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CrossFit is one of the biggest names in the fitness industry, and often times one of the most popular training gyms for athletes. Athletes from all sports often give CrossFit a try to see if they can get a performance boost. Often times they do get a boost in performance, but is that boost in performance equal to other methods and at what cost does it come?

I have a couple main issues with CrossFit for athletes. Done well, CrossFit can be a great option for increasing athletic performance. However, just like most things, CrossFit is often executed poorly.

Metabolism used, Volume, and Coaching are my big three when it comes to CrossFit.

One of the biggest keys to increasing performance in any given sport is to train within a sport’s energy demand. Each sport demands energy a little differently. Some sports are oxidative with glycolytic bursts (soccer and lacrosse). This just means it is generally low to medium intensity cardio with high intensity bursts of power. In order to perform well in this sport, we would need to train to have power even when we have been moving nonstop for 40 minutes.

In baseball or softball, we use mostly the creatine phosphate system, pure power. We don’t need to train to have power when we are tired (unless pitching), we just need as much power and velocity as possible. When you add in the oxidative energy system, you will only bring down your power.

CrossFit will generally train all energy systems but won’t build any system to its fullest potential.

Volume is my second issue with CrossFit, especially doing the box programming. There is so much volume in CrossFit that performing at the gym 4-5 days per week while also attending practices for your sport will drag your performance down as fatigue builds. And as fatigue builds, risk of injury increase. Why risk injury when you could be avoidable. The one fix to the volume problem is hiring a coach to train you one on one. This coach can modify the workout to suit both your metabolic needs and volume needs to make sure you are getting the best product possible.

The last problem I see in CrossFit is coaching. No different than one of the biggest issues in youth sports overall. COACHING. Coaches should coach each athlete with the same commitment, but potentially different methods. In a CrossFit class, the coaches are likely not going to be making sure each athlete is completing movements with intensity as well as safety. I’ve seen so many injuries occur that could have been avoided if a coach could stop a class and fix an athlete’s form. But this is nearly impossible in the environment of CrossFit. If a coach stops to fix an athletes form for 2 minutes, 5 other people have begun using faulty form and the trend continues.

CrossFit itself may not be a terrible option, if you have a private coach or small group that trains together. Especially between the ages of 13-18 when general athleticism, strength, and power is the development goal. However, the general execution of CrossFit is unfit to be applied in an athletes training regimen.

Chris Still

BS Exercise SCience


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