What are crossfit's dark secrets?
First and foremost, well, it's terrible. The programming coming from HQ is just plain awful. There are many programs out there now (Outlaw, Competitors WOD, CF Football etc) that fill the gap and actually give decent programming, but the programming from crossfit.com is really, really bad.
Did you know that ALL the athletes that competed at the Crossfit games do not use crossfit.com WODs as the base of their programming? It's true. Go and check it out. What does this tell you? That crossfit, the programming, is all bullshit. The elite athletes use strength training as the basis of their programming and complement that with met cons as they get closer to the games.
There is also a culture that promotes things like rips (ripping your hands, say during a deadlift), or rope burns or other types of stupid things as badges of honor. You can't go a few days on /r/crossfit without seeing someone mention their ripped hands with pride. This is dumb and promotes the wrong things.
And beyond that, frankly, high-rep olympic lifts, high-rep box jumps (DON'T JUMP DOWN! Seriously, trust me on this), and general bad form is ok in the name of better times. These are begging for injuries.
TL;DR - Crossfit is dumb.
Seriously, it's incredibly dangerous. Olympic lifts are very complex mechanical movements and it takes real Olympic athletes months if not years to master the form. There's a reason for that: if the form is not correct, you open yourself to significant risk of potentially-permanent injury.
The problem with doing them with high repetition (and usually as quickly as possible) is that your form starts to break down after a few reps, but the competitive culture pressures you into continuing.
Mark Rippetoe (he's a popular personality in the powerlifting world) was affiliated with Crossfit in the beginning, mainly doing workshops on demonstrating basic barbell lifts. He liked how Crossfit was, at the time, a welcome antidote to the "Globo-Gym" death grip on fitness.
But he has distanced himself from Cross-fit for years now, and has a huge amount of criticism due to the emphasis on high-rep Olympic lifts. The high reps result in poor execution and injury at worst, and in uselessly light loads at best.
The first time I ever saw rhabdo was when I was sent to Outward Bound for a month as a teenager. A guy in my group wasn't very fit, and he got it from several days in a row of intense distance while backpacking. We were told how insanely rare it was when he got back, and the doctor at the time told him it was only seen in guys in boot camp.
Suddenly, a few years back, my rock climbing gym had a crossfit area. Then I start hearing about rhabdo all the time. I noticed that extremely fit rock climbers would do some of the team workouts, and then refuse to go back for the rest of the class they paid for. Their conclusion was the same as mine: any fitness regimen that makes it difficult to function in your day to day activities for days on end due to extreme soreness is not something that should ever be viewed as fitness. Fitness is something that can be integrated into a normal life.
I think CrossFit fell victim to its monetizations scheme. The original folks made their money by awarding certifications to trainers, who would then go start their own classes/gyms.
Like everything else: it started as a movement, turned into a business, and then devolved into a racket.
But the rest of your post is garbage. "Monetizations schemes" and "racket"(s)? Two things here:
1/ Any intelligent person that starts a crossfit "box" could start a big gym that appeals more widely and make significantly more money. True, they would need more initial capital for the equipment. True, they would have to operate on far lower margins. But at the end of the day they would make more money signing up 1,000 people for $25 a month than signing up 100 people for $200 a month. Gym memberships are nothing more than a subscription service which is subject to the decaying population problem. It is about scale here.
2/ The majority of the crossfit community really, really buy into the entire thing. And nothing associated with that "thing" is about money. It is about fitness and community.
The vast majority of people that start crossfit boxes are doing so because they love crossfit. Not money. Please don't respond here with the handful of boxes that are about money because at any scale you will find outliers and these outliers don't represent the norm.
Crossfit people are fanatical about fitness and community. Not money. They prescribe to a very specific workout methodology. If you don't like crossfit then attack it for the faults that are at its core. Like functional movements (including Olympic movements) executed at high intensity. Somewhat insane, yes.
Don't create additional issues that could be potential found in a minority.
Here is a request for you. Feel free to ignore but if you are serious in terms of your views then try it out. (And if you aren't then just announce your troll status and be done with it.) Visit 12 crossfit gyms. You don't have to do the workouts there, don't pay a dime, just visit them and watch the class. Then ask yourself the following question, "If I wanted to make more money (that is if I were really an industry that devolved from a 'movement and then into a business and then finally a racket' - paraphrased from you) what would I do differently?"
If you can come up half a dozen answers to this question then I submit to you that your statement "it started as a movement, turned into a business, and then devolved into a racket" is wrong.
Crossfit HQ is most definitely about the money. And, IMO, HQ is also the heart of the issue when it comes to programming, injury prevention (certification and standards) and the perpetuation of the things like rhadbo.
Further, IMO, crossfit the sport (meaning the games) has outgrown the leadership available at HQ. Glassman and Castro are notoriously bad leaders and exhibit this at nearly every turn. Crossfit the sport would be best served by being bought out by Reebok and moving away from HQ.
I completely disagree with the notion that these folks would make more money with a standard gym, and are therefore doing CrossFit purely out of passion. I'm sure they are passionate, but the standard gym market is saturated and overrun by large companies.
I get the feeling here that you just made up numbers that prove your point. And even then, the numbers are so close (25% higher revenue, which of course ignores the margins you believe to be irrelevant) that I'd be skeptical that one or the other would be clearly more profitable.
Perhaps the reason CrossFit gyms have to charge so much is because there are comparatively few people in the world foolish enough to join a gym that advocates a "fitness" program that is statistically so dangerous.
I don't think form breaks down after a few reps nearly as much as you say. There's probably a point at which it will, but there's a lot of room for breakdown that doesn't meaningfully increase your risk of injury.
> but the competitive culture pressures you into continuing
Hogwash. Each person is responsible for their own actions. Yes, competition might help people push themselves, but that shouldn't turn you into a mindless machine that will self destruct just to get the win. If it does, then you have no one to blame but yourself.
I have observed that hazing exists, including among adults. People die in hazing events, or are subjected to physical harm, coerced sexual activity, and emotionally abusive behaviors.
As you say, "Each person is responsible for their own actions." Using only that logic as a guide, then everyone who dies in a hazing event - in those cases where it's voluntary to join the organization which practices hazing - is solely responsible for their own death.
I do not take so narrow a view of that. We also have a responsibility for others as well. It isn't only the hazee who is responsible but also those who were involved or knew about the hazing but did nothing to stop it.
Similarly, while I agree that people are responsible for their own well-being in training, I use my same reasoning to say that they are also partially responsible for the well-being of others.
If you see someone else using equipment in a dangerous and fool-hardy way, with a high-likelihood that they will be seriously hurt, will you do nothing?
If you notice that week after week people doing a specific exercise end up with twisted backs, will you do nothing?
Or will you encourage people to work at it and try harder? Does culpability ever exist?
Since you don't like it, take out all references to it. I said "I agree that people are responsible for their own well-being in training [but] they are also partially responsible for the well-being of others." Surely that's a stand-alone statement.
The rest of my post gave examples in an exercise context where I think it would be unconscionable to say "Each person is responsible for their own actions. ... you have no one to blame but yourself."
The entire point of the essay is, of course, that at some point "encouraging someone to improve themselves" may become "encouraging someone to hurt themselves". At some point there can be a justifiable claim of culpability, and coaches have been sued for bad advice.
To deny that culpability doesn't exist, and that it's only the person's recklessness which caused the problem is to be blind to both ethics and the law.
Now you say that there may be culpability, but that "it won't come close in normal gyms".
Thank you for changing your mind!
In any case, the evidence presented is that involuntary urination, throwing up, and rhabdomyolysis are three example of things which occur at a higher rate at CrossFit gyms than others.
These are not healthy things for the body, and are to be avoided, yes? If the competitive culture pressure is not an influence for the increased rate, then what is? Poor training practices?
Or is the presented data incorrect?
This was referring to CrossFit competitive pressure specifically, not general competitive pressure. I've been involved with CrossFit since 2007 and I've never seen anything close to that level of pressure. You invoked the legal definition of culpability, and if you can't establish that, then my statement "you have no one to blame but yourself" is exactly what you have to come back to. Even TFA doesn't invoke that argument, because that would change the focus to individual trainers rather than CrossFit as an organization. Are there trainers that would lose a culpability lawsuit? Mayyyyyybe. But those are going to be very rare and extreme cases that are impossible for CrossFit HQ to prevent.
Also, that's why gyms have you sign waivers. The waiver informs you in no uncertain terms that this stuff is dangerous.
So, we agree that culpability is not the subject here. That brings us to your new point: that it's somehow a problem that CrossFit has a higher rate of rhabdo. That's like saying that surfers are more likely to be the victims of shark attacks. No duh. IOTTMCO. Shark attacks are not healthy things for the body and are to be avoided, yes? Of course. Looking life with that view effectively paralyzes you. Everything is risky, so it's not about avoiding risky things. It's about making a tradeoff.
> Or is the presented data incorrect?
There is no presented data. TFA was nothing but anecdotes. Scary, sensationalist anecdotes. And for every one of those, I've got thousands of overwhelmingly positive anecdotes. In my case I got stronger and more fit. My body fat, cholesterol, and blood pressure decreased and I have actual data to prove it. I also noticed increased quickness, agility, and reaction time in everyday life.
So we agree there is a risk. But I (and many others) believe that the rewards are more than worth the risk. If you are one of the rare people who has gotten rhabdo while doing CrossFit, then you probably will be less comfortable with that tradeoff. And that's ok too.
I invoked culpability. There a legal definition, yes, but there's also a moral meaning. I meant to include both, and not limit it to legal.
> TFA doesn't invoke that argument, because that would change the focus to individual trainers rather than CrossFit as an organization
Why would it?
You need only look at the history of consumer protection laws to see counter-examples. Consider the classic "Unsafe at Any Speed". It covers many examples where automotive manufacturers know that certain practices were unsafe, but did not change them, for various reasons. Some were considered unimportant and ignored, others were "too expensive", or bad user interface design, or putting design over engineering.
One chapter was even about how drivers were considered to be the only ones to blame for accidents and injuries. But the manufacturer, more than the car dealer, must share culpability.
I do not believe that what the car companies were doing was illegal, so they were not legally culpable. They certainly were morally culpable, and we passed laws to make those practices be illegal. Now we have much, much safer cars than in the 1950s.
You see this pattern in other consumer protection laws, like in the pharmaceutical industry. If a drug has known serious side-effects, but the company decides to hide it, or doesn't have the systems set up to handle reports about side-effects, then it's the company which is most culpable, and not the doctor who prescribed the drug.
Culpability can be shared. I have no problems saying that the person exercising, the trainer, and the organization who licenses the name and training style, may have shared culpability. Even if it isn't illegal.
> that's why gyms have you sign waivers. The waiver informs you in no uncertain terms that this stuff is dangerous.
Ahh, so the car companies should have required people to sign a paper saying "driving is dangerous. I accept all responsibility", and not been forced to change a thing. Great solution!
Three states don't allow liability waivers. Does this mean that CrossFit or any other sports can't exist in those three states? (Since Montana, Louisiana, and Vermont have sports clubs, I conclude the answer is "no.")
I don't think you understand how the law regards liability. Shark attacks are an inherent risk in surfing. Getting hit by a baseball is an inherent risk in playing baseball.
But some things are not inherent risks. If a coach forces the surf team to hit the waves when there's been a shark report, and someone gets attacked by a shark, then that's not an inherent risk. (Eg, once while at the beach the life guards called us out of the water because a helicopter flying by saw a shark in the water.)
Let's look at concussion. More people have had concussions than rhabdomyolysis, so it's easier to find information about it.
See for example, "new research suggests that the medical staffs responsible for protecting college athletes often don't have the authority to do so." ( http://chronicle.com/article/Trainers-Butt-Heads-With/141333... ), which will likely affect an NCAA class-action concussion lawsuit http://www.cbssports.com/collegefootball/writer/jeremy-fowle...
Or there's the tentative NFL settlement, where "The NFL has agreed to spend close to $800 million to diagnose and compensate potentially thousands of retired players who develop dementia and other brain disorders they blame on the violent, bone-crunching collisions that pro football has long celebrated in its highlight reels."
Or the new lawsuit by four ex-NFL players suing "the league and its helmet maker, claiming they hid information about the dangers of brain injury." http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap1000000237961/article/four-...
You want to bet that they signed liability waivers?
Thus, we see that people who are engaged in sports, where there's of course an inherent risk of danger, and where they have signed liability waivers, can still reasonably sue because of other reasons.
And the reason - I am not a lawyer - is likely because at some point it's not an inherent risk, like you think it is, but caused by negligence or even gross and criminal negligence.
Here's what's supposed to happen in a case like this. (In my optimistic world.) CrossFit-the-organization has now heard that there might be a problem. They gather information about the rates of rhabdomyolysis and other severe training problems, while also working to ensure that this purported issue is either not real, or to realize that it is an issue and work to reduce it.
Failure to do so is, in my non-lawyer, pro-consumer viewpoint, gross negligence and therefore not subject to liability waivers, because that information should be available in order for people to make an informed decision.
> TFA was nothing but anecdotes
More correctly, it's epidemological evidence that may or may not indicate a deeper persistent risk. Others have written about the same topic. It appears widely understood that some members view vomiting during a workout as a 'badge of honor', as http://health.yahoo.net/articles/fitness/inside-cult-crossfi... says. This doesn't sound like simple friend-of-a-friend hearsay.
Given persistent "anecdotes" as you call it, coming from what appears to be non-correlated sources, means it's worth investigating. Just like early reports of Pinto rear-end accidents, or of the fatal side-effects of fenfluramine/phentermine, lead to changes. And lawsuits.
That's not to say that early reports are necessarily correct, or even presumptively correct. My point is that if it's correct, then 1) culpability doesn't have to lie only in the person exercising, but also in the trainer and/or the organization, and 2) failure to investigate and possibly rectify this possibility is (or at least should be) negligence in its own right.
Your argument point seem to be that 1) it isn't correct and 2) there are plenty of benefits and must be included. Those are both good points, but only related to the point I was making.
> In my case I got stronger and more fit.
Congratulations. For me it was dancing. About 25 hours per week at my peak, and over the years including salsa, swing, Scottish country dance, Swedish folk dance, Argentinian tango, modern dance, and flamenco.
> I (and many others) believe that the rewards are more than worth the risk
Your logic cannot be used as the basis for a good sense of morality. For one, you haven't established that these are on the same balance scale.
If there is a systemic problem with the current CrossFit training method then it might be that a small change leads to a 50x reduction in rhabdomyolysis rates while not affecting the benefits for people like you. Double-plus-good!
For another, if known risks have been deliberately concealed from you, then you cannot make a proper risk/reward judgement.
And as you pointed out, your observations are subject to survivor bias.
> some members view vomiting during a workout as a 'badge of honor'
This is a different issue from the question of rhabdo. It's obviously a much less serious condition. And for the record, I don't hold that view.
> For me it was dancing.
Awesome, me too. Mostly Argentine Tango. If you've danced in NYC recently, we might have seen each other. :)
Peer pressure makes people do LOTS of things they wouldn't otherwise do.
In a certain sense, they're responsible for their actions. But it's silly to ignore the role that group persuasion has. If Crossfit creates pressure for harmful actions, then they share responsibility.
You'll stop. And some people will foolishly keep going without the coach.
But are you seriously arguing that the screaming coach has no marginal impact?
Peer pressure can make smart people do dumb things. And since Crossfit has peer pressure and competition built into its very core, the rates of injuries and potentially-fatal medical conditions like rhabdo are a lot higher.
As for peer pressure - I think when a person above 22 or so of age is not able to withstand peer pressure to do something he thinks is harmful for him/her, there's something wrong happened on the way. Adults are supposed to be able to say no. Of course, you may make a choice to push yourself and take a risk, but that's what being responsible adult is all about - seeing where are the bounds of acceptable risk (and those can be different from person to person) are for you. Of course, again, good teacher is important - so you could always can consult what would be good for you on this exercise. Good coach can see how you do the exercise and tell if this weight or this form is good for you or you have to scale it down. That's where you have to, again, master your ego and be responsible too.
And of course it is a given that you shouldn't go to a group which has different views on how competitive it should be and pressures you into something you're not ready for. There's a lot of difference between supporting and cheering somebody when one chooses to push oneself and pressuring somebody into doing something one is not ready for. If you find yourself in a group that does the latter and not the former - just leave. There are a lot of better settings.
Obtaining fitness is generally a universal goal, whereas obtaining skill/popularity/fame in street racing fringe to begin with.
To me, the issue that many people seem to have with CF is that it's "unsafe" for most people despite it being marketed as such. And this being due to the irregular quality of the coaches (which is apparently related to the way HQ runs itself).
Personally, I think if you're lifting some multiple of your BW in any capacity you're not part of the norm, you're several deviations away from that, even if most people have the capacity to become that strong if given the time/training/discipline.
So if the point is that you need to approach CF carefully with an eye for a good teacher - this is absolutely true.
>>> Personally, I think if you're lifting some multiple of your BW in any capacity
Hopefully, one day :) So far I don't think I have reached 2x of my BW in any exercise. But I'm working on it, let's see what comes of it in a couple of years :)
Studies have shown that the majority of people in the US get far less exercise, and even move far less than their grandparents did. While there is a sizable minority in the US who engage in regular exercise; I would probably describe Crossfit as a fringe activity here - albeit a currently faddish and loudly marketed one.
Then you don't know much about training the Olympic lifts or power movements in general. Take a look at this graph -- http://i.imgur.com/vFP0D58.png -- from Practical Programming for Strength Training (Rippetoe, Kilgore, & Pendlay, pg. 131). "Figure 5-3. Electromyogram (EMG) and force production tracings from a high-rep set. Note that the muscle fatigues as more repetitions are completed and that motor control erodes with fatigue, as evidenced by the amplitude scatter of the EMG tracing. This effect can result from a single set, as presented here, or can be the cumulative result of repeated sets." Even by the seventh rep of a single set there's a noticable breakdown shown in the graph. Multiple high rep sets are going to show more and more issues of coordination from even the first rep, especially mixed into circuit training with other high intensity exercises like you'll find in Crossfit WODs.
Bullshit. A Crossfit trainer telling you to do high-rep barbell deadlifts is the equivalent of a doctor prescribing you ten times the dose of a drug you need. What happens when you are hospitalized? Is it your fault because "each person is responsible for their actions"?
I, too, have written elsewhere in this thread. Specifically, I wrote that these lifts are so complex that Olympic athletes spend years learning and mastering proper form, and go through very strict regimens to ensure their form does not break under heavier loads. There's a reason for that: the human body operates within certain parameters and going outside those parameters in the name of "pushing your limits" can permanently cripple you.
So there is your "large scale study:" look at how Olympic athletes do it, because that's the way to do it safely and without destroying your muscles, joints and internal organs.
Westside Barbell changes program structure from 3 sets of 5 repetitions into 5 sets of 3 repetitions (or even 8 sets of 2 repetitions) precisely because it allows athlete to control form of exercise. The volume is the same, the breakdown is different. As Westside Barbell is trying to keep traumas low, it is a good example why you should not perform complex lifts in long series.
What kind of rest period do these use between sets? And do you have data on rep form decomposition at 5 vs. 3?
The relevant part:
In the squat, what is too heavy to train with and too light to train with? In Russia , much research revealed that 65-82.5% of a 1 rep max is best to build strength in the squat. They suggest 2-6 reps per set.
At Westside Barbell we do sets of 2 for 2 important reasons. One, more than 2 reps tends Cause bicipital tendonitis and shoulder discomfort. This pain is commonly felt while benching but, in fact, comes from squatting. The bar shifts to some degree, causing damage. Having your hands spaced too close on the bar may also be the culprit. Two, in a power meet, we don't do reps so if we do 12 sets of 2 reps we are getting 12 first reps per workout. If you do 4 sets of six reps, then you get only 4 first reps.
This is closest thing I was able to find. The site was reorganized after I visited it last time and many PDF articles are in HTML format.
I highly recommend Westside Barbell, because it operates using principles, not the hardwired percentages and prescribed exercises. You can build your own conjugate system, for your goals or abilities. I did.
I also recommend another system, also seen here in HN, Hypertrophy-Specific Training: http://www.hypertrophy-specific.com/hst_index.html
HST also incorporates strategic deconditioning and high-rep phase to lower trauma rate.
What is this stupidity?
I was never injured or anything, but I wanted to treat oly lifting with more respect than a WOD provides.
Every lift should be your best lift with a maximum focus on technique.
I would probably do CrossFit again if I found a box that did not include oly in WODs.
I eventually found a strength training program and learned just how poor my form was for many exercises. Thankfully I'm doing great now and growing stronger.
This author hasn't been to a well-managed gym or worked with more experienced coaches. The same is likely true of those who get rhabdo. They have exposed themselves to more than their body can handle physically, as a result of poor coaching, and/or poor decision making.
I've seen high rep pullups and high rep weighted squats cause Rhabdo in people (not at my gym). I've also seen thousands of people do those same movements (in a safe way) and not get injured. Any good coach shouldn't be exposing clients to those things that expose clients to injury or death.
A responsibility of any gym owner/trainer is to protect clients from injury. If you go to a gym (CrossFit or not) that programs things that expose you to to any kind of injury, then you should absolutely leave. Coaches should be aware of the risks.
If you attempt to lift too much weight, do too many reps, do things with bad form, of course you exposure yourself to injury. I hope rational people would consider that CrossFit is a very effective fitness program, and, despite its criticism, is something that produces amazing results in people if done properly.
Interestingly, my biggest injury was from a heavy single clean and jerk. I've never had Rhabdo and done tons of high rep stuff, but stay away from high rep box jumps, deads, pullups and other silly things. I do enjoy high rep oly lifting in CrossFit and I total 180kg as a 69kg oly lifter. They are completely different movements; to think otherwise is just dumb.
TL;DR - people who are irrational are dumb.
Ah, the No True Crossfit Gym argument.
Everyone always seems to come from the one good Crossfit gym where correct form is emphasised. Where the coaches are wonderful. And so on.
The point is: trainees very rarely have the knowledge, qualification or experience to know if they are being taught properly.
It's like martial arts schools, everyone's Sensei or Sifu is an international badass.
The central problem is that CFHQ don't do quality control. Ostensibly because of a libertarian outlook, but I can't help but notice that it allows them to 1. milk the fad while it's booming and 2. better insulate themselves from lawsuits.
What if HQ has good goals and it's not about "milking," but exposing people to a more effective fitness methodology?
Personally, I believe that quality is going to drive the success or failure of CrossFit, and that's why we (and many other successful gyms) have been very devoted to making sure quality is a driver in our service.
Their behaviour can too easily be constructed into a very negative picture.
I can see Crossfit going one of two ways:
Either it will reach a high water mark and settle down to a steady-state condition. More people are coming into Crossfit, but in many markets there's a saturation of affiliates. Gyms with overheads like full-time, well-trained coaches will be partly driven out by cheaper operations with a CF1 certificate.
Alternatively, someone will construct a successful legal argument that Crossfit is a franchise operation. A subsequent class action lawsuit will turn them into a smoking hole in the ground.
On the upside, millions of people will have learnt that exercising is fun. That is definitely a positive outcome.
Oh my, this is so funny. Yes, Crossfit is in some ways better, but I personally have a corollary:
No mainstream exercise/diet technique is effective.
Do you know someone that got fit by reading "Men's Health" BS? Well, surprising isn't it? Not at all!
And they need it to make it less boring for the average Joe, also allowing a good amount of people to go, they're decreasing individual effectiveness.
The fact that the champions use a specialized approach corroborates this.
Not to mention a lot of exercises are tiring and "looks good on paper" but their effectiveness is debatable.
If you go to a gym (CrossFit or not) that programs things that expose you to
to any kind of injury, then you should absolutely leave.
I'm not turning a blind eye. There is a different between being a realist and trying to garner attention by bashing a trend that you don't understand.
So maybe you personally have improved on Crossfit in your box and are offering quality training but that's different than the baseline Crossfit-approved product that a walk-in can expect.
I do wonder about significant injuries. Why is Hackernews, which is a community that prides itself on scientific method and the like, upvoting sensational articles that don't have substance? Where are the studies that say injuries are significant? Relative to what? To not working out? To regular sports? To people at Gold's Gym?
CrossFit is far from perfect, and it's not for everyone, but the vast majority of the coaches, owners, etc mean well and want to help their clients achieve goals in ways that are different, and effective, compared to the status quo.
All that said, you don't need data to show that kipping pullups are a bad idea. We could get data on the number of tears or injuries, but from a programming perspective, they do not belong anywhere near an athlete. Anywhere (I really hope you don't kip in your affiliate. Please tell me you don't). Particularly a novice. And if I was a games athlete, I'd never want to see them. One wrong kip and there goes your year. Which, of course, could be said for most any lift, but the kip is particularly egregious in this regard.
And when I walk into a Crossfit gym in Phoenix and they have their intro class kipping on their first day, that negatively effects you. Like it or not, you and all other crossfit gyms are linked. Just as bad service in one Subway likely taints my view of Subway generally. Just the way it works.
And you have to remember, you as an affiliate have your name associated with HQ. And HQ is just plain bad. A couple of days ago they promoted this on their FB page. https://www.facebook.com/crossfit/posts/10151589356812676
Now, I don't care what you think about anything else, HQ should not be promoting this type of thing. There was no caveat, no disclaimer. Just some hashtags of #sketchy #nailedit (from the original poster). I know Glassman has a staunch libertarian view on the world, but fucking hell, HQ is supposed to be the role model. And this effects you, negatively, frankly, b/c you are an affiliate. Just as when some fraternity out there gets caught up in a huge rape scandal, all fraternities get slammed.
And then there is the sexist posts from HQ.
And the bad programming.
And the Robb Wolf dust up.
And the Rippetoe dust up.
IMO, as an affiliate, you should be DEMANDING higher standards. The affiliates should be getting together and creating these standards, forcing them on HQ and making damn sure they are adhered to. HQ is obviously incapable of leading. Someone has to...might as well be you.
Second, most crossfit gyms at not well-managed. They may mean well but the quality of the instruction can be awful.
Finally, you should post the name of your gym and the competition here. I travel a lot and like to visit quality crossfit locations!
I've seen some bad coaches, but I've seen a lot more people who are uncoachable and are going to injure themselves in any gym with any workout and any coach. I've never seen anyone vomit, injure themselves, get Rhabdo, pass out, or any of the other things people think are so common in Crossfit. Predictably, Crossfit haters sensationalize, and people who push themselves too hard and regret it tend to angrily blame Crossfit in public instead of themselves.
CrossFit changed my body, my self-image, and a lot of my attitude, but any other gym that's based on fun, positive encouragement from other members doing the same workout at the same time, variety, intensity, and a community of friends would do the same thing.
For the record I rarely "Rx" a workout and I almost always come away from workouts thinking I sandbagged it a little. And yet I'm very happy with my results. Why would I want to push harder and risk injury? I wouldn't. I insist on doing every movement perfectly, pausing or lowering weights or reps if I'm getting tired or winded to the point that my form might be at risk, taking it easy if I've had too little sleep or I'm dehydrated or whatever. I know a lot of people who have a similar philosophy and I admire their sense, not their hard-core-ness.
I don't buy the OP's claim that he got sick from a not-overly-strenuous workout. A Crossfit workout is no different than any other, except that if you overdo it in another style of fitness and get critically ill you don't get attention on Hacker News.
TL;DR - you can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink. You can show a guy good form and coach him to be safe but you can't make him be safe if he wants to get hurt.
You say that like being "dumb" is a moral failure.
If you want the ultra lean, chiseled pro fighter look it's all about what you eat not overtraining yourself to death.
Building muscle and strength training means you should be doing slow, careful and correct weight lifting not jerking motions especially to exhaustion where you make mistakes.
Plenty of videos out there on how professional athletes train to minimize injuries. Go on youtube and look up NHL training or even MLB training you will never see them jumping off things or doing high reps, or anything that isn't completely controlled at all times considering if they get injured the team is out millions.
>>> There is also a culture that promotes things like rips
I've been doing CF for 2 years and reading forums, etc. and I have never encountered an example of this. Sure, if someone rips a hand there might be some amount of bravado, esp. from the males, in the vein of "oh, it's nothing, just a flesh wound" (insert Monty Python clip here) - but nobody ever that I met in his sane mind would actually strive for that.
I'd say /r/almost anything is probably not the best example of maturity, but one over-macho in a several day is not that big a deal, from what I know about Reddit. Unless specifically /r/crossfit is an island of maturity in /r/* world, it's only to be expected.
>>> and general bad form is ok in the name of better times.
Which is exactly the opposite of what I see in real CF. Up to the point that the coach would stop me mid-timed workout and correct my form and insist I do it right. Sometimes I hate it in the heat of the moment, but once I've cooled off I am grateful because it's exactly what they are supposed to do. Where I do CF, a lot of time is spent on practicing form, and I've been told numerous times something like "tame our ego, don't go for higher weights until you get the form right". Form importance and doing exercises safely and properly is constantly emphasized.
Of course, I am not in competitive CF (and probably won't ever be) and when it gets to big sports things might be different, as they always are, but I am telling what I am seeing in day-to-day life in my CF box, and it's nothing like you're describing.
No, I'm saying that crossfit the program is bullshit. Crossfit started out as a workout, everyday, on crossfit.com. It's no secret that crossfit.com WODs are atrocious and most serious people give them little to now thought. Now, if you aren't doing crossfit.com workouts, are you doing crossfit? What is crossfit?
If you are "doing crossfit" that your coach, or you, or someone else programmed, are you doing crossfit?
I do my own programming. I'm a competitive athlete. I do olympic lifts, have a base strength program, combine cardio, HIIT and bodyweight exercises. Am I crossfitting?
Crossfit can't lay claim to cross training. The concept has existed for literally ever.
All that being said, you'll never find me fucking kipping my pullups. I like my shoulders way to much for that.
> Which is exactly the opposite of what I see in real CF
No true scotsman. And beyond that, what is "real CF"?
You just said there's no "crossfit the program" - crossfit.com publishes stuff, but no one has obligation to follow it. So what exactly you're calling bullshit?
>>> What is crossfit?
This is a semantic discussion which for me comes dangerously close to trolling. If you're saying crossfit is bullshit, shouldn't you be the one who defines it? I know what CF is for me - it's what I am doing when I come to my CF box. If that doesn't fit your definition - I don't see why I should care.
>>> Am I crossfitting?
Why are you asking me? I have no idea. You can call it whatever you like.
>>> Crossfit can't lay claim to cross training. The concept has existed for literally ever.
OK. So what? Running existed since forever too, so now I can't be a member of running club because of that and running is bullshit? I'm not sure what you're trying to prove here - is CF nothing new, or is CF new and dangerous, or CF doesn't exist, or CF is a dangerous brainwashing cult? Which one is it?
>>> No true scotsman
I'm sorry, I am telling you whatever I see and experience. I call it CF, everybody doing it with me calls it CF, it looks like CF. I don't make any general claims about whole world and whole CF, I just give you evidence that is in direct contradiction of your generalizing claims. If you say it's not real CF for you, and you have some other one and it's bad - well, I'm sorry yours was bad. Mine is fine though, so I want people reading this know that that's what my experience is :)
You have been completely unwilling to say what CF actually is. Since you refuse to pick a solid position, I'll go ahead and claim it's eating doughnuts. CF is literally just eating doughnuts. Depending on your goals, you might want to adjust the doughnut eating program somewhat. Some days you might want to skip the doughnut eating altogether. But at it's core all you have to do to satisfy CF is eat doughnuts.
So, you see, all of your statements are compatible with the doughnut eating core of CF. You've managed to escape making any actual statement about reality. Enjoy your career in middle management.
It is not. CF is an exercise regimen, which is described in numerous sources. If you're too lazy to find any of them and read, I won't replace it. If you want to ask me for a theoretical definition in order to deconstruct my definition in a hostile manner in order to find some tiny thing that doesn't match some definition given something else and claim on that base that I'm don't know what CF is and what I'm doing is not CF and thus CF is bullshit - you're welcome to do it in advance, as I don't see any point in arguing semantics over something that I have concrete experience with.
>>> But at it's core all you have to do to satisfy CF is eat doughnuts.
If you want to remain as uneducated as you are now, you're welcome to think so. The truth is one google search away, but nobody can force you to educate yourself.
>>> You've managed to escape making any actual statement about reality.
You're serious? I've just made tons of statement about what I really experience going to a real CF box. Instead, you demand of me some abstract definition and refuse to listen to actual experience without being given abstract definition.
>>> Enjoy your career in middle management.
Shows how much you know :) Enjoy your high school.
Your statements about what you "really experience" have all avoided saying anything that lets anybody find out anything about how you actually exercise or what Cross Fit actually is.
If you're interested how typical day in CF gym looks like, it's usually:
1. Warmup, including usually a 400 m run, stretch & mobility exercises and some light work like jumps, pushups, bear crawls, squats, etc. It varies significantly, the coach defines it.
2. If lifting exercise is in the program, stage by stage walk through the exercise form, first with PVC or without any weight, then with empty bar or light weight, depending on type of the exercise.
3. Strength exercises, if programmed, like 1x, 3x, 5x sets etc. or sometimes something like 10 mins every minute on a minute mark or such regularly timed sets.
4. Timed or max effort exercise, usually with many reps but smaller weights, this one can take from 3 mins to 2 mins.
5. Final exercise - maybe 400 m or 800 m run, post-workout stretches and mobility work.
Of course, there are also other things happening. E.g. this is from couple of days ago, pretty elaborate one (numbers are prescribed for men/women):
In teams of 4:
200 Wall-Ball squats (20/14 lbs)
150 Overhead Squats (95/65 lbs)
100 Burpee Box Jumps (24/20 in)
150 Wall-Ball squats (20/14 lbs)
100 Overhead Squats (95/65 lbs)
50 Burpee Box Jumps (24/20 in)
One person working out at a time (i.e. each person does about 1/4 of it, and while others work, you can rest), on each set one group of two does a 400m run with 45lb plate, then joins the workout.
The whole thing takes about 30-40 mins (so in that day no other strength exercises) and I did it scaled - with 14 lb wallball and 75 lb overhead squat, but other people did it as prescribed. Hope it is helpful.
If you want some abstract answer to "what CrossFit actually is", I'm afraid I don't know how to answer this question because I can only describe my specific impressions, which were already discounted as "that's not real CF". Well, it's real for me. If you have specific questions, I'm in no way an expert, but I could answer what I have experienced.
I absolutely never said "there's no crossfit the program". I said the crossfit programming is, to use my word, bullshit. I never said there was no crossfit the program. I'm very adamant that there actually IS a crossfit program, crossfit.com, and it just plain terrible, not well thought out, and leaves people open to injury.
And I won't quote the rest of your replies, but to suffice it to say, no you likely aren't crossfitting. Perhaps you do a WOD (Grace or such) now and then. You might be working out at crossfit affiliate, but you are likely using custom programming. My point with my personal example is most people conflate crossfit and cross training. I'm surely not crossfitting. I've been working out this way years before crossfit ever existed. Now, though, if someone saw me working out they ask me if I "crossfit". I'm not and likely neither are 90% of the people working out at crossfit affiliates.
I wouldn't know. I'm just letting you know it's probably not what most of the world understands as CF. It may be part of CF world, but it's definitely not all of it.
>>> no you likely aren't crossfitting
Whatever you say, dude. I welcome you telling me what I'm actually doing, and I'm sure you're the ultimate authority on what CF is and is not, and people that are doing it for years, including certified coaches and so on, are just idiots before you. I'm sorry the CF that is in your head sucks and you have so big problem with it. The CF that I and many other people are doing does not.
Go to: http://games.crossfit.com/leaderboard
Click on #1 person: http://games.crossfit.com/athlete/11435
HOW I TRAIN
I workout mostly at a CrossFit Affiliate
I workout mostly at home, work, or a traditional gym
I incorporate CrossFit.com workouts
I write my own programming
Stop looking as counter-example was found.
This athlete writes their own programming and incorporates crossfit.com workouts as an augmentation, not the base of their programming.
And since you picked Froning. It is very, very well known that he does whatever the hell he feels like everyday. He uses some crossfit.com WODs as the games approach to up his conditioning, but they are not the base of his programming and he has stated he doesn't use them year round.
Also, the fact that elite CrossFit athletes don't do exclusively crossfit.com workouts doesn't support your point either. Those guys are genetic freaks. The crossfit.com workouts are designed for broad applicability, and that will never work as well at the margins.
CrossFit has actually stated a very precise definition for what they are trying to optimize. And the mainsite workouts are actually quite good at doing that.
Their stated goal is mostly around general fitness (GPP), in broad strokes. The issue most, including myself, take with this is they promote workouts that, yes, if a person is untrained, will get them fitter, but they do it in a suboptimal manner, and what's worse, a manner that is far more dangerous than other approaches.
For instance, most general crossfitters would be much better served with a simple barbell strength program, simple bodyweight movements (pullups as an example), combined with some steady state cardio and some HIT sessions (that don't involve complex technical lifts). This approach is far safer and would get a person a broader general fitness level than mainsite WODs. There is no thought to mainsite WODs, no progression and no built in injury prevention.
Crossfit.com is, at best, bad programming and at worst, a recipe for some major injury.
it seems like crossfit doesn't quite appreciate how easy it is to destroy a knee, or your back, from improper deadlift or squat form. done properly, they are fantastic exercises. improperly, they are dangerous.
Depends on your gym, at my gym if you have bad form during a workout, you will be stopped, corrected and if necessary scaled down until you can get it right. Of course my gym doesn't routinely post videos to youtube.
The "dirty secret" of Crossfit is that they don't do much to actively ensure the quality of local affiliates, and therefore the brand doesn't always mean much. My personal experiences have all been great, and my coaches have always been extremely safety-conscious, but in light of the nasty things I read on the internet, I wouldn't encourage anyone to blindly trust whatever local Crossfit affiliate happens to pop up down the block. Rather than thinking of Crossfit as a guarantee of a certain standard of quality, think of it as an approach to fitness that is interpreted in various ways by coaches of varying competence.
Also keep in mind that the coach can't always see when you need to ease up or stop. Sometimes they can, but they can only see what is apparent on the outside; they can't feel what you feel.
From conversations I've had with higher-ups at Crossfit Headquarters, they're _terrified_ of a court finding them to have a franchise model, because that would open them up to all sorts of liability each time one of their affiliates does something dumb.
Per their legal interpretation, they become a franchisor if they do things like ensure quality or consistency.
I'm not a lawyer, so I can't comment on the soundness of their legal reasoning, but the negative effects for the clients are pretty obvious.
I haven't done it myself, but to open an affiliate you need to:
(1) Write an essay.
(2) Pass their Level 1 certification class
(3) Have a website with a link to the Crossfit Journal
(4) Pay them $3000 (annually)
Here was one coach's response:
"Haha, this video is infamous! It's the "proof" that critics of CrossFit use to try and show that the entire sport is dangerous and that we don't know what we're doing.
There are definitely examples in the video of athletes losing their midline, and going heavier than they safely should, but the point that is completely overlooked is that these athletes are trying classic strongman lifts for probably the very first time. The lift they're practicing is called the continental clean and, believe it or not, they're doing it more right than wrong. It's an awkward lift that's used for cleaning axle bars that are too fat to grip and clean conventionally. Anyone trying that for the first time will look similarly awkward. It's part of learning something new. Whoever originally shot and posted this video never meant for it to be taken as a typical crossfit class full of elite athletes. It's just a video of a group of people who aren't afraid to try something new, regardless of where are on the learning curve they had to start."
The coaches I've had have often been gung ho, yelling "GO GO GO" and "DON'T STOP WORKING" at us, but they also made me take plates off the bar when my form slipped. I can see how the first thing without the second could be dangerous.
Edit: I missed that someone else posted this below, but thought it deserved it's own easily seen distinction.
Are gymnastic ring muscle ups coming soon?
Where CrossFit is to blame is its low barrier to entry to becoming a coach/affiliate owner. All you need is a weekend of your time, $1000, a passing score on a super simple test, and you get to call yourself an "L1 CrossFit Trainer." They don't advise you to immediately go start training people, but there are plenty of boxes that will let you jump in and start coaching classes. It's gotten so popular now that there are bad affiliates popping up out there that have horrible programming that hurt people, and then articles like this get written, and then everyone thinks that's all CrossFit is.
When you take the L1 CrossFit Trainer course, they have a whole section about "Uncle Rhabdo." It's a very rare thing that occurs when you do a whole lot of isometric exercises (like strict pull ups where you come down real slow) when you're not used to them. It's not a rabid thing that is 100% going to happen if you do CrossFit.
I began my CrossFit career at San Francisco CrossFit and thought it was the best thing ever. Part of each session focused on mobility. Bad reps were not tolerated. It was like a daily seminar on how to maintain, tune, and fix the human machine. The skills I learned will benefit me greatly as I age.
Then I had to move, and I saw the dark side of CrossFit. Inept trainers with poor attitudes, encouraging speed and weight with no concern for proper body mechanics. I work out on my own now, practicing skills I learned at SFCF.
Bottom line: it's the box that matters.
 "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, C&J, 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. " -- http://www.crossfit.com/cf-info/start-how.html
I'd hope so at SFCF. You ever get to work with KStar? Jealous.
Kelly's sessions in particular always had a theme. For example: we might practice Turkish Getups for 10 minutes, focusing on shoulder stability. Then the "WOD" might be alternating dumbbell push press and 400m sprints. The idea was to pay attention to shoulder position and stability even as the sprints exhausted us.
All of the coaches were (are) great teachers. It was about so much more than simply getting a workout in. It felt like we did everything for a reason. Combine that with awesome, supportive people (everyone shakes hands with anyone they don't already know before every session) and a killer location (a parking lot under the Golden Gate Bridge)---it was magical.
This is why it's silly to make judgements about "CrossFit". CrossFit is a fine system/philosophy/whatever. Find a box with a good atmosphere where you can learn things from people who know more than you do. It's like anything else.
The biggest issue is that the training philosophy is not ground in any kind of science whatsoever (ie: that mixing conditioning and strength training in one workout somehow combines for an increased effect on both).
CrossfitHQ also promotes a concept of "all around fitness" which is, quite frankly, bullshit. A marathon runner and a powerlifter are both very fit, but for different things. Having a training program that does not start with explicit goals and work towards those goals is idiotic. And for most people, who want to be somewhat cardiovascularly conditioned and aesthetically toned, crossfit is far from the quickest or safest way to get to those goals. Even the "good gyms" that emphasize form still seem to have completely nonsensical programming.
Finally, you can be sure that crossfitHQ in particular is bullshit because they have a motto of "forging elite athletes" and yet not a single elite athlete from a single sport follows crossfitHQ's WODs. The only acceptable reason to do it is because it can be fun, and if that's what you're into more power to you. But it's not an effective or safe form of training no matter how you cut it.
I've said this repeatedly, find me an athlete at the Crossfit games that has used Crossfit WODs as the core of their training program. You can't do it. There is literally no athlete at the games that does this. I find this amazing.
So, in the end, the Crossfit athletes at the Crossfit games do not follow Crossfit.
 - Remember, folks, crossfit.com is the official crossfit workouts. Anything else is somebody else's training program be it Outlaw, Competitors WOD, CF Football or whatever just as Starting Strength is Rippetoe's and Westside is Louie's
Unfortunately if you get folks to workout and then they injure themselves, as frequently happens in crossfit, you have other problems too.
Someone needs to sue them. For a lot of money. Maybe they'll get it through their thick skulls that it's not cool, or funny.
This article is a microcosm of everything that is wrong with mainstream media. It takes something quite rare and spins a narrative designed to incite fear, making you think that these horrible things are happening much more frequently than they actually are.
I'm no stranger to intense exercise. As a competitive swimmer at a young age, I knew what it meant to push myself to the limit. It wasn't until 2007 when I started CrossFit that I was ever educated about rhabdomyolysis. But I'd much rather be educated than ignorant. Everything in life has risk. And strangely enough, things that are more worthwhile seem to typically involve more risk. Is exercise risky? Of course. But not exercising carries its own set of risks.
As for me, I'll stick with exercise. And for that, CrossFit makes more sense than anything else I've ever seen.
CrossFit is tapping into and flourishing with a certain mindset of folks for whom this extreme form of punishment is desirable. Probably better to understand that and help folks dial it back a little vs thinking getting rid of CrossFit would solve the problem.
However, certain external factors can affect the risk - high humidity, heat, improper hydration, and poor nutrition can significantly increase the chance of catching rhabdo from a workout. It sounds like the subject of this post got caught up in the competitiveness of the workout, turned a deaf ear to what her body was telling her that day, and paid the price for it. It's a mistake that many inexperienced athletes make when thrust into a competitive setting, and most of the time only ends with "meeting Pukey" or some really bad DOMS the next morning, but the specifics of this circumstance (pushup-overhead couplet sounds like a stupidly dangerous WOD, plus a "warm Texas evening") lead to a significantly worse outcome.
When you're working out with someone who you barely know, or may have just met, who doesn't know what to expect and doesn't know their own limits, and is trying to keep up with everyone around them, you have a recipe for someone pushing themselves too far to a dangerous extent, whether the outcome is rhabdo, a tear, or some other injury. Most desk jockies (myself included sometimes) don't take the proper care that you need when you try and start moving a body that sits idle for 8-10 hours a day.
Ask me anything.
I did crossfit for a couple of months in 2010 and loved it, but I had to stop since I moved to a new apartment and the gym times wouldn't work with the longer commute. I always wanted to go back, so in June 2012 I started up again, taking the two-week beginner course (I wasn't in the best shape and I wanted to ease into it).
During the first day back, we went through a lot of basic movements and listened to the instructor talk about what crossfit was like. In the hour-long class, we spent the last ten minutes talking about rhabdomyolysis; what it is, the symptoms, the danger, common ways to get it, etc.
The workout of the day was tabata squats (20 seconds of as many BW reps, then 10 seconds of rest, repeat 8 times for a total of 4 minutes and 2:40 of exercising), tabata pushups, and tabata situps.
The squats were the one that got me.
The next morning, I couldn't walk, but that was expected since it was my first day back. I pushed myself quite hard (knowing what crossfit was like), but I wasn't competing with the people in my class, I was competing with myself. I took it easy and rested.
The day after that, I couldn't really bend my legs because of the extreme soreness, and walking down the stairs was neigh impossible. It took a while, but I took the subway to the office where there's a gym with a stationary bike, as slow biking was the only thing that would ease the soreness in my quads.
After 6 hours at work, periodically biking and reading online, I noticed my urine was coca-cola colored, and that it was the telltale sign of rhabdo. I knew that because the crossfit instructor drilled it into my head two days earlier.
I looked online for a hospital that my insurance covered, took a cab, checked myself in saying I had rhabdo, and I began a 5-day stay where I received lots of saline solution (1000ml 6x a day, IIRC) to help flush the myoglobin out of my body. Luckily for me, the hospital saw a lot of cases of rhabdo from not crossfit members, but prisoners. They have little else to do than workout extremely hard, and the hospital saw dozens of prisoners a year.
My creatine kinase was almost 100,000 (excess myoglobin is the problem, but high creatine kinase is a proxy for high myoglobin, and CPK levels are commonly checked). TFA is right in that the normal is < 100. IIRC, the doctors estimated I dissolved 5 lbs of muscle tissue into my bloodstream to get a CPK that high. I was bored in the hospital so I charted my CPK to determine when they'd release me: http://imgur.com/18HYKNr
Many tests afterwards showed my kidneys are fine, and I haven't noticed (or read about) what the TFA describes as "flabbiness" or some sort of water retention in my legs. I also haven't noticed that my legs are weak; on the contrary, after lots of biking over bridges my legs are stronger than my squat days (at least when it comes to endurance, not power).
TFA is being a bit sensationalist and anecdotal about rhabdo being crossfit's "dirty little secret." To add another anecdote into the fire, everyone I know that does crossfit knows what rhabdo is, and rhabdo is mentioned in beginner classes multiple times; not only what it is, but the symptoms, what to do when you get it, and how, if left untreated, myoglobinuria can lead to acute renal failure and death.
I haven't been to crossfit in over a year, but TBH I'm itching to go back. I'm the kind of personality that will really push myself hard – probably harder than most – but now I know a little better and will hold back a tiny bit, especially when doing high reps of low weight.
Update: My first crossfit experience was at Crossfit Virtuosity in Brooklyn, NY and I got rhabdo at The Black Box in NYC.
Also, my memory isn't so great as I thought. I took the class on a Friday and, that same night, moved into a new apartment. The combination of crossfit and carrying lots of boxes/furniture on the same day was probably the cause.
I'm an amateur bodybuilder and I workout alone. Over the years I have contemplated joining Crossfit (mostly for the comradery aspect), but the insane level of cult mentality has made me shy away from it every time. Articles like this just drive home the point.
My friend Jane, who is a physical therapist, specializes in exercise injuries. She once confided in me that local Crossfitters form by far the largest percentage of her repeat customer-base. She said she finds the level of irrationality unbelievable, in that the same people will come to her in a lot of pain and brag about their injury on the one hand, and beg her to fix them up quickly so they can go back to Crossfit ASAP. Then they will come back in a few months with a different injury but the exact same mindset.
SLAP tears from excessive kipping pull-ups is another common crossfitter injury.
I think they do a lot of exercises that are very dangerous to the shoulder / rotator cuff in general. Back injuries are pretty common too, since proper spinal posture is one of the first things to go out the window when you get fatigued.
Now, it's possible injuries are more common in Crossfit than in other sports, but that's a question for the data.
That's a good reason to shun a particular location or instructor, but I and a lot of other people have had completely opposite experiences. If the workouts interest you, I encourage you to give it a try and see what the instructors are like. Maybe ask Jane where her patients work out and go someplace else.
I think calling crossfit a cult is a bit extreme, but isn't this what people in a cult would say anyway? Normal people who join cults don't think they are crazy or it's a bad environment or that they are being unfairly pressured into doing things (generally).
I'm sure you could post a critique of Scientology and have a member come along and say "we'll I've had a very different experience with Scientology" and they'd be 100% correct (they would have indeed had a different experience). I have no doubt people have positive experiences from crossfit, else it wouldn't be so popular, but that doesn't change the issue of whether that environment promotes risky or harmful behavior.
Before I posted that, I knew that a Crossfitter would respond and defend Crossfit. That is the level of cult-like irrationality I am talking about: looking at statistics (such as the ones about much higher incidence of Rhambo in Crossfitters) and responding with anecdotal evidence like, "well, my experiences are very different!"
You sound hopelessly confused. We are not discussing anecdotes. We are discussing actual statistics provided in the original article that clearly showed Crossfit to have much higher rates of injuries and potentially-fatal medical conditions.
When you put the burden on new people to figure out whether their affiliates are high quality, you are blaming the victim. Most beginners are not capable of accurately assessing whether the types of workouts done in Crossfit and the manner in which they are done are healthy or not. What they do is read reviews of the gym on the Internet and see all the five-star raves, then visit the gym and see everyone cheering each other on and having a good time, and think, "hey this is cool, I want to be a part of it too!" Are they supposed to know about normally ultra-rare conditions like rhabdo? Or should Crossfit do its fucking job and keep its affiliates in check?
Look dude, the problem is not that they don't talk about it. The problem is that they make people do complex exercises in a manner that significantly increases risk of rhabdo and a ton of other injuries despite knowing about those risks. This is irresponsible at best and grossly negligent at worst.
There is a way to lift weights in a safe and responsible manner. Crossfit not only refuses to teach its clients that, but also builds and encourages a culture where injuries become badges of honor. That is what makes it a cult.
I am in no way saying that the bad behaviors described above, and you can absolutely get a cult like mindset focused around entirely the wrong thing. I would also say that I think some of the nature of the workout strategies in general may attract these kind of behaviors.
This is equivalent to saying that surfers are more likely to get be the victims of shark attacks. No duh. It's a trivially obvious conclusion, but still really unlikely. CrossFit has done its job in educating people about the seriousness of rhabdo. There's absolutely no way they can ensure that none of their affiliates go off the deep end with craziness. That's a fundamental fact of scaling a business.
You're only looking at the negative side of this issue. But the reality is that from the high level of systems analysis, it's a tradeoff. For every person that has gotten rhabdo from CrossFit there are thousands of others that have had their lives significantly improved. In my case I got stronger and more fit. My body fat, cholesterol, and blood pressure decreased and I have actual data to prove it. I also noticed increased quickness, agility, and reaction time in everyday life.
> Most beginners are not capable of accurately assessing whether the types of workouts done in CrossFit and the manner in which they are done are healthy or not.
This is the case with a number of disciplines from fitness to martial arts to dance, so there's no substitute for educating yourself and making an informed assessment of the risks and rewards.
I know several people who started doing Crossfit and they became fucking lunatics about it. It's got that bad smell of crazy on it, like Scientology and pyramid-scheme scam companies.
If this is true -- and it is -- then "well, my experiences with it have been totally different" is also true, and has nothing to do with being cult-like.
That's not a very pleasant way to discuss things online. You should read http://ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html
First off they stress mobility, which many workout regimens don't do. I never really realized how important this was until I started crossfit. Most workouts consist of 15-20 minutes solely concentrating on mobility.
Second, no one has mentioned the concept of scaling, which is core to crossfit. Every workout has a scaling option so that you don't push yourself too hard. If you can't do a pullup you do it with a band, can't do that, do a box jump pullup, etc. Yet another way crossfit keeps one from getting injured.
Good point. I too remember the shock and amazement that washed over the entire training universe when Crossfit invented progressive resistance and skill progressions.
The only thing I can remember that was more impressive was that time Greg Glassman invented gravity. That was incredible.
I originally wanted to write everything down and be a primary source of information on exertional rhabdo (there isn't a lot of useful information out there regarding hospital stay, CPK levels, etc.) but it got written down on a long-lost TODO somewhere and forgotten.
I started an high intensity program 2 weeks ago (p90x) and I had some pain after the first day for at least two days but I didn't pay attention to my urine. Should I go to my doctor? If I had rhabdomyolysis would I get any other symptoms after a week?
Reading this feels so bizarre to me, as a European...
I really don't get the American attitude towards health-care.
I overexerted myself, plain and simple.
However, it has two positive features, in my eyes:
1. It gets lots of people up off their backsides and working hard. A lot of folk don't realise how much they can really do if they want to do it. The flipside of Crossfit's sometimes overblown culture is that it forms a strong social environment for most trainees to motivate them to keep it up.
2. It has introduced millions of people to Weightlifting and a lot of those people defect to the sport proper.
In the English-speaking world Crossfit has been a massive shot in the arm for Weightlifting and Powerlifting. They've gone from being struggling niche sports 10 years ago to seeing an unparalleled period of growth.
The current generation of Crossfitters won't make much of an impact on the elite levels of Weightlifting. But their children might.
In the long run, and despite the butchering of the lifts that goes on in many gyms, Crossfit might be the best thing that ever happened to my sport.
I personally would stick to basic weightlifting. You can get an intense 30-45 minute workout, don't put tons of pressure on your knees, and most importantly the long-term effects are very well-studied.
* everytime I breathe in or down I felt like screaming
* moving almost any part of my body even an inch made me scream
* my urine was dark red
All my life I've had above normal pain tolerance from another chronic illness but it took rhabdomyolysis to really break me--quite literally. Ultimately it resulted in being put in a stretcher as I screamed my ass off.
It took a lot of morphine to find any relief and dialysis to fully recover.
I am not a doctor, but I think what you experienced was what rhabdo leads to if untreated: myoglobinuria (kidneys poisoned due to excess myoglobin) which then leads to acute renal failure (kidneys fail).
The normal treatment for rhabdo is intravenous saline (I had 5 days of saline), whereas myoglobinuria or acute renal failure require dialysis, since your kidneys have shut down.
In any case, that sounds absolutely frightening in the worst way imaginable. Any long-lasting side effects?
And thank you for crediting saline. I became a saline "addict" myself. We were told to get home health to give IV at any sign of red urine.
This was almost exactly 10 years ago. I've been well since.
My wife has been doing crossfit full-force for almost a year (including some competitions ). Along with previous standard workouts and diet changes, she's lost 60+ lbs over the past 2 years. And she's getting pretty buff.
She's never heard of rhabdomyolysis.
Every exercise/activity has some risks. If anything, I'd say crossfit puts you at risk for other injuries (back, joints, heat exhaustion at competitions, etc.).
 My wife at a recent competition. A male competitor here fainted and had to go to the ER:
Unfortunately, that part is real. There were two unofficial mascots, Pukey the Clown and Rhabdo the Clown. If you puked during class, you "met one of the clowns." The clowns were celebrated on t-shirts, murals, etc. That was dumb, but it was eventually recognized as dumb, and it was stopped. Of course it provided grist for the first round of "Crossfit exposé" coverage, which has consistently attempted to portray Crossfit as a cult in which people uncritically worship ideas that are obviously problematic to anyone who hasn't been brainwashed.
There's a little bit of truth to that, in that many of the coaches are enthusiastic, rah-rah cheerleader types who don't take a critical approach to much of anything. However -- and this is a BIG however -- that is true of every approach to physical fitness I've ever been exposed to. Like other types of training, Crossfit has its share of smart and critical people as well, and they do their best to improve the practice of Crossfit and identify and fix problems.
The problem is that none of these people work at Crossfit HQ and CFHQ goes out its way to excommunicate them.
> Every exercise/activity has some risks. If anything, I'd say crossfit puts you at risk for other injuries (back, joints, heat exhaustion at competitions, etc.).
One of the benefits of team sports (the few that I like to play, anyway) to me is that they are fun. One of the downsides is that, since you're engaging in a dynamic environment with other people, injury is more likely. What's great about lifting weights is that, with proper precautions, the chance of injury is very small. It's just you and the weights. Just your own form. The most advanced and ballistic move might be an olympic lift, but you don't need to get involved with those. Personally, I'm not willing to take up a solo exercise routine where the culture is so hardcore/idiotic that I am at risk of permanently damaging myself through sheer force of will, without even having any playing objects or tackling opponents involved.
It is possible and actually is easy. One such example is in Hypertrophy-Specific Training, which utilize week long rest and highly metabolic exercises after rest.
Another example is Westside Barbell Conjugate System, which utilizes rotation of exercises, metabolic exercises and actually forbids athletes going over 85% of 1RPM.
No reason to panic though, its very very rare, but it happens and thus it should be noted that excessive excersise (in whatever shape or form) just isnt risk free.
It seems like an easy way to hurt yourself.
Simply go to the gym and do your own workout...
It has also, and this deserves credit, been much better at achieving a healthy gender ratio than most other sports.
I've been doing CrossFit for six years, this past December during a 'holiday' WOD I got nailed by acute rhabdo in my right arm.
It took many months of rehab and different body work techniques to get things back to normal. Very, very, painful process.
Honestly, the workout wasn't out of whack with a tougher than normal day. It was for me, however something that put me out of commission for five months.
There are a ton of things wrong with crossfit like their insistence of doing skill lifts for time. But training too much? That's actually your choice.
"You’re supposed to push yourself to the limit, but when you hit the limit and pay the price, you’re the idiot who went too far." Isn't it? There are several "coaches" that only know how to push people but have no regards for personal limits
Diet can also cause rhabdomyolysis http://www.ergo-log.com/vegerhabdo.html (in this case, because of lack of protein - not necessarily because of vegetarianism)
The one thing p90x gets more right than apparently Crossfit does is the videos tell you to take breaks and go at your own pace. If you cant do 50 pushups in 90 seconds, do what you can. "do your best, forget the rest." is the refrain Tony uses, which is a lot smarter than telling people to push beyond their limits no matter what their body tells them.
The official line is "you're only competing with yourself," but in practice that's not the case. Especially when there's a whiteboard and everyone knows what the various times/number of reps are. Trying to force anything with a strong technique component (like olympic lifts) into a time based or number of reps based competition just seems like a bad idea.
Also, with the wide variety of WODs, it's hard to track progress. Yeah, the workouts repeat, but if you only do something a couple times a year it's hard to keep track of progress.
I ended up doing Starting Strength instead. I got my squat from about 80lbs to 245, and then 295 with some intermediate programming. I almost never got sore - only a little sore after the first couple workouts, or if I missed a week or two. I'm currently trying to figure out how to integrate cardio and lifting, which is one thing that crossfit has going for it, but I liked powerlifting workouts a lot more than crossfit.
My coaches are always careful to talk about how safety is important, and help weaker people modify in ways that are safe but still excercise similar muscle groups. They've told me to stop a workout when they felt I was pushing too hard. They (and the other athletes at my box) have been extremely supportive of my personal focus on doing the form correctly, even if that means I am slow, or rest between reps.
Sure, our box has athletes who can whip out dozens of pullups in a row. (I'll be thrilled when I can do one.) But we also have people who have sat there after their workout is done and helped me count my last reps, or even actually done burpees with me.
The encouragement is a huge high. It's what hooked me. I can very much understand how, if one is not careful, one might push oneself Too Far. I don't think I am physically capable of doing that yet, so I'm grateful for reading this reminder to be careful.
Also, box jumps. Screw those things, and I'm glad that stepping down from them rather than jumping is the way to go. ;)
Your second point is not true if you follow the most basic guidelines for making sure you have good form and don't overtrain. It's the culture of competing against others to finish a set workout quickly that distinguishes crossfit, that both motivates people to train harder, makes people who like competition enjoy tough and normally dull workouts and also leads to bad form and overtraining.
All this talk about Crossfit being the problem is b.s. You have a choice.
Crossfit reports only 5 cases up till May 2005: http://library.crossfit.com/free/pdf/38_05_cf_rhabdo.pdf
I wonder how the numbers stack up after taking into account only the population that does some form of exercise.
My bet is that rhabo:crossfit is similar to crashes:airplanes - you don't hear about all the people that do crossfit and simply get into shape without serious injury (most everyone who does crossfit).
Do more people get rhabdo doing crossfit than concussions playing football or torn ACLs playing basketball? Doubt it.
If you are used to working out hard, you won't get rhabdomyolysis.
So if you're pretty fit but stopped working out for a while, get into it with moderation!
To everyone else: don't be scared of rhabdomyolysis and work out!
I agree re. working out in general - but this is about something more specific.