Guest Post: Is CrossFit a Good Way to Exercise?

I’ve been skeptical about CrossFit as an optimal form of exercise, so we’ve got an experienced CrossFitter to tell the other side of the story. – P. D. Mangan

Is CrossFit a good way to exercise?

by Carl Turner

Today it is difficult to walk around town without passing by a CrossFit gym, or listening as someone enthusiastically promotes the benefits of their Crossfit workout. There is a pretty good reason for this too: Crossfit has become one of the most popular workout programs worldwide.   

You might be wondering, what is it about CrossFit that has so many people hooked? Is CrossFit a good way to exercise? Let’s take a closer look. 

What is CrossFit?  

CrossFit is best understood as a multidisciplinary workout regimen that targets all of the major areas of physical fitness and health. CrossFit members engage in strength, endurance, and flexibility exercises, while targeting important attributes like balance, agility, speed, power, and coordination.   

This multidisciplinary approach provides several benefits, which have helped to catapult the CrossFit name to international fame. First of all, by actively targeting several areas of fitness during the workout, participants can attend to their overall fitness and health in a broad and powerful way.   

For example, stronger muscles make endurance and flexibility training easier, and they contribute to better joint and bone health. Endurance – or aerobic – exercises make strength and flexibility training easier, and aerobic exercises improve circulation, heart and lung health. Finally, flexibility and balance training allows for easier strength and endurance training, while cutting down on stress and injury. 

Besides the potent health benefits, constantly switching up the workout schedule has another powerful effect: it cuts down on boredom and tediousness. CrossFit members say they enjoy that every day they come in, the workout is different. And the workouts change at a fast pace, which makes for exciting workout sessions.  

For an idea of what to expect in a Crossfit session, common workouts include power-lifting with weights, push ups, sit ups, pull ups, running, squats, thrusts, stretches, climbing ropes, lifting kettlebells, working with medicine balls, jump roping, using a rowing machine, body exercises with weighted bars, and much more.   

File:District Crossfit Class Warfare-28 (15160360945).jpg

Why CrossFit May Be the Right Workout 

If vigorous exercise and participation in a welcoming community sound good to you, you’re probably a perfect fit for Crossfit. As mentioned above, each Crossfit workout tends to be short, but each workout is also very intense. Crossfitters enjoy the constant movement in and out of various exercises: you’re constantly moving and there is little time for rest.   

As you can imagine, the intensity and variety of the CrossFit workouts help to get participants extremely fit in many different areas quickly.

Expect better flexibility, greater endurance, increased strength, weight loss, elevated moods, better metabolism, reduced stress, improved body image, and a host of other benefits.   

Most importantly, one of the biggest draws for dedicated Crossfitters is the strength of the Crossfit community. Crossfit gyms tend to be full of dedicated, passionate, and welcoming members who are quick to motivate newcomers. The strong group dynamics behind Crossfit are highly encouraging for those looking to advance physically, and members are highly motivated to compete with each other and help each other reach higher levels of physical attainment.   

CrossFit: Possible Downsides 

There are a couple of Crossfit limitations that are worth considering if you are trying to decide on whether you are going to join a CrossFit gym. Because CrossFit is a general workout program that has highly varied exercises, you are likely to become very fit, but not necessarily better at any given specialized discipline. For example, if you are interested in Olympic weightlifting, gymnastics, or a specific sport, you may supplement your training with CrossFit activity, but CrossFit will not make you proficient on its own.   

Another issue that Crossfit has is the intensity of its workout program. Because of the speed and vigor of each exercise, it becomes more likely to get injured, especially the more fatigued you get. And yes, it is possible to get too much exercise, which is a risk inherent in the CrossFit program.  

If you have an existing health issue to work with, CrossFit may not be the right fit for you. Choosing a good CrossFit gym with credentialed and knowledgeable trainers is a good way to cut down on injury risks and develop an exercise program that is right for you. Finally, if you’re more into a solo exercising experience, and you don’t necessarily want to share your goals and progress with other people, then CrossFit’s community focus may turn you away.  [Probably the case with me. – ed.] 

Getting Started  

If Crossfit sounds like the right activity for your lifestyle, it’s not difficult to get involved. Today there are Crossfit gyms from coast to coast, whether you’re looking for the best Crossfit gym in Southern California or Camden, Maine. Just make sure you seek out a gym with knowledgeable and credentialed instructors, and you really like the community presence there. This way, you can get the most out of the Crossfit experience, and ultimately, get the most optimization for your overall fitness, health, and well-being.   

Author Bio:  Carl Turner is a personal trainer and freelance lifestyle writer from Los Angeles, California. With over 10 years of experience, he has trained many clients and has helped them to reach their personal fitness goals. 

PS: For my favored form of exercise, see my book, Muscle Up.

PPS: Check out my Supplements Buying Guide for Men.


Leave a Comment:

Joe says March 6, 2018

I did cross-fit for a couple of years when I was 52 to 53 (I’m almost 58 now). I’ve got to say it was a good move. While I didn’t need to lose weight, I did get stronger, and the box owner taught me how to lift safely and how to use kettlebells. And the community there was really great. Just a bunch of regular folks from 22 to 62 getting fit and encouraging each other. My crossfit box moved, and I gotta say, I miss it sometimes. They taught me that I can do more physically than I thought I could. It really is a good way to get very fit overall.

Steven Mitchell says April 2, 2018

I have been doing similar types of interval-based cross-training classes, but intend to stop attending and focus purely on weightlifting. I’ve found benefits in variety of exercise and training in a group environment, but as it works my whole body it is disruptive to recovery time for lifting weights.

So my intention now is to do a multi-day workout loosely following Metzner’s philosophy of slow reps, and only train each muscle group once a week. Speaking with my personal trainer who leads the classes, his experience with crossfit-type classes is that you plateau after 6-12 months.

Dan Go says April 13, 2018

It’s a general statement but as men age our workouts need to be more focused and, dare I say it, slower. Crossfit is not something I’d want any of my 40 years old or higher clients. The risk reward is just too great and you can get in just as good shape by focusing on nutrition and working out for strength.

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