2/20/13

Crossfit Kool Aide, Now Made From the Mainstream

tickled my funny bone

Everyone should drink the kool aide because it’s so darn sweet. I’m not a practicing hipster, but I find their “culture” “interesting” [watch out everyone, double quotes]. The concept is that if anything goes mainstream, something becomes super popular and consumed by everyone making it different than the original, its worse and must be avoided. I have a friend who went to Portland, hipster central, and now only listens to “interesting” music that no one has heard of. I can’t say that anything mainstream is worse, but when it comes to crossfit it is.


Sip The Kool Aide, Its Grape Flavored

Crossfit originated as a all around fitness program that improved strength and endurance. Crossfit was almost page for page taken from classic competitive wrestling programming. Collegiate level wrestlers have aesthetics and fitness levels that most gym rats drool over. The first time I did a crossfit workout all I could think was, "this is just like my highschool wrestling workout, only easier". Now, my first crossfit workout was not like what I see today (crossfit wasn’t totally mainstream at this point). Current crossfit practice has taken athletic guys and forced them into overuse injuries all for the sake of a burn.

My Pscience Aint No Pseudoscience

The powerclean is a power movement that uses the entire bodies musculature to move a bar from the floor to the shoulders with maximal velocity. Power movements only peak when the muscle has full ATP and CreatinePhosphate levels, which is the substance used in the fastest energy system. This means the muscle must be rested (not fatigued) so that max effort can be applied. The powerclean was designed so that max effort can be put into a heavy weight, not moderate effort applied to a light weight. Type II X muscle fibers are the muscles that are necessary for a powerful explosive movement. These are the fast twitch muscle fibers that actually move fast and powerful rather than slow and with force. Research has shown that power athletes such as Olympic lifters, sprinters, and throwers contain a majority of Type II X muscles. These fibers fatigue extremely fast and have almost no endurance aspect, because they are designed to fire a couple times very hard. The only way to increase their count, or make them more effective, is to work them out with max effort explosive training.

 By now you should be thinking of a crossfit workout that made you do hundreds of cleans. The creatine phosphate system only lasts for a few seconds. Unless you can blow through a few hundred reps in a few seconds without losing explosiveness you’re not using your type II X fibers.

All that science talk means is that you can’t effectively increase your clean by taking a light weight and throwing it around a few hundred times. In fact, if enough endurance training is done with the clean, slow twitch fibers will be formed. That means less type II X!!

Mainstream crossfit has athletes perform many full range cleans with little weight. Although this can be a good cardio exercise, the catch position was not made for a plethora of reps. The more reps that are used in full range, the more likely that person is to develop an overuse injury. At the bare minimum I can find two flaws in mainstream crossfit; less powerful muscles, and overuse injuries.

Pour Your Kool Aide Out

Studies suggest that the more powerful a person is, the more likely they are to live longer (more incentive to be powerful). Almost every crossfit box has a mainstream program. Most of them also have a black box style programming. This programming reduces the amount of reps abused, and increases power training. This is where you need to be a hipster. Fall back on the fundamentals of crossfit. Start with explosive power movements in the lower rep range. Follow that with strength movements like the squat. After power and strength has been performed you may do your circuits, burpees, and miles.

Demand has corrupted the wholeness that was crossfit. People wanted a workout that made them feel like they had made up for a day of doing nothing. Doing workouts for time is okay every now and again, not every week. Doing things for time has led to the popularization of a kipping pull up. Do you want to know where the kipping pull up comes from? It started as a way to teach 8 year old gymnastic students how to pull themselves up on a ring into a muscle up. Doing it every now and again is fine, but not every week. You can see the pattern, mainstream crossfit has corrupted the nature of being a strong in shape athlete.
I’m totally okay with Crossfit, but don’t drink the kool aide. Do what the rest aren’t. Lift heavy, be explosive, and get in strong shape. When this style regains its reign amongst all the boxes out there you can hold your head high and say, “Ya, I did that before it was cool.

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About Me

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BS, MS - exercise Physiology
EPC - Board Certified Exercise Physiologist

Published Thesis
The impact of three different forms of warm up on performance


The Effects of Glucose Supplementation on Barbell Velocity and Fatiguability in Weightlifting - A pilot study"

Graduate from Midwestern State University, founder of Endunamoo Barbell Club, and Endunamoo Strength and Conditioning. Working to help athletes physically reach their goals and achieve scholarships while spiritually pouring into as many people as possible on all platforms.