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Because it’s IDIOTIC, that’s why

by | Jun 22, 2021 | fitness | 8 comments

Our good friend Dawn Pine sent over an interesting link the other day, from a website in India, of all places – seriously, he reads more from Indian news than I do – about why people who attend CrossFit gyms are quitting the fitness fad:

It’s not just fitness enthusiasts, even CrossFit coaches often recognise the shortcomings of the training and drop the bits they have a problem with. One of CrossFit’s tenets is to keep the training unpredictable and random so people can develop a diverse range of physical abilities, says AK Abhinav, a fitness professional in Bengaluru. “This seems enjoyable initially as you feel that you don’t have to worry too much about what exercises to perform and the progression that needs to be followed. (But) Once you build a good fitness foundation, it is virtually impossible to follow unstructured training to achieve specific goals,” he says. The diminishing returns of “unstructured” training, explains Abhinav, is one of his reasons for moving away from CrossFit.

Certain CrossFit moves can also be problematic. Charlie Makkos, coach and founder of Gazi CrossFit in Athens, Greece, found that ‘kipping’, a technique that CrossFitters use to speed up repetitions by utilising the body’s momentum in exercises such as pull-ups, often resulted in injuries. “I have stopped kipping and have switched to strict movements used in calisthenics… I find that is safer for me and I have stayed injury-free since I made the switch,” says Makkos.

Abhinav’s break from CrossFit was complete when he signed up for a weightlifting camp held by Dimitry Klokov, a former world champion and an Olympics silver medal winner for Russia. “The Eastern method of weightlifting protocols seemed far superior in terms of ensuring safety and also its transfer to other athletic movements like sprinting and jumping. I cannot remember a training-related injury or extreme soreness because of randomised workout volume in my gyms since making the shift,” says Abhinav.

It’s been a long time since I last flogged this particular dead horse, but seeing as it was ten years ago this month that i started walking the righteous path of powerlifting, I might as well return to a favourite pastime.

Let’s put this as simply and succinctly as possible:

CrossShit is F***ING RETARDED.

There are many reasons why CrossFit is idiotic and stupid. Here are five simple ones.

1. CrossFit’s Principles are Unsound

First, when I say that CrossShit is retarded, I mean that it is “[l]iterally retarded, like a kid who takes ten years to learn to wave bye-bye and never does manage to master patty-cake”, to quote directly from STARSHIP TROOPERS.

As I have pointed out before, powerlifting is strength engineering because it takes the most fundamental aspects of exercise and applies them rigourously. It is carefully applied, repeatable, replicable, observed, practical science – which is to say, engineering.

What are the core principles of exercise science? They are incredibly simple. If you want to get strong and healthy quickly, all you need to do are these three things, assuming that you start from zero:

  1. Exercise regularly using time-tested movements designed along basic biological principles;
  2. EITHER increase the weight incrementally every session, OR increase the number of reps – BUT NOT BOTH;
  3. Get an adequate amount of rest and recovery time in between exercise sessions;

THAT. IS . IT.

CrossShit violates these principles in the most egregious ways.

Instead of exercising regularly using well-tested, well-honed principles, CrossShit emphasises doing everything AS FAST AS POSSIBLE. If you ever watch CrossFitters doing their WODs, they insist on doing really dumb shit like AMRAPs (as many reps as possible) within a set time. The only way to achieve this is to throw form out the window, which is idiotic.

Instead of either increasing weights or reps, CrossShitters do BOTH. This isn’t just dumb, it’s dangerous. Again, the only way to achieve both ends is to throw out good form.

And instead of resting properly between sets, CrossShitters pride themselves on working to exhaustion. They take pride in getting rhabdomyolysis. If you know anything about this, it is a catastrophic condition – your muscle fibres literally break down into your bloodstream because your body is eating itself. This is much worse than merely “bad” – it is a potentially lethal condition. And CrossShitters think that getting it is a GOOD THING.

This is about as profoundly idiotic as stupidity gets.

2. CrossFit = No Gains

The three fundamental principles of strength engineering will lead you to make explosive gains, at least at first, because you are running your body on the program that it was always designed to obey.

When you throw out those fundamental principles, you should not then be surprised that you don’t make gains.

Take a look at the strongest CrossFitters out there – the Rich Fronings and Annie Thorisdottirs of the world. They can lift heavy shit, sure. But they can’t actually do anything other than exercise.

That’s the simple truth. CrossShit advertises itself as an exercise programme that will prepare you for anything. That is not true. If you take the fittest CrossShitter out there and put him in an MMA tournament, he will be destroyed. Take Rich Froning and put him into an IPF meet, and people 20Kg lighter than him will outlift him. Put a CrossShitter into a strongman competition, and he’ll spend 6 months in traction because his spine will snap under a log lift or yoke walk.

3. CrossShitters Can’t Lift

Have you ever watched CrossShitters try to squat or deadlift? It’s hilarious to watch, in the same way that a particularly violent and graphic car crash is funny (i.e. in an extremely dark and sadistic way):

4. CrossFit is not Functional

Remember what I said above about how CrossFitters couldn’t compete in MMA? That is because CrossFit doesn’t actually teach functional fitness.

It just teaches you how to exercise.

The “functional” part of the whole thing is nothing more than marketing bizblab – and damned effective gibberish at that. If you want to get good at something functional, you need to do that specific thing. But if you just want to get good at moving fast for an hour, then do CrossShit.

Remember what I said about how CrossShitters can’t fight? That’s absolutely true. Watch:

They might be able to run, jump, row, bike, and pick and carry things pretty well. Good for them. None of those things translate well in actual hand-to-hand combat.

The average CrossFitter does not understand that throwing a punch requires much more than mere strength. When you throw a punch correctly, your whole body torques into the movement, which generates the true power behind a jab or especially a cross. That is why men who are quite small relative to CrossFitters can generate far greater punching power – because, when you throw a cross, hook, or uppercut, the power in the strike comes from the hip. And you have to learn how to pivot on the ball of your rear foot in order to throw that strike correctly.

The same goes for grappling. Rolling on the ground with someone who wants to choke you out or break your arm is EXHAUSTING. You can wear someone down very quickly simply by putting him in your guard and forcing him to expend energy trying to get out. “The fittest man (or woman) alive” is going to be just as hopeless as any BJJ white belt in that position.

5. CrossShit is Horribly Expensive

Have you ever been to a CrossFit box? Have you seen what kinds of fees they charge?

It’s ridiculous. You’re paying over $150 a month, on average, in the USA alone.

To put that into perspective, when I lived in New Jersey, I paid $800 a year to attend a HUGE gym with lots of equipment spread out over two floors, two dedicated squat racks with one deadlift platform, a heavy bag in the basement, and a full free weights section. When that closed down (to my immense frustration and considerable sadness), I switched to using the gym in my apartment building, which – happy days! – had a squat rack. I had to fork out some money to buy some extra 45lb plates, but otherwise, it was great.

These days, I pay the equivalent of about $28 a month for a big-ass gym in a warehouse that has multiple squat racks, bench stations, cardio machines, and free weights – including a “functional fitness” area where you can do CrossShit, if you are so inclined.

So what are you actually paying for?

You’re paying for a trainer who most likely doesn’t know JACK SHIT about kinetic chains, safe lifting techniques, Olympic lifting methods, or human biology, and who got a weekend course certification for the programme, to teach you and a bunch of other spastic numbnuts to move fast.

You’re paying for the mutual back-slapping and ego-lifting that goes into CrossShit.

And you’re paying for the experience of exercising with other people.

I could do all of that for $100 a month at my old martial arts school. And there I actually learned something useful – like how NOT to get a bullet in the ass or a knife in the gut.

CrossShit – Not Even Once

The principles of strength engineering require very little explanation and no modification whatsoever. All you have to do is to apply them. Get yourself a friend or a trainer who understands good form – or just watch some Jeff Cavaliere videos on YouTube – and you’ll have everything you need to get strong, fit, tough, and healthy.

CrossShit is the opposite of all of that. It is a massive triumph of great marketing over basic sense. Doing CrossFit will lead you to burnout, injury, soreness, and NO GAINS. Don’t do it.

Go out for a walk. Run, if you must – though I can’t stand running, personally. Skip rope. Take up European football and learn how to dive like a whiny little bitch the moment that the breeze blows in your face pretending as though you’ve suffered multiple compound fractures in the span of three seconds.

Lift heavy shit. Eat right. Sleep. Take sensible supplements. Punch and kick things. Grapple and wrestle.

Do any of these things. Do anything BUT CrossShit.

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8 Comments

  1. Matt FreeMatt

    I did 101 for the appropriate amount of time.

    I was interested in returning but injuries (outside of Crossfit) stopped me. I did worry about the speed+lift element of Crossfit.

    I dug the people but for someone with injuries beforehand, its not a good choice.

    That and for $30 a month, my local gym is better for anyone that has to travel. (That and local gyms allow me to suspend my membership until I get back). Yeah, $100 a month was punitive, especially when my workplace reimbursed only $60 of it. Now, its all out of pocket but on $30

    Reply
    • Didact

      I dug the people but for someone with injuries beforehand, its not a good choice.

      Correct. It’s not a good choice anyway, but if you already have injuries, it’s a TERRIBLE choice.

      Reply
  2. Jim S

    Crossshiite? My question to the people, including my lovely wife, who participate in the “WODs”, is why? The crossshiiters, say it’s about “functional fitness” and because we can! Then I ask what part of the “functional fitness” do you use in your day-to-day activities or fitness hobbies (e.g., skiing, snowboarding, surfing, etc.)? I get blank stares, and then I’m told I couldn’t do the WODs… Uh huh, okay. I vary my workouts from throwing around heavy stuff for about 4-6 weeks (I usually get bored after 6 weeks and need a change), followed by functional fitness training by doing workout training programs geared towards SWAT, Infantrymen, Mountain Sports, and Surfing/Swimming. It depends on the time of the year as to what type of training I do. I take pride at being an early Gen Xer and keeping myself in better physical shape than many my age, plus older and younger men. I don’t have “dunlap” disease, and I won’t, if I have any say in it.

    The only thing I can see what is good about crossfit, if it gets people up and going, by exercising. Many burnout from it, because of various reasons, I’ve seen it happen personally (my lovely wife). Other than that, I’ll pass on it for numerous reasons that you’ve pointed out and because it’s just a major injury waiting happen to you. That is my 2 pennies opinion.

    Reply
    • Didact

      I vary my workouts from throwing around heavy stuff for about 4-6 weeks (I usually get bored after 6 weeks and need a change), followed by functional fitness training by doing workout training programs geared towards SWAT, Infantrymen, Mountain Sports, and Surfing/Swimming.

      Yeah, see, THAT is sensible and careful programming that actually works and obeys the Laws of GAINZ. Which is why you aren’t injured and broken, the way that so many CrossShitters are.

      There is a CrossShit box literally down the road from my flat right now. They’ve reopened since the Scamdemic lockdowns eased. I do wonder how much churn they get through these days, what with numbnuts going back into WODding after a year on the couch and thereby getting jacked up really badly.

      Reply
  3. Robert W

    “You’re paying for the mutual back-slapping and ego-lifting that goes into CrossShit.”

    This is true. The triumph of CrossFit marketing is that it convinces a lot of men it’s functional for male capabilities while convincing a bunch of women that it is good for their bodies…then works hard to get them in social proximity to each other.

    The cardio is just the side dish, the meat market is the main course.

    Reply
    • Didact

      Oh it’s brilliant marketing, no doubt or question about that. I respect good marketing – right up until the point where people start losing fluid in their joints and pissing their muscles out through their kidneys because of it.

      Reply
  4. Bardelys the Magnificent

    I pick things up and put them down.

    Reply
    • Didact

      Pretty much. But don’t even get me started on Planet Princess – that’s another 10,000-word rant, right there.

      The hilarious thing about that commercial is that Planet Princess call themselves the “no judgement” gym where everyone is welcome for $10 a month – when in reality, they are the most judgemental gym out there.

      Reply

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