I read other forums, hear people talking and read other fitness websites and there are a lot of people who will not do CrossFit or are strongly against anyone doing it because you will get hurt. I am not talking Rhabdo or anything super severe like that, I am talking those who say kipping pullups will shred your shoulder or that CrossFitters abuse the beauty that are the Olympic lifts.
First, I feel I must say that I agree that there are many CrossFitters who abuse the beautiful Olympic lifts, but a large, large portion of those people are new to CrossFit and just learning. I don’t think there is any harm in doing Isabel, for example, with just a barbell or PVC or some really light weight. Sure the form of a CrossFitter doing Isabel for the first time with poor snatch mechanics is going to look awful, but the effect is still there. Under the eye of a decent coach the athlete should be pretty safe. Many CrossFitters, most of them, aren’t planning on trying to qualify for the American Open or even a local Olympic lift competition. Who cares if they aren’t quite fully extending on the second pull before getting the bar overhead? I don’t stop someone from running just because they pound their heals into the ground.
With that being said, I am sick of hearing how bad all CrossFitters are mechanically. CrossFitters can’t do pullups or that CrossFitters have horrible squat form or that, in general, CrossFitters throw form to the wolves in favor of faster workout times. I have started to go back to 24 Hour Fitness on Thursday evenings for heavy lifting to supplement my daily CrossFit WOD. I am not going to my CrossFit box simply because it is out of the way. Life happens on Thursday and between work and getting to a local pub to play in a billiards league I play in I find a 24 Hour to lift heavy.
Last week I went to 24 Hour and luckily got a squat rack to do some box squats, tempo front squats and banded deadlifts and here were my observations.
(And let me preface this by saying that I do not hate anyone for being at 24 Hour and trying to get in better shape, but rather this shows how horrid form is EVERYWHERE in the fitness world – it isn’t strictly occurring at CrossFit boxes.)
1. Squatting. As I sat in this squat rack for about an hour I saw plenty of guys in the power cage next to me – and not one of them reached full depth in their squat. I have heard that power lifters and body builders think that going past parallel is wrong or unnecessary for their line of training, but I can honestly say that the three guys I saw do squats that none of them were targeting Mr. Olympia someday. All of them were doing basically quarter squats and some of them looked really painful as they leaned way forward on their toes during the squats. How come no one is screaming at 24 Hour Fitness members for their squat form? How come no one is taking on 24 Hour Fitness because they are fearful that knee caps will be shredded?
Here is a video of a guy squatting next to me. He loaded about 225 on the bar and … well … just watch…
2. Deadlifts. Same as squatting. I saw a lady doing max effort, single rep, deadlifts and each of them was stripper style – lots of straight legs to initiate the movement and then all lower back to pull up the weight. Where are the form police??!!
3. One of the funnier comments I heard was a trainer who had her client on the leg press machine and she was telling her client “tighten your core!”. If you are really worried about your clients core you wouldn’t use a machine that allows you to lay down. Get them in a real squat and ask that they keep their chest tall – that will work her core. How ridiculous is the old school way of training? Lay down on a machine to work your legs. Just think about that.
4. Finally, I saw two guys doing pullups and tried to get video because I could almost guarantee that they would be the type to ridicule kipping pullups. Unfortunately I couldn’t get my camera to work because I am a moron, apparently, but their chin was not getting over the bar and they never fully extended at the bottom. Is that really a lot better than kipping? I certainly agree that everyone should have a strict pullup before kipping, but I don’t see where kipping is a bad thing, when done correctly. You can gain just as much from kipping pullups as you can from strict when done properly. But, never fail, these two did not disappoint – I still got a good picture:
That’s right, he is using wrist wraps on the lat pull down machine. So much for grip strength, right?
My point is that all this hate on CrossFit is misdirected. There are tons of examples of people performing improper fitness technique at every gym pretty much all of the time. In many cases the trainers are perpetuating bad form or bad movement. Sure there are bad trainers in CrossFit, but have you seen some of the trainers at your local globo gym? I would say that there is a higher percentage of GOOD trainers training CrossFit when compared to the percentage of good trainers at the globo gyms.
(And I did overhear a conversation between someone and what must have been a personal trainer who was NOT affiliated with 24 Hour Fitness while I was there. The guy got into the power rack, put the bar only on his back, and proceeded to try to “squat”. Knees immediately went forward, weight onto his toes and he didn’t get far down before going back up. He then tells his trainer “my knees and back hurt” and his trainer says “why didn’t you just tell me that?”. Instead of correcting form to allow for squatting in the future they went to the bench to work on his chest. Makes total sense…)
Save all the hatred for CrossFit and worry about the form at your local gym. Maybe become a trainer and help correct some of the ugliness out there. Or just continue to sit at your computer and hate on CrossFit because it is making people healthier and they are enjoying – and this somehow infringes on your belief that you are elite in someway. You’re not so unique anymore now that there are more people who can squat more than you.