What is CrossFit® Training?

One might say CrossFit is to exercise what espresso shots are to coffee.

During the past 15 years, CrossFit’s high-intensity, non-stop movements have become popular in many fitness centers.

Information published online at The Box states that CrossFit’s creator and founder Greg Glassman designed a program focusing on the same ten physical enhancements promoted by medicine balls makers Jim Crawley and Bruce Evans of Dynamax. However, to achieve measurable results, CrossFit’s Workout of the Day (WOD) requires a person to complete a specific number of exercises within a short period of time with short 30- or 45-second breaks between sets. Many of CrossFit’s exercises originate from the disciplines of gymnastics, weightlifting, sprinting and other high-intensity workouts to improve:

  1. Cardiovascular and respiratory endurance
  2. Stamina
  3. Strength
  4. Flexibility
  5. Power
  6. Speed
  7. Coordination
  8. Agility
  9. Balance
  10. Accuracy

There are several reasons these workouts are popular with the fitness community. CrossFit or high-intensity interval training (HIIT) exercises:

  • Produce results. People committed to HIIT workouts burn more calories in less time as they complete the day’s prescribed circuit of exercises.
  • Take less time than conventional workouts. Some non-stop workouts can be completed in 15 or 20 minutes and engage muscles throughout the entire body.
  • Prevent boredom. Each workout of the day is different.
  • Increase the mobility and function of the joints. Workout movements usually incorporate the body’s full range of motion.
  • Create a motivational support community. Many people who enjoy HIIT routines are competitive. The members of the workout group motivate others to take fitness to the next level.

If you’re looking for a physical fitness challenge, you’re in good health and have your healthcare provider’s blessing, CrossFit may be a good workout for you.

Is there an increased risk of injury with CrossFit exercises?

A person’s risk of injury depends on three things:

  • Current fitness level
  • The quality of foundational CrossFit training
  • A person’s ability and commitment to listen to and respect the signs and signals of his or her body

The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research reported that CrossFit workouts had the same injury rates as Olympic weightlifting, powerlifting, and gymnastics, but less injury risk than contact sports like rugby.

According to a March 2017, article published in Workplace Health and Safety, “CrossFit is comparable to other exercise programs with similar injury rates and health outcomes.” These findings summarized the results of 13 studies that included a total of 2,326 participants.

Of course, the risk of injury may be higher when comparing HIIT workouts to low-impact exercise routines. That said, CrossFit may not be the best choice for a sedentary person who is beginning to exercise.

Talk to your healthcare provider before starting a CrossFit, HIIT or another vigorous exercise program to make sure you are healthy enough for intense exercise.

So why does CrossFit have a bad reputation?

The first and most obvious concern is the risk of serious injury caused by improper body position during high-intensity exercise.

When exercises are done rapidly to the point of muscle fatigue, it can be a challenge to maintain proper form. People new to high-intensity, high-interval training should work with a reputable personal trainer to develop correct technique before adding speed and weight to their workouts.

Another serious, but relatively rare condition associated with CrossFit training is exertional rhabdomyolysis.