The CrossFit Conundrum
I'm going to start off by saying I think that high level CrossFitters are absolutely incredible athletes. They've had some 160kg+ clean and jerks at the games as well as 300kg + deadlifts all coming from guys who are incredibly aerobically fit with ridiculous work capacity on a vast variety of movements from gymnastics and kettle bells all the way through to the incredibly complicated Olympic movements.
That however is not my qualm with CrossFit. You see CrossFit originally came out of mother Russia as an attempt to keep the work capacity of their Olympic weightlifters high during their "off season" - i.e. they were unable to train with maximal loads all year round so for a certain period of the year they would focus on variety of movement and include things like metabolic conditioning, gymnastics and higher rep work on the basic powerlifting movement as well as the olympic lifts. It worked tremendously well for them - guys and gals were coming into pre competition cycles well rested with minimal reduction in their work capacity. However, what works for an elite Russian athlete who's been selected and trained well before puberty may not necessarily work for 300lb Susan from accounts. Why? Physical preparedness.
CrossFit is basically a combination of powerlifting, gymnastics, Olympic weightlifting and metabolic conditioning (fancy work for intense cardio for the layman). Each of these disciplines alone can take a lifetime to perfect yet CrossFit coaches with their weekend long qualification deem it acceptable to take people off the street and get them to combine these disciplines, with numerous repetitions, for time. Susan from accounts thought she was visiting a CrossFit box but really she was purchasing a one way ticket to destination fucked.
So what do you do if you're not a lab made Russian super soldier but your heart is still set on CrossFit? Prepare yourself for exercise. I'd recommend working up to a basic level of weightlifting proficiency before even going near a CrossFit box. Basically you're going to want to make sure you can:
- Squat and deadlift your bodyweight with proper tekkers.
- Do at least 10 parallel bar dips.
- Do at least 5 dead hang pull ups.
- Standing overhead press 0.5x bodyweight.
- Do an overhead squat with at least an empty barbell.
That in my opinion along with a basic level of cardiovascular fitness and good flexibility is the bare minimum for beginning a sport such as CrossFit despite what those K-Tape covered douchebags may tell you.
In summary, CrossFit is not an entry into exercise. If you don't train regularly with weights now then CrossFit is certainly not your entry point. Ignore the hype about it somehow being superior for weight loss bla, bla, bla. It's not. Learn the basic movements, progressively overload them and don't eat like a failed former child star and you'll be surprised at how far you can get whilst completely avoiding buzzwords like snatch, WOD and paleo.