Monday, March 26, 2012

Crossfit a Bad Fit?

Mike Burgener teaching the Snatch to a crossfitter

We had an earlier post on crossfit.......  
 http://www.haskestrength.com/2010/10/what-do-you-think-of-crossfit.html  It still expresses my thoughts on this popular training program pretty well.
Below is an interesting article I ran across recently. The author makes some great points.
A huge mistake that the general public and even some "coaches" make is thinking that if a program is "hard", it must be good. Difficulty of performance is not related to effectiveness however. I see many of these misguided programs doing things like repetitive plyometric type exercises to exhaustion, totally missing the point of the exercise and setting the trainee up for injury. Spectacular claims, unrealistic methods, and impossibly quick results will sell. The truth, that training is a long, slow, and incremental process, does not lend itself to flashy infomercials. The human body and the way that it will adapt to a stimulus does not change.

Recently, I have noticed an alarming trend in the training and fitness industry: instant gratification workout programs designed to beat up participants and leave them worn out. As an Athletic Trainer and Strength Coach, I am concerned.
Lately I cannot tell you how many sports programs are turning to the likes CrossFit, Insanity, or P90X to train their athletes. This type of workout plan is not effective in the development and training of our athletes. Don't get me wrong, I like the feeling of a hard workout, and the recovery afterwards, but these programs lack the organization vital to continued improvement and success.
These workouts are designed with a focus on today's workout, while development should be more about today as a stepping stone to tomorrow. When we recover from today's workout, we improve tomorrow. Continued success happens with recovery and adaptation. Without that, the body never fully recovers and eventually starts to break down.
The goal of any well-designed strength and conditioning program is to decrease injury and develop specific attributes to improve performance. In order to achieve those goals, the program needs to take each sport with their specific movements, planes of motion, muscle recruitment, etc., into consideration. After that it has to identify and correct individual weak links that could be a precursor to injury later in the season as well as common injuries in that sport. Proper programming is then composed into phases to allow the body to adapt to the exercises, learn the routines and the system, and allow progressive overload and continued adaptation to the program. They also utilize planned rest and recovery periods to limit overtraining.
CrossFit and Insanity workouts do not meet the above criteria. They also do not take individual sports and movements into account. This can mean that it will potentially help some sports and hinder others. They do not look at the individual and correct weaknesses--everyone has the same workout regardless. They do not have progressive overload built in, or work toward a specific goal.
The goal of Insanity is to lose weight and have a lean, muscular look while the goal of CrossFit is to get better at CrossFit. If your goals are to look lean or compete at the CrossFit games then these programs may work for you. If, however, your goal is to become a stronger, faster, more agile athlete for your sport then you need a different plan.
Athletes need to have a combination of strength, power, speed, agility, balance and recovery. Only a specific program can improve those areas. Athletes need to be in the weight room building strength through compound exercises such as squats, lunges, deadlifts, horizontal pushes and pulls, and vertical pushes and pulls. They can develop power through medicine ball throws, jumping, and Olympic lifts (depending on sport, age, and proficiency of movements). On the court or field they can work on their reaction, acceleration, deceleration, top speed, balance, and quick changes of direction.
Turning to CrossFit type workouts as the basis of your strength and conditioning work will leave your athletes woefully unprepared for the season. Your athletes may think they are working hard and getting "in shape" for their sport, but the truth of the matter is that they will lack the specific work that is vital to their success on the field or on the court.
However, what is beneficial to your program (depending on your goals) is the metabolic conditioning or circuit training aspect. As an adjunct to your strength and speed work this can help with mental toughness, team building, competitiveness, anaerobic capacity, and recovery. For most sports, it is important to go "all out" and then recover in a short period of time before going again.
Instead of choosing a one-size-fits-all program, think of what would be a better fit for the sport and the team goals. There will be more upfront time, but the rewards when the season rolls around will be more than worth it.

Tim Koba, ATC, CSCS, PES, LMT, is Manager for Athletic Performance and Athletic Training Services at Cayuga Medical Center at Island Health and Fitness in Ithaca, N.Y.



Training is not supposed to be detrimental to your health!

1 comment:

  1. amen to that you summed up my thoughts very well. I always thought that those workout programs were sort of just throwing together a bunch of random exercises. ok it burns calories but you would still do better at general fitness if you actually sturctured a program wit good logic

    well if you have to be sore to build muscle, then more soreness is more muscle riiiight? do 20 sets of 20 squats then run 5 miles then do 20 more sets of 20 squats.