By now most people who have an interest in fitness, or at least a goal of shedding some fat fast, have heard of Crossfit. For those of you who have not, Crossfit is a trademarked style of gym/fitness approach where workouts incorporate aspects of power-lifting (think Olympic weightlifting), high-intensity interval training (HIIT), and plyometrics (jumping and bursts of speed type movements), etc.
The benefits of Crossfit is rapid muscle gain, rapid fat loss, and an ego boost usually only achieved by completing true military boot camp (the “I survived it!” affect). The down sides are numerous however, the largest danger lies in the “no-quitting” philosophy built into Crossfit.
For the average body (not already athletic or at least genetically athletic) the excessive abuse on one’s muscles for prolonged periods can cause rhabdomyolysis – a kidney condition that can occur when excessive muscle break down releases myoglobin into the blood stream, which clogs up the kidneys and can thereby potentially poison the body. Crossfit makes you seriously sweat too, which can thereby create dehydration. Without proper hydration, your body cannot rid itself of the toxins (myoglobin) and this can lead to kidney failure and electrolyte imbalances that can ultimately affect your heart.
For these reasons, I have never been a proponent of Crossfit. However, recently I have begun incorporating one aspect of this popular fitness trend into mine and my client’s workouts – the power-lifting nuance. While I have always preferred a muscle isolation style of lifting (i.e., focusing my form to only using the biceps when performing curls, etc.), I have come to realize that sometimes lifting heavy enough that you need to draw upon several muscle groups to achieve the desired lift/push/pull, can definitely accelerate certain fitness goals.
Therefore, as an example (see photo below) I might throw in a barbell squat jerk to curl to overhead press with straight arm return. By starting with a heavier weight than I might normally be able to curl 10 times, I use legs, back, and shoulders to power up that weight and then thrust it above my head.
So while I still do not recommend entire daily workouts of Crossfit for the average client, I can advise you to consider incorporating some of their style into your weekly workouts. With careful attention to form and a lessening of the typical aggressive Crossfit style, you can still gain all the benefits, without as much risk. As always, it’s about balance — exercising too hard vs. too little. Find the right amount and take care of your body.