What crossfit gets wrong.

This is Gregg Glassman, who founded Crossfit before the woke drove him out, and his 100 word definition of fitness.

Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch, and no sugar. Keep intake to levels that will support exercise but not body fat. Practice and train major lifts: Deadlift, clean, squat, presses, clean and jerk, and snatch. Similarly, master the basics of gymnastics: pull-ups, dips, rope climb, push-ups, sit-ups, presses to handstand, pirouettes, flips, splits, and holds. Bike, run, swim, row, etc, hard and fast. Five or six days per week mix these elements in as many combinations and patterns as creativity will allow. Routine is the enemy. Keep workouts short and intense. Regularly learn and play new sports.

I have some difficulties with this. It has now been a year since I’ve left Crossfit, and I’m still a good 8 kilos lighter than when I was there and fairly strong. Here are my main issues

Crossfit has gone woke

Crossfit was always a bit cult like, but each box built its own culture, and you could change. We went to a box with a coach we liked and a community that was good. But there were toxic boxes in our town. There was always a bit of body pride, particulary among the younger members, and a fairly high rate of injury. The irony is that the major injury I had while at the box came stacking firewood, not doing something crazy was an exception.

But Glassman has been drummed out as a deplorable, and there is now corporate governance in place. The fitness press and the competitive people have applauded this, but they are not the people crossfit should be for.

It is not about the games

The games were destroyed by COVID and the loss of regionals. The tasks are becoming more akin to something designed for TV. What any fitness programme should be about is being able to do real life tasks — such as stacking the firewood, hiking up a hill, and picking up the dogs or kids.

The second problem is that the people who do the games are training at what for them is low intensity most of the day. To emulate what they do, as a full time working stiff, will injure you, and people think doing that Froning does will get them fitter.

Froning himself says that is an error.

Eat meat, bro (or their diet advice won’t cut it)

We are both coming down from a period eating the standard Kiwi diet, and yesterday Kea and I were seeing a nurse — mainly for me, but it turned into a discussion of the carnivore diet. The nurse is doing Weight Watchers and exercising and not losing weight. She had been taught to me before we’d gone very close to zero carb and noted that I’d lost a ton of weight.

So Kea said — go Carnivore. You will lose weight. The nurse said, what about lipids. I said — check mine, and look serially. They have dropped on carnivore.

Then we ate carbs. The question then is why. The short answer is stress, and that it is a hack. Fast forward to this am. I ate a couple of sausages this morning primarily because I’d taken medication that requires food, and it’s now mid morning and I’m eating while in that window.

Carbs are very bad for me. Eating the standard kiwi diet with its whole grains and the dietician approved meals at work has led to a 10lb weight gain, and I’m back to brown bagging food to avoid them.

This is another thing that crossfit gets wrong. The correct amount of carbohydrates if you have insulin resistance is zero. Fat makes you full, sugar does not.

So… eat meat. Eat whatever meat you can afford.

Too intense, too long

The problem hereis high intensity dose. Not high intensity itself: there is absolutely nothing wrong with high intensity lifting or sprinting or a tabata.

There is nothing wrong with lifting 90 or 100% one rep max. What is wrong is long workouts like that. Every time you do high repetition you get inflammation, and sitting in a prolonged high intensity workout does not build strength or speed but tears it down.

Fran, done properly, is destructive (21 thrusters, 21 pullups, 15 thrusters, 15 pullups, 9 thrusters, 9 pullups). My scaled version — wall balls instead of thrusters and ring rows instead of pullups — will leave you gasping for minutes. Once every six weeks as a measurement of fitness is OK. Otherwise you will hurt yourself.

And most boxes schedule one of the named workouts regularly.

Low intensity too short

This does not apply if you are working in a physically demanding job, where you will be walking around or running around all day. But most of us do not. The primary source of fitness is not anearobic, but aerobic. The simplest way to define this is to keep your heart rate (HR) at 180 minus age. When you put a HR monitor on you will suprised how slow that is.

But low intensity for a long time builds endurance, and you need endurance to build stamina, and stamina to manage repeated tasks requiring explosive power. The long workouts in crossfit are about 5km.

When I was a competitive runner I did more than that in my morning run, half awake.

What to do?

You don’t need much gear. Even the crossfit people have moved to body weight and low weight workouts as their boxes are closed. The things that help are variety.

You need to walk, cycle, run, swim… a fair bit.

You need to lift heavy somewhat. Use complex movements when possible.

And you need to eat no carbohydrates. If you need sugar to get through the workout, it’s bad for you.

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Amy
Amy
1 month ago

Well, when I was powerlifting for 90min and hitting 80% lifts for ~ 20 minutes of that time, yes – I did have to have a bite of sugar (even on the low-gly diet) to get through. I put a messton of muscle on though. And my resting heart rate went down. My weight didn’t really go down, I leaned out somewhat but I just had to eat too much (meat mostly) to make up for the energy expenditure of those heavy workouts. My recovery rate absolutely depended on the food/sleep I got the following two days after my heavy day. The all you can eat steak place was my friend. :p

But do I want to put that muscle back on, having had to be out for a while? I *miss* those workouts. They felt SO GOOD. There is something my body craves about moving heavy weights. I don’t want the arm/shoulders back though. Couldn’t get my arms into a jacket in my proper size. (Sure, this is great if you’re MALE – I’m not male). So, decisions.

I don’t miss CF workouts. They’re just too cardio-y for me. Pushpushpush, you have to do all the reps even if you scale, timed, bleh. Last time I tried one I hurt myself carrying a bar on my back – when my backsquat was over 250lb. Nah.