Is Crossfit Bad For Your Body?
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What is Crossfit?
In the early 2000's, the world was taken by storm by a new form of working out known as Crossfit. Since its inception there have been new Crossfit gyms (boxes) sprouting up all over major cities to meet the growing demand. But a major question remains unanswered. Is Crossfit really worth the hype or is this workout trend actually bad for your body?
Crossfit incorporates a wide variety of functional body movements that include body weight exercises, gymnastic movements and olympic weightlifting. The purpose of Crossfit is to maximize a person's ability to exercise "correctly" with proper form while keeping the heart rate elevated for short bursts of time. This leads to many different explosive movements that, when performed correctly, make up different workouts that are performed for time. The time holds each athlete accountable and allows a person to track their progress week-in and week-out.
Most WODS (workouts of the day) are short. Usually no more than 10 minutes. This means that between the stretching beforehand, strength workouts, WOD and post stretch most athletes are in and out of the gym in less than 1 hour. How is it possible these people are still losing weight in less time than a normal person spends at the gym? It's all about intensity! Less chatter and more working out, when a person is timing themselves to achieve a personal best most athletes tend to push it to the limit.
Is it bad for my body?
Any reputable facility will always offer an introductory class for any beginning cross fitters. The point of this is simple...never allow anyone to put themselves in danger by performing exercises that could potentially cause serious injury. Poor form and over-extension of ones physical capability are the leading causes of injury during workouts. However, once the athlete has educated themselves on not only proper form and technique but also their own physical capability, the chances of injury are substantially reduced.
Like other forms of working out, your body needs time to properly heal from the constant tearing and repairing of muscle tissue. Proper nutrition and rest and two very key elements that when ignored can also lead to athletes injuring themselves. Its important to remember that our bodies let us know when its time to rest... don't ignore the signs! It's one thing to struggle during a workout and feel wiped out, its another thing to feel serious pain. A person should only progress at a level where both the Crossfit instructor and athlete both feel comfortable with the amount of weight / strain being exercised. When these key points are ignored, serious injury can occur. That's when Crossfit become unsafe. When done correctly, Crossfit is generally not considered dangerous.
Do you actually lose weight?
Yes, high interval training with short bursts and explosive movements is a HIGHLY effective weight loss program. Everyone knows that person who shows up at the gym with a newspaper and goes on autopilot for about an hour or so on the treadmill. They wonder why, month after month, their weight remains the same. Crossfit in a class environment holds every athlete accountable and allows for very little socializing and much more working out.
Will I look like a body builder?
Yes and no. There are many women with this concern and it's justified. The reality is high intensity training - weather it's cardio, weightlifting, or gymnastics - amplifies weight loss. Returning to the example of the individual who goes to the gym daily and doesn't see any results from the treadmill, the science is actually fairly basic.
Our bodies are highly sophisticated and can adapt to almost any form of exercise once exposed to for a long enough period of time. The reason running is not an effective form of weight loss is due to the fact that our body actually starts shutting down when we run. The calories you burn in your first 15 min actually slowly start to reduce the longer you are running. If a person was running in the jungle away from a predator your body goes into 'flight' mode and every bit of energy is conserved to ensure you will be able to last a long time without starvation. Crossfit workouts do exactly the opposite, your body never has the same movement for very long. Hence, your body literally has no idea how to react and burns substantially more calories as a by product. After a high intensity workout your body will often burn calories more efficiently through the rest of the day and into your sleep. If you keep the weight you are lifting to a minimum you can control the amount of mass you gain and prevent yourself from becoming overly muscular.
Is the monthly expense really worth it?
This is much more of a personal question than anything else. At the end of the day, how important is your health and physical fitness? As opposed to a car or nice clothes or a new shiny toy, a healthy body is one of the very few things in this word that has to be earned and not purchased. A properly trained staff and new equipment all cost a lot of money and Crossfit gyms often use equipment that is expensive to purchase and maintain. The membership tends to be expensive but you're paying for quality. It's up to you to decide whether or not it's worth it. With new boxes popping up left and right the demand will eventually subside and the cost will come down. But Crossfit is not ever likely to be less expensive than a mainstream gym facility.