Is CrossFit Right For You? All about the latest craze with guest expert Hani Assi

Everyone’s talking CrossFit! For those who are unfamiliar, CrossFit is a strength conditioning program founded by Greg Glassman, which promises to improve cardio-respiratory endurance, muscle strength and flexibility. It entails a mix of gymnastics, aerobic exercise and weight lifting. This latest craze has taken fitness gyms by storm so I’ve asked our Sports Performance Specialist, Hani, to give us all the inside scoop. Over to you Hani…crossfit-logo

The latest rage in fitness for the past decade is CrossFit. Thousands of people tune in to ESPN to watch CrossFit athletes compete in the Reebok open games. Watching athletes who display all-round physical abilities with feats of strength, power, endurance and flexibility as well as the plasticity to adapt to random challenges. As a result, thousands of BoxesGames2011_MenE4_PhillipKniep_DL_1 (CrossFit facilities) are springing up targeting every population from novice exercisers to professional athletes. In a nutshell, CrossFit programs and usages are structured to develop total body fitness and aimed at meeting the demands of exercisers form all walks of life. However, despite this incredibly popular way of training that has exploded in the mainstream during recent years, people should understand exercise safety and be mindful of their own physical capabilities. In the following section I will be shortly discussing the pros and cons of joining a CrossFit box and these are my own views.

Here are the Pros:

  • Supervised training. Classes are taught by certified Crossfit instructors (conditional) that ensure you execute the movement safely and always be challenged as well as progressing through harder exercises.
  • Effective way to get in shape. It primarily follows a high intensity circuit training routine called Metabolic Conditioning that includes a wide variety of movements aimed at developing total body fitness. In a nutshell, it maximizes the after burn effect in which you burn more calories after your workout and it is usually done against time that results in enhancing your endurance as well as increasing cardiovascular capacity while shedding excess body fat.
  • Fun and Challenging. Follows a random structure with varied workouts where no two workouts look the same and that keeps it interesting for those who get easily bored.
  • Being Active. It definitely creates the right environment to get you physically active and off your Bum!! Also you will get hooked to CrossFit’s trendy fashion sports wear.

And onto the Cons: Games2013_WomenZigZagSprint

  • Coaching. In any training environment you have to make sure that your coaches are qualified and have the experience to lead on group training as I mentioned the word (Conditional) earlier in the “pros” section. Unfortunately CrossFit level 1 that is completed over a weekend doesn’t make you a qualified coach to take on group training, let alone prescribing exercises for people. It’s a very important point to take into account before joining any Box/gym etc… In addition, “not all coaches are created equal”.
  • Group Training. The down side of group training is the ratio of participants to instructors involved as this will directly affect the quality of movement specially with beginners and more specifically the use of highly technical compound exercises such as Olympic lifts. These exercises are heavily used in CrossFit classes and require experienced Olympic weightlifting coaches. In addition, highly technical lifts should not be performed under fatigue, which most likely increases the risk of getting injured.
  • Uncle “Rhabdo”. While it seems too extreme getting this condition, which is the rapid destruction of skeletal muscles that result in leakage of the muscle contents into the blood stream. Namely, a protein called Myoglobin that can block the kidney’s filtering system and lead to failure. It also can leave your body inflamed, damage nerves and cause permanent weakness as well as many more physical maladies. I personally cannot say CrossFit causes Rhabdo directly to participants as this condition prevails in people who have no balance in their exercise structure and choose extreme physical activity day in day out without giving thought about sound resting/recovering periods. This is evident in those types of exercisers and is found in other different sports. So you need to EXERCISE CAUTION!!! Rest well and eat right.
  • CrossFit’s Training modality. It claims that by following Crossfit’s training concept you can accomplish any goal no matter what it may be. Surely, it is a great way of blasting excess body fat (due to the high metabolic disruption it causes) as well as improving strength and power. However, these increases are seen in the Novice-stage (1-2 years) and once you pass this stage then a more specific training method would be needed to improve specific strength, power as well as hypertrophy qualities. CrossFit seeks to create an all rounder athlete where no sport (besides CrossFit) really demands each area to be equal. 

All things considered, I hope the above mentioned points would help shed some light on whether CrossFit suits your needs or not. In either case, Crossfit is a good way to stay active and to achieve general conditioning that will help increase strength, power, and endurance as well as improve the cardiovascular system for a brief period of time. However, I would recommend you research more about the facility and its staff to see whether they are qualified and experienced in coaching before deciding to sign up.

HaniAbout our guest writer: Hani is a Sports Performance Specialist and a Fitness Professional based in London, specialising in fat loss, muscle gain and nutrition. Hani is also a university lecturer in sports and exercise science, and holds a Masters degree in Strength and Conditioning in addition to professional qualifications in the fitness industry. Follow Hani on Twitter or Instagram @assiperformance

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