Articles

6 Things Tallahassee Crossfit Gyms Get Wrong

Written by Keith Hansen

January 8, 2018

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Every physical therapist, chiropractor, and orthopedic surgeon I know loves CrossFit.

Medical professionals in Tallahassee love CrossFit because it has made them rich with cases of joint injuries, strained muscles, and rhabdomyolysis (a nasty condition where your muscles basically self-destruct).

We love CrossFit too, but for different reasons. We love it because of the spotlight it has brought to real strength training. We love CrossFit because it has caused a resurgence in Olympic Weightlifting in Tallahassee.

But let's get something straight: CrossFit is not for novices or fitness beginners. CrossFit is for intermediate-to-advanced athletes.

Yea, athletes.

Here is what CrossFit in Tallassee gets wrong.

Anyone Can Do Crossfit

This is only true in theory. CrossFit creates workouts with an Rx version and a scaled version. The Rx version is what the workout was designed to be, and the scaled version uses lighter weights, lower difficulty exercises, and simpler movements to allow people to participate in the workout if they aren't at the Rx fitness level yet.

The problem with this is that the majority of the general populace shouldn't even be doing the scaled versions. People new to fitness should not be doing plyometric movements like box jumps, they should not be doing pull-ups, and they sure as hell should not be doing Olympic Weightlifting.

Anyone can do CrossFit is like saying anyone can juggle chainsaws. Anyone can attempt it, but far fewer should.

Crossfit Level 1 Certifications

I have trained multiple CrossFit Level 1 coaches, and every one of them had room for improvement with weightlifting form. Not just in the snatch and clean & jerk, but in basic movements like the squat and deadlift. If a coaches form sucks you can guarantee the people they are training will have bad form too. The CrossFit Level 1 certification is a ~$1,000, two day course that I hear is pretty tough, but that doesn't qualify someone to teach weightlifting movements.

Three years ago I attended the USAW Olympic Weightlifting Level 1 coaching seminar, a two day course wholly focused on the Olympic Weightlifting movements.

Do you know what I knew at the end of that two day intensive class? That I shouldn't be teaching that stuff to anyone without spending hours and hours perfecting it on my own and studying it further. 

This isn't just a CrossFit issue--this is a fitness industry-wide issue. A piece of paper isn't enough to qualify someone to teach free weight exercises.

Olympic Weightlifting

Olympic Weightlifting done well is a beautiful thing, and it is the most technically demanding of all barbell sports. A perfect snatch is plain sexy. A good clean & jerk really tickles my fancy.

Olympic Weightlifting done poorly is incredibly dangerous.

When I teach someone Olympic Weightlifting I gauge their readiness by the ability to perform great overhead squats, front squats, and snatch grip deadlifts--proficiency in these movements denote an intermediate skill level. This usually takes a novice trainee 6-12 months to gain the necessary mobility, body control, and strength.

When I actually begin Oly training it is a slow, progression based approach that may take a client several one hour sessions before actually doing their first clean & jerk or snatch.

The CrossFit gyms in Tallahassee teach these movements in a group setting, to novices, with their first clean & jerks and snatches done in the first session the movements are introduced. This is a recipe for disaster.

Results

You're not going to look like Rich Froning going to Crossfit 5x a week. You won't even look like the female competitors.

When someone begins training for strength & muscle it is recommended to begin with 3 hours of full body hypertrophy focused workouts each week, progressing to 4 and 5 hours a week of body part split training. With great training, superb nutrition, and consistency most men can put on 20lbs of muscle in their first year. 

CrossFit programming is not hypertrophy focused. This means you will not gain 20lbs of muscle in your first year relying on CrossFit workouts alone.

Form/Technique

When we have competition we must have standards. Standards are what allow us to gauge one performance against another's, apples to apples, and know who performed highest.

CrossFit is no different.

The problem with standards applied to human bodies is that human bodies are not standard.

Some of our shoulders are built differently, and our hips don't move quite the same way as someone else's.

This means some people have to adhere to technique standards that are destructive to their bodies.

Butterfly/kipping pull ups are the most efficient way to go from a dead hang to chin over the bar, but it absolutely rips some people's joints apart.

This explains why at the highest levels of competition you see dominant body types emerge--they are most suited for the sport. 

When your goal is to be healthy, improve your fitness, change body composition, and have fun you don't need to compete in a sport to do it.

Intensity Level

Puking when you workout is a sign you're overdoing it, not a badge of honor.

I'm all for pushing it to the limit, but when someone is new to working out they have no idea where that limit is, and that's where slow & steady progression comes in. Learning what you're capable of, and progressing it just little more the next time.

What we tend to see in CrossFit gyms across Tallahassee (and America for that matter) is this hive-like mentality that everyone must push it to their gasping for air, verge of vomit, physical maximum each workout despite their individual fitness level.

This is largely the fault of inexperienced coaches which goes back to the low barrier to entry for coaches.