Why I Train CrossFit & Why You Should Try It

When people ask me what training I do, I tell them ‘CrossFit’. To this, I get 1 of 3 replies, almost guaranteed. More often than not, people say, ‘what actually is CrossFit?’ I give them the simple answer of, ‘functional fitness that ultimately improves my quality of life outside of the gym’. The second reply I quite often get is, well, a snigger. This comes across as a ‘why the hell would you train CrossFit when you can just lift bro’ kind of vibe. 99.9% of the time, this is the reply that those who have never tried CrossFit or don’t understand it give me. The third reply I get when I tell others I train CrossFit is simple. ‘Me too.’ This makes me smile.

Before I explain why, as a qualified British Powerlifting Coach, I train CrossFit more than anything else, I think it’s best that I explain exactly what CrossFit is and eradicate any misconceptions that those who snub it claim. Also, yes, it absolutely is possible to have a passion for and coach in 2 separate sports. I’m proof of that.

CrossFit is essentially the sport of fitness. It is constantly varied, functional high intensity training. CrossFit’s aim isn’t to produce bodybuilders, specific sport athletes or marathon runners; it doesn’t claim to be any of these things. CrossFit is a strength and conditioning programme that allows the person taking part to develop on all aspects of their fitness. Look, if you want to be a strongman, enter Mr Olympia or train for an ultra-marathon, then CrossFit probably isn’t the right kind of programme to be following. That doesn’t mean that everyone should be following your programme either. There are very specific, different and linear ways to train for very specific and definitive goals, and CrossFit sometimes isn’t suited to that. Those, like myself, that partake in CrossFit are looking for one thing above all else; good fitness for a better quality of life. As a PT that sees dozens of people a day, this is what 99% of people go to the gym for.

Let’s look at this from a more practical perspective. Let’s take the marathon runner. This person has trained for the best part of a year to run a marathon. Obviously, the bulk of their training will involve running. Whilst strength training may form a part of their overall programme, they’re not going to be squatting over 70% of their 1RM for 5 sets of 5 reps several times a week. On the flip side to this, the powerlifter or Olympic weightlifter isn’t going to be throwing casual 5km runs into their peaking programme. Ultimately, our training should reflect our goals. This is quite often something that big weightlifters forget. Yes guys, let it go. Of course, who doesn’t want to lift big, right? But there are other aspects of fitness to work on too. The marathon runner probably isn’t squatting double their bodyweight and the weightlifter dreads running even 1km before their legs give in. CrossFit doesn’t gear you up to be amazing at one thing. Instead, you get pretty good at all aspects of fitness; cardiovascular endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, coordination, agility, balance and accuracy.

Personally, I really enjoy CrossFit. Everyday is something new to challenge you. I might walk into a box and combine a little running with barbell work, or push myself through a gruelling ladder of burpees and box jumps. Fitness to me and those that train CrossFit is much more than strength and cardio. It is the other 8 aspects of fitness too. The functional movements I carry out with my members in class are relative to everyday life outside the gym. The skills we learn are transferable. It’s this that really helps to build that better quality of life outside of the gym. Honestly, it’s also really fun. I am part of a local and wider community around the world who share a passion for this type of training. Some days we get competitive, others we just meet up in the gym and chat each other’s ears off. It’s great. The great thing about the CrossFit community is that no one, in my experience, snubs their nose at you. It’s a very welcoming way of training, suitable to all abilities and skill levels.

I honestly feel that most people who haven’t tried CrossFit for themselves or actually researched the benefits of it, base their opinions on the easily accessible meme culture that has become social media. It is very easy to forget there’s a reason people train a certain way. People in general forget this. It’s also very easy to stick a caption on a picture of something going wrong and post it on the internet claiming ‘this is the result’. In any sport, anywhere in the world, you’ll get bad coaches, things taught wrong or even people not listening. This is when things go wrong. This isn’t something exclusive to CrossFit, or any other specific sport or training programme. The truth is, CrossFit has been researched and the academic journals are out there for you to see for yourself. It doesn’t pose anymore risk than any other sport, and in general actually comes in at a much lower risk of injury.

I only used to train strength, with a splash of cardio, but only as a warm up at a push. Since I have been training CrossFit, I haven’t lost any of my strength whatsoever. In fact, I have gained a considerable amount of strength. Sure, I haven’t gained strength at the same rate a powerlifter or Olympic weightlifter might have, but I have different goals and aspirations to what those sports offer. I have still seen an increase in strength, whilst also seeing huge progress in other aspects of my fitness such as power, speed, agility, balance and the dreaded ‘cardio’.

I could list another 100 reasons I train CrossFit, but the main reason for me writing this post is to say one thing at the end of the day. Unless you are training for a specific event or sport that demands a very linear type of training, give CrossFit a go. If you are looking to improve your overall fitness and quality of life, personally, I don’t think that there is a better strength and conditioning programme out there.

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