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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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February 24, 2008

CrossFit

By Aaron
84 Comments

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

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84 Comments on "CrossFit"

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Matthew
Matthew
8 years 7 months ago

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!

Abraham Williams
8 years 7 months ago

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.

KellyM
KellyM
8 years 7 months ago

I third that. MDA + Crossfit = Perfect Health

Greg Battaglia
Greg Battaglia
8 years 7 months ago

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.

Roger
Roger
8 years 7 months ago
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… Read more »
jonah
jonah
6 years 7 months ago

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.

Zach@CFLV
6 years 7 months ago
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… Read more »
LabRat
8 years 7 months ago

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.

charlotte
8 years 7 months ago
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… Read more »
Landon
Landon
3 years 7 months ago
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… Read more »
Dave C.
8 years 7 months ago
I’ve been incorporating some Crossfit stuff into my routines. I also like the approach that the folks at Gym Jones (www.gymjones.com) 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… Read more »
Donald
Donald
8 years 7 months ago
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… Read more »
Petr R.
Petr R.
8 years 7 months ago
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… Read more »
Tatsujin
8 years 7 months ago

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 🙂

Marc

Dave C.
8 years 7 months ago

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.

Chris P
Chris P
8 years 7 months ago

Love Crossfit, started reading MDA because of it. Two communities that are made for each other.

Donna
Donna
8 years 7 months ago

Great Vidoes, Great Workout!

Chris
8 years 7 months ago

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.

Dave C.
8 years 7 months ago
Chris: CrossFit is really good in that it emphasises functional movements Yes,but… 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… Read more »
Zach@CFLV
6 years 7 months ago

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.

Julie
Julie
6 years 6 months ago

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.

dammit
8 years 7 months ago

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.”

d

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bubba29
bubba29
8 years 7 months ago

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.

Dave C.
8 years 7 months ago

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?

Mark Sisson
8 years 7 months ago
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… Read more »
Andrew G
8 years 7 months ago

Big -time CrossFitter here. For all-around fitness, it can’t be beat. I recommend it to everyone.

Dave C.
8 years 7 months ago
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… Read more »
Joe
Joe
8 years 7 months ago

” 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.

Dave C.
8 years 7 months ago

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.

Jim
8 years 7 months ago
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… Read more »
bubba29
bubba29
8 years 7 months ago

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.

Travis
Travis
8 years 7 months ago
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… Read more »
dv
dv
8 years 7 months ago
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… Read more »
Kath@crossfitnorthatlanta.com
8 years 7 months ago

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.

Pinky
Pinky
8 years 7 months ago

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.

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[…] around the necessity of lifting harder to get the results you want. I’d specifically recommend “CrossFit” style work for you. That means compound movements using larger muscles, which generates human […]

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[…] CrossFit: Your New Workout Routine […]

Kyle
Kyle
8 years 1 month ago
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… Read more »
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[…] Intro to CrossFit […]

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7 years 9 months ago

[…] Intro to CrossFit […]

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[…] Intro to CrossFit […]

Getsome
Getsome
7 years 3 months ago
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… Read more »
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[…] CrossFit: Ever Heard of It? – Feb. 25 […]

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[…] sure, things are getting better, and “functional fitness” is growing by leaps and bounds (take Crossfit, for example, which only gets more popular), but the average gym goer is still woefully ignorant of […]

Daniel
Daniel
6 years 7 months ago

Anyone able to answer me if a CrossFit session is counted as a strength training session? Like if I was to do a traditional weight lifting routine like Bench -> Deadlift -> Squats with 1-2 mins rest between sets then finish up, do I replace that routine with a CrossFit one or just add it into a rest day? I would be worried about overtraining or something if I did CrossFit as well as my weights routine..

Zach@CFLV
6 years 7 months ago

It would depend on what the actual CrossFit workout was…

Some days, the CrossFit WOD is a strength routine; others, it is cardio-based. Really hard to plan off MainSite WODs because they are so varied. They are only intended to be combined with sport-specific training, really.

Jodi
Jodi
6 years 6 months ago

I’m a 42 year old Crossfit convert. After running for years, I was slowly starting to creep up in weight and softness. Cutting sugar and most grains while doing CF has me in the best shape of my life. I LOVE that many of the workouts are short. Workouts for loads are longer (30 minutes) but the short ones are really intense and efficient. I couldn’t do a second workout the same day; I’m exhausted every time. It’s hard to use a busy schedule as an excuse when I can do a workout in 10-15 minutes.

Stephanie
Stephanie
6 years 5 months ago
I started Crossfit about 4 months ago. I’m completely hooked. It’s unreal. I’ve always had an athletic background, but even at what I thought was my “fittest” state, nothing compares to what is required of you in a Crossfit workout. I like going to the gyms as opposed to doing the WODs on my own (which I still do sometimes) because the trainers push me harder than I’d push myself. They’re also there to make sure my form is correct so I don’t injure myself or pick up bad habits. And the class atmosphere of encouragement is awesome! I am… Read more »
Mike
Mike
6 years 4 months ago
I agree with the majority on here – Crossfit is brilliant. A few points (some already mentioned) 1) If you can go to an affiliate – do. The instruction is excellent. I am a personal trainer but rate these guys way above me – which is very humbling. You’ll have better progression and less risk of injury. 2)If working alone from the Mainpage – do the background reading first (everything under the “Start Here” link and follow the scaled workouts on BrandX. Underestimate your ability if you have not done these types of workouts before. Get a subscription to the… Read more »
Sifter
Sifter
6 years 4 months ago
Sorry to be the sour apple here, but Crossfit is, IMO, a train wreck waiting to happen. Kipping pullups will destroy your shoulders, you’re just twenty something and don’t feel it yet. High rep, ballistic deads, snatches, clean and jerks… yeah right. I wonder why Olympic hopefuls who do them ‘for a living’ rarely do more than six reps, and often complete only singles and doubles. Form, form, form! You just can’t train to be a jack of all trades. If you could SEALS would be both marathoners and powerlifters. They’re not. Talk to REAL ‘elite’ spec op guys, they… Read more »
Angel
Angel
6 years 4 months ago
CrossFit or any training regimen can be a “train wreck” if you don’t know what you’re doing. If you train smart within the CrossFit program, and MANY thousands of people do, daily, then you are at no greater risk for injury than any other athlete. It really bothers me when people try to shoot down CF universally as “bad” when most of the time they have no firsthand experience with even a single CF workout. For some of us, CrossFit is the best thing we have ever done. Period. And kipping pull-ups, done properly will not “destroy your shoulders”. Mine… Read more »
Page
Page
6 years 4 months ago
I”m older, was definitely not an athlete, and started doing Crossfit about a year ago. I’ve improved so much in strength and endurance—a year ago I would not have believed I’d ever be capable of what I’m doing now, physically or mentally. It’s scalable, you can do the the WODs as frequently as makes sense in your situation. If you are able to go to an affiliate, find one that is comfortable. Each has its own personality and will emphasize different aspects of the program. I’ve got several friends who never thought they’d like it, but they gave it a… Read more »
kg
kg
6 years 4 months ago

As for crossfit being a trainwreck and “the real-spec op guy’s” not doing it, you are very wrong my friend, im in and around those communities on a daily basis and the majority of the units at least in the US are adopting cross-fit, most guys incorporate crossfit/gym jones or something similar into their routines on top of their job, further example at BUDS they do crossfit workouts for time. As for being modest most are, in attitude and that is about it.

Sifter
Sifter
6 years 4 months ago

Well then I stand corrected. I still maintain, though, that high rep Olympic lifts and kipping pullups will damage, over time, your joints. Talk to me when you’re 45 or 50 and we’ll see.

Ray
Ray
6 years 4 months ago
Hi Sifter, I’m 63 and have been doing many of the crossfit since I’ve been 12. I grew up on a farm where I worked like a dog starting at age 8. Most of my overall strength came from doing lots of hard repetitive work, plus some rope climbing in the barn. By the time I was 12 I could crank out 5 one arm pull-ups with either arm and could been a 6″ spike. At 14 I started gymnastics at my high school and continued with it throughout college. I wasn’t a great gymnasts by any means since I… Read more »
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