When Crossfit Crosses the Line

As I've discussed in other posts, it's a good idea to be mindful of your threat level as you exercise, to use good safe form, and to avoid a "no pain no gain" mentality. And of course it goes without saying that getting injured is not a good outcome for a training session and completely defeats the purpose. I saw a video the other day that perfectly exemplifies the opposite of this approach. It's a Crossfit workout that has received a lot of play on the internet recently because of the horrible lack of attention to proper lifting form on the part of the athletes and coaches. Check it out:


My purpose in posting this is not to make fun of the athletes in the video or Crossfit in general. I think it's great that everyone is working hard and having fun in a supportive group context. However, I do think this type of workout is more likely to result in injury and chronic pain than optimum health and function. Especially if it's done more than once every few years.

I should point out that I personally know many knowledgeable and professional Crossfit coaches who would never let this type of training happen in their gyms. And my experience at a couple Crossfit gyms in Seattle has been positive.

However, there is something about the Crossfit experience that really brings out the stupid in me. When they start the clock on the WOD and put on Rage Against The Machine, it's a ton of fun. But for me personally, it's also the perfect environment for encouraging me to overexert myself and cause an unwanted injury. Because I'm not going to lose to a grandmother.

So I try to do my training without the presence of any psychological factors that discourage me from being aware of my limits and dialing it back when necessary.

Intense training implies getting close to the line of your physical tolerance. And that means you need to be more mindful of your limits, not in denial that such limits exist. There is something about the Crossfit culture that seems to glorify crossing the line, as opposed to staying just short of it.

By the way, John Sifferman over at Physical Living has a hilarious take on the problems in this video, including a checklist of what went wrong: "Let's see: barbell dropped on head - check."

What do you think? Have you seen anything this bad in the gym recently? What is your experience with Crossfit or similar programs?

Leave a comment and let me know.

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