“CrossFit is dangerous.”
“I’ve watched all the YouTube videos about how you get injured doing CrossFit so…”
“I’ve been doing CrossFit 3-5 times per week for a year and my shoulder is jacked.”
Ten years into this type of training and I don’t think there’s anything we haven’t heard. Having run two gyms now and trained thousands of people for varying durations I can tell you that there comes a time when you have to decide where you, that athlete, are on the scale of being an athlete in a CrossFit gym. I use CrossFit as the example training program because that is the one I have worked in personally as an athlete and as a coach. Any training program or recreational sport will have the same kind of timeline. (As an aside, there are more injuries to runners per year than in CrossFit according to this NYT article.) As a people we want the results of the top tier athletes along with the amazing bodies and perceived wonderful lives but few, if any, of us care to treat our bodies as top tier athletes do.
While I understand that it is an ad from UnderArmor, it is not imaginary the work and nutrition and therapy and effort that Micheal Phelps puts in to being the best in his sport. Those results and that body don’t just happen.
Yet we want to be able to be weekend warriors with no work on mobility or stabilizing strength effort without getting injured. We want to walk into a CrossFit gym and jump in head first because if a little is good then all of it is great but we also want to eat whatever and drink whatever and ignore that we are older, that we don’t have a solid foundation before advancing in weight or technical skill or volume of load. A good coach will steer you to better nutrition and, hopefully, quality supplementation. They will encourage you to seek out chiropractic or massage or some combination thereof care for your beaten body. They will not push you heavier before your technique is solid when moving light things. A good coach will tell you no when its needed.
Most people walking in to a CrossFit gym forget that time has continued on since that last high school or college game. They forget that they spend the majority of their day sitting and that they’ve put on 10-40 pounds since they last competed. The competition bug doesn’t go away. It just rests until you make the time in your life again. For other people, it is the first time they have felt strong physically which leads to feeling strong mentally. It becomes addictive because it bleeds over into the rest of your life which makes you feel mentally stronger so you put in more at the gym so you feel physically stronger and so on and so forth. Super addictive.
These changes and challenges for your mind and body are great! Here’s the thing though. A ton of previous athletes who just start realizing the core isn’t just the rectus abdominis because they can do this and this and that but not hollow rocks, they don’t do hollow rocks and don’t progress on knees to elbows or toes to bar without back pain. The back pain didn’t come because of CrossFit. It came because by doing CrossFit they found a weakness that needs to be addressed. As adults, it is up to them, if they want to progress in their athletic endeavors, to find ways to correct that weakness. Most folks simply stop doing that movement or that drill or that sport even because it hurts rather than finding out why it hurts and fixing that so they can continue on. Not doing that thing they aren’t good at or don’t like is not a viable long term solution if they want to continue to push their bodies. Again, this goes for continuing any sports after your teens.
And here’s where coaching should come in. Find the right coach for you. Whether your sport is soccer or running or CrossFit you need to find a coach who fits your needs and goals. Find someone who takes continues their education and works on themselves to be better so that they can better take care of their athletes. It matters. Find a therapeutic massage person. A sports massage person. These aren’t feel good massages. They are painful and they get results. Find a chiropractor that is fit and understands your sport. Preferably one who has previously done or currently does your sport. They will understand your issues and need to get back at your sport better. Add in yoga or a stretch class to help you be better overall and stronger. Resources online for DIY mobility don’t come any better than Kelly Starrett and MobilityWOD. Dig in and start helping yourself!
A lot of coaches have no interest in delving into nutrition. I get that. But if you have questions on optimizing what you’re doing in the gym then your coach ought to be able to point you in the direction of a program somewhere or a nutrition professional or at least a book. And there is no one right way to eat so you have to be an active participant if you want the best results for yourself. We’ve done everything except what the government recommends. Read Matt’s post about this year’s experiment HERE. And we are giant fans of AdvoCare for supplementation whether it is for overall and general health and wellness or sport performance. You can read up on it HERE. (And yes, we make money if someone buys AdvoCare products from us. One of the other giant reasons we love them. Its our own supplement store!) There are other supplement companies out there that make good products. Make sure you can ask questions not of the call center workers or simple FAQ pages but of the researchers and medical folks creating the products. I’m not kidding when I say Matt calls and messages and asks and asks and asks. AdvoCare is solid.
For any sport or athletic endeavor, you have to decide what you’re looking for. If you’re just wanting to lose weight and feel better then find a gym or program that does that for you. If you are wanting to find that new thing to compete in then make sure you have a team that supports you in your efforts and build in the other parts to really be your best. Know where you are willing to make sacrifices and adjustments in other areas of your life and what’s important to you. Partying like you’re 20, eating junk and not sleeping will not be possible to continue in your 30’s or 40’s, not so that you can actually compete well or without repercussions. You make the choice and then the necessary decisions to support that choice. Don’t do your part and you will find the end of your newfound career sooner rather than later.