The fitness industry can be quite political with all of the different philosophies and “systems” that people swear by. No training method, however, has been more controversial and successful, in the last decade than CrossFit. For many reasons, it has taken a lot of flack and been shunned by various “experts.” Despite what the pundits say, it continues to grow (over 10,000 affiliates worldwide) and people are getting legitimate results from its’ methods. Whether your goal is to pack on muscle, reduce body fat, or simply just be healthy and feel better, when used properly, CrossFit can help you achieve those goals. Here are 8 reasons to start adding CrossFit to your training routine.
Make Your Workouts More Competitive
The essence of CrossFit is to go hard and fast. If you were ever an athlete at any point in your life then you understand the adrenaline rush that can only be experienced through good old fashion competition. What better way to get an awesome workout than going head to head with your buddies to bring the best out of each other? At the very least, your workouts will be more exciting when bragging rights will be at stake.
Add Variety to Your Workout
The idea of “constantly varied functional movement” is what keeps the body in a state of shock forcing it to continually adapt. Stepping away from traditional periodisation for a while and mixing up the exercises and training loads may be just what you need to break through annoying plateaus.
Shorter and More Intense Workouts
Going longer in the gym isn’t necessarily always better. In fact, it can lead to diminishing returns due to increased cortisol levels and prolonged recovery periods. Shorter but more intense workouts will allow you to hit your muscles hard enough to stimulate testosterone production without excessive cortisol production. With shorter and more intense workouts, you can also reduce your training frequency and continue to make gains. All in all, you can’t lose with intensity.
Build Muscle & Burn Fat
At the same time. Traditional thinking leads most people to believe that you are either building muscle or burning fat but not both. By blending strength exercises like squats and deadlifts with body weight exercises like pushups and burpees and doing them at high intensity, you can stimulate muscle growth AND fat metabolism at the same time. No need to spend an hour on the bike when you can hit a hard 10-15min circuit of deadlifts, pushups, and box jumps.
Step Out of Your Comfort Zone
Most people that have their hate on for CrossFit either don’t think they can achieve any results (i.e. build muscle or get strong) or are too scared to train at high intensity. Trying something new can keep you motivated and push you beyond your perceived limits. You don’t have to go crazy, but stepping out of your normal training routine at least once/week can make a world of difference.
Work On Your Weaknesses
This point is similar to #5 in that it’s important to break away from only doing exercises that you like or are good at. CrossFit forces you to use movements that you may or may not do on a regular basis. This can really help with eliminating muscular imbalances, prevent overuse injuries, and developing energy systems that never get used (i.e. anaerobic system).
Easier on the Body
Now, most of you are thinking that CrossFit is anything but easy on the body. Let’s be clear, I never said CrossFit was easy, but when programmed correctly it can be EASIER on the body than traditional strength training programs. The truth is, training at high intensity with a wide variety of movements and loads puts less repetitive stress on the body than doing the same exercises over and over again. For example, using the CrossFit method, you could do heavy back squats and pullups one day and light power cleans and burpees the next. In a traditional strength program, you could be squatting 1-2 times per week and that puts more repetitive stress on the muscles and joints leading to more soft tissue injuries in the long run. Simply by mixing the exercises and training loads, the body has more opportunity to recover allowing for more quality workouts.
Develop a Jaw-Dropping Physique
Say what you want about the CrossFit methodology but you can’t deny the picture perfect physiques that it produces. Strong, lean, and chiseled bodies are simply a by product of this performance based training system. Want to build your body without bodybuilding? Start CrossFitting.
At the end of the day, we’re all trying to find ways to improve our physical fitness and well-being and sometimes thinking outside of the box and throwing out conventional wisdom is exactly what we need. As someone who loves training and takes everything with a grain of salt, I can say with full confidence that CrossFit in the right doses can provide lots of benefits. Next time you’re feeling a little stale or you want to be challenged, give CrossFit a try.