Facebook Pixel
Brookbush Institute Logo

Tuesday, June 6, 2023

What does CrossFit bring to the market?

Brent Brookbush

Brent Brookbush


Panel Discussion: What does CrossFit bring to the market?

This method of training has grown exponentially in popularity, but I am not a fan. What is it that I'm missing?

Moderated by Brent Brookbush DPT, PT, MS, PES, CES, CSCS, ACSM H/FS

This Panel Discussion was originally posted on my facebook page - https://www.facebook.com/brent.brookbush - on June 9th, 2011.

Mike Spiegel, June 9: Only the ignorance to believe that non-specific (over)training creates athletes that are competent in any sport other than the sport of CrossFit, itself.

Tammy Shea, June 9 at 8:48am: CrossFit is NOT for everyone, but I loved it from my very first WOD! It is challenging and makes you dig deep to see what you are made of. I am stronger, faster and better than I have ever been. Some people don't want to work out with intensity they just want to run LSD and do curls while they look at themselves in the mirror and that is ok too…just not for me! I have tried all the different types of work outs and CF has given me the results that I was looking for.

Andrew Eaton, June 9 at 8:54: I think, for the consumer, it solves two typical excuses/problems: boredom with their workouts and not enough time to exercise. For an athlete, it can be a great way to quickly increase overall conditioning, strength, and explosiveness. As a non-CrossFitter who had witnessed some CF-related injuries, I was not a fan for a long time, as it seemed that technique came second to finishing reps. It occurred to me eventually that CF, like anything, has good instructors and bad, and there will be injuries in almost any program. (though, perhaps not at the same rate as CF due to the velocity of training).

Neil Ryan Guieb, June 9 at 8:59am I'm interested to know why you're not a fan, Brent.

Catherine D’ Arcy Onnen, June 9 at 10:47am: As a CrossFitter for a year now… I know it has dramatically changed my life and my body! I've been an athlete my whole life and have played at the collegiate level and had never felt like I trained to my true potential until I found CrossFit. Just like the above comment, I too believe there are good/bad instructors… Mine are some of the best and it feels damn goody be able to do 10 pull-ups in a row!!! You are not able to enter the classes until you complete a series of foundations courses, learning the movements and how to assess your body more kinesthetically instead of by looking in a mirror. Every session stars with skill work and then we proceed to the workout. It’s my passion! All I have to say is that there are Hagerstown out here and those who have their opinions… But don't knock it till you try it! ;)

Brain Flynn, June 9 at 10:59am: Not a fan either Brent . Let’s forget about the obvious need for corrective exercises and the major postural distortion patterns that CF has potential to create. I’d like to see the rationale behind some of the programs. How have these trainers progressed these clients to justify movements and intensity at which they are training. Can you say rhabdomyolysis? Any program that puts a client at risk for injury, illness or death seriously needs to be rethought. At the end of the day results are the name of the game but in a safe, controlled environment with rationale based on science not simply bc it feels good.

Derrick Price, June 9 at 11:23am: Tammy's response above pretty much sums up its validity. She loves it, feels stronger, faster and better than she has ever felt. There are many others who feel the same way. Regardless of what we "experts" believe about the physiological implications of such a modality of training, who are we to judge and invalidate others for their exercise choices? We should be encouraging people to exercise and applauding their efforts, not looking for reasons for them to stop what they love doing. It's funny how as a community we complain that people are lazy and need to exercise more but yet we're the first ones to invalidate them for their choices.

Benjamin Sabo, June 9 at 11:32am: If I ever need to find an example of poor form, I can always refer to just about any Crossfit video on YouTube, so it's good for something. Women will typically get better results because they can handle more volume relative to their 1RM and still get a strength-training stimulus. That doesn't mean you can't get even better results with a proper program. And training the Olympic lifts to exhaustion is a gross violation of basic training principles. I don't think you're missing anything, Brent.

Brian Flynn, June 9 at 11:41am: Good point DP but fun doesn't always equal safe. If we as trainers put place clients into a position of potential injury or illness what are they paying us for? Movement is a beautiful thing and everyone needs to do it, but safely. The whole" I do it because I like it" or " it just feels good" is fantastic until you get injured which increases doctors visits, PT visits and negatively impacts the persons health and mental state. Are we really helping them? Are they sacrificing long term health for immediate results? Ultimately in any training environment there is levels of risk involved. Do I like HITT or metabolic training? Yes but only when progressed in a safe environment with as little risk as possible.

Derrick Price, June 9 at 12:06pm: You're correct Brian. As a trainer, we do want to minimize risks and maximize rewards. But it doesn't mean we should invalidate an entire community of people who exercise because we believe they are doing everything "wrong".

Is it possible to regress and then progress a CrossFit program? Is it possible to perform CrossFit and minimize potential for injury? Is it possible that people who are successfully utilizing CrossFit may never receive an injury as a result of doing it? Is it possible that what we believe about movement and exercise today may greatly change in the future? I believe the answer is yes to all of these questions.

If we are to judge CrossFit for being unsafe, then we should put Running, Triathlons, Parkour, Rock Climbing, Boxing, Kickboxing, MMA…on the same list. The risk of injury can be considered high in many of these modalities of exercise for many people.

As a community, let’s work on putting the client first before our own expertise. We are breeders of change. The last thing we want to do is prevent people from changing.

Brian Flynn, June 9 at 12:22pm: I agree w/ everything you just said. The change is what keeps it interesting. I am not saying to not do it. I am saying to progress it and have a reason why you do it, trainer or not. If fun and testing your limits are your reason then understand the potential risks involved and proceed with caution. Based off of what science has given us to date it is not the safest of options. Will this change? Perhaps but if it doesn't then was the risk really worth the reward?

Andrew Eaton: June 9 at 1:42pm Just wanted to add a second comment to this discussion; CrossFit can be a polarizing topic among fitness pros; I want to commend everyone who's posted.

Shawn Fears, June 9 at 2:00pm: I have to get in on this discussion lol

I work for the Air Force as a Fitness Assessment Cell - Health Tech, my opinion is quite simple I see minimal if at all any transverse and frontal plane exercises, O-lifts for high reps are pure negligence by any intelligent trainer unless it’s just the bar, their mascot "Pukey" the clown sums it up for me. It is an outdated mentality that grows in favor due to the shorter workouts.

With that being said it is a meat grinder system and if you can survive you will be better conditioned for the CrossFit games…if not you will succumb to poor form (which they expect to see 20% of the time) and injury.

Does it work? yes anything works till you’re injured.

Can it be made better? absolutely, when trainers like the ones that trade ideas on Brent’s discussions get on board and improve it.

What’s keeping trainers like us from seeing the positive in CrossFit? The $1000 certification that we have to dummy ourselves down to attend and forget everythi,g we know about exercise science to pass.

I would also like to add that the Air Force has posted a statement that Cross Fit is dangerous and should not be done by any member of the Air Force. With that being said there are Air Force Bases that have separate training equipment that is commonly used in CrossFit it is just not condoned.

I will say in defense of CrossFit in regards to the Air Force PT test, if an airman makes it through the meat grinder without injury they tend to score in the excellent category.

Brent, while there are many things that need improvement in the system it does work and people do like it. I agree with Derrick Price if it gets people moving then it is a step in the right direction and who are we to tell somebody that needs to get moving " No not that way". Its time that as trainers we get on board with more positive reinforcement and then manipulate for safety.

For example:

That’s really good - Step 1 positive feedback

Next time try it like this and see if you like that - Sep 2 the fix

Way to give it your all - Step 3 positive reinforcement

Brent Brookbush, June 9 at 2:11pm: Number One… You Kats are awesome!!! I appreciate the participation, professional debate, and varying opinions in this post. Once again, you have all helped me to realize a dream of integrating the ideas of the professional community. In the future forums will be started on this page, but be continued on my site where they can be catalogued, continued indefinitely, and not disappear. I will keep you posted on the launch which should be in the next 24 hours.

Now for my opinion. I educate because I believe in what athletic training and exercise can be, and CrossFit comes up short (in my humble opinion). We need integrated solutions that give the consumer what they want and provide them with what they need. Metabolic training, and high intensity training are great, but still can be done with optimal human movement in mind. What of the tenets of B2C Fitness is "It is not enough to move more when we can also help people move better. The lack of a corrective exercise warm-up/movement preparatory period at the beginning of a CrossFit program is ignoring one of the most innovative ideas in fitness programming in the last 2 decades. Second, their idea of progression is a little ridiculous - the regression for a body-weight pull-up is jumping pull-ups. So now you have take a strength exercise that most individuals can't do and turned it into a power exercise that anybody with lower-body exercise should probably not do. Third, the form second mentality is not appropriate - everyone has movement dysfunction, and if left unchecked it will result in injury. It is not a matter of if, it is only a matter of when. I am not condemning CrossFit as a mode of exercise… what I am saying is they can do much, much better. Both B2C Fitness and NASM have created High intensity, and metabolic training programs that are safe, progressive, and improve human movement. The fact that Crossfit costs more than an NASM workshop or a B2C Fitness workshop is not okay, or maybe it is. If something is cheaper and better, chances are it will when in a competitive market.

‎Shawn Fears, June 9 at 2:23pm "It is not enough to move more when we can also help people move better" I love this quote, thanks B2…

Brent Brookbush: Derrick Price, you are someone I respect both personally and professionally and I am grateful you chimed in. I wanted to address your comment about certain sporting activities that are just as dangerous as CrossFit. The main difference I see between CrossFit and sport is… we train for optimal mechanics and conditioning in preparation for sport, and it is the sport that motivates us to continue returning to the gym for optimal progressive conditioning. In the case of Crossfit, Crossfit is most often the goal and training unto itself and because of that sets up certain deficiencies in programming. Generally individuals are not going to return to the gym to perform corrective exercise, stability training, and strength training to prepare for CrossFit, however, they will do all these things to improve for a sport. I think CrossFit has a responsibility to make itself all it can be, and I have yet to see that from this organization. Evidently that have yet to realize the long-teerm profit potential of keeping people injury free longer, returning for sessions more often, and the gratification of feeling worked and better at the same time…. Your thoughts professor Derrick Price.

Derrick Price, June 9 at 2:55pm Thanks Brent, the feeling is mutual.

If we called CrossFit a "sport", as opposed to an exercise modality, would it change your perception of it? CrossFit practices a particular set of movements for their sport (sport specific training). Like all sports, as you mentioned, they would benefit from integrating other tools and modalities of exercise such as corrective exercise to enhance their sport. Doesn't make the sport bad or not worthwhile to pursue.

I have never participated in a CrossFit workout so I am a humble outsider simply observing. But when I see someone like Tammy say something like "I'm feeling stronger, faster and better than ever" they must be doing some things right. Maybe we should first take a look at the great things CrossFit does before picking it apart.

If you feel they are completely dropping the ball on this, then I would really encourage you to create your own version of it. You are talented and smart enough to do so. The industry would benefit from it.

Thanks for allowing me to chime in BB and everyone else. Have a great rest of your day!

Brent Brookbush, June 9 at 3:14pm Your right DP, they are doing a lot right, and much of my criticism is aimed at their position in the industry. To quote spiderman - "with great power comes great responsibility" (I am seriously getting nerdier every day :-)-) . I am working on creating optimal programming that is as attractive as crossfit, but addresses all the issues I have brought up. Hopefully I can have as great an impact.

Neil Ryan Guieb, June 9 at 3:14pm: I'm going to try and come from as an unbiased position as possible, having had a personal trainer who was NASM certified and now training at a Crossfit affiliate so I can definitely see both sides. First off, I think there's something wrong with generalizing a whole program based on popular mentality. My coaches at Crossfit Las Vegas definitely stress proper form and would rather you sacrifice your overall time to do them correctly. We have a month-long course before you actually start doing the actual workouts where we learn all these movements and the coaches will "no rep" you until you do the movement correctly. We also do warm-up before the workout of the day. They also post articles about rhabdomyolysis awareness, the importance of diet and sleep, and other subjects to help with your overall fitness on their daily blog/site. Now can I picture other affiliates not being as well-rounded or as professional? Absolutely. But that applies to every fitness regimen. My NASM-certified trainer was great in terms of knowledge and personality, but did he push me to work harder? No. Did he try to motivate me beyond my goals? No. Should I assume every trainer will be like that? Absolutely not. I agree that if Crossfit is not properly introduced to someone, serious injury can definitely result but you have to be completely ignorant if you don't see the benefits. Every program will have its pros and cons and I agree with the gentleman who mentioned something about every step towards fitness should at least be recognized.

Catherine D’ Arcy Onnen, June 9 at 3:19pm: Point taken, Brent! And I didn't mean to come off as careless with my first post- my enthusiasm mostly came from the fact that I had just gotten home from Crossfit and I was proud of my PR in the Clean and Jerk! But in all seriousness, I have actually addressed some of your concerns directly to my fiancé.. I always say "If they had a corrective exercise circuit right before the WODS this place would be perfect!" Its hard as a trainer to sometime see people come in off the street and not get the specific attention paid to small things that many CrossFit coaches might not notice- LPHC dysfunction, etc. I do my best to chime in from time to time and give who seem to need it most some direction in how to correct this stuff and work with it. You should be proud to know, however, that I take my fiancé (not the whole class, unfortunately) through the foam roll and an activation circuit for his glutes usually before every session because I do know how important it is, and we both need it! Would I recommend CrossFit to MY clients? No, not necessarily, and most of them don’t know that I do it… but I'm safe with myself and make sure I take proper precaution when engaging in certain exercises. It seems it should almost be a requirement that all people who do Crossfit study under NASM and have access to your educational expertise like I do! Thank you!

Brent Brookbush, June 9 at 3:22pm: Thank Catherine… I would be more than happy to help you kats create some activation circuits. I do various exclusive workshops for clubs as well as consulting. I am working on finding an educational partner who can provide me space to do workshops off-site of my B2C Fitness Client locations. I will keep you posted.

Catherine D’Arcy Onnen, if you're ever in North Carolina, PLEASE let me know! This would be awesome

Jonathon Schetzle, June 9 at 9:28pm I've never done a CrossFit workout, but have had 2 people close to me experience something they are missing. After a few weeks out, my brother returned to CrossFit, and damn near went to the hospital. I'm just guessing his HR was through the roof and they didn't bother with regression. I mean how can your workout be based off a set in stone "WOD" that implies 'faster is better'…sure it's great to compete against your own time, as well as others, but at what cost?

However, like DP says, 'it's a step in the right direction', and could probably be beneficial if they took a step back and put more care into their programs.

Kelly Starett does a good job of prepping them for the movements. Although, he does state "this is just for performance" and shouldn't be used to address all issues. Check his blog out.

IS that their downfall? Everything for performance, and nothing for longevity? I think so…

Brent Brookbush June 10 at 10:44am: I love your last statement. We definitely need a shift from short-term excitement to sustainable routines that can benefit someone for the long-haul.

Kyle Stull, June 9th 5:00pm: As I try to read through all of these great comments, I think there is one thing missing (if I have missed it, then I apologize). First of all, about three years ago I went out to San Diego and went through the CrossFit Level I certification to learn more about this craze, so I speak on this topic with some experience. I also do realize that all instructors are slightly different, but I had a more positive outlook on CrossFit before I attended the class. The course does teach the need for proper movement, there is also a little talk on how to begin a client who has maybe been a neuromuscular salamander for the past 30 years and offers regressions. But, this was NEVER reinforced during our "training" sessions. What was reinforced was need for more depth, higher jump, faster time, ways to cheat in order to "complete" a particular movement in order for it to count for the Workout of the Day.

To Mr. Price's point, I too love the idea of any type of workout making someone feel like they are achieving more, doing better and increasing ones self esteem. But the quality of some of the CrossFit trainers is what troubles me (which unfortunately is all across the board with this industry). If a trainer reinforces improper movement patterns, then I believe they are doing more of a disservice to that client than a service. Sure, they could help them drop a few pounds and have fun but if the client "throws out" their back while trying to tie their shoe, then the few pounds lost really doesn’t matter.

A CrossFit style workout has a need and a place. If used as part of a periodized program, there is a vast range of benefits the powerful, explosive types of movements can yield. But, it is also necessary to understand that eventually our bodies need to recover or "unload" from that type of training. Hans Selye said "every stress leaves an indelible scare, and the organism pays for its survival after a stressful situation by becoming a little older." We absolutely need the stress in order to induce adaptation, but it should be extremely specific in order to induce a particular change. Not just a free for all to kick everyone’s ass.

© 2014 Brent Brookbush

Continue the conversation using the comment boxes below – questions, comments, and criticisms are welcomed and encouraged!!!