Crossfit! I said it! The term in the fitness industry that probably gets more people than any four letter word. I am not going to pretend to be one of those people that say they get asked about Crossfit all the time, because I don’t. However, I know we have a lot of Crossfitters that really like our DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training. We even have a lot of people that like to perform Crossfit style workouts at home with our DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training.
So, why even bring up Crossfit? Well, there is a study that is being passed around the internet, the very first study that at least I have seen on Crossfit. While it continues to blow up social media and people have everything under the sun to say, I think we are missing the bigger picture.
The study performed by Ohio State University Health and Exercise Science (click here for abstract), was designed to take a look at how Crossfit methods of high intensity power training (HIPT) impacted body composition and aerobic fitness. The results? Men lost on average 4.2% body fat while women lost around 3.4% body fat in the ten weeks. That isn’t weight, that is body fat, pretty darn good!
Researchers were also able to show an increase in VO2-max 13.6% in males and 11.8% in females. VO2-max is a solid measure of maximal aerobic capacity. So, everyone improved their aerobic fitness as well. Well, that sounds pretty good, increase your aerobic capacity, decrease body fat, and oh yea, most participants gained small amount of muscle as well. Usually these tend to be mutually exclusive qualities.
Is the moral of the story that we should all switch over to Crossfit? Well, not quite so fast. There were a few issues, for example 16% of the participants dropped out due to injury, that is a high rate. People drop out of studies, but typically not that many for this reason. So, injury is definitely a concern, especially overuse. Remember too, that this was only a ten week period.
Second is interesting commentary from Dr. John Berardi regarding this study. He cited the following additional “interesting” difference in this study…..
* Those over 25% fat lost the least (3-4% in 10 wks)
Why? Not really sure, I am sure we could speculate a bunch of reasons. Some could include :
-Not enough recovery time in regards to their physical condition so the positive changes can’t take place.
-An inability to keep quality of work at a high enough level.
-Not being able to coordinate the movements as effectively.
I am sure there are more, but this definitely food for thought.
Now the inevitable question, “do you think Crossfit is bad?” That is a really challenging question since most Crossfit enthusiasts will tell you things like, “Crossfit is randomized programming”, and most of all we don’t have really any standards of what Crossfit is except for the WODs (workout of the days) and the recognized core lifts.
Having been around many Crossfit coaches, I think the general premise is good. Functional training, trying to move in many different ways, trying to develop many areas of fitness. I think some of the issues with Crossfit are not exclusive to Crossfit, but more indicative of the fitness industry overall.
What do I mean? We tend to get very infatuated with exercises and forget how to progress, regress, and vary movements. Let’s take the Clean for example, is the Clean a bad exercise? No, but it is rather complex, not just the technique. Most people are not use to hip hinging, most people are not use to creating speed, and most of all, most people are not use to decelerating weights quickly. We need to slow down, as strength coach, Chris Frankel, says, we have to have people, “earn the progression”.
In essence we see the exercise as an end destination point for all people. The truth is that exercises are just the means in which to get our clients or ourselves specific results. We have to be more selective with the exercises we choose and the way we progress programs. Can Crossfit work? Absolutely! Do we have to be mindful of what we do and really think what we are prescribing people, even a bigger yes! I did say it, when we put people through workouts we are prescribing exercise. Just like with medication, the wrong prescription can have terrible results.
So, let’s not be quick to condemn a community or training methodology. Let’s learn from the benefits and learn how to minimize the negatives. If we do so, I think we will grow as a community and be able to empower even more people!
(Thanks to Bret Conteras for additional study breakdown: CLICK HERE)