

  337. Serge says:

    This is a very good article. As a person who does Crossfit, you should know that there is a lot of conversation that goes on within the Crossfit community itself about the issues you address. There are many CF coaches I’ve talked to with the same kind of concerns you have. These are the people who I think are helping Crossfit evolve into something better as they seek to improve their education, programming, and client services. I’ve learned a lot through Crossfit so far, and from what I’m seeing, I strongly believe it will look very different in the future.

  338. Define "fitness" says:

    Wow interesting article. First let me say I do Crossfit. I also am a competitive cyclist and am a MD. I think you are missing the point when it comes to Crossfit. You have trained world class athletes for their sport. Crossfit is a sport in and of itself. Too many people look at it as a “work out” or fitness program. It is a sport. As in any sport injuries happen. If you look at Crossfit vs. a typical gym workout yes the injury rates are higher. If you look at Crossfit vs hockey, or say downhill mountain biking the injury rates are lower(I have the paper showing this at home can grab it later). Your last point of all boxes being equal is absolute total rubbish. I have been to many, many boxes. Some have poorly trained coaches some have exceptional coaches. The box I regularly attend employees two coaches with masters in exercise science and one ACT. I know numerous boxes owned and run by physical therapists. As with any new practice or product truly relevant research takes time. Crossfit takes this seriously and I expect to see the literature base filled with studies reflecting this in the near future. That all being said I agree whole heatedly with many of your points. Too many (but not all) coaches and boxes sacrifice form for volume, this is unacceptable. My last point is that you talk a lot about “fitness and health,” you need to define what you believe this to mean. Crossfit has defined what it believes fitness is. It does a very good job of training individuals to be “fitter” according to their definition. If you can dispute that I would love to hear your argument.

    • Well first of all I do not think that CF is a sport. They have tried to make a sport out of the training used in other actual sports, which is what has made it dangerous. Obviously, health and fitness is largely relative and is tailored to everyone’s specific goals. CF can define fitness in a way that suits its purposes, however that is a main part of my argument: that CF is not personalized and it forces people from many different backgrounds into one all-out, high-intensity workout plan. I simply can’t call that healthy, though there are plenty of fit people coming out of CF. But what are the long term dangers of that? I think we (and especially you, being an MD) will start to see the results of overtraining and overworking those bodies over the next 5-10 years.

      • J. Robert says:

        “CF is not personalized and it forces people from many different backgrounds into one all-out, high-intensity workout plan.”

        That is a very inaccurate statement. And as it is the basis for one of the main arguments in your blog post, it totally discredits your statements; and that’s a shame because you actually do bring up some very valid points that the CrossFit community needs to address.

        Here’s a example of personalization for you: I’ve been an athlete all of my life. Maybe not at a high level, but I’ve always been active in a number of sports and I was quite an experienced lifter even before starting CrossFit two years ago. My wife on the other hand doesn’t have an athletic bone in her body and never lifted weights before starting CrossFit. According to you, CrossFit forces my wife to do the exact same workouts and follow the exact same workout plan as me. Yet this couldn’t be farther from the truth. For each WOD, our coaches assist her in determining an appropriate scale. Let’s say the WOD calls for thrusters at 95 lbs. While I’m able to do that movement and that weight, she would likely scale to just the bar or maybe even some light dumbbells. And she’s not alone; many of the lessor experienced CrossFitters do this.

        One more thing: you keep saying that CrossFit is dangerous because of heavy lifting at a high number of reps. This is also inaccurate as most high-rep WODs use low weight. And again, participants are always encouraged to scale the weight or modify the workout to fit their experience/fitness level.

  339. vinceturk says:

    Hi! I crossfit. I have been for a little over 2 years. In that time I feel that I’ve received fantastic coaching and not once have been pushed to “add weight or reps” if I reach a point where form can be compromised. In fact my overall strength, endurance, and agility has improved remarkably since I started, my body fat (as measured via BODPOD) has decreased significantly. Also the time to run a mile has decreased significantly, my rowing time for 500m and 2k has gone down dramatically.

    In fact in every measure that I could measure my overall fitness, I have seen massive improvements. Zero injuries so far. I follow our affiliates programming that is available for all members.

    How can you say statements such as “this article refers to EVERY SINGLE GYM THAT FOLLOWS CROSSFIT”?

    Im assuming you haven’t visited every single gym/crossfit affiliate nor spoken with that many Crossfit coaches..

    As you preferred to reference LiveStrong.com, here is an article from the same site touting the benefits of dead lifting: http://www.livestrong.com/article/464927-what-are-the-benefits-of-deadlifting/

    As with any form of exercise, warming up, proper form, and working within your means are vitally important.

    This article just sounds silly. I do Crossfit. My wife (who is 8 months pregnant with our second child) does Crossfit. I know literally hundreds of individuals that have seen a dramatic change in their fitness due to Crossfit, all (still) without injury.

  340. Honestly you lost me at not doing dead-lifts because of some kind of negative risk vs reward ratio when it is the most functional lift you could possibly do. Not to mention that there is no cardiovascular benefit to weightlifting when anaerobic exercise clearly disputes that “fact”.

    However, your points on crossfit could not me more correct. So overall good article….

    • Definitely didn’t say there wasn’t a cardio aspect to lifting, what I did say (or actually what the neurophysiologist said) is that you’re not going to “get your cardio in” by lifting. It’s just not how the body works.
      There are much better ways to get the functional benefits of being able to pick things up than to take on the risk of DLs. I personally would suggest clean pulls or high pulls because these set you up in the power position, utilize large muscle groups, and emphasize explosiveness. The long, slow movement of DL combined with people having too much fun piling on the weight creates the risk that I mention. I’ll elaborate more in a separate article :D

      • Patrick says:

        I would argue that the first pull of the clean pulls you are suggesting is the same basic movement as a deadlift with the main difference being that your hips are generally lower in the clean setup than in the deadlift setup. There is a reason that Olympic Lifting programs like Catalyst Athletics prescribe doing snatch-grip and clean-grip deadlifts. Its becasue this helps you build strength for the first pull of the snatch and the clean. I would also argue that DLs are not designed to be long, slow movements but rather explosive with strong leg and hip drive to stand the bar up. The lift may slow down as you add more weight, but so does the clean pull you are advocating. You are right in that people have fun piling on weight but that is not the fault/risk of the lift. That is simply a problem with individuals not respecting/knowing their limitations.

      • Greg says:

        A clean pull is a dead lift. A high pull is just an extension of the first pull from the ground (aka dead lift). Setting up in the power position and using a large muscle group is the essence of a dead lift. If people “pile too much weight on,” then they’re just dumb, but that doesn’t mean that the movement itself is risky.

      • John says:

        Can you please share the link on the article where you elaborate more on why DLs are more dangerous then a Clean Pull?

  341. Hi,

    Interesting article, as someone who started crossfit a few months ago, I get some of your points, but disagree with others. I’m not a CrossFit obsessive although I really do enjoy it and am probably the strongest and most muscular I have ever been at nearly 40. Previous exercise has encompassed years of cycling, ‘normal’ gym going, running, martial arts.

    Now as there is not a duplicate of me doing something different I cannot say if I would have made the same gains with the current lower volume of training in terms of hours a week as I have with CrossFit.

    Where I agree, I have seen peoples form deteriorate or people attempt moves at greater weight than they should. But I have seen this in every gym I have been to. Doesn’t make it right, but I think highlights the fact people will often try too hard or try to run before they can walk. Coaches should work to keep a lid on this though.

    Where I disagree, and this may just be because I have been lucky, but the gyms / boxes I have been to have always had very qualified coaches. These have included being qualified olympic lifting coaches, kettle bell qualifications, in addition to any CrossFit qualifications. In addition not one coach at my current gym has less than 4-5 years crossfit and longer lifting etc. experience.

    I have personally often been told to reduce weight or keep weight in check to ensure good form.

    My experiences may of course not be the norm, but they do highlight the view that all crossfit gyms have untrained coaches and don’t care about form may not be strictly correct.

  342. Steve says:

    How and why are KB swings bad for you? It is one of the best exercises for people with bad backs. When performed properly they are very beneficial! Other than that this is a great article.

  343. Ugo says:

    I’m a long term non professional athlete and trainer. I did different discipline and instrucded different sports.
    I really like your article, but from my point of view i cannot see the point in differentiating bad coaches from good coaches simply because they do crossfit or not. And more, i don’t see how bad crossfit athletes can be injured more than bad soccer athletes, for example. This is a bad anedoctical conclusion. There will be good coaches in crossfit and there will be broken athletes in crossfit just like the other sport activities.
    I can understand the cardio drawbacks you are pointing out. But 40 minutes of cardio does not compare anywhere close to 40 min of crossfit. And if you have only 40 minutes and a goal to reach …
    My point is: I personally keep things smooth (low weights), and i lack behind my fellow hard crossfitter. Nonetheless I get my gains steadly, and from all the 10 dimensions challenged in crossfit. And i don’t get bored. I tore my hands, of course. But that s the only thing i can remember that hurted me.
    Tomorrow, maybe i will do mountain climbing. Yes, there will be bad and good instructor. And dangers. But it’s a new thing to do. It’s not good and not bad. Simply different.

  344. Aidan says:

    I thought it was a great article, very well written and highlighted some key areas. I agree that one weekend worth of training should NOT be enough to qualify an individual to open a gym/teach complex movements that you have a great risk of injury from. However, it is an interesting debate….

    I have played fairly high standard of rugby through the youth set up in England/Ireland and for a long time we trained in a CF style during our fitness sessions, it just didn’t have a name/”Brand”. With high intensity varied movements, and the focus being to just get it done no matter how much pain you are in, because on the field there would be nowhere to hide. The sessions were designed to build strength of character as well as strength of body. Granted these movements were not as complex as olympic lifts but they did involve (at times) movement of heavy weights (sled pushes, monkey crawls with teammates on your back, fireman carry, tire flips etc etc). I can understand though, that sessions like this wouldn’t apply to athletic/non contact/controlled sports, as there isn’t such a varied demand on the body.

    CF has just given a brand to a type of training that has been done for an incredibly long time (high intensity circuits) by a variety of sports and the military, and thrown some extra bits in (the olympic lifts mainly). It is my experience, when used in a controlled manner (ie training program wise) that these high intensity circuits are of benefit. I do not attend a “box” but I know of many that are now run by what you would coin as professional coaches. With undergraduate degrees/PT qualifications that see something in CF and like myself know that there is something beneficial in the training style, but it needs the correct attention. These coaches spend a great deal of time ensuring their members understand the lifts and have dedicated times during group sessions to improve their functional standards. Sessions are designed to have a warmup, a strength/movement section and then the WOD. So that over a period of weeks/months people see overall improvements. The coaches make a huge difference to the experience and safety of the sessions, and that seems the main focus of your article.

    It is a misconception, that people just turn up and jump into a WOD. That’s like expecting people to just turn up to a track session and attempt to crack out a PB in the 100m. Although the “workouts” are short, correct sessions still take an hour or so, because of the build up phase and then the cool down at then end (when done correctly). The other misconception is this idea that CF think that if you can’t move the next day it was a good session. That isn’t in line with the principles of the “cult”, which is specified regularly on their main website. Which is also where the idea of scaling comes from. So that you drop the weight/rep count so that the movements are still performed at a high intensity with a low risk of injury. The same way that someone new to running wouldn’t be expected to run 10km in the early days, because it would not be beneficial in the slightest. People shouldn’t expect to be lifting the same weights as those seen at the CF games.

    So to try and wrap it up, I agree that CF can be dangerous, and when done without any clear direction the program won’t really be beneficial. But that is the same for ALL training methods. I agree that one weekend is not enough to qualify people for coaching, I agree that bad coaches make for a very dangerous experience and give the training methods a bad name. However, I disagree that it is always a dangerous/negative training method, because with the direction of a good coach, training cycles are utilised (usually over a period of a couple of months), specific muscles are targeted (although sometimes with a variety of exercises), technique is improved in a controlled manner, and workouts are scaled to reduce the risk of injury.

  345. bryan degnan says:

    Really interesting read, I am a crossfitter, crossfit coach and agree with a lot of what you say but do believe that good coaches and programming allow for people to follow crossfit safely dependent on abililty altough no matter some people will train smart or train stupid regardless if its crossfit or any other form of training. Personally I listen to my body don’t push to affect form but do see this and advocate against it but do listen to all coaches and experts as every day is a school day.

  346. Naim says:

    Great article. Really informative. Have you ever tried Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, or grappling? Any information on these types of work outs in grappling?

  347. 44 says:

    I’m an avid Crossfitter and must admit that this article hits home. This is the first anti-crossfit article I have read that goes beyond bashing and has some real substance. I would agree that CF does some things very wrong, but it also does some things very right. I see negatives to personal training, boot camp programs and the globo gym experience.

    Athletics allowed you access to great fitness coaching, but most of the population is clueless and can’t afford personal training. CF has educated many non-athletes in mobility, nutrition and funtional fitness at an affordable rate. Although I agree with most of your post, I enjoy many aspect of CF and feel no affordable alternatives are available at this time.

  348. John says:

    You do make some good arguments and I agree with some of it, but for the most part I think your facts are biased and you’re wrong. Its like saying you shouldn’t play football because you are risking a head injury. The reward outweighs the risk. If people wouldn’t do crossfit if they didn’t enjoy it. Its a mental reward not only physical. It prepares you more for life circumstances than it does just making you physically strong. So if you don’t like crossfit, don’t do it. Heck, I hate running so I don’t run. I don’t write reports on how bad running is for people even though Im sure I could dig up something on how bad it is for you, I just don’t run. Bottom line, people get hurt when they are stupid and listen to their trainer more than their own body. Thats just ignorant. You shouldn’t be against crossfit, you should be against crappy trainers and coaches, and ignorant people who think that their body is capable of doing more than it is.

  349. Kevin Haley says:

    Hey Erin. Thanks for your post-a CF friend shared it with me-as an older Crossfitter, I relate to some of your thoughts-in my experience super high volume fairly heavy weights in a metcon are a major injury risk for me, as is working out sore, without proper recovery- but I think you sacrifice a lot of credibility when you basically say no Crossfit gym is safe, and no Crossfit coach is qualified, ever no matter what, and all Crossfit programming is crap. That is the equivalent to saying every gym is safe, and every coach is qualified. Neither statement could possibly be true. And it shows that you actually didn’t really take the time to try and see the other point of view-there are tons of doctors, athletic trainers, and nurses just at my gym-are they all just morons? It seems unlikely.

    • I didn’t say that NO CF coach is qualified. I said you can open up a gym with a weekend certification and start teaching people very complex lifts, which is scary! It’s also scary that people who should know better, like medical professionals, are getting sucked into the CF fad as well.

      • Chris Dockray says:

        this “fad” is a grassroots movement that started with a free website. It didn’t get popular because it sucks. the real issue is that your not making as much money as the “hack” crossfit gym owners. if everyone else in your industry was there would be no issue.

        think about it, nobody cared in 2007 when there were few “boxes” now the fact that you studied and have worked hard to gain knowledge makes you PO’d that some “schlub” can open a crossfit gym and make more money than you.

        the pendulum of crossfit will swing back to the center, but it is here to stay because it works and people love it.

        when you were an athlete did you improve your finish at your conference meet by hoping that other good people got disqualified? did you get better by bringing the field down? or did you train your ass off and make yourself better to improve? we know the answer, I think that doing the same in your professional life is a key to happiness. Trying to discredit a successful fitness program to make yourself more qualified is a little weak. its negative energy, and that never leads to sustained growth or happiness. I think that with your intelligence if you focused on what makes you better without talking bad about your competition it would serve you better.

        finally, I have been doing CF since 2007, my wife since 2010. we are not walking around with one leg and double hernia. I KNOW that if I was to join your gym with my wife we would make friends there, work hard, see results, love it and be fit. instead My wife and I go to crossfit, we have friends there, we work hard there, we have fun there, and we are fit! Are we doing something wrong?

        Stay positive, this is a very negative piece, good job (i guess) on the publicity, Just like your track days, focus on you and improving yourself, not the people you want to beat.

  350. Jason Kilgore says:

    CF is great for someone who wants to get worse at moving good, no doubt. It is absolute garbage….we agree on that. You completely lost me at disregarding the deadlift and KB swing though. I’d like to hear more on not doing deadlifts….every person on the planet has at one time or another, picked something up from the floor. And bad KB swings (especially CF form), yes, are horrible. To dismiss it as not beneficial is off the mark though.

    • Deadlifts: the way you should pick something up (which most likely does not way 200+ lbs) is not the same form as is used in deadlifting.

      Kbs: I apologize because I was referring to American (or CF) kettle bells. Russian KBs, on the other hand, work on hip explosiveness without taking the KB overhead and can be very beneficial.

      • Jason says:

        Deadlifts…..yes, you pick up 50lb dog food bags, 80lb bags of concrete, kids, grandkids, rucksacks, my car keys that I just dropped, or a 200+lb barbell are all picked up the same, if you care for your back. Whether you’re on one leg or two, a hip hinge happens, followed by hip extension. Nothing different.

  351. Daeryan says:

    Interesting article, although it is usually the same things mentioned in similar posts.

    It may be that the CF Gyms you had gone to may just be one of those gyms that have poor practices. Most of the very popular, highly reviewed CF Gyms would not allow new client to simply jump into a “group” workout without first doing a skills review, at the very least for the movements for that day.

    To address the movement comments. Technically you have done deadlifts before, if you have picked up any static object from the ground and stood up, you essentially had performed a “deadlift”. It essentially takes a while to teach a student to efficiently & safety kip, so in that sense they are doing a dis-service to their clients. I dis-agree with your comments about kettlebells, they are very good tools for exercise as the russians have proved, and they do not put your back in bad positions unless having your head & spine in a flat neutral position is considered bad. And with the thruster, burpee, kb WOD, essentially since you had not gone through a decent basics/onramp/begginers course you would not understand some of the methodology. Regardless if the workout calls for as many reps as possible or for time, the movement standards do not change. In that case, your 1st thruster should relatively look like your last. And if form broke down, it is the responsibility of the coach as well as the athlete to stop and re-evalutate the weight and/or movement.

    Not to “beat a dead horse” the the high rep weightlifting movements, but conventionally that thought process is normal in regard to academia that hasn’t changed for decades. And like I had mentioned before the 1st rep should relatively look like that last, otherwise the weight would need to be lowered. Granted Snatches and Clean & Jerks are highly technical but even those movements on what is proper is highly debated among professionals.

    To address Rhabdomyolysis, There have been more instances of Rhabdo amongs highschool & collegiate athletes than there have been in CrossFit. Also the intent mentioning Rhabdo in crossfit is to educate the general public about a condition that happens a lot even with home workouts such as P90X or Insanity that usually go unnoticed.

    To address the cardio gains using weightlifting. Every study will have their own conclusions and datasets. Other studies have shown different in regards to HR to VO2.

    In response to “variation”, Crossfit is functional fitness based. In layman’s terms it is a jack-of-all-trades, master of none. The goal is to increase a clients fitness level, not specialize them in making them a weightlifter, gymnast, or Sprinter. And how does one track progress, do they feel that daily activities are become simpler? Are they able to play with their kids without being winded? Can they perform tasks that once was impossible or extremely difficult? If a client answers yes to any of these, then essentially that is a milestone of progress.

    I could essentially comment paragraph by paragraph, but I do understand where you are coming from. The current CF Business Model generally will allow good gyms to stay in business and gyms that do not adhere to common standards and safety to essentially fail. I have had many debates with personal trainers with a lot of topics including those mentioned in the article, and essentially found out a common root to the hostility. It comes down to money and business that since Crossfit has become popular, business have essentially took a dip as they were losing clients to CF. Who wouldn’t be upset and they lash back with commonly used ideas to attack CF.

    Although with your last comment really does make the entire article completely biased from back experiences. Generalizing and saying “This is simply not true and every single thing that I’ve posted in this article refers to EVERY SINGLE GYM THAT FOLLOWS CROSSFIT. There are no exceptions, if you’re following the WODs, it’s not good for you, it’s not safe, and you’re putting your health in danger.” It’s like if a person didn’t get any gains from using a personal training and goes on to write an articles and say “All personal trainers are useless and don’t know what they are doing” or if a person has a bad experience with another person of a certain ethnicity and says “All people (of said ethnicity) are dangerous”. Generalizing is very dangerous and very narrow minded. CF has gotten many people into more active lifestyles, and yes people do get hurt of get into accidents, as with all other forms of exercise, But why not look at the positives rather than clearly point out the negatives.

  352. Neil Mason says:

    Thanks for your article it was thought provoking. I have to say I agree and disagree. I whole heartedly agree that too many cross fit gyms ‘rush’ people into movements that are far beyond their capabilities and skill level. However I disagree that the extra reps are bad if built up to over time. For hundreds of years our fore bearers have been cutting down trees lifting, rocks and such like to build homes. Did anyone ever say stop, don’t lift another rock from the ground you have done your set of ten?

    I own a construction company (I am also a qualified PT as a paid hobby) and have a labourer who works for me who is 60 and the strongest individual I know. He has never set foot in a gym, yet if he did could out lift most of my gym going friends. He is functionally strong. His body has adapted and grown to provide strength, balance and proportion over years of work. By taking time to build these movements and these sets, cross fit can I believe give a better functional strength than any other workout regime. The concept is correct as it takes us back to how we became strong in the past through varying movement and hard work. I think just sometimes the way it is applied is a little too crass and people being pushed to go from zero to hero is wrong. It is for the individual to have a strong mind and to realise there capabilities and to not let a cross fit ‘coach’ push them too far beyond them.

    • And how long did they live doing that? ;) I understand your point, but we have advanced since then and exercise physiology research has developed better methods of training that aim for lower number sets when doing explosive, heavy lifts. Higher rep lifts (typically not to exceed 10-14) can be done at very light weights for training and technique purposes.

      • ckimp says:

        actually what you are referring to as higher rep lifts is muscular endurance and according to the nsca is between 12 and 20 reps

  353. Jonathan says:

    Well written article. Here is another one from an athlete, and medical student. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/julie-foucher/crossfit-risks_b_5161112.html?utm_hp_ref=tw

  354. MusclePhD says:

    Thoughtful and practical commentary. Fairly and openly addresses the factual shortcomings inherent within the Crossfit “system”. I am concerned how openly accepted Crossfit is into the mainstream now without any dialogue as to “why?”. When I talk about addressing the pros and cons of Crossfit to my university students now, they look at me like I have a 3rd eye to even question it. Now, the oft stated goal of our applied Exercise Science Masters students is to open a box. Five years ago, it was to work with collegiate, professional, or Olympic athletes. We forget how pervasive Crossfit has become. Its on ESPN now. Reebok, Rogue, and the sports supp companies have millions riding on this “industry”. Fake it till you make exemplified. I cannot begin to express what a small demographic of educated medical and fitness professionals are even aware of the issue presented within this blog post, let alone share a dissenting viewpoint.

  355. Josh says:

    As an athlete of 10 years who’s constantly been in the gym and only seen drastic results from Crossfit, I don’t agree with a lot of what’s been said here. But it’s great reminder of the risks and I wish more people would be aware of them before throwing themselves into it. “athletes must be smart with their training, and know when to stop before serious injury occurs” And thank you for pointing out how no real improvements are made when the WODs are totally random and you go a month or more without repeating an exercise. Luckily my gym’s not like that, as hard as you may find that to believe.

  356. Burkatron says:

    Bollox, Not all CrossFit gyms are equal or follow the same WOD’s! It depends on the quality of coach like any other gym! Until you’ve visited all 10,000+ affiliates around the world you cant backup the generalising statements you’ve made!

    I run a box & we DON’T:
    *Olympic lift for time personally I believe Oly lifting is too complicated for general fitness! KISS ;)

    *Use deadlifts in WOD’s – Too easy to fuck up! We use it as part of our linear strength progression

    *Allow kipping pull ups unless our male clients have 20 strict dead hang pull ups & females have 10. This is also prohibited if they have any shoulder issues. I’m a Physical Therapist & I assess each & everyone of my clients constantly.

    *Allow our clients to continue if form breaks down

    *Push our clients to puke – this is counter productive and the last line of the bodies defense before it shuts down! 1 client in the 16 months I’ve been opened has puked & that’s because he was out the night before & never told me!

    There are different offshoots of CrossFit, it’s just a brand name! Do some research into CrossFit Football, Power Athlete,Hybrid Athletics, ME Black box, Strength bias, CF Endurance. They’re all different protocols designed to make people better athletes and better at CrossFit, Power Athlete is an awesome S&C programme!

    Why don’t you link articles of endurance athletes and their high risk of Rhabdo? It’s not an exclusive CrosssFit condition you know? Fair enough, you weren’t saying that but you didn’t mention Rhabdo occurs in other protocols!
    ,

    • As I stated in the article, if you’re not doing the WOD or something like it, it’s technically not CF! If you don’t Olympic or Powerlift for time or high reps, then I don’t see it as CF and I probably don’t have a problem with your workouts. The WOD is CF. If you’re doing something else, you’re really just using the CF name to get people in the door, which I guess is one way to do it.

      • Patrick says:

        Once again, the issue is that what you are defining as CF is inaccurate and incorrect. There is nothing in the CF training manual nor on the website that states that a WOD must consist of Olympic or Powerlifts. For example, “Annie” is one of CF’s classic WODs and it simply is 50-40-30-20-10 reps of double unders and sit-ups. By your definition this is not CF; however it is listed on the CF mainsite as a classic WOD. You keep saying if you are not doing the WOD, but do you understand that “the WOD” could be anything. Sometimes it is even something as simple as run a 5k. The problem seems that you are writing an article based off of your misunderstanding of exactly what a WOD is and what CF is.

      • justin627 says:

        Erin, I’m not sure if you understand what CrossFit is. CrossFit isn’t a ‘WOD’. It isn’t “high rep oly lifts for time”. It isn’t “work until you’re in pain and then keep working!”. CrossFit is an incorporated name, first and foremost. By affiliating, a gym is carrying the name, but they program how they see fit. There isn’t a blueprint they must follow, so each individual owner and coaches have control over what they program and how they program. CrossFit, in terms of a definition of fitness, covers a wide range of movements and exercises. The actual definition they use is ‘Constantly Varied, Functional Movement, Performed at High Intensity. This doesn’t mean ‘random’. and though it isn’t directly implied, it is a RELATIVE intensity. Each gym decides how they want to express this definition, as well as how they will teach the various movements associated with CF. Some do it poorly. I ran college track too, I’m sure you could agree with me there are collegiate programs that are poorly run and coached, and their athletes tend to not perform as well, and sometimes get hurt! There are plenty of personal trainers out there hurting people or giving them misinformation. There are plenty of people going to gyms on their own or going outside for a run and hurting themselves. What’s interesting is the number of trainers etc who are anti-crossfit because it represents a new definition of fitness and bucks everything they’ve ever learned to be right. It’s a threat to the entire traditional fitness industry. So it is easier to say CrossFit’s definition is wrong or 100% of their independently owned gyms are torture chambers, or 100% of their so called ‘coaches’ took a weekend course, spent a grand and have no real experience. If you’re going to make claims like that, I hope you have proof of that.

        You made points in your article that are true. And they are things that qualified, educated coaches and box owners take into account and work hard to not contribute to. However, if you are going to preach to 100k+ readers from a position of being an expert, you should really have more than 2 personal experiences, a small number of similarly written articles, and some anecdotal evidence. I just checked, according to Google, there are currently no articles written by a CrossFit coach (of any caliber) ragging on why personal trainers are dangerous. And I’m sure we both know that for every good one out there, there’s five more who don’t have any right calling themselves one. Could that be because CrossFit affiliate owners and trainers don’t see ‘you people’ as a threat?

        In time, like with any business model, trend or organization, the cream rises to the top and the poorly owned/managed/run places disappear. CrossFit will keep updating and defining what it is, through the affiliates themselves and HQ. Much like every other sport has in its existence. (We don’t run on cinders anymore in track right?) It isn’t going anywhere. The fitness industry will adapt where it needs to, and eventually the witch hunting and finger pointing will subside. You don’t have to like it, do it, support it or endorse it, but an article like yours isn’t going to kill it either.

      • Steve Padilla says:

        The WOD is not CrossFit. It is a part of CrossFit, but it far from defines it. In addition their are plenty of crossfit workouts that don’t involve powerlifting or Olympic lifts. Including workouts they do in the CrossFit games.

      • Jess says:

        Ive read your article on many Facebook posts. I also was a high level collegiate track runner and a professional runner for several years after that. Although your writing is absurd and very generalized this ONE comment has compelled me to reply. “I probably don’t have a problem with your workouts”. Since when and why exactly do you have any right to “have a problem” with anyone’s workouts? As a collegiate athlete you should know that there are division one track programs with questionable coaching decisions being made every day (you think schools who promote eating disorders for female distance runners is safe? or programs where athletes are running 100+ miles a week- and yes the one’s who aren’t injured or in an outpatient clinic produce results, at least temporarily). I think if you’re going to examine cross fit so harshly you have to examine every other mode and choice of fitness alongside it.

  357. dani says:

    I love reading the varying opinions, pros and cons, advice, and thoughts from both sides of the fence. The only thing in the article that really gets to me is your aside – stating that “every single thing” you said is true at “every single gym.” First of all, that’s an incredibly un-provable hyperbole, but I’ll leave that point alone. Mostly, it’s just untrue. The two CrossFit gym (We call it a gym there, not a box) that I have had memberships at would NEVER let you do a workout without going through the “on ramp” two week training period first. No exceptions. So the experience you had with the Deadlift, Pull-up, and KBS WOD is NOT an experience you would have at every gym. Additionally, my gyms do not allow anyone to do kipping pull ups unless you can do strict pull ups first (not sure as to your ability there – but some boxes do and some don’t). The argument that all gyms are exactly the same is pretty silly. Our trainers never yell at you to go harder or faster if your form isn’t pristine. Some boxes have trainers who would do that; I would never go there.

    I don’t do crossfit as much anymore, and I agree with a few of your points. I’m much more interested in strength and olympic weightlifting than metcons all of the time. But I have to say that if you’re looking to truly impact someone’s opinion, or even communicate well with anyone on the other side of your fence, you might choose a little more compassion and a little less “I’m right, you’re wrong, it’s universal, no room for conversation!” Unless of course you only intend to communicate with those who already agree with you, in which case, please do ignore my opinion! (I’m truly not being sarcastic!!)

  358. Chris says:

    Terrible article with no alternatives or substantiated backups to your claims. Look I can prove running is bad too – http://www.runnersworld.com/health/heart-risk-marathoners-have-increased-artery-plaque. Instead of criticizing a form of exercise and providing no alternatives in your article why don’t you explore the right way to approach it and how it should be done. There are many excellent affiliates out there with proper trainers, who teach form FIRST and will work with their members to slowly increase load, so why don’t you try not speaking in absolutes when you experienced it on a minimal basis. Also, your workout for the day pretty much mirrors a CF WoD. Guess anyone with a computer and a keyboard can author ill informed articles these days.

  359. oz10tx says:

    Very well written and exactly why I tell my friends that not all gyms or coaches are created equally. I do crossfit and am on my second gym. Why the second gym? Because I learned that many of the coaches I had had just gotten good at crossfit so they decided to open a gym. As with anything, if you don’t do the research into what you are about to do then you can hurt yourself. My current coach has been doing crossfit for over ten years and only had a gym for three years now as he understood that just liking crossfit wasn’t enough. The proper coach makes all of the difference. He understands the body and when to push it. We also actually have many things we build on and have a plan that is done throughout the year. Just like you picking Fla State over other colleges, somebody has to be willing to do the research on their coach and why they should pick a particular gym. I have also seen many many many bad personal trainers at the typical gym it is just that you need more expertise to keep from getting hurt in crossfit. You should also know your body and when to call it off. I am not too ashamed to pull out midway through a WOD if I can feel that I am potentially going to hurt myself over just discomfort.

  360. Awesome post. While I’ve never trained at the same level as you, I’ve worked out with some high level triathletes, runners and cyclists – and none of them do crossfit. As a personal trainer, I NEVER recommend any sort of power lifting to my client, because unless they’re a high-level athlete (which most aren’t), the risk isn’t worth the reward.

  361. Nolan says:

    Well, first off, I do Crossfit. I have for about two years. I want to say a few things. First, all the comments appear to be from people who are not fans of Crossfit, so naturally they’re going to be all for the article. I’m sorry that you had a few bad experiences with Crossfit. And just so you know, I’m not a weekend warrior. I have been an athlete all my life and played at the varsity level in university, so I know a thing or two about pushing myself in workouts and trying to reach that next level. I can also tell you that in two years of doing Crossfit, I have not had one injury that has been worse than injuries I sustained while playing other, “normal” sports.

    If someone reads this post and thinks “here’s a person who does Crossfit, taking this personally”, don’t worry, I take nothing personally when it comes to Crossfit. I’m not stupid, I know Crossfit isn’t for everyone, and I’d never push it on someone who doesn’t want to do it. What’s good for one person, isn’t necessarily good for the next. But Crossfit works for me. I am a little tired of reading articles like this however. You mentioned in your article the injuries associated with Crossfit, rhabdo, ect. I didn’t click on the links to some of the articles you have linked, so I’m not sure if they have statistic in there on injuries or cases of rhabdo or not. If they did, I apologize for bringing this up. But where are the numbers? And, with the numbers, would it not drive your point home to have numbers from other major sports as comparisons? How many injuries do football players receive? Basketball players? Soccer players? Marathon runners? Ironmen? Olympians? Dare we mention the concussions in hockey lately?

    As for your comment that this article refers to “every single gym that follows Crossfit”, you’ll have to forgive me but that seems a little unfair. I can personally tell you that when I have any hint of bad form in something, I’m told to drop the weight. And it takes someone who is not stubborn to listen to their coach, and drop it. As a matter of fact, doing the open this year I had tweaked a muscle in my back (which I have done in other sports by the way, this is not specific to Crossfit), and I had it in my mind that I was going to do the next workout which included deadlifts. Now this is not because I’m Crossfit crazy, this is because I’m a competitor, and I want to compete, regardless of injuries. I’ve been that way my entire life playing other sports. I’ve gone out with worse injuries and played. My coach told me that I’m not doing the workout because it’s not worth injuring myself further. There was no arguing, I was not doing it.

    I respect your opinion on Crossfit. You make a lot of valid points in your article. However, I think that there should be examples and comparisons to other sports out there. When you train for a specific sport, that’s what you do, you train specifically. Since I don’t play competitive sports anymore, I chose to do Crossfit. I love it. I won’t lie about that. And I know that there are a lot of people out there who talk non-stop about Crossfit, and I know that they can get overbearing. I get that. That’s why I make a point of it not to do that. Crossfit isn’t for you, and that’s okay. It’s not for everyone. Do I believe that it is the end all/be all of training? Not at all. But it works for me. And in the end, isn’t any form of exercise better than sitting on the couch all day?

    This is a long winded comment, but please, if you’re going to comment on mine all I ask is that you be respectful as I have been in this message. I’m not here to get into a pissing match with people over Crossfit.

  362. mikey200134 says:

    Translation: You need to use a trainer with decades of experience and 10s of thousands of dollars in educational investment…..and your going to pay for it. For the sake of argument, I will concede that Erin’s training regiment and every other masters degree level coach’s training regiment is safer and more effective then Crossfit, if you will concede that at least three quarters (and that’s being generous) of the individuals doing Crossfit would never be able to afford getting trained by “masters degree” level coaches at the frequency that they train at a Crossfit Gym. So its the same song and dance….our way is the best way..eh…no the only way…but its going to cost you…probably more than you can afford.

  363. Clay says:

    Your blog popped up in my FB feed, and because I have, and sometimes still do, train at Crossfit gyms, I just had to read your take. Your reasons for not choosing to continue to train at the Crossfit gym you visited are well founded. But do understand that Crossfit gyms are franchises and in my experience (I’ve participated in WODs at 14 different ‘boxes’ in five different states over the last 4 years), boxes, and the trainers running classes, can be wildly different from place to place. Like restaurant franchises… A horrible experience in one Subway doesn’t mean another Subway location will be just as bad.

    There are certain people that will not like Crossfit. There are people that should not incorporate Olympic Lifting and/or gymnastics into their fitness routine. These reasons range from physical limitations, particular fitness goals that, social preferences, and many others. People probably ask you about Crossfit because they figure as a former college athlete, you would still have a desire to compete. But little do they know that setting a goal of getting magazine shoots or reaching a certain number of visitors to your blog can be just as competitive. They also don’t realize that some athletes, no matter how fit and healthy, aren’t going to dominate ‘the sport’ of Crossfit without a history of lifting and gymnastics in the same way a person who stands 5’2 won’t succeed in the NBA. You however could probably rack up some serious times in 5K’s and 10K’s, and triathalons, if you ever dedicated yourself to those pursuits, though there are some dangers there, and being great at those activities might require looking different than what makes someone photogenic for certain magazines.

    But I feel I need to clear up some misunderstandings about what Crossfit is. Crossfit is a brand. The corporate website does post daily WODs (that often include Olympics Lifting and gymnastic movements) that their franchises can program and lead their members through. However most Crossfit boxes program their own training. There are a number of knowledgeable athletic trainers (some who are employed by high level Division I athletic departments, and some that have USA Olympic team coaching on their resumes) that post daily workouts for people to follow. So you may visit a ‘Box’ and do some crazy, dangerous, non-beneficial WOD, and while you see this at a’Crossfit’ gym, that is not what Crossfit, the Brand and corporate envisions itself to be.

    What attracts a lot of people to Crossfit is the sense of empowerment that comes from being strong and doing things they never thought they could. This sense of accomplichment and confidence translate into other aspects of their lives. Lifting weights under the direction of knowledgeable and educated coaches can achieve this. The sense of community is very strong in the Crossfit gyms I’ve attended. Like a local bar where friends gather (drinking is probably not good for you the way some do it). And while you disagree with cross-training and Olympic lifting (the articles you cite are fine, but there are hundreds from reputable sources that counter them), I’ve seen the Crossfit routine and culture really transform some women’s entire perspective on who they are and how they look. They begin to value their health and engage in a healthy lifestyle, and don’t look outward to models with certain genetic gifts to find what they should look like, but instead embrace who they are and the great things they are capable of.

    Crossfit is not for everybody. Neither is fitness modeling, marathoning, mountain-climbing, ballet, football, cheerleading (very dangerous statistically). All of these carry inherent risks. I mean how many surgeries do college athletes have each year? If an athlete is not on scholarship, would you recommend that person not play, because it can be dangerous and not all coaches are high-quality? I played Division I athletics and then played a sport professionally, so I speak from similar experience as your own, which is to say experienced and knowledgeable people can have different opinions based on their on different personal experiences.

    Kudos to dedicating your life to fitness. Also thanks for posting the blog. It takes a lot of time to run a blog and research articles to write and post. Keep it up. Soliciting comments is also very cool. Good luck with your career and your fitness goals. I’ll have to check on some more of your stuff down the road.

  364. Ryan Dow says:

    Very good article, I do crossfit as well as other lifting movements. I do see the health risks; with form , supplementation, and diet. That is why I pride myself around form. I make sure that I’ve done all the movements for good reps not bad. Bad form leads to injury, the diet, well don’t even get me started with the paleo diet. I don’t follow it. Supplementation I take pride in; whey protein, caesin, fish oil, multivitamn, and BCAA that has some creatine in it. Reading this article I tried not to get upset because you have good sources and have the background.I am a college student with health, human performance, and recreation major. I want to open up a gym at one point. And in my the certification for Crossfit is piss pore, and I agree with you. That is why, you should always get other cetifications. As a training you are basically in control of someones body and health. Take pride in it, and teach right. I don’t want any Crossfitters getting the wrong idea about this article too. Look at Rich Froning, Jason Kalipa, and Ben Smith. They are so good because the have great form and have great dieting and supplementation. And if you watch some videos of the games athletes they say at one point they had a form coach. With this being said, always measure the pros and cons of a program. If it doesn’t fit your needs don’t do it. Crossfit can be great but with good form. Taking breaks on Olympic lifting and power lifting will put less stress on your body. Supplementation as well as dieting also play key roles in your body’s health and recovery. I always tell the people I train that there is no shame in using low weight till you get the form down as well as muscle momery. Fantastic article, and a good read.

  365. Guilherme Gomes says:

    Quite an interesting read. You have indeed a lof of valid points there, and also some not correct. But I do understand where you’re coming from, and if I had experienced that, I would bashing it, probably much harder.

    Let me tell you my experience as a Crossfitter and also as a trainer.

    Never once I was asked to do an exercise in a WOD where I did not have previous experience, and I never do so as a trainer.

    The Crossfit Boxes that I trained at required that you go through an On Ramp program where you learn the 9 basic movements, and a lot of time and attention is given to details on technique and safety. The form will be perfected through skill work on classes.

    As example, the most basic movement, the air squat is given more than an hour of attention and technique, and we are explicitly told this take years to mature, needs to be praticed a lot and requires a lot of mobility work.

    To improve the air squat this is done generally as warm-up to find out problems, and then we tackle the issues that each person has through specific practices in skill work.

    This also applies to everything else that I’ve ever done in Crossfit. This is how I was taught and this is how I do.

    As for WODs being the same for all and not individualized, my trainers always have different versions of the WOD scaled to different capabilitites, not only in termos of loads, reps, but also in terms of techniques. If the WOD has overhead squats, but you’ve never done them, you WON’T do them.

    You’ll do front squats, for example. If you never did front squats, you’ll do air squats. And if you’ve never done air squats, you’ll pratice air squats as skill work before the WOD, and if your form isn’t good, you’ll do something else entirely.

    We try to scale while maintaining the goal of the original stimulus as much as possible. But this isn’t always possible.

    The same scaling applies to your capacities. If you have dificulties on the front squat, you won’t be doing overhead squats. If you have difficulties on the air squat, you won’t be doing front squats.

    Only after you show consistent technique with load are you asked to do them in a WOD. First technique, then consistency and then intensity.

    There are several progressions for the techniques that are done, and I might be asked to perform a progression instead of the full technique in a WOD because I haven’t mastered it yet.

    I’ve never been put in a situation of…try it until you get it…They teached me the progressions for learning the technique. You learn the first one, practice until it is well done, then another progressions, and another, until you are doing the full technique. This takes time. You probably will only learn one ot two progressions in a class during the skill work.

    This is interesting since you say that Crossfit doesn’t give you body control. Gymnastics is a big part of Crossfit, and it is most important since you need to learn how to control you body through space before being able to control external objects. And there is a lot of progressions for that.

    Also, first few months, even though you practice the powerlifting and eventually oly lifts, much of the work in WODs are cardio and gymnastics. The same apllies to scaling. If you can’t properly do a Deadlift/front back squat/press/etc you’ll be scaled down to a gymnastics movement that works the same muscle groups.

    During the WODs, the trainers evaluate my form, and cue me on improvements as needed. If necessary they will stop me completely, explain to me and show me what is wrong, and only after I do it correctly they let me continue. If needed, they scale down the load, rep scheme, change to one progression or even the technique.

    This applies to all exercises I’ve ever done.

    As a trainer, let me say this: I already had these things in mind due to my coaches, but they were drilled to me by the certification staff: You are not suposed to open a gym after you get your L1. Like they said, brake a broom, get to your friend’s place and pratice deadlifts.

    Master the techniques, practice and practice. Start from the bottom. Don’t even think about putting people doing overhead squats in your first year as a trainer. Strive for excellence in movement.

    As for variation and randomness, they were very specific about that: Randomness is is how you test your fitness, aka, the games.

    Variation is part of the program, but it is NOT random, nor it should be. Classes are programmed so that you learn and improve your techniques progressively, and may ‘graduate’ from doing a scaled WOD to a higher scaled WOD or even Rx’d, as time goes by. If you just throw crazy shit at the wall, you won’t be going anywhere.

    Pushing people beyond their treshold and making them hurt themselves. From what I’ve experienced, I know my mind wants to quit before my body does. It took quite a while to learn what my body is capable of. And I’m still learning. For most people, you need to push them beyond that ‘I want to quit’ point. Beyond tired. But never beyond actual pain. As long as the form is correct you can go a long way. But you need to listen to your body. My coaches push me, but they also say, slower, or correct me, take of load, etc, have time out limits, and always always proper form.

    Yelling STOP or DROP IT sometimes happens and it needs to to ensure safety.

    As I said, this is my experience as a Crossfitter and as a trainer.

    With that said, I’m from Portugal. Europe as a whole was late in adopting Crossfit, especially Portugal. The ‘oldest’ box here has 3 years tops. So probably we gained from the bad experiences that you guys had over there, maybe. My coaches already had a background in these areas.

    In terms of certification. I have a problem with it. Yeah I’m L1 certified. It was a great experience sure, learned a lot. Is it enough to start an affiliate ? Yes and no.

    I’ll explain. I would like to make sure that all boxes had great coaches, high standards and all that. At the same time, the original purpose of L1 is to start as a trainer for those 9 basic movements. You should start with a friend or two, in your garage.

    What people actually do is quite different, though. They take the L1, affiliate and start raking in the money and putting people through a shredder and saying: get over it.

    I don’t agree that you need to be a graduate in that area to teach though. I’ve seen my fair share of graduates ‘teaching’ quite horrible form. Most of them end up as ‘fitness’ instructors teaching Body Pump, Zumba or whatever. They graduated so they can learn a new choreography every 3 months and repeat like monkeys ? And I’ve seen some pretty horrible things from these graduates in classes with over 30 people.

    I would argue in fact that a good Crossfit athlete has more knowledge about proper movement than most of these ‘graduates’ and ‘fitness instructors’.

    Not saying there aren’t any good ones. Of course there are, like in all areas. I’m not arrogant enough to classify people or classes that I haven’t seen or experienced.

    My point is, why deny a good athlete with the opportunity to teach ? In the end, a graduation is just that, a piece of paper, if you don’t apply it daily and strive to improve in your professional life.

    I would rather be taught by someone who takes their job seriously and researches, learns, practices, even without a paper saying he is a graduate.

    As for deadlift and kettle swings not being good or usefull exercises, I won’t even go there, that’s an
    entirely another discussions, and I totally disagree. Not because ‘we do it in crossfit’ but for the exercises they are. There’s plenty of info on that.

    Strit pull ups and kipping pull ups. Differente beasts altogether. With that said, ‘we’ don’t do just kipping pull ups, strict pull-ups are part of regular programming and should be for strength gains. Kipping pull-ups won’t give you that. Technique wise it’s harder to perform a kipping pull up than a strict pull up, but the purpose is to make use of the rest of your body in order to place your chin above the bar. That’s it.

    You can compare it to the push press. But you probably won’t say that a push press is wrong because…well…it has been done for quite some time in an already established community. so nobody bashes it. But hey, I’m making use of my legs to push a weight above my head instead of just mu shoulders in a strict press. Isn’t that ‘cheating’ as well ? Ah well no because…bla bla bla. The same reasoning applies for kipping. I see no problem with any of it.

    As for lesions…Well if people are learning stuff in 5 mns and then being put under stress to do it…Yeah that’s a recipe for disaster. As I’ve said, that’s not my experience.

    In fact, most of my friends get hurt weekly playing football – soccer…ball on feet – some sprain ankles, break fingers, noses. These are the weekend footballers. But they do it anyway. Since its a national sport, nobody cares…oh you got hurt doing football. Yeah it’s normal.

    But if you talk about a bruise in Karate, Krav Maga, Kick Boxing, …oh no…its a dangerous sport. Don’t wanna try it. I’ve seen more people seriously hurt and far more frequently in football than in martial arts or Crossfit.

    Personal experience, I have bad knees and ankles – multiple strains playin soccer as a kid that weren’t treated properly, now only with surgery, but no money for a good doctor – so much that simply walking in the street over unlevel ground can make my right foot turn inward. Its so bad that sometimes I have to put it in place manually because it just doesn’t go back on its own. Yeap. It sucks bigtime. And it affects my knees as well and so own. Since I started crossfit, I’ve only turn it once and it was while stepping out of a mat. that’s it. In fact my knees are much better once I learned how to squat properly. Since during classes I’m always aware of the movements and focused on them, it’s ok. I get my sparins when I’m walking, a or at home or something like that when I’m distracted.

    Is Crossfit perfect ? Nope. There’s a lot right, but there are also many things wrong. As my coach says: It’s good, but we don’t go in blind.

    Some steps on some exercises we don’t do as per Crossfit ‘standards’ because our coach had medical advise against them. Once explained the why, there’s no reason to do so. Will Crossfit HQ fix that ? No idea.

    There are different approaches to Crossfit, with MEBB, CFSB, Crossfit Football, Endurance, among several others. The strength part, powerlifting and oly lifts need more focus and have been gradually more used in a correct fashion, that is, less reps and higher loads.

    About using these techniques under stress and with multiple reps…lots of discussion there, from multiple reputable sources. If these are the most effective ways to use our bodies to push / pull objects, why not use them multiples times with lighter loads ? How do you pick a heavy box from the floor ? With that said, I personally don’t agree with anything over 20 reps and that’s pushing it.

    Usually go for 2-12 reps with respective loads, in combination with other exercises.

    As for your affirmation: “This is simply not true and every single thing that I’ve posted in this article refers to EVERY SINGLE GYM THAT FOLLOWS CROSSFIT. There are no exceptions, if you’re following the WODs, it’s not good for you, it’s not safe, and you’re putting your health in danger. Take it for what it’s worth, but please believe that your box is NOT different, no matter what your coach says.”

    I understand your frustration, but that’s quite an arrogant position, wouldn’t you say ? So you have been to ALL boxes all over the world and took classes from ALL coaches to say that ? Nope. So you can’t say that. Simple as that.

    Now, can you say that MOST Crossfit gyms have bad coaches or low standards ? Most likely. And I say that because unfortunantely we know how human nature is and how people abuse a name just to get money and forget what its all about. Also statistically, that is what will happen in all areas.

    I can also say the same about fitness instrutors, gym coaches, medics, police, whatever. There is always good and bad professionals in all areas.

    As I’ve said in the beginning, If I had experienced what you did, I would be also bashing Crossfit. No doubt about it. My personal experience has fortunately been quite different.

  366. Firstly, thank you for sharing your opinion, was interesting to read. Secondly, unfortunately, i wasn’t able to get passed the second paragraph of your post because of the weakness of your argumentation. You might have a point but what you have written in the second paragraph come off as follows:
    btw please do not take this as my intention to be rude for as I have no such intentions.
    You are blaming crossfit for training people who cannot do a muscle up after having “been doing CrossFit for years”. This sounds like you might as well blame math for being hard on some people…it is not the workout but the person who does not practice constantly and possibly also the trainer who is not quite competent that results in what you encountered. I have yet to see a single person who has the capabilities (both mental and physical) of doing something (in this case work out, pull a muscle up) when they practice and put effort into it. Especially in case of crossfit, I have not met a single person who did not display an outstanding improvement of physical abilities within just a few weeks (let alone years).
    Now having said this, I do not intend to support nor criticize crossfit. In fact, i think it is simply yet another way of working out…nothing more. Just an approach that is built upon a social concept (e.g., peer support system) and on the idea of composing WOD on circuits that work several sets of muscles and do not simply concentrate on one area). There is nothing more to crossfit.
    Unfortunately, the problem is that crossfit attracted way too much attention way too fast and as it is human nature, many of us started trying to find negativity in it instead of just enjoying or opting out (cuz if you are able to compare it to something then there is always something negative you can find… you know, theory of relativity)
    As for the kettle bells (and this is when I stopped reading your post), before indirectly suggesting its uselessness, please read up on its history and why it made its way all the way to USA

  367. Ani says:

    Firstly, thank you for sharing your opinion, was interesting to read. Secondly, unfortunately, i wasn’t able to get passed the second paragraph of your post because of the weakness of your argumentation. You might have a point but what you have written in the second paragraph come off as follows:
    btw please do not take this as my intention to be rude for as I have no such intentions.
    You are blaming crossfit for training people who cannot do a muscle up after having “been doing CrossFit for years”. This sounds like you might as well blame math for being hard on some people…it is not the workout but the person who does not practice constantly and possibly also the trainer who is not quite competent that results in what you encountered. I have yet to see a single person who has the capabilities (both mental and physical) of doing something (in this case work out, pull a muscle up) when they practice and put effort into it. Especially in case of crossfit, I have not met a single person who did not display an outstanding improvement of physical abilities within just a few weeks (let alone years).
    Now having said this, I do not intend to support nor criticize crossfit. In fact, i think it is simply yet another way of working out…nothing more. Just an approach that is built upon a social concept (e.g., peer support system) and on the idea of composing WOD on circuits that work several sets of muscles and do not simply concentrate on one area). There is nothing more to crossfit.
    Unfortunately, the problem is that crossfit attracted way too much attention way too fast and as it is human nature, many of us started trying to find negativity in it instead of just enjoying or opting out (cuz if you are able to compare it to something then there is always something negative you can find… you know, theory of relativity)
    As for the kettle bells (and this is when I stopped reading your post), before indirectly suggesting its uselessness, please read up on its history and why it made its way all the way to USA.

    Hope this didn’t come of rude and thanks again for posting this.

  368. Mike Manning says:

    First this…”Well, I had trained as an athlete, lifted, and done many bodyweight exercises over my years as a collegiate athlete…”

    Then this… “Secondly, the workout was going to have deadlifts, which I had never done and to this day I still don’t do them”

    Hmmmm…

  369. Tony says:

    I want to say first, thank you for your insight. I have personally been doing crossfit or crossfitish workouts for over 3 years now. I agree that there is a higher risk doing crossfit than a typical workout, especially if you’re coach is not well trained or paying attention. I have heard stories of people having experiences very similar to yours, and that very unfortunate. I had the complete opposite experience. I had coaches taking the time to teach lifts, not packing on weight until people were ready. I recently moved and attended the local crossfit gym and saw what many like you had experience, so I decided not to return. I instead do these on my own or with any friend that interested in joining (most people don’t because of the intensity of the workout). . The box I originally joined, taught you and brought you up at your own pace by modifies movement and number of reps to suite the person’s ability. That is with every personal trainer in general. How good they really are. What I am getting at is, the information above is good information, and very valuable, but everyone enjoys different things (I am a runner, who likes high intense workouts, versus someone who bikes, swims or rows).

    I agree with most of what you say. The high risks of crossfit versus it’s reward. Power and Olympic lifts weren’t meant to do 30 times or for time. However when I do these workouts with those high reps, I lower the weight, I listen to my body and work on technique of the lift every day. I don’t increase weight just to increase weight, technique comes first. I take videos of myself and compare them with how I feel and what I have learned over the years (3 years of xfit, and lifetime of fitness, sports, and degrees). I will continue to do crossfit until I don’t find it fun (which is the very important when finding something to kick your own butt with) and/or challenging.

    If I had an experience like your first time, I wouldn’t of returned. But that wasn’t the case, and how I was taught combined on just how I train, I have found huge benefits in it. I started xfit at 150 and barely did 65# on most movements (on a side note, I totally agree with the DL. I would add clean and jerks to that, too many things can go wrong if done wrong). Now 3 years later I weight 145, yes I lost weight though I eat healthier and more than I did when I started, I caan do 15 Muscle ups in a row, ft sq 215, Sq clean 205, snatch 155, push press 185 with good form. Point is, crossfit is like any other workout regime out there. Done right, it can be very beneficial, done wrong or taught wrong can cause some sever injury. This is where the consumer needs to be educated (I am, and was going in) and that is why I appreciate your thought on the matter (working in a gym for a college, many of my colleagues agree with you, so I know I am an outlier), but wanted to let people know out there that there are crossfit gyms out there that do it right.

    So now I am talking to everyone who is on the fence still. Try it, but find one that does things right. One that teaches and educates you about what you need to do from how each movement goes to what to eat and how much to eat. If the coaches don’t take the time to do this, then find a different Box (crossfit speech). And don’t just join one because it’s the only one there, it’s not worth getting injured over if they don’t do it right.

  370. fitpolekit says:

    Absolutely spot on Erin!

  371. Suzanne says:

    Absolutely spot on Erin! I think it’s the fact that CrossFitters focus more on quantity than quality which puts me off.

  372. marktross@msn.com says:

    Couple of things. Injury occurs in every aspect of life. people injure themselves in track because they don’t properly stretch or over train. This also occurs in every gym I go to. Normal workout have all the same risks associated with them. Then you state that the constant change does not allow for any progress to occur. Have you seen some of these crossfit athletes!?!? They are strong as hell and in great shape. A guy power cleaning close to six hundred pounds, I wouldn’t say he really stopped improving.

    • True, injury has the potential to occur in all aspects of life. But this is due to making a mistake, such as not warming up, not using proper form, or continuing to train while fatigued. My point is that even if you did all the movements perfectly, CF workouts will break your body down because of the methods they use: high rep, high weight, little recovery.
      If you just followed the WODs, the random, high intensity aspect of CF would not lend itself to progress. Many of these guys that you are referring to write programming to get them lifting those higher weights. That specialized programming is NOT Crossfit. That is added training in addition to the CF WODs. That would have to be evaluated separately.

      • n says:

        “CF workouts will break your body down” Incorrect, they CAN break your body down if not done property and you don’t recover properly.

        “high re, high weight, little recovery” incorrect. High weight is relative. There are no wods where you have to live a 3 rep max weight as fast as you can for 10 reps. You scale down appropriately to make a 10 rep attainable for the specific workout.

        “If you just followed the WODs, the random, high intensity aspect of CF would not lend itself to progress.” incorrect. I seen and experienced the progress. Setting personal records for performance, looking and feeling better, understanding your body better because you see where improvements need to be made. Is it riskier? probably. Totally worth it for some.

      • dave says:

        Isn’t almost all training done during fatigue? Even bodybuilders do fatigue sets or sets to failure. What’s the difference exactly?

      • AmysInTheBox says:

        I have to disagree with your statement …”If you just followed the WODs, the random, high intensity aspect of CF would not lend itself to progress”.

        That is completely untrue! I go to my Box 3-4 times per week. I do the scheduled warm up, WOD, Cool-down and mobility/stretching and my results are amazing.

        I am 40 years old and I am in the best shape of my life. I am not a 40 year old who has spent the last 20 years on the coach. I’ve been participating in sports and working out 5 days a week for most of my adult life.

        In terms of injury, in the last 2 years of CrossFit I have had less injuries than when I was hitting the gym 2 times a week and running 3 times a week. I have had two sport/exercise related surgeries (knee and ankle). My CrossFit coaches know my limitations and help me to work within what my body is capable of. I am a stronger runner, even though I run less. I am stronger because my muscles can do more AND more importantly I have gone the last 2 years without having to take time off from exercise due to injury.

        Bottom line… I live to move. If I can’t exercise I am miserable. CrossFit keeps me sane, strong and healthy. It’s the perfect fitness fit for where I am right now. It may not be perfect for everyone, but making these blanket statements as if you know all there is to know about CrossFit without taking a year or two to try it our is really not fair to the population of CrossFitters out there.

      • John says:

        What you call “specialized programming” (which is basically just a strength focus) is also a part of the CrossFit methodology. CF is a strength AND conditioning program with VARIED (not random as you keep calling it) routines.

        This reply clearly shows your lack of knowledge regarding well-programmed CrossFit methods. Like many others have already mentioned, not every CF gym/coach is a bad programmer and many put a lot of thought into the varied part of the programming, which you mistakenly keep calling random.

    • Gloria Hale says:

      Well said.

    • Lloyd Shaw says:

      Injury is ALWAYS due to lack of discipline and knowledge.

      As a primate you should be able to use your body all day with no issue. It is only if you decide to abuse your body you will have problems.

  373. absolutely agree, olympics are not meant to be done for high repetition. These movements are tools to be utilized in programming, or performed as events. Crossfit is the antithesis of programming.

  374. Dru Giba says:

    I’ve been a professional personal trainer for years, incidentally right here in Tallahassee also Erin, (A New You by Dru Professional Personal Training), and my hats off to you Ms. Simmons, I didn’t do the actual comprehensive research you did yet every single one of your points I have been shouting from the rooftops for a very long time. Brainwashing and breaking of bodies. I’ve met about 12 crossfitters and 7 of them have had catastrophic surgery requiring injuries, WHAT??? . I’ve trained for over a decade and have had only ONE injury that happened on my watch that made the client not be able to train the rest of the week. The other part of the demographic that I’ve focused on is that the average age has got to be low 20’s which means if they’re getting banged up they are going to be a little more recuperative as we all were in our 20’s, but I fear for the first generation of crossfitters when they get into their late thirties and beyond and will have joints, tendons, and bones breaking down exponentially… but I digress… you can bring a horse to water but you can’t make them drink…..

  375. ania says:

    I also was an athlete. I simply cannot get myself to crossfit. It goes against anything I know about proper form. I do not care that I am called some odd name used for non-crossfitters. I just do not see myself ever doing those workouts regardless of how good of a crossfitter I COULD become due to my atheistic past. I just don’t think it is worth damaging my body. I would love to see, however, what they have to say to defend the negative press.

  376. Chris Howe says:

    Interesting article and I agree with some of the comments but there are certainly major differences between boxes and the level of expertise of individual coaches. At the end of the day, each participant knows there own level and should work out accordingly. If you can’t do a particular exercise to the required level, do it at the level you are comfortable with.

    • Stickyheels says:

      I completely agree with this thought on the article. The comment that every box is inherently evil and bad frustrates me as my own box has expressed concern over some of