Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
24 Feb


Ever heard of it?

If you are a regular to MDA and you subscribe to a Primal Health lifestyle I’m guessing it is likely. If not, now you have.

Crossfit is a type of physical training that blends power lifting, gymnastics and sprinting. Why do we like it? Because it fairly closely aligns with our Primal fitness philosophy in which variety, weight-bearing activity and anaerobic exercise is key. Here is a great description of CrossFit:

CrossFit maintains that proficiency is required in each of 10 fitness domains: cardiovascular/respiratory endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, agility, balance, coordination, and accuracy. CrossFit uses free weights, kettlebells, gymnastics rings, pull-up bars and many calisthenics exercises. CrossFit may call on athletes to skip, run, row, climb ropes, jump up on boxes, flip giant tires, and carry odd objects. They can also squat and explode up to bounce medicine balls against walls.

CrossFit workouts typically call for athletes to work hard and fast, often with no rest. Many CrossFit gyms use scoring and ranking systems, transforming workouts into sport. CrossFit publishes its own journal and certifies its own trainers. Many CrossFit athletes and trainers see themselves as part of a contrarian insurgent movement that questions conventional fitness wisdom.

via Wikipedia

Contrarian insurgent movement? Challenging conventional wisdom? Sounds like our kind of program.

All right. Enough talking! Let’s see CrossFit in action.

Don’t let the first video fool you. CrossFit isn’t just for beefy dudes. As CrossFit NYC’s site states, “CrossFit workouts are functional, varied and intense. They also scale to any ability level–our members range from elite athletes to eighty-something grandmothers…”

We’ll be covering Crossfit in more detail down the road, so stay tuned!

If this is the first time you have heard of CrossFit let us know what you think! If you are a ripped, seasoned Crossfit veteran we’d love to hear from you too. Drop us a line!

Further Reading:

Mark’s Beach Sprints

Official CrossFit Site

More YouTube Crossfit Videos

Sponsor note:
This post was brought to you by the Damage Control Master Formula, independently proven as the most comprehensive high-potency antioxidant multivitamin available anywhere. With the highest antioxidant per dollar value and a complete anti-aging, stress, and cognition profile, the Master Formula is truly the only multivitamin supplement you will ever need. Toss out the drawers full of dozens of different supplements with questionable potency and efficacy and experience the proven Damage Control difference!

Subscribe to Mark’s Daily Apple feeds

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. I’ve been following both Crossfit and your site for a while now. They are a match made in heaven. Their workouts are brutal. It’s all about living the Primal life, baby!

    Matthew wrote on February 24th, 2008
  2. Here here! Crossfit is fantastic in my book. The workouts are short and intense. My workouts in a day are less than 10 min sometimes and I’m completely whooped. Between not eating much sugar and grains and Crossfit, I feel like I’ve cracked the fitness code. I’m more fit than I’ve been since I was a teenager. I’m not joking and I’m not a crossfit trainer looking for business. It’s just great training everyone should know about.

    Abraham Williams wrote on February 24th, 2008
  3. I third that. MDA + Crossfit = Perfect Health

    KellyM wrote on February 24th, 2008
  4. I’m a long-time advocate of Crossfit principles of fitness. Crossfit is the perfect blend between health and performance. Expect to see it become huge in the next few years. It’s already on it’s way.

    Greg Battaglia wrote on February 24th, 2008
  5. Been there, done that, got over it. Nothing revolutionary about CF except the marketing scheme of using blogs to promote the gyms. The principles are actually very old and the routines are just a hodgepodge with cute names. The training for the instructors is very weak so there tends to be a lot of BS thrown around. OTOH there are some CF instructors that indeed do have excellent knowledge of physiology and sport science but they had to get that info elsewhere. The CF gyms do have a lot to offer (really depends on who runs it) but there’s also a high potential for injury and, if you have specific goals, there are more effective training methods.

    Roger wrote on February 24th, 2008
    • THANK YOU. most people are enamored with crossfit, but it’s mostly just metabolic work with no rest. It can’t help you train for a specific sport or competition, and their hierarchy for building muscle is ridiculous.

      (from their Faq)

      “Here is a hierarchy of training for mass from greater to lesser efficacy:
      1. Bodybuilding on steroids
      2. CrossFitting on steroids
      3. CrossFitting without steroids
      4. Bodybuilding without steroids ”

      crossfit may help a person who has a weak program lose weight, but to claim that it is superior for mass building above a sensible (read: non AAS) bodybuilding routine is straight lying.

      jonah wrote on February 24th, 2010
      • Just so you know, they are referring to “functional” mass…not the superfluos crap that bodybuilding produces.

        CrossFit isn’t JUST a brilliant marketing scheme that utilizes blogs — they have taken old age training principles and applied them differently. Yeah, the principles aren’t NEW, but the way CrossFit methodology utilizes those principles is their own.

        Take, for instance, your comment that CrossFit is just “metabolic work with no rest” or that it “can’t help you train for a specific sport.” You would be incorrect on both occasions; CrossFit metabolic conditioning is only ONE aspect of their programming (they include heavy strength days and other single modality/skill training as well).

        As for SST – you take ANY athlete and combine their sport-specific training with CrossFit = they will perform better for it during their competition. Try it and see what happens…prove them wrong, then tell us why.

        Of course, I may be biased…ha.

        Zach@CFLV wrote on February 24th, 2010
  6. CF has been great for me- miles more effective than any fitness program I’d ever tried before. (Starting from a very much not athletic background of “sedentary geeky chick”.) The variety keeps me motivated- my main problem with exercise is how easily I get bored with it- and the intensity keeps me improving at a nice clip.

    There might be better out there, and it might not be all that revolutionary, but for someone totally lacking in local gyms that aren’t machine factories and personal trainers that aren’t attendants for the machine factories, it’s a godsend.

    LabRat wrote on February 24th, 2008
  7. Funny you should post on this. I just started CrossFit about a month ago (after training on a very similar program called the Monkey Bar Gym). It is a very challenging workout. I make do with the equipment my local YMCA has instead of using an affiliate gym, which also means I have to figure out the moves from the videos on their site.

    I don’t know how I feel about it yet. The workouts are intense and varied. But so… short. (Except for the WOD to run 10k) My question to you CrossFitters: Is the WOD your entire workout for the day? Or do you train in something else as well? Like, Mark’s example – would he tack on the WOD to his weekly hikes and beach sprints & weight days? Or would they take the place of all that?

    Gotta say though, I never thought I could do a pullup and now I can do 5 (25 if I let my feet touch down in between).

    charlotte wrote on February 24th, 2008
    • The WOD is the whole workout for the day. If you worked out at an affiliate you’d also have a warm-up (which some consider a workout and a session where you’d be learning one of the skills. You cannot understand, appreciate and get the most from CrossFit if you haven’t been coached – get in to an affiliate – you’re cheating yourself. The WODS vary in lenght – could be 6 minutes – could be 30 – I did one last week that took me 32 minutes. This is the wisdom of the methodology – the variance of the exercises and times of WODs is what causes a different level of fitness. I’m not speaking just to cardiovascular or strength improvement I’m also referring to being able to move and get your body into positions you couldn’t get into before CrossFit. Get to an affiliate.

      Landon wrote on February 26th, 2013
  8. I’ve been incorporating some Crossfit stuff into my routines. I also like the approach that the folks at Gym Jones ( take. There’s some great reading on that site that I found very motivational. My only problem/question with the Crossfit/GymJones approach is that some of what they consider a recovery workout is challenging to me no matter how I scale it. I think it would be too easy for me to go overboard and not get the recovery I need. A good example was last week Crossfit prescribed “Randy” (75 power cleans) followed by “Fran” (alternate Thrusters and Pullups). Too much for me. So I try to plan it so that I’m doing heavier stuff only a couple times a week, but I’ll do three workouts that are more about getting the heart rate going (low box jumps or rowing on the C2). One thing it ain’t is boring!! :-)

    Dave C. wrote on February 25th, 2008
  9. CrossFit is great. It really can be scaled to meet anyone’s needs. It is tough though, so for beginners, you’ll probably have to do jumping pullups as opposed to kipping pullups, etc. Also, if you feel that you’re not strong enough, Mark Rippetoe has an excellent book called Starting Strength. Many CrossFitters do SS for a few months until they get stronger and go back to CrossFit.

    As far as doing other stuff besides the WOD, I do a lot of running outside of the WOD and some extra strength training. I suggest checking out an affiliate. It’s easy to injure yourself or overtrain doing the WOD if you don’t know what you’re doing.

    Donald wrote on February 25th, 2008
  10. I’m on CF for more than two years now (with small times dedicated to “Starting Strength” as noted above) and it’s the best program I’ve ever had.
    What is also important that most of my injuries (overused joints etc.) healed or do not ache better say).
    For me the very unusual thing is that I improved in all aspects of fitness (speed, agility, endurance, power, strength…) at the same time and I’m still improving slowly but surely. I was very pessimistic about the whole CF program but when I finally tried it I’m hooked, I even attended the CF certification (hey, I’m from Europe and I do not run my own CF affiliate…) and there were some excellent info there as well (not counting excellent folks :o)
    I’s very demanding but very very balanced.
    Also most folks do not see the pattern here but CF has periodization, unloading, progress etc. It’s all there it’s just bit different than other programs.
    Let’s not forget CrossFit Journal – CF Journal is IMHO the best source of information about physical movement/condition that is available today.

    Petr R. wrote on February 25th, 2008
  11. I like CrossFit.
    I use the workouts intermittently.
    Great way to change things up!!!
    Think you’re in good shape?
    Try one of their easy ones and see how it goes….
    Pull ups 20 sec, 10 sec rest, 8 times
    Push ups 20 sec, 10 sec rest, 8 times
    Sit ups 20 sec, 10 sec rest, 8 times
    Squats 20 sec, 10 sec rest, 8 times

    oh the joy :-)


    Tatsujin wrote on February 25th, 2008
  12. It’s easy to injure yourself or overtrain doing the WOD if you don’t know what you’re doing

    Yep…especially for someone with no weightlifting background. I’m doing deadlifts, squats, presses, and some power cleans (if not too heavy). I don’t plan on attempting heavy cleans, snatches or jerks without getting some knowledgeable instruction (in person). That probably won’t happen because the other moves can make the basics of a pretty good program–especially for an older guy (56) with no background.

    Dave C. wrote on February 25th, 2008
  13. Love Crossfit, started reading MDA because of it. Two communities that are made for each other.

    Chris P wrote on February 25th, 2008
  14. Great Vidoes, Great Workout!

    Donna wrote on February 25th, 2008
  15. CrossFit is really good in that it emphasises functional movements undertaken with intensity rather that ineffective cardio….There are people who criticse aspects of it, but I think they forget that CF has put huge amounts of information out there – including excellent tutorial videos – totally free of charge.

    The workouts can be scaled too and there is a link on the page to Brand X martial arts where they turn each WOD into 3 options depending on fitness levels.

    Good stuff.

    Chris wrote on February 25th, 2008
  16. Chris: CrossFit is really good in that it emphasises functional movements


    In their statement entitled “World Class Fitness in 100 Words” they say:

    “Practice and train major lifts: deadlift, clean, squat, presses, C&J, and snatch.”

    The thing that all of these have in common is that they are compound movements where more than one muscle group comes into play. They tend to shy away from “isolation” exercises. All of which lead me to ask why the bench press shows up in the WODs. That kind of strikes me as the one you would pick in the Sesame Street game of “which one doesn’t belong.”

    Dave C. wrote on February 25th, 2008
    • The bench press is a functional, compound movement….

      Multi-joint and heavy weight. How is it NOT functional?

      What if you were walking through the jungle and some big log fell from the tree tops and pinned you down….BENCH PRESS to the rescue!!

      No? Ok…maybe that was over the top.

      Zach@CFLV wrote on February 24th, 2010
      • Gotta tack on to that that bench press doesn’t just isolate your pecs. It works your pecs, your anterior delts, your biceps, triceps, and I think a couple more minor supporting muscles. Yes, you feel it more in your pecs, but the other muscles are also engaged as stabilizers or assisting with the press.

        Julie wrote on March 18th, 2010
  17. charlotte–

    many crossfitters do some variation of the following warm-up before every workout:

    3 rounds of
    1. sampson stretch
    2. squat (10-15 reps)
    3. sit-ups (10-15 reps)
    4. back extensions (10-15 reps)
    5. pull-ups (10-15 reps)
    6. dips (10-15 reps)

    if you move from exercise to exercise without rest, this warm-up will take you about 15-20 min. *then* you do the WOD, whether it takes 5 minutes, or like yesterday’s “eva”, around 40. i dunno about you, but that’s plenty for me!

    also, the last sentence of crossfit’s “world class fitness in 100 words” enjoins us to “Regularly learn and play new sports.”


    dammit wrote on February 25th, 2008
  18. i’ve followed this site and crossfit for about a year. i’ve often had a conflict in wondering if the crossfit wod is too intense leading to release of cortisol and thus inflammation. i wonder what others opinions of this are.

    bubba29 wrote on February 25th, 2008
  19. Good question–especially considering the base formula Mark has given is lots of low-level cardio with a couple sessions of intense intervals a week. I think part of it is goal related. If the goal is “faster, higher, stronger,” then you probably need a lot of intense work. But is that the same formula if you just want to live well in your old age?

    Dave C. wrote on February 25th, 2008
  20. Bubba29 and Dave,

    Good questions. The cortisol thing is an important consideration. Too much too often is bad, a burst here and there (and assuming you aren’t stressing chronically all the rest of the day) probably good. But it’s a balance between cortisol and testosterone. If you are a 23-year-old male with excess testosterone still floating around, the daily Crossfit plan is probably best. If you are 54 like me, the WOD might make better sense 2-3 times a week punctuated by the longer slow aerobic walk/hike/cycle stuff we talk about. Maybe one sprint day in there if it’s not already part of a WOD. And, Dave, not the same formula. Training for a competition often requires that you make compromises that might slightly negatively affect longevity and overall health….but as long as you know the options, the risks and the benefits, then you make an informed choice, rather than blindly plunging in.

    Mark Sisson wrote on February 25th, 2008
  21. Big -time CrossFitter here. For all-around fitness, it can’t be beat. I recommend it to everyone.

    Andrew G wrote on February 25th, 2008
  22. nd, Dave, not the same formula. Training for a competition often requires that you make compromises that might slightly negatively affect longevity and overall health

    Thanks, Mark. As I mentioned earlier, I really feel motivated by Mark Twight’s gang at Gym Jones, but those guys are athletes with totally different agenda’s than mine. I have no intention of climbing alpine peaks or fighting in a cage. I just want to be able to put something on a shelf at eye level in my garage without hurting myself! :-). So I’m going to limit myself to two or three of the more intense efforts efforts a week. But it’s still great to have such a variety of workouts to pick from using both the Crossfit and the Gym Jones site.

    Dave C. wrote on February 25th, 2008
  23. ” All of which lead me to ask why the bench press shows up in the WODs. That kind of strikes me as the one you would pick in the Sesame Street game of “which one doesn’t belong.”

    Bench press is clearly a compouns exercise.

    Joe wrote on February 26th, 2008
  24. I don’t think the bench press is in the same class as the rest of the lifts. The rest seem to involve multiple body parts, using some as stabilzers to enable the lift to take place. They only required contact to the earth is with the soles of the feet. The bench is a closer relative to the isolation-type exercises IMO. I’m not saying don’t do it, or that it has no value–the NFL sure seems to think it means something.

    Dave C. wrote on February 26th, 2008
  25. I used Crossfit for about 8 months.

    I have nothing but respect for those athletes that would continue posting amazing times and weights etc.

    It is quite simply the most grueling and intense kind of exercise that I have ever done. A huge amount of mental toughness is required.

    A warning: I do believe there is a high potential for injury. Just browse thru the “injuries” forum in the crossfit message board – it’s a busy little forum.

    I developed tendonitis from the amount of pull-ups that are a stable crossfit exercise. It’s over a year later and I still have problems in that area. Be careful.

    Jim wrote on February 26th, 2008
  26. Crossfit states they are attempting to create elite fitness. I believe you need to be an elite athlete to be able to endure these wod’s on a consistent and competitive basis. The older one gets, the weights, reps, intervals, and 3 on 1 off program that crossfit rx’s becomes less realistic. I do agree with variation and intensity but the weights and sets need to be scaled as does the rest days. Also, it would be wise to spend a month or so mastering the complicated lifts before jumping into the wod’s.

    bubba29 wrote on February 27th, 2008
  27. In regards to how you should approach beginning CrossFit the website makes clear that you should by adopting it in stages. To quote from the “Start Here” Tab…

    “In any case it must be understood that the CrossFit workouts are extremely demanding and will tax the capacities of even the world’s best athletes. You would be well advised to take on the WOD carefully, cautiously, and work first towards completing the workouts comfortably and consistently before “throwing” yourself at them 100%.”

    The CrossFit Journal also included a detailed article about the intensity issue called “Consistently Before Intensity” (June 2005). CrossFit recommends mastery of the movements before scaling up the intensity. Unfortunately, many beginners don’t read beyond the WOD when starting. As a side note to the injury assertion, according to the NIH, leisure sports account for the highest number of injuries in adult athletes annually (golf, racquet sports, bowling, and hiking). Does this mean we should recommend against any and all recreational activity for adults as a precaution?

    Travis wrote on February 27th, 2008
  28. Dave C: Crossfit will be the first to tell you that the power clean (and any other derivitives of the olympic lifts) are far more complex and generate much more power output than a bench press. However, every once in a blue moon the bench press will come up in a workout. Not often, but think about this … a bench press with arms at shoulder width, no wider, is a functional movement (think offensive lineman, MMA fighter, etc.) On the potential for injuries from Crossfit, it is my firm belief that crossfitting without proper instruction is a bad idea if you are not an elite athlete. I was a personal trainer before beginning my training at a local crossfit affiliate, and the professional instruction that I have recieved there has been head and shoulders above anything I’ve ever seen, especially in regards to proper mechanics to prevent injury. Every affiliate I’ve been to so far has been close to the same in regards to passionate, knowledgeable coaches.

    dv wrote on February 27th, 2008
  29. Yes I CrossFit (since May07), I helped to open a CF gym I believe in it so much http://www.crossfitnorthatlanta — AND I subscribe to your newsletter because they marry well. I am a 44-yr old strong chick who was on her way to becoming a “used-to-be former athlete” — CF plus a change in awareness of food(fuel) has helped me to recapture my body’s functionality. wrote on February 27th, 2008
  30. I’m with Roger and others. Crossfit is less innovative than its inventor insists it is. You can easily get your dose of primal fitness without drinking the Crossfit Koolaid.

    Pinky wrote on February 27th, 2008
  31. I would like to say a little about those who seem to think crossfit is no big deal. I have been on many sites with the same claim, it’s old, been done before, and there is better. Not one time has anyone said I tried it 2 months and I think other programs are better. I reccommmend finding a CF facility and try it 2 months. The reason there is such a fuss about is obvious if you just try it. Not on your own! You must find a facility and do with a trainer in a group. Words can’t describe the difference, if done correct you will not be doing any extra work.

    By the way great site, “Obsessed is what the lazy call the dedicated”

    Kyle wrote on August 4th, 2008
  32. Crossfit is the best all-around exercise class available, period. I also box on the weekends, and while that, too, is a great workout (as mentioned in the Primal Blueprint!), Crossfit is more varied, and pushes the body further than boxing (as most boxing gyms eschew weight training), and you typically wrap up the exercises in less than 25 minutes (vs an hour at a boxing gym). While doing Crossfit, my boxing performance has increased tremendously. I no longer “gas out” in the 4th or 5th round, and my power has improved (again, due to the emphasis on using my core strength to deliver the punches). If you love “old school” playground-style workouts (flipping tires, pull ups, sprinting, sledge hammer strikes, etc…) that change every day, give Crossfit a try.

    Getsome wrote on June 1st, 2009

Leave a Reply

If you'd like to add an avatar to all of your comments click here!

© 2016 Mark's Daily Apple

Subscribe to the Newsletter and Get a Free Copy
of Mark Sisson's Fitness eBook and more!