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

P90X and CrossFit

Nearly every day I get emails from readers about P90X and CrossFit. Most are favorable, some not so much, but mostly, people just want to know if these fitness programs fit within the context of the Primal Blueprint Fitness methodology. In this article I’ll explore what’s great about P90X and CrossFit, and then I’ll voice my nit-picky criticisms and explain how I think both can be improved upon.

It’s often said that any movement is better than no movement, that simply getting up and being active is better than sitting on the couch and stewing with guilt and self-reproach. For the most part, I agree with this assessment. It’s imperative that everyone be active, even if it’s just taking nightly walks or using the treadmill at the gym. But “just any old movement” isn’t ideal. Ideally, we should be performing movements that support, enable, and enhance quality of life. Our exercises should make us stronger, faster, and more capable of accomplishing just about any physical feat the world throws at us. They should be enjoyable (pleasure-giving), brief (without sacrificing effectiveness), sustainable (lifelong), immediately accessible (to young, old, and untrained), and infinitely scalable (from beginners to elites). A fitness program, then, should meet these benchmarks.

Do P90x and CrossFit qualify as good fitness programs?

Absolutely, yes; they’re better than 95% of the other stuff out there. They both include high-intensity interval training, full body resistance work, endurance development, and mobility. They’re very clearly laid out for trainees who need structure to make progress. Buy the DVDs and you get the full P90X package; log onto CrossFit every day and you get access to the daily workouts free of charge. Tony Horton (of P90X) is one of my best friends, and I’m the guy who showed him the beauty of interval workouts. I also designed the P90X recovery drink, which, I’m told, is more addictive than crack (too sweet for me). The PB eating plan works perfectly with CrossFit, which is probably why we have so many supporters from that camp. All in all, there is definite kinship between the PB and the other two programs. There are many mutually shared interests, directions, and focuses. There’s a lot of crossover. Both programs get people up and moving – and amidst our culture of sedentarism and sloth, I can’t get upset with that.

P90X promises a beach-ready body: defined upper body, ripped abdominals, reduced body fat. For many people, it delivers on each. If you’re interested in building muscular endurance (not necessarily raw strength), or if you’re a former athlete with a good amount of muscle underneath a couple years’ worth of flab, P90X might be right for you. If you want an ass-kicking workout that leaves you panting and heaving and sore all over the next day, P90X will provide it. You’ll certainly be able to do more push-ups and pull-ups by the end of it.

CrossFit promises to forge hybrid gymnasts, powerlifters, and runners – all around athletes who can perform Olympic lifts, complex gymnastic moves, then get up and run a 10k (and make a respectable finish). CrossFit generally doesn’t produce elite, specified athletes, but it produces guys and girls who are stronger, faster, and more powerful than almost everyone else. Some people think that’s a criticism of CrossFit, while I think it’s one of its strengths.

As I noted above, I get a ton of reader emails about both CrossFit and P90X; in the Primal world, they’re probably the two most popular programs out there. Some people are pleased with their results. They get stronger, fitter, healthier, and better-looking by following them. But others aren’t so happy. These other readers talk about being burnt out, overworked, overtrained, or even injured. As much as I admire both programs and their creators, I think both could be improved upon.

Now, is it the program, or is it the user? Who do we blame?

As usual, there’s a little from column A, a little from column B. Assigning the totality of blame to either CrossFit/P90X or the trainee is silly. Acknowledging both the limitations of the programs and of the users is the far better option. CrossFit isn’t a perfect fit for every possible trainee, nor is P90X guaranteed to work for absolutely everyone who tries it – and that’s totally fine. But it also means that neither CrossFit nor P90X are ideal paths to fitness. In my book, remember, a fitness program should be lifelong and accessible to everyone. (Note that accessible doesn’t mean one size fits all.)

It’s commonplace for online discussions of fitness to descend into screaming matches laced with profanity and hyperbole, buttressed by rigid ideological stances that refuse to budge. This won’t be that.

You’ve heard why I like CrossFit and P90X – and I do like them, believe me – but this is where we diverge:


A program you can’t keep doing is hardly a program worth doing. Fitness should be a lifelong endeavor. It’s not just for the young bucks with limber limbs and supple, indestructible ligaments. It’s for the oldsters, the washed up athletes, the wide-eyed beginners, the moms, the dads. As it’s actually practiced, I think P90X is probably too much to do as a lifelong program. It isn’t even advertised as such, to Tony’s credit; it’s billed as a crash program designed to get you lean in 90 days (which it does well). To anyone currently doing P90X – do you expect to be repeating the cycles into your twilight years? Over an hour a day, six days a week? I just don’t think I’d have the stomach for that for very long.


I harp on the overtraining issue all the time. Next to inadequate or nonexistent training, overtraining is the biggest issue plaguing most trainees. If you don’t give your body enough downtime to recuperate, you’ll find it very difficult to get stronger/faster/quicker/more powerful. You may see some improvement over doing nothing at all, but you could just as easily undo any progress. Both CrossFit and P90X prescribe near daily high intensity training. Certain individuals relish the workload and even thrive on it. Some people can bounce back from a day’s workout and be ready to demolish their body all over again the next day. I think the 3 on, 1 off CrossFit schedule and the 6-days-a-week P90X schedule have their place in a training regimen, but they can easily lead to overtraining – especially if you go 100%. Intensity is important in training, but I worry that six days a week of over an hour of daily high intensity training will venture into diminishing returns territory for many trainees.

Injury avoidance

I hate injuries. I hate downtime. I work out in order to fuel the fun stuff – the Ultimate Frisbee, the hikes, the paddleboarding. As such, if my fitness efforts result in an injury that prevents me from playing, those fitness efforts are counterproductive. I love CrossFit, but people do get injured. Either they don’t have their forms locked in, or they’re going too hard for too long, but injuries do occur. CrossFitters will plainly admit that there is an inherent danger to going all out, day in and day out, and that’s actually part of the appeal. But at my age, I’m not interested in pushing my limits. Judging from plenty of reader emails, there are other people that feel the same way. If you’re a relative newbie and decide to do CrossFit, don’t just launch into the complex Olympic lifts, especially at high reps. I’ve seen overeager beginners do this, and they often mess themselves up.

The Need for Glycogen Replacement

Because my business background is in supplement design, I was brought on the P90X team (7+ years ago) to create a recovery drink that fit their demographic and the recovery requirements to allow someone to go hard nearly every day for 90 days. Simply put, if you’re doing P90X as prescribed, your body is going to need to replenish depleted glycogen. I am no longer associated with the company that markets P90X (although my likeness is shown on all the in-home products talking about replenishing glycogen) and, of course, my own ideas about how much we ought to be working out are different from P90X. If you work according to the PB, you don’t need to replenish glycogen with post-workout feedings of sugar. And you shouldn’t.

So, what makes my upcoming Primal Blueprint Fitness program better?

I suppose the honest answer is that we’ll have to wait and see. I announced my plans to launch Primal Blueprint Fitness later this year just this Wednesday. It won’t be until the program is in the hands of users and they’ve had a chance to incorporate it into their lifestyle that we’ll be able to make a fair assessment. That said, PBF is being designed to be a comprehensive, full-body fitness program that focuses on brevity without skimping on intensity. Primal Blueprint Fitness is CrossFit for the rest of us; it’s P90X without the massive time commitment. It’s about getting the best results with the least amount of input. See, I’m interested in helping as many people as I can, so I’ve designed it with everyone in mind. I’m sick of watching people hobble around with canes or old injuries. I want to see seniors bounding up stairs. I want to see people get six packs without actively trying to. More than anything, I want people to get stronger, fitter, and healthier. The athletes can scale things up and increase weights or reps, while the less advanced can just use bodyweight, but everyone will be doing the same movements that our bodies are designed to perform. Best of all, you’ll be able to follow this program for life, under any circumstance fortune throws at you. You get injured? There are workarounds. Growing older? You can simply scale things down. Out of town and away from equipment? Use your bodyweight. Beginners can instantly jump in. You get plenty of rest, coupled with plenty of intensity, for the best results with no overtraining. You get plenty of instruction on the more complex movements, to avoid injury. And, of course, it’s designed specifically with the PB eating plan in mind.

While you await the release of PBF follow the Primal Blueprint Fitness principles, use the specific workouts listed here on MDA as a guide, and if you’re looking to make your P90X and CrossFit workouts more Primal break things up with more rest, more play, and more low-level aerobic activity.

I greatly admire CrossFit and P90X, and they’ve produced some excellent athletes. If you’re a CrossFitter or P90Xer and it’s working for you, keep at it! I just think that a lot of people could benefit from a slightly different approach – a fitness program geared toward sustainability, functionality, and overall health. Fitness based on Primal movements, on the precise activities that comprised Grok’s day-to-day existence, distilled down to maximize effectiveness and minimize time commitment. Stay tuned!

Let me know what you think. What are your experiences with P90X and CrossFit? Are you ready to give Primal Blueprint Fitness a try? Thanks for reading and Grok on!

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. Being 51 and for the first time in a very long time, feeling great because of PB eating, I can’t wait for the PB fitness plan to come out. I have contemplated Crossfit but the nearest center is 45 minutes away. I am playing a bit with kettlebells now and that is fun. But going all out with Crossfit is a bit scary for this 51 year old. Thanks, Mark, for thinking about the rest of us!

    lbd wrote on March 5th, 2010
    • Great article and I do agree with Mark about over training. As a 55 year old I have been doing CF for nearly 5 five years. It has really changed me physically and mentally. When I first started CF it exposed me to numerous weaknesses I had. I was an athlete in college and continued into adulthood playing Rugby til I was 35. I was lifting and running all through my 40’s and was relatively fit. Then I started CF and low and behold I was not as fit as I thought. Although, I could do most of the movements I lacked coordination in some of the work outs. I went through a bout with my SI joint going out of whack and slowly but surely I balanced out in the hips and core. I did tear my Supra Spinatus tendon in my left shoulder while demonstrating a push press with only the bar. My doctor concluded that the tendon was partially torn from a previous injury in my earlier life. So yes as a 50 year old ease into the program scale it and do what you can do. Recovery time for us is a lot longer than that of the people half our age. There are skills to be mastered with CrossFit, so if you don’t feel up to high intensity on a particular day. Skip the WOD and practice your skills. CF is about learning the movements and developing a visceral sense of your body awareness. Don’t let CF intimidate you it is a program that will make you better if you follow the method. My advice workout three days per week to start 1 on 1 off. Good Luck…

      Phil Sarris wrote on September 28th, 2011
      • One problem with crossfit is not all gyms practice the same thing. Some throw you in with movements you shouldn’t be doing. In a competitive environment it can increase your chance for injury. I think it is good, but they should have a staged approach before you get to the meat and potatoes. i know P90X has a fit test and other easier programs to work your way up into the actual program.

        marko wrote on March 15th, 2014
  2. I did P90X late last year and failed to make it past Phase 2 because of the time commitment. Prior to that I was seeing great results. After discovering this site and PB, I tried P90X again but really customized it. I cut out the karate and yoga. I rarely do the plyo and if I do, I limit it to about 20 min. I only really do the three resistance training workouts and instead of going for 8-10 reps I go for 5 with much heavier weight. I also only do a couple sets of the first 6 or so exercises of each workout. I love how easy it is to come home and get the workouts done and the extra rest days are great (I do sprint once a week). Best part is I think I’m still getting the same results I was during my first round when I was doing the whole program. I’m sure the primal nutrition has a lot to do with that though.

    Shane wrote on March 5th, 2010
    • I also did P90X last year. Started in September and finished in November. It was a huge time committment. We started our second round 5 weeks ago, but we are doing things “our way” this time. We’re doing 2 upper body work outs a week, just the legs portion of legs and back, and then we’re incorporating sprints and some lower intensity joggin. We’re taking 2 days off a week now and its working so much better. I feel better, I look better, and I don’t have the stress of having to cram 1 1/2 hours of training into every day!
      I’m glad we did P90X start to finish to say that I could do it, but now I’m more interested in being healthy and making things work so I can stay in it for the long haul!

      Melissa wrote on March 5th, 2010
  3. I have been training at a Crossfit affiliate for 6 months while following a Paleo/Primal diet, and have seen tremendous results. So far i have lost nearly 20 lbs., while increasing my deadlift by about 100lbs. I have also cut my 1 mile time from 8:36 to 5:57, with no specific running or strength workouts. Thanks for the post.

    Nick R. wrote on March 5th, 2010
  4. Great Post. Who wants to workout all the time? I know I don’t. I want to be healthy, strong, active and energetic for the entirety of my life – and I want to do it with as little effort as possible. Give me the long hikes with my dog and the twenty minutes a day of lifting heavy stuff and the occasional all out sprint session. You can keep the workout until you puke, followed by the big bowl of post workout pasta – No thanks.

    justin wrote on March 5th, 2010
    • i want to work out all the time, not until faillure tho. There is always drills you can do… weights, rings work, flexibility, bodyweight training, mobility, etc.

      I like the ”grease the groove” concept alot.

      Jean-Patrick Millette wrote on March 6th, 2010
      • Pavels the man…….

        dave schaeffer wrote on June 14th, 2012
  5. I did Crossfit for about a year and while I made really good progress at first I plateaued quickly. I was never able to do the 3 on 1 of schedule. The best I could manage was 4 workouts a week, and even that would leave me overtrained after a few weeks. Being 40 may have had a lot to do with it.

    I’m currently doing Mark Rppetoe’s Texas Method (just weightlifting – no metcon), and I have become immensely stronger and still, after six months, making weekly progress on all my lifts. I still plan to cycle back to Crossfit at some point, but as a strong and powerful athlete. I think I will get a lot more out of it then. My impression was that all the best Crossfitters were *already* very strong *before* they started the program.

    Matt wrote on March 5th, 2010
    • check out, sounds like something you could cycle into after your current strength cycle is over. -cheers

      casey wrote on March 5th, 2010
  6. Shane, I like the way you customized your P90X workouts. That’s pretty close to what I’ve been doing for a couple of months now. I bought the program intending to do the 90 days “by the book” but as I learned more about PB, I too trimmed the cardio, plyo, yoga, etc. Which I guess means that I really never needed to buy the program in the first place. I’m really looking forward Mark’s PB fitness program.

    elbohead wrote on March 5th, 2010
  7. Crossfit seems very interesting but Todd here shall wait for Marks Primal Fitness Plan. My own plan has been working very well for myself. Every once in a while a muscle will feel sore but will go away within a day or 2.

    Bring on Primal Blueprint Fitness Program!

    Todd wrote on March 5th, 2010
  8. At my Crossfit affiliate, there is a wide range of people, from kids to older folks. We have a really great environment and everyone is very supportive of the abilities of all the other members. I think it depends a lot on your coach – ours is very patient and conscientious about showing people the right way to do things and challenging people with an eye to everyone’s appropriate level.

    Kris wrote on March 5th, 2010
    • Ditto. And the usual recommendation is 3 days a week. There are many who only do 2.

      marnee wrote on March 5th, 2010
      • Definitely agree with that. My affiliate has people of all fitness levels, and everyone is basically working toward the common goal of getting better. Crossfit is definitely harder when you work independently of an affiliate. Some affiliates just prescribe to the Web site, and others will actually develop workouts like at CrossFit Works in Tucson. Also, the maximum allowable days they let you come in and work out is four. :) They’re very serious about rest and nutrition at our gym.

        Mary wrote on March 5th, 2010
    • My local affiliate was very different… they were welcoming enough, but seemed to have no real clue as to how to scale programs for someone who wasn’t already a a powerlifter or triathlete. Intense is good… not being able to walk for 3 days after being coaxed through too many Tabata squats as a raw newbie wasn’t so much. I may give P90X a try.

      John R wrote on March 6th, 2010
      • Even if you can’t go to a CF box, or if you are and it’s too intense, you can go to CF Brand X’s website and try a scaled workout: I’ve been doing this for just over a month, instead of doing the mainsite CF workouts.

        Cheryl Jaworski wrote on July 11th, 2011
  9. GREAT POST. This is the stuff that I love from the apple.

    rusty wrote on March 5th, 2010
  10. Lovely Post, I did p90x and loved the program, gained lots of strength but always burned out in the end of the second month, i still use the workouts as suppliments in my training but I do not follow the program closely like I used to.

    Athena wrote on March 5th, 2010
  11. Fantastic, can not wait to try your new program.Thanks for the honest evaluation of both these programs.

    Steven R. McEvoy wrote on March 5th, 2010
  12. As I Crossfit trainer I appreciate this post SO much. I hear a lot of CF bashing without the back up.

    It’s true there are those who push themselves beyond what they should. We truly believe that the 3 on 1 off is only for the highly trained athlete. I am NOT that person. Our affiliate offers 2 and 3 day a week memberships to help our clientele avoid the tendency to over train. We have found at our gym part of the problem is that we LIKE being together and the workout is the vehicle sometimes.

    While I LOVE Crossfit, I know it’s not for everyone and that’s ok. To those who don’t care for it, that’s fine. Find your thing, then DO it!

    MarthaB wrote on March 5th, 2010
    • Martha, for most Americans, getting off the couch and doing some form of activity is a big deal. People who are not naturally motivated to workout would benefit from a ‘workout community’ based approach. For athletes with specific performance goals, crossfit or P90X is definitely not the way to go.

      Kishore wrote on March 5th, 2010
    • I’ve actually dipped into both P90x and CrossFit – which puts me in some interesting company 😉

      I’m a marathoner / budding triathlete who began the induction into cross training in October of 2009 to rebuild a depleted core / pillar. I had done just a wee bit of upper body lifting over the years – the “guy” appealing curls, shoulder press, bench. But sadly neglected the core.

      I began with P90x and completed the full 90 days – pretty faithfully. The PlyoX and KenpoX training was the easiest – Ab Riper and YogaX had me curled up in the prenatal position after each =].

      I then began my CrossFit journey in January and am blessed with a tough yet painstaking Level 1 certified coach (who’s also a Div 2 athletic trainer). He’s had me focused on form first and only 3-4 WOD’s a week.

      For what I want to achieve in terms of Boston Qualifying marathon time (3.30) and Iron Man, CrossFit and CrossFit Endurance are spot on. The complex whole body movements, olympic weight lifting, anaerobic bursts, tie in more closely to marathon/triathlon performance.

      That said I was in much better shape to begin CrossFit after a round of P90x. I also still blend in a bit of PlyoX, YogaX, Stretching and AbRiper.

      I agree with Martha that while aggressive and addictively fun, the trainers and affiliates do not over stress or push new participants.

      For more on my experience, check out


      Dave Kohrell wrote on March 5th, 2010
    • that is a great outlook, i like hearing that from a trainer. i know a few trainers that think if you’re not 3 on 1 off you’re wasting your time… well there in there 20s lol im alot older with no previous training… so its refressing to hear that

      lucky wrote on January 28th, 2012
  13. Good stuff Mark. I’ve been doing P90X for the past few weeks and after the first week I told myself I was crazy and now I do it every other day. Thanks for the timely post reaffirming my decision. :)

    Caveman Sam wrote on March 5th, 2010
  14. Mark,
    Great one. I think why programs like this are successful is that there are many people that actually need someone to tell them to “do this.” I was one of them. It’s easy for an overweight person to fall in love with PB but without knowing fitness or understanding proper form, you can easily fall off the wagon. In P90X there is a nutritional plan that is pretty carb restrictive and I still follow that but apply the PB principles to it.

    Lastly, I would love to be a guinea-pig for any PB Fitness plan. My approach seems to not be working…


    Daniel Merk wrote on March 5th, 2010
    • Lately I’ve been doing lots of walking and occasionally running with some sprints up forest hills, traversing trees and such by jumping, vaulting, and climbing and using them to help me keep speed and momentum. I’ve been on a travelling burn-out spree so I’ve stopped calisthenics for now. I do some powerlifts by hoisting a rock over my head. I might not be especially good at curling and bench pressing at the moment but I feel like I’m develeoping a flexible, functional base.

      Animanarchy wrote on January 28th, 2012
  15. I like Body By Science’s approach: 12 minutes on, 10,068 minutes off! I just ordered the book. Can’t wait to see what it’s all about…

    Dave, RN wrote on March 5th, 2010
    • Right on, Dave.
      Been doing BBS for 6 weeks and loving it. Progress in resistance levels has been amazing. I’m an amputee (don’t let a car hit you while riding your motorcycle), and every other system I’ve seen requires use of both legs. BBS is for everyone else.

      Jim (retired) wrote on March 6th, 2010
      • Starting Strength for form, BBS for program and the science behind it… can’t go wrong. Simple and effective and you can even do it with dumbbells in a pinch.

        John R wrote on March 7th, 2010
  16. I contemplated heavily between Crossfit and P90X after graduating from college and playing collegiate level volleyball. The reason I chose Crossfit (and one of the biggest “pros” that I was told about it) was because it was NOT a huge time commitment. P90X was going to have me working out for over an hour everyday watching a DVD, but with Crossfit I warm up for ~15 minutes to do anywhere between a 5-25 minute workout. Not one workout I have ever done at my CF gym has been over 35 minutes and most days lean more around the 10 minute range (after warm-up of course). I take my time stretching and practicing skills afterwards, but I appreciate the high rewards I get without the bore of following a long DVD. I have increased the max weights for all of my lifts, cut down my mile time, body fat percentage, lost weight and became “ripped”, etc. GO CROSSFIT!

    Plus 3 on and 1 day off is perfect. some week I work out 6 days- some only 5 days. But for less than an hour a day, it’s completely doable.

    Stephanie M wrote on March 5th, 2010
  17. I’ve been doing Crossfit for over a year with insane results, even at 39. I’m down to less than 10% body fat (with a Primal diet) I feel better than when I was playing sports in college. i wish I had known about this type of training years ago. I wouldn’t have wasted so many hours needlessly in the gym.

    I think Crossfit is a fantastic program. Yes, there are risks of injury, but ho many people get tennis elbow playing tennis? But I do agree that the straight forward 3 on 1 off main site program is very hard to do. in Seattle, we are very fortunate to have an amazing affiliate. Our programming is a combination of power lifting, Crossfit football, mainsite Crossfit and Crossfit endurance. We always start with strength training, then have usually a short, sometimes longer metcon. I can see doing this in the twilight years.

    I truly recommend that anyone, at any age, learn about Crossfit so as to learn the basics of short high intensity training, which is analogous to Mark’s Primal training outlined in the book. The beauty of Crossfit is that it is scaleable. You don’t have to go for the high board every day. Reduce the weight. Do half the reps. But most importantly, lift heavy things and sprint once in a while.

    Greg wrote on March 5th, 2010
    • Good point, but anything is scalable, not just CrassFit.

      Gleg Grassman wrote on March 9th, 2010
  18. @Dave-

    Well said. I just started reading BBS. I’m hoping the PB Fitness Plan incorporates some of it.

    elbohead wrote on March 5th, 2010
  19. Happy laid back Crossfitter here. I go to the local affiliate 3 times a week, where in an hour we do a warmup, usually lift something, and then do a workout. Like somebody else mentioned, there’s a big range in ability and the trainers do an excellent job helping everybody substitute weights/movements as necessary.
    With 3 days a week, I see no reason why I cannot keep this up indefinitely. I can always cut back another day and just go for a walk instead.


    Tim wrote on March 5th, 2010
  20. Once you do a cycle of p90x, you should have learned how to workout and be able to design your own shorter program based on your own goals.

    arthurb999 wrote on March 5th, 2010
  21. I’m a P90x’er in round 2. Here’s how I’ve changed it up: I ripped the DVD’s to AVIs and I play them @ 1.25x (some even @ 1.5x) . I start each round a bit before the DVD and try to go a few reps beyond. This increases the intensity and reduces the time. I figure I’m getting ~90% of the workout in ~60% of the time. While I always do the warmup, I usually skip the cooldown resulting in a workout of ~40m. Of the 6 workouts/week, I usually get in 4-5. (I rarely do the yoga workout but everytime I do it, I try to resolve to incorporate it more. It’s just soooo long and always hits when my body tells me to rest…).

    Jamie wrote on March 5th, 2010
  22. They should be enjoyable (pleasure-giving), brief (without sacrificing effectiveness), sustainable (lifelong), immediately accessible (to young, old, and untrained), and infinitely scalable (from beginners to elites). A fitness program, then, should meet these benchmarks.


    And to think people used to believe masturbation was unhealthy …

    rob wrote on March 5th, 2010
  23. On CrossFit: When I see CrossFit folks at the gym, I see injuries in the making. The workout are cool and super-short but be careful! With speed & high weight/low reps comes fatigue and that’s when you tweak your back (or neck, legs, shoulder, etc…). It just looks too risky to me.

    Jamie wrote on March 5th, 2010
    • That’s just a combination of “use good form above all,” and “Don’t be stupid.”

      I’ve been doing Crossfit on a 4-5 times a week schedule for almost a year now, for the first half doing main-site WODs and for the second at an affiliate. When I started I had not worked out at all for more than six months, and was an occasional globo-gym client before that. Not an athlete at all. Just by using common sense I have only had one injury in the past year (shoulder), which was from me being stupid, and which healed pretty fast. And I’ve made really remarkable gains in performance.

      Kris wrote on March 5th, 2010
    • With crossfit if the number one thing you learn is proper form. thats why you get trained first or put into a fundamentals class. your always learning and always improving

      Angie wrote on March 5th, 2010
    • Jamie, I absolutely agree with you! BUT! :) I believe the most important thing when deciding to CF is first: don’t start it on your own going off the HQ site; Second: regardless, check your ego at the door (scaling as needed), and third: make sure that you observe how the trainers deal with those who are not “elite”. As a CF trainer, I usually see what you are describing when I visit another CF gym and see very poor coaching or CFitters personally overestimating their skills (which again comes back to the trainers oversight). On the other side, a well run gym with trainers that know how to “personalize” each workout deal very safely with the situation you described above. If a CF trainer doesn’t consistently/methodically explain/warm-up/scale/ask/question/etc, etc, then go somewhere else. I never have believed that the CF “goal” of having an average Joe/Jane push themselves into Rhabdo or Pukie (not really, but that is what is joked about) should be the goal nor should define what a CF workout should be. Lifelong fitness like Mark mentioned is what this whole thing is about. But unfortunately there are too many CFitters out there that would rather try to do workouts like the “Games” athletes do (which are in an entirely different athletic class) than be patient and learn the movements, take months/years to increase intensity/loads, and get what the ultimate goal is. This can also be said about every other fitness program out there. Bottom line is that trainees and trainers can’t get over zealous or what happens is exactly as you mentioned; injuries in the making.

      Brandon wrote on March 5th, 2010
  24. Great timing, Mark as I’m considering purchasing the P90X DVDs. I know and the ads state to work at your pace. But the pressure to keep up will be huge and I have about 60lbs to lose, yes, all of it is body fat.
    So, great timing, thank you. And lets see what happens!

    Grok is Softball! wrote on March 5th, 2010
    • Not true! There is no pressure with P90X, Tony constantly tells you to go at your own pace. I have 30-40 to lose and I do P90X, the Lean version. You can do it! Just modify and listen to your body. P90X is fun!

      Susan wrote on March 5th, 2010
  25. I presently have been doing Crossfit workouts on Monday-Wednesday, take Thursday off, do a Ripptoe Starting Strength Workout on Friday, and on Saturday do my own thing, such as sprints, the occasional 5k, etc. At 52, I knew I was going to need at least 2 rest days per week. Just because I don’t want to go 3 on 1 off twice a week doesn’t mean I have to throw the baby out with the bathwater. By doing what I’m doing, I think I get the best of both worlds.

    Do remember that Crossfit is scalable!

    All that being said, I’m looking forward to your plan, Mark.

    Bob wrote on March 5th, 2010
  26. It’s important to note that in order for a fitness program to be effective, you have to get uncomfortable. That’s exactly why both CrossFit and P90X are so effective. You might feel great after one of the workouts but you definitely aren’t smiling during the workout unless your a total masochist. I’m a CrossFitter and struggle with overtraining because I hate missing workouts. I’ve dialed it back to 4 days a week but would go every day if my body would let me.
    So people that say they don’t like CrossFit or don’t like P90X probably just don’t like to be uncomfortable and will probably never be able to do 20 pullups unbroken or deadlift 200lbs. You have to get uncomfortable to make that kind of progress.

    Garth wrote on March 5th, 2010
    • I’ve got no problem with being made uncomfortable. I don’t think the crossfit high rep olympic lifts are useful or smart; I know good, competitive O lifters who agree.

      And crossfit “slop” is just silly, it invites bad form and injury.

      crossfit football is definitely a step in the right direction though. you have to put some weight on the bar!

      looking forward to the PB fitness plan.

      joem wrote on March 5th, 2010
    • That’s BS. Many people don’t like CrossFit or P90X b/c they have found something that already works for them, and/or they feel the “cons” (all progarms have em) overpower the “pros”, and/or those programs don’t meet their goals.
      To infer that people who don’t like x-fit, just don’t want to work hard, is the type of talk that turn people off.

      DaveR wrote on March 8th, 2010
    • I agree and disagree. Sloppy form is bad, but timed CF WOD’s do get very uncomfortable. I want to quit during half of them, this morning being no exception. CrossFit takes a high level of mental fortitude. Some have it, some would rather not. I’ve seen many examples of those who really don’t want to work that hard, really. It’s not that they are being shamed, it’s just true. Some will, and some will not.

      Craig wrote on March 8th, 2010
  27. I’m a walking and breathing (much better now, by the way) example of P90X and the PB intertwined. As most of you know, Mark featured my story last summer. I also answered this very question on my blog recently.

    After completing multiple rounds of P90X here’s how I see it. (Mark mentioned being able to keep up with P90X over and over again) I think you adjust to your needs.

    The adjustment I made to fit my needs were: I do 3 resistance workouts each week (most weeks) and I substitute the cardio workouts with sprints. I do plyo some of the time and yoga a little less. I also had a stretch of time where I cut the workouts in 1/2, lifted heavier weight, wore a weighted vest, and took no rest between sets. That enabled me to shorten the workouts to about 20-25 minutes and increase the intensity.

    Sometimes I’ll just do 2 or 3 full body workouts/week that involve squats, push-ups, and pull-ups and some other ‘minor muscle’ moves.

    Don’t get all bent out of shape trying to subscribe to exactly how P90X is laid out. BUT I would recommend doing it the way it was designed at least once. It’s a challenge and it’s fun.

    Sterling wrote on March 5th, 2010
    • “BUT I would recommend doing it the way it was designed at least once. It’s a challenge and it’s fun.”

      I am considering doing P90X just once for 90 days to get back into shape. I may then look into Movnat stuff.

      Primal Toad wrote on January 16th, 2011
      • I’m in the final month of my first round of P90X. Been sticking to the program, but have been reading and learning more about Primal.

        Not sure what to do next, but I do like P90X, and I do like Primal. Looking forward to trying to meld the 2.

        Jeff Witt wrote on July 16th, 2011
  28. I appreciate the work ethic in crossfit but I see it as a disaster awaiting to happen using OLY lifts with high reps. Ill stick to the BIG 3 and assistance work in between. Low volume, high intensity.

    Laszlo wrote on March 5th, 2010
  29. While I love Crossfit and it has been great for me, I feel like MovNat is more Groklike. Mark, do you know much about MovNat? I get so excited watching the Movnat videos online:

    Alec wrote on March 5th, 2010
  30. I go to a crossfit affiliate 4 times a weeks and there is a huge emphasis on correct form and avoiding injuries. My Coach will actually tell me to take a day off if my form/performance is suffering from being fatigued so that I can avoid injuries. Also I love that these workouts are short but I still feel like I am getting stronger. We have heavy lifting days / metcons /bodyweight days and sprints. Its a great mix

    Michelle wrote on March 5th, 2010
  31. A truly excellent and helpful post Mark, thank you for writing this. I have a feeling I will be pulling it out of my bookmarks and emailing it to people *a lot* in the future.

    I’m a CrossFitter, but I am of the opinion that we need to keep the highly complex movements, like Oly lifts, out of metcons. They should be performed perfectly, and perfect form isn’t always possible when you’re going for time / high intensity. There are plenty of other movements to choose from to create a challenging metcon.

    I look forward to a PB fitness plan because I find myself searching for ways to make a CrossFit-style workouts accessible to people in my life who need to start working out, but don’t have the time, money, etc to attend a CF affiliate. It would be amazing to have a resource they could go to to get started. Can’t wait!

    c wiss wrote on March 5th, 2010
  32. At last – the topic is addressed! Thanks Mark for putting the Definitive Guide together on this topic.

    Like those who have commented, I’m a by-product of P90X myself. But I have to admit the last 20 days were tough. Devoting an hour for 6 days a week takes it toll. I continued so I could wear the Badge of Honor and say I completed the program. Not long after I did order P90X Plus, but I modify those workouts in with P90X, kettlebells, TRX workouts and the 100 Pushups program. I PLAY at my workouts is the way I see it. I let my body guide me. If I’m feeling sluggish I’ll do 20-30 minutes utilizing AB Riper X and kettlebells (sweat STILL included). I’ll do a full body workout at the gym or do the 5X5 program or I may sprint. I have an arsenal of workouts at my disposal so I don’t lock in to P90X by itself. The outcome is a guy who feels he’s more Primal because of this approach and I now see workouts as accomplishments instead of work.

    I’m VERY anxious to see the PBFitness workouts and can already see this community grown and strengthen as many of us will adhere to this new program and compare notes. I know Crossfit has their set of names for workouts and I envy that, so I look forward to us having our own internal slang for workouts. Sweet!

    Jeff P (P stands for Primal) wrote on March 5th, 2010
  33. One of my best post ever with you. Was wondering when you were going to comment on P90X. I am a Team Beachbody Coach and also becoming a trainer. I have taken the P90X program and modified the nutrition plan towards PB. I have also stressed during the programs to the people I work with not to worry about getting in six days a week if you don’t have the energy, but focus on getting in something every day if it is not P90X. I have tremendous results with all levels based on this attitude and what I am really looking forward to is the PBF plan to come out because I have a funny feeling I am going to move in that direction with training. Maybe a version of both P90X and PBF. Thanks for the post.

    Mark Sisson for President!!!!

    Troy Cooke wrote on March 5th, 2010
    • Tray I coach for BB too! I have been doing the same thing with my customers. I have them gear their eating more primally, and also have them start out easy, and pay attention to their body by giving them a scale 1-10 to judge how they feel. Also, I have been working with my people to learn to pay to attention to physcial cues for true hunger and when they are satisfied not stuffed. I’m having great results from it. I loved this post from Mark.

      Susan wrote on March 5th, 2010
  34. Great post! I’ve done both Crossfit and P90X and agree that both programs have their positives and negatives. P90X can be long and take up
    a lot of time. Crossfits idea of constantly pushing harder can wear you down. I have seen increases in my fitness levels using both programs and agree that they both have their place. You just have to find a way that works for you. Can’t wait to check out the PBF!

    Michelle wrote on March 5th, 2010
  35. I did P90X faithfully for the whole 90 days. It was challenging, invigorating and very diverse. It was also too much training. 6 days per week is too much and led to some overtraining injuries. I did see good results but was so burned out, I couldn’t enjoy them.

    I like lifting 2-3 times per week, doing some sprints here and there and walking almost every day. I do a challenging hike here and there and mostly like the fact that I don’t worry about what day it is and what workout I “have” to do. Stay active, do what feels right and enjoy life :)

    mikecheliak wrote on March 5th, 2010
  36. If you need an arthritic (RA) 46 year old woman as a test subject, I’m game!

    Lolly wrote on March 5th, 2010
  37. I did P90X for 6 months with good results as far as my appearance (and I got stronger) but then the same workouts started to get old and I wanted something new. I have a friend who has been a personal trainer for years and he said “I can’t reccomend CrossFit enough”… later that same week, I saw a friend I hadn’t seen in a while and he looked amazingly ripped, he had lost 4 pant sizes and just looked great… I asked him what the heck happened and he said one word “CrossFit.” Then I knew I had to try it. Since then, I’ve been doing CrossFit for the last 16 months. I love it. Some points about it:

    1. Learn how to do the barbell lifts with correct form or you will probably get hurt. I did, I screwed up my shoulder being too aggressive on cleans. That’s not CrossFit’s fault, that’s my fault for not taking a class first. After taking an olympic lifting class at a local CrossFit gym things got dramatically better. CF gyms are all over the place, go the and go to “Affiliate Blog” and you’ll see them listed.

    2. CrossFit workouts are scalable. I scaled today for example.

    3. You don’t have to go 3 on 1 off and per workout, you don’t have to go 100% maximum intensity. Listen to your body. I think 2 on 1 off with the 1 off including a nice walk with a weight vest on or something just fine.

    4. Endless variety and creativity! After 16 months I still do workouts I’ve never seen before, OFTEN.

    5. In the sustainability department, I agree Mark, about P90X. I do think with proper scaling and subbing CF can be a lifelong program.

    6. I should have started with this one. I am eager to see the PBF program!!

    7. You can set up your own CrossFit gym in your garage or basement. That’s where I do my thing!

    Craig wrote on March 5th, 2010
    • Why was a Crossfit gym, with a Crossfit Trainer, having you do Olympics lift without instructing you in them? Or did you just look at the main site WOD and say “Cool, I’m going to do that!”?

      Wayne wrote on March 5th, 2010
      • I believe you misread him, Wayne; Craig said that he set up his “CrossFit Gym” in his garage (or basement, whichever)

        Brett wrote on March 5th, 2010
      • Just meant that I chose not to join a CrossFit gym, instead I bought all of the gear that covers the CF WOD’s (workout of the day) so I can do the workouts at home. What I should have done, is went to a CF gym for a month or so and learned proper form and worked my way into it. 16 months later, I know that now. Actually I learned that pretty fast. That’s what I would reccomend to new CrossFitters. Get lessons, learn form, ease your way into it before you go full tilt. The first three workouts I did were “Cindy”, “Fight Gone Bad” and “Murph”, and I went full tilt on all of them. I had DOMs, was all messed up! I overdid it!

        Craig wrote on March 5th, 2010
        • Wayne, I know, I was a dumbass. I pretty much said “cool, I am going to do that!” and went for it. They have exercise videos and demos on the sight, but I think it’s better to get in-person training from a trainer!

          Craig wrote on March 5th, 2010
  38. Thanks Mark…i’m a crossfitter & I agree that correct form and rest are so very important for long term success. I can speak for crossfits scalability. myself i started, never being athletic in my life, at 320lbs. I’m down 55lbs in less than 6 months and leaner and stonger than ever. That coupled with primal blueprint eating of course!

    stephanie vincent wrote on March 5th, 2010
  39. High rep oly work, especially with no credible coaching to speak of, is a bad idea. Glad to see that there are at least a couple “Crossfitters” here who feel the same. More often than not, the cult leaders brainwash the masses into believing that the perfectly random (i.e. thoughtless)W.O.D.s are unquestionably sound.

    Kurt Hessenbruch wrote on March 5th, 2010

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