The new thing in fitness certainly has to be CrossFit.
The craze has literally swept around North America and now there are studios, classes, and competitions for CrossFit. Although I have never participated in a CrossFit class, I certainly have seen them in rehabilitation and fitness facilities.
CrossFit is a type of high-intensity circuit training protocol that incorporates some of the elements of cross-training, taken to a new level. The exercises are compound movements that involve large muscle groups. Some of the exercises involve pushing, pulling or lifting objects or weights and can also involve calisthenics and interval cardiovascular work. Although a CrossFit class may look like just a gut-wrenching obstacle course requiring a great deal of effort from not-so-skilled people, there are some movements that require a great deal of skill and practice.
CrossFit utilizes the components of glycolytic training principles primarily, although these parameters can be changed. Glycolytic training utilizes blood sugar and stored carbohydrates as an energy source. It involves sub-maximal efforts for moderate periods of time and is an excellent way to improve your fitness level. It is also an excellent way to train your body to be more efficient at removing excess lactic acid from your muscles while using lactate as an energy source. This can improve the recovery time between episodes of high intensity exercise and thus can potentially improve your athletic performance. However, the question remains: is this an exercise that even non-athletes can benefit from?
The answer is . . . that depends on the person in question.
If you are overweight, obese, have a condition like heart disease, arthritis or osteoporosis, this is not the type of exercise I would begin with.
If you are out of shape and relatively inexperienced in a gym or with exercise, this would not be the type of exercise that I would recommend. The reason why I feel this way really has nothing to do with the type of training or the metabolic pathway utilized. It really just comes down to the issue of safety.
Although CrossFit can be a valuable way to exercise and it certainly can be challenging and fun, I consider this activity to be a more advanced form of circuit training, involving a higher degree of motor learning, baseline fitness, experience, and mental focus. The latitude for error relative to injury risk is much lower in CrossFit than in other forms of exercise programming. I recommend that you begin with a certified coach who can teach you the proper techniques, lifts and movements required to make your CrossFit experience a meaningful one.
Remember, start slow and easy but when you are ready, begin to push yourself as your confidence builds. In my opinion, it makes sense to check with your health care provider before participating in a CrossFit program.
- Walker, S., “CrossFit Is Dangerous — Life Is Dangerous,” Huffington Post web site, Nov.25, 2013; http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sandra-walker/benefits-of-CrossFit_b_4317880.html?utm_hp_ref=healthy-living
Dr. K.J.McLaughlin is a chiropractor with 27 years of clinical experience. In addition, he has degrees in physical education, nutrition and is a certified strength and conditioning specialist with an interest in anti-aging medicine. He has also spent time studying health promotion and the effect that health education has upon health outcomes. Dr. McLaughlin has a diverse professional background which has involved clinical management, teaching, health promotion and health coaching and brings a unique passion to his work.