Fixing Crossfit - AnabolicMinds.com
    • Fixing Crossfit



      by Max Shank T-Nation

      Here's what you need to know...

        The main problem with CrossFit is the WOD the workout of the day that's performed at high speed.

        CrossFit wants to focus on strength, speed, endurance, and everything else. The current CrossFit methodology misses the mark, but it can be fixed. The way to do this is to categorize movements as either "high skill" or "low skill."

      You're probably already thinking that this is going to be ten minutes of CrossFit bashing. It's not. That's not helpful or useful to anyone, and it's been done to death. What I want to do is to help find a middle ground by keeping the best aspects of CrossFit and getting rid of the things that hurt people.

      A few observations about CrossFit, three positive and two negative:

       CrossFit has shown a lot of people a door to exercise that isn't paved with single body-part machines and treadmills. Lifting real weights is cool and becoming more mainstream, as Mark Rippetoe and others here at T Nation have mentioned before.

       People who do CrossFit generally look like they're having a good time and that's great because exercise should be enjoyable.

       In general, regular people who do CrossFit are what we might describe as being "in pretty good shape."

       The injury rates in CrossFit are way too high.

       The purpose of exercising is to make you better, not worse.

      Additionally, it seems that the focus of CrossFit is very highly geared toward conditioning over strength. This is partially true due to the focus on moving as fast as possible most of the time, often against the clock.

      However, the pendulum swings both ways and a lot of the criticism CrossFit gets for being too conditioning-focused is from people who are lazy or perhaps intimidated by high levels of conditioning. There's nothing wrong with doing conditioning and there's certainly nothing wrong with doing a minimal amount of conditioning. Open your mind to the fact that both have value that depends on your individual goals.


      99 Problems, But the WOD is the Worst
      The main problem with CrossFit is the WOD the workout of the day that's performed at ludicrous speed. Speed in itself isn't the problem. I've competed in most sports at this point (including martial arts, highland games, soccer, etc.), and I know for a fact that speed kills, but the parameter for determining whether you should do something is simple: "Can you do it well?"

      If you can do it well, do it. If you can't, don't. CrossFit wants to focus on strength, speed, endurance, and everything else and so do I. What's better than possessing all the athletic qualities and making your body a force to be reckoned with? Problem is, the current CrossFit methodology misses the mark, but it can be fixed. The way to do this is to categorize movements as either "high skill" or "low skill."

      High Skill: You must do this movement with little to no fatigue, lower repetitions, and adequate rest.

      Low Skill: Go fast and lots of reps. Get after it, you lazy SOB. I'm giving you the green light.

      For most of us, handstand walking and back flips are "high skill," so it doesn't make sense to have them as part of a WOD. It's also pretty easy to make the argument that the Airdyne bike or battling ropes are safe enough to do at almost any intensity, though vomiting is always a possibility. Dragging a tire attached to a belt would probably also fall under this category, too.

      The Olympic lifts, however, are another matter. You might think I'm going to spout off some BS about how high-rep Olympic lifting is dangerous... and you'd be half right. It is, for most people. Some, however, have achieved such a high level of skill in Olympic lifting that they can basically do however many reps they want and they won't be in any danger. The same could be said for handstand walking for some of us.

      I'm at the point where I could do handstand walking and hang cleans for high reps in a fatigued state and I'd be just fine, but I wouldn't ever put those in a program for any of my students. As such, a WOD should be tagged with the proper High Skill or Low Skill label. That way, trainees know what they're getting into and they can enhance their skills in a safe environment until the O-lifts become "low skill." Then those lifts will be much safer for a WOD.

      There's no need to dismiss CrossFit entirely and abandon their brand of high intensity and conditioning just because most people do it wrong and take it too far. It's good to sweat and move fast; just make sure you have a good risk/reward ratio and you only go balls-out and get after it with low skill maneuvers for your metabolic conditioning workouts.

      Here are a couple of examples of low-skill WODs that I'd feel comfortable prescribing to almost anyone:

      Example #1:
      A Power Snatch 5 x 3
      B1 Push-Up x 20
      B2 Row x 20
      B3 Airdyne x 1:00, all out
      Repeat B1, B2, and B3 for 10:00

      Example #2:
      A1 Deadlifts 5 x 5
      A2 Single-Arm Push Press x 10/arm
      A3 Sled Drag x 1:00
      Repeat 5 times

      These examples are a bit more rigorous than I personally would do, but in general, these would be appropriate for anyone who's adept at push-ups, rows, Airdyne, and push presses. In general, though, if your workout is low skill, you're good to go and you should let your creativity guide your WODS.

      The goal of course, is to have fun, and get better every day. If you can do that with handstands and back flips and high-rep O lifts, and you can do them well, then more power to you.

      Source: http://www.t-nation.com/training/how-to-fix-crossfit
      Comments 26 Comments
      1. sfull006's Avatar
        sfull006 -
        Deadlifts are "low skill"? Seems to me there is a high chance of injury with deadlifts if not done with careful attention to form.
      1. wiseman's Avatar
        wiseman -
        Crossfit is stupid! Leave that type of lifting to experts. Everyone isn't meant to do these powerlifting exercises.
      1. asooneyeonig's Avatar
        asooneyeonig -
        Originally Posted by wiseman View Post
        Crossfit is stupid! Leave that type of lifting to experts. Everyone isn't meant to do these powerlifting exercises.
        you mean olympic lifting?? as powerlifting is squat, bench, and deadlift.
      1. asooneyeonig's Avatar
        asooneyeonig -
        Originally Posted by sfull006 View Post
        Deadlifts are "low skill"? Seems to me there is a high chance of injury with deadlifts if not done with careful attention to form.
        deadlifts are low skill in comparison to an overhead squat, snatch, clean, jerk, and other olympic lifts and their variations.
      1. mcafaro's Avatar
        mcafaro -
        Originally Posted by wiseman View Post
        Crossfit is stupid! Leave that type of lifting to experts. Everyone isn't meant to do these powerlifting exercises.
        Dumb comment for a guy who calls himself wiseman
      1. pmdied's Avatar
        pmdied -
        On one hand I'm glad that women are delving into the realm of weightlifting; takes the myths/stygma/fear out of it. I'm just not so keen on the Crossfit methodology... or lack thereof. Its needs a major overhaul. And if you go on the cross fit website forums you see literally hundreds of pages of injuries. Not acceptable for this type of program.
      1. bono1132's Avatar
        bono1132 -
        Originally Posted by pmdied View Post
        On one hand I'm glad that women are delving into the realm of weightlifting; takes the myths/stygma/fear out of it. I'm just not so keen on the Crossfit methodology... or lack thereof. Its needs a major overhaul. And if you go on the cross fit website forums you see literally hundreds of pages of injuries. Not acceptable for this type of program.
        All of us lifters or builders know how effing easy it is to simply be unfocused and tweaking a muscle during any lift, especially big compound movements like deads etc. Take that with the crazy volume cross fit implies and the random circuits they do and it's just setting people up for failure. Are there freaks that can take it? Sure. Many are former athletes (guys you actually see on tv for the games). But average or beginner lifters don't understand they just see results. A lot can go wrong even with light weight snatches and over head squats and things like that, even at a light weight. I dunno about everyone else but I don't a giant rip in my hands from doing a hundred kip pull ups... ain't no one got time for that
      1. wiseman's Avatar
        wiseman -
        Originally Posted by asooneyeonig View Post

        you mean olympic lifting?? as powerlifting is squat, bench, and deadlift.
        Umm they do a lot of dead lifts and squats which is what power lifters do as well as benching all with heavy weight low reps. You want to play a game of semantics go ahead. Lol
      1. wiseman's Avatar
        wiseman -
        Originally Posted by mcafaro View Post

        Dumb comment for a guy who calls himself wiseman
        Says the guy with no pic. You're probably a Crossfiter and a twig
      1. asooneyeonig's Avatar
        asooneyeonig -
        Originally Posted by wiseman View Post
        Umm they do a lot of dead lifts and squats which is what power lifters do as well as benching all with heavy weight low reps. You want to play a game of semantics go ahead. Lol
        so what you are saying is only powerlifters should or do those lifts and only with low reps? really? i am a competitive powerlifter and i do those lifts with up to 20 reps. most of my sets are done 3-10 reps. the program i am on was written for me by brandon lilly. yes, i paid him. he seems pretty knowledgeable and experienced. so if you want to argue or doubt or debate with doing reps as a powerlifter, please contact mr lilly directly.

        bench, squat, and deadlift is not just meant for powerlifters. anyone can do them and doing them with less weight and more reps can be much safer than doing a 1 rep max. so indirectly you are correct. you are correct powerlfiters lift 1 rep maxes. you are wrong in thinking that crossfit is like powerlifting. its not an opinion, its a fact. so if you want to argue/debate/discuss you will need to argue against facts and not me.

        so, is this where you start to back pedal after posting some silliness?
      1. asooneyeonig's Avatar
        asooneyeonig -
        Originally Posted by wiseman View Post
        Says the guy with no pic. You're probably a Crossfiter and a twig
        ohh look here. the backpedalling, name calling had already began.

        is this where you say i lift more than you and look better so i know more? thats like saying stephen hawkins is an idiot cause he is so weak and looks goofy. oops.
      1. wiseman's Avatar
        wiseman -
        Originally Posted by asooneyeonig View Post

        so what you are saying is only powerlifters should or do those lifts and only with low reps? really? i am a competitive powerlifter and i do those lifts with up to 20 reps. most of my sets are done 3-10 reps. the program i am on was written for me by brandon lilly. yes, i paid him. he seems pretty knowledgeable and experienced. so if you want to argue or doubt or debate with doing reps as a powerlifter, please contact mr lilly directly.

        bench, squat, and deadlift is not just meant for powerlifters. anyone can do them and doing them with less weight and more reps can be much safer than doing a 1 rep max. so indirectly you are correct. you are correct powerlfiters lift 1 rep maxes. you are wrong in thinking that crossfit is like powerlifting. its not an opinion, its a fact. so if you want to argue/debate/discuss you will need to argue against facts and not me.

        so, is this where you start to back pedal after posting some silliness?
        First, anyone can say theyre a competitive power lifter so that's a moot point. Second, if you look at some of the best lifters out there they are not doing high rep routines. Think Westside Barbell. They have a dynamic day but it doesn't include high reps. We do not get stronger doing high reps, which is why I question you being a competitive power lifter.

        Have you ever been to a crossfit gym? It's either high rep or heavy lifting like a power lifter. Im beginning to think you're a crossfitter lol
      1. wiseman's Avatar
        wiseman -
        Originally Posted by asooneyeonig View Post

        ohh look here. the backpedalling, name calling had already began.

        is this where you say i lift more than you and look better so i know more? thats like saying stephen hawkins is an idiot cause he is so weak and looks goofy. oops.
        Your analogy is incorrect. What does looking weak and goofy have anything to do with intelligence? Most extremely intelligent people usually look weak and goofy because they enjoy books more than weights Lol but it does have something to do with physical capabilities. I think this last comment of yours shows your illogical thinking.
      1. asooneyeonig's Avatar
        asooneyeonig -
        Originally Posted by wiseman View Post
        First, anyone can say theyre a competitive power lifter so that's a moot point. Second, if you look at some of the best lifters out there they are not doing high rep routines. Think Westside Barbell. They have a dynamic day but it doesn't include high reps. We do not get stronger doing high reps, which is why I question you being a competitive power lifter.

        Have you ever been to a crossfit gym? It's either high rep or heavy lifting like a power lifter. Im beginning to think you're a crossfitter lol
        so you know the training of westside? you would know about the RE aspect done every day. after they do they ME and DE work they do RE work for weak links. its in every westside template i have seen, all the videos talking about training from westside, its in the book of methods, etc. you would also know even loui himself will do for example some banded leg curls of up to 50 reps then do squats. now i have mentioned 2 world class powerlifters that use the RE method, or repetition method for that that dont know what it means.

        i have been to a crossfit gym. back 12 years ago before anyone really knew of it when i was an athletic trainer. went to one a few times to learn about it. as a trainer i believed it was important to constantly learn about all aspects of training. and back then with dan john and mark rippetoe being affiliated with them it seemed a good thing to do.

        now, i have referenced some world known coaches and athletes that have shown you are wrong. would you like to argue against them?

        if you were knowledgeable you would also know the cube is a variation on westside, and it uses higher reps. if that is what is needed for the athlete. especially as how it has a day dedicated to bodybuilding exercises. higher reps is one way to gain mass as a body builder. 20 rep squats anyone?

        even 5/3/1 will have higher reps in it. when you first start and are using your 90% of your training max there are going to be days when you hit 10-15 reps in a set. throw in the fact that in the beyond book there is a pyramid version that bring you back down in percentages and AMRAPS the lightest percentage, you could easily break 20 for a long time on many lifts. i know i did when i tried it last year. and we all know that 5/3/1 builds strength, a major component of powerlifting. there are competitive powerlifters that use 5/3/1 as well.

        there is more fact that high reps has a place for even powerlifters. the biggest missunderstanding is the fact that you need to bring up your weak links to be an effective powerlifter. for many the weak link is some higher rep work.

        dave tate on t-nation a few years ago wrote several articles about his past experiences and what people should do to learn from his mistakes. he had one article where he stated people should spend time every year training in higher reps, like a bodybuilder.

        how many world class athletes and coaches do you want to hear from to prove you wrong? you dont have to admit you are wrong, it is the internet after all. this is more for the benefit of others reading it and not being so misguided to believe you.
      1. asooneyeonig's Avatar
        asooneyeonig -
        Originally Posted by wiseman View Post
        Your analogy is incorrect. What does looking weak and goofy have anything to do with intelligence? Most extremely intelligent people usually look weak and goofy because they enjoy books more than weights Lol but it does have something to do with physical capabilities. I think this last comment of yours shows your illogical thinking.
        how is it illogical? can you please explain.

        the analogy is accurate with angry people on internet forums. they nearly always devolve into name calling and saying they are bigger and stronger when their argument begins to fall apart due to lack of facts. that is exactly what that analogy represents. FYI - i started using that when i saw mark rippetoe use it in an article. again, if you want to discount these ideas you are discounting the ideas of some of the most successful coaches and athletes. is that what you are doing? saying you are better and more knowledgeable than they are?
      1. wiseman's Avatar
        wiseman -
        Originally Posted by asooneyeonig View Post

        so you know the training of westside? you would know about the RE aspect done every day. after they do they ME and DE work they do RE work for weak links. its in every westside template i have seen, all the videos talking about training from westside, its in the book of methods, etc. you would also know even loui himself will do for example some banded leg curls of up to 50 reps then do squats. now i have mentioned 2 world class powerlifters that use the RE method, or repetition method for that that dont know what it means.

        i have been to a crossfit gym. back 12 years ago before anyone really knew of it when i was an athletic trainer. went to one a few times to learn about it. as a trainer i believed it was important to constantly learn about all aspects of training. and back then with dan john and mark rippetoe being affiliated with them it seemed a good thing to do.

        now, i have referenced some world known coaches and athletes that have shown you are wrong. would you like to argue against them?
        Hahaha banded leg curls is your only example for high rep work from Westside lol that's not even a compound exercise. I thought we were talking about REAL lifting, not isolation exercises.
      1. asooneyeonig's Avatar
        asooneyeonig -
        Originally Posted by wiseman View Post
        Hahaha banded leg curls is your only example for high rep work from Westside lol that's not even a compound exercise. I thought we were talking about REAL lifting, not isolation exercises.
        it was a single example and not by any means the only example. here is another from loui, he will do 50+ reps with DB bench before barbell benching. you claimed to know westside but are showing a lack of understanding of a well documented program. one that is unfortunately misunderstood more often than done properly. its not just about max effort and speed work. rep work is the foundation of lifts after the max effort or speed work.

        even speed work can have lots of reps in it. i know if you are using block periodization on your westside template the DE days can have as much as 20 sets of 2-3. add in the fact this is usually done with 15-45 seconds rest between sets you get a training effect similar to high rep work but for an even longer training time and therefore greater training effect.

        plus you didnt specify earlier that it has to be a certain type of lift, isolation or compound. you just said lifts. also, strongmen commonly do high rep work. i train with 2 guys that went to the NSA nationals last year as heavy weights. they commonly do high rep, 10-20 rep work. there are many strongmen that rep out what powerlifters do for max work.

        would you like to make another claim that is incorrect now? or you could try and clarify my original response about powerlifting being a small if not even a part of crossfit but that olymic lifts are and the O lifts are generally what is argued about as being so bad in crossfit with its high rep WODs using them. do you even know that powerlifting and olymipc lifting is 2 different sports or do you want to start back pedaling, using a straw man argument, or trying to change the topic till you find something you might be right about?
      1. wiseman's Avatar
        wiseman -
        Originally Posted by asooneyeonig View Post

        it was a single example and not by any means the only example. here is another from loui, he will do 50+ reps with DB bench before barbell benching. you claimed to know westside but are showing a lack of understanding of a well documented program. one that is unfortunately misunderstood more often than done properly. its not just about max effort and speed work. rep work is the foundation of lifts after the max effort or speed work.

        even speed work can have lots of reps in it. i know if you are using block periodization on your westside template the DE days can have as much as 20 sets of 2-3. add in the fact this is usually done with 15-45 seconds rest between sets you get a training effect similar to high rep work but for an even longer training time and therefore greater training effect.

        plus you didnt specify earlier that it has to be a certain type of lift, isolation or compound. you just said lifts. also, strongmen commonly do high rep work. i train with 2 guys that went to the NSA nationals last year as heavy weights. they commonly do high rep, 10-20 rep work. there are many strongmen that rep out what powerlifters do for max work.

        would you like to make another claim that is incorrect now? or you could try and clarify my original response about powerlifting being a small if not even a part of crossfit but that olymic lifts are and the O lifts are generally what is argued about as being so bad in crossfit with its high rep WODs using them. do you even know that powerlifting and olymipc lifting is 2 different sports or do you want to start back pedaling, using a straw man argument, or trying to change the topic till you find something you might be right about?
        I have never... NEVER... Seen anyone who trains with the Westside method that does high rep work. They may do short rest intervals but repping out weight does NOTHING for strength but it will put on muscle.

        I'm not going to argue with you. Believe what you like. It's easy to type anything you want online.
      1. bono1132's Avatar
        bono1132 -
        Fight! Fight! Fight!
      1. mcafaro's Avatar
        mcafaro -
        Originally Posted by asooneyeonig View Post
        so you know the training of westside? you would know about the RE aspect done every day. after they do they ME and DE work they do RE work for weak links. its in every westside template i have seen, all the videos talking about training from westside, its in the book of methods, etc. you would also know even loui himself will do for example some banded leg curls of up to 50 reps then do squats. now i have mentioned 2 world class powerlifters that use the RE method, or repetition method for that that dont know what it means. i have been to a crossfit gym. back 12 years ago before anyone really knew of it when i was an athletic trainer. went to one a few times to learn about it. as a trainer i believed it was important to constantly learn about all aspects of training. and back then with dan john and mark rippetoe being affiliated with them it seemed a good thing to do. now, i have referenced some world known coaches and athletes that have shown you are wrong. would you like to argue against them? if you were knowledgeable you would also know the cube is a variation on westside, and it uses higher reps. if that is what is needed for the athlete. especially as how it has a day dedicated to bodybuilding exercises. higher reps is one way to gain mass as a body builder. 20 rep squats anyone? even 5/3/1 will have higher reps in it. when you first start and are using your 90% of your training max there are going to be days when you hit 10-15 reps in a set. throw in the fact that in the beyond book there is a pyramid version that bring you back down in percentages and AMRAPS the lightest percentage, you could easily break 20 for a long time on many lifts. i know i did when i tried it last year. and we all know that 5/3/1 builds strength, a major component of powerlifting. there are competitive powerlifters that use 5/3/1 as well. there is more fact that high reps has a place for even powerlifters. the biggest missunderstanding is the fact that you need to bring up your weak links to be an effective powerlifter. for many the weak link is some higher rep work. dave tate on t-nation a few years ago wrote several articles about his past experiences and what people should do to learn from his mistakes. he had one article where he stated people should spend time every year training in higher reps, like a bodybuilder. how many world class athletes and coaches do you want to hear from to prove you wrong? you dont have to admit you are wrong, it is the internet after all. this is more for the benefit of others reading it and not being so misguided to believe you.
        I don't see why so many people see crossfit as the worst thing on earth. Don't get me wrong, my style of training is bodybuilding and it'll always be bodybuilding, but I think crossfit has at least SOME merit. I could see why people on this app immediately denounce it because of all the homo social media attraction to it, weak ass pull-up style, the cult-style fan base, and the fact that it's become a "cool" thing to do. Similar to the way bodybuilders and power lifters could learn from each other, I've added some things to my bodybuilding pumps that I've adapted from crossfit such as light weight super complexes, prowler sessions, and its high intensity circuit style training.

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