CrossFit Certification – What I Learned: Complete Pros and Cons
Just the word CrossFit® evokes strong feelings from most anyone these days. Those who participate in it absolutely love it; and will do everything short of gloving up for a fight to defend it in a debate.
This is no big surprise. We all tend to desire others to see our point of view. But what is surprising is the extent to which many people go to bash CrossFit – all without even really understanding the activity.
Ignorance is an ugly monster that pokes its head out all over the world. In all walks of life. This nasty creature doesn’t slither in the shadows, nor does it hide under the bed or beneath the ground.
This beast walks in plain sight. It has no fear of being discovered, for it knows we are well aware of its existence.
The scariest part about ignorance is the environment it breeds in… our comfort zone. Ignorance only has one natural enemy and that is knowledge. However, since the pursuit of knowledge is not always comfortable, we too often chose to remain side by side with ignorance and tell ourselves it’s OK.
After completing the class sessions and passing the exam to be certified as a Crossfit Level 1 trainer, I hope to bring some educated prospective to the true meaning of Crossfit. I also want to present the pros and cons. Yes, the methodology does have both.
As you read this article, you may already have opinions about CrossFit. You may love it, or you may hate it. But the first thing you need to know… What is CrossFit?
What is CrossFit?
CrossFit is an exercise training methodology designed with the goal of increasing work capacity across broad time and modal domains. This means the system hopes to deliver its participants well-rounded life fitness with the ability of this fitness to transcend application and time.
CrossFit aims to achieve this goal through workouts consisting of constantly varied, functional movements. This approach focuses on developing what have been termed as the 10 fitness skills.
Note: I can’t provide the entirety of what I learned from the seminars and coursework out of respect for the organization, the phenomenal instructors who deliver the program, and my fellow trainers who spent a lot of time &money to earn the certification.
Given the information above, the system sounds nearly flawless. So why do so many people dislike CrossFit so passionately? We will get to that soon.
Pros of CrossFit
From an organizational standpoint, CrossFit preaches all the right things:
- Technique before intensity
- Compound movements
- Progression over time
- Cardiovascular conditioning
- The power of commitment and consistency through a cultivated group atmosphere.
Cons of CrossFit
There is really only one…
- High injury rate. I will discuss the weak point in the CrossFit system below.
Is CrossFit good?
In as few words as possible, the answer is: Yes – if done correctly.
“The Mob Mentality”
One of the most revealing things I was able to experience in the CrossFit certification process was the feeling of going all out to complete a W.O.D. (Workout Of the Day). We were tasked with completing three rounds of a superset consisting of 15 repetitions barbell thrusters with 95lbs, along with 15 burpees for time.
After a very intense 7 minutes I was done – hands on hips, gasping for air. My lungs on fire. But feeling great for having finished the workout.
This WOD was every bit of a challenge, but I was able to complete it relatively safely because the weights were significantly lighter than I work with in my usual weight training workouts.
While still breathing heavily, I began to look around the room full of my fellow trainers. All of these individuals are presumed to be fitness professionals, or at least very serious exercise enthusiasts. I witnessed the aspect of CrossFit that is simultaneously its main selling point, and it’s biggest source of criticism.
I saw fatigue setting in. Form was breaking down in every direction, as trainers pushed themselves to complete the WOD as quickly as possible. These same trainers are well-versed in proper form and technique; but mix in some adrenaline, the desire to impress their peers, and fatigue – and many of these same professionals looked as if this was their first workout.
To intensify the situation, all of those who had already completed the WOD begin to crowd around and push the remaining participants. While meant to add a positive and uplifting boost, this is not the outcome I observed.
I saw men and women executing movements of unacceptable quality and ignoring all signs of impending injury – in order to not “let down” their peers. This phenomenon repeats itself in boxes around the country, leading to a high injury rate and a perception of danger from those on the outside looking in.
Can this effect be managed and eliminated? I think so; but it will require a shift in education for coaches and operations for boxes that creates and reinforces a protective protocol meant to
manage intensity and provide downscaling options during WOD’s. This sounds complicated, and it is. Completing loaded explosive movements for multiple repetitions and sets with an emphasis on getting it all done as fast as possible is a precarious undertaking to begin with.
CrossFit is not a bad thing. In its essence it builds stronger and more able individuals while providing a group atmosphere many people need for accountability and consistency.
My takeaway is that the ideal form of CrossFit for the average participant would be WOD’s consisting of only bodyweight and metabolic conditioning movements. In this sort of structure the risk of injury would be far less; and the establishment of fitness and functionality would still be optimized.
In fact, I will most likely incorporate a couple WOD’s consisting of bodyweight movement and metabolic conditioning into my own workout routine moving forward. Stay tuned for that and remember to ALWAYS keep an open mind and learn as much as possible before allowing opinions you’ve heard from others to settle into your brain as facts.
P.S. Now that I am certified to instruct CrossFit, the number one question I have been receiving is what on my top recommended supplements for someone who is partaking in CrossFit.
Here are my top choices.
Top Supplements for CrossFit
High Grade Protein Powder
I always struggle to include this as a supplement, however since it is considered as such by most people, I included first on my list. This is because protein powder allows you to more efficiently need your dietary protein intake needs.
Nutrition always comes first, and protein powder flat out makes this easier and more sustainable to achieve. In my opinion, the market choices come down to whey protein, and everything else.
Whey Protein. Whey is often the most cost effective and easy to obtain protein source, so it is the market leader in protein powders. My number one recommendation in whey protein is MTS Whey because it is manufactured with quality you can trust, tastes incredible, and is very cost effective.
Other Protein Sources. I believe that whey protein is the most effective animal-based protein source. But, with that said many individuals are sensitive or intolerant to lactose, a naturally occurring sugar found in milk-based products.
For these individuals, or those were simply looking for an alternative to reduce animal protein intake, I recommend plant-based protein. There are a wide variety of plant-based proteins on the market, most of which mix poorly, have inferior amino acid profiles, and flat out taste like crap.
For this reason, I have spent the last three years developing and perfecting Pro(zero), HPN’s plant-based & organic protein powder. We have removed all limitations to plant protein to make the perfect protein source for any healthy lifestyle.
The next four supplements are all geared towards reducing the systemic impact of the intense training demands of CrossFit.
Only one supplement can truly fill this need, and that is OS aka Overtraining Solution from Ambrosia Nutraceuticals. The combination of precisely extracted PRPs and IgG/IgA natural peptides combined with Immulina® and Astragin® allow Overtraining Solution to expedite muscle recovery and block immune system suppression.
Both of these benefits are much needed when training demands are high – even more so when they are combined with the generally stressful lives that many of us live!
High EPA/DHA Triglyceride Fish Oil
The EPA and DHA found in certain fish oils can have profound impact on reducing inflammation throughout the entire body. This can be crucial for expediting recovery as well as protecting joints and ligaments.
This natural supplement ingredient has profound effects in boosting NAD+ levels, which elevates the function of our mitochondria. This is crucial for intensely energy demanding activities such as CrossFit.
The original and best standalone Niagen product on the market, N(r) from HPN is the best way to add nicotinamide riboside into your supplement routine.
These three amino acids, L-Leucine, L-Isoleucine, and L-Valine are key contributors to protein synthesis and muscle recovery – as well as delaying fatigue and increasing performance during exercise.
MTS Machine Fuel and HPN B(10) are both excellent choices. Machine Fuel offers the addition of Agmatine and Taurine to increase blood flow, while B(10) contains no artificial sweeteners or flavors and adds a full serving of L-Carnitine to assist in energy production and natural metabolism.