by Jeff Thaxton |   Date Released : 18 Sep 2007
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Jeff Thaxton

About the author: Jeff Thaxton

Jeff Thaxton is a Certified Personal Trainer by the American Council on Exercise. He earned a BS degree in Exercise Science at Eastern Washington University in 2001 and has continuing education certifications in human movement, advanced program design, nutrition for special populations, counseling for health and fitness professionals, overcoming fitness plateaus and others. He is the owner of an in home personal training business called Fit for Life, and he has volunteer experience in physical therapy clinics and cardiopulmonary units.

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Comments (8)

Davis, Paul | 04 Oct 2010, 17:45 PM

As an ACSM CPT I am always looking for new ideas/exercises to incorporate into my clients routines as well as my own routines. Back in 2009 I went to a Crossfit facility in illinois about 45 miles nw of Chicago. What I observed was an absolute joke. I watched as these "trainers" "coached" these participants. I listened to all the machismo Bullshit yelling and screaming and had to really bite my tongue. I watched as this again "trainer" had these 20-30 something yr old girls doing Barbell overhead presses. The girls could hardly stabilize the barbell, they were tilting left and right, and this moron was congratulating them. I have observed other Crossfit locations and found pretty much the same thing. A bunch of clowns with Crossfit "level1: and "Level2" certs. setting up naive participants for a whole lot of pain in the near future. It turns out the owner of the first facility I mentioned wound up in the hospital because of his lack of education. I have noticed in the Chicagoland area that there are a few facilities where the trainers at least have NASM, NSCA (CSCS), CPT certs. I can only hope that they are applying their knowledge of exercise science to their Crossfitt participants. I do like some of the concepts of Crossfit, but overall I feel it is incredibly irresponsible and has no business in the real world of exercise SCIENCE. You just cannot take people who are novices or even experienced , and run them through a two week "ramp-up" course and expect them to be perform olympic lifts. Olympic lifts are complicated, regarding the compound nature of the movements. Your talking about exercises that require the coordination of 6-7 joints . No novice has any business doing these types of lift, and no novice has any business teaching these movements. For those Crossfitters/ instructors who do have real olympic lifting training experience then thats great, I truly hope that you teach participants appropriately and do away with this "No pain-No gain/ Go Heavy Go Home " attitude.

Bowen, Amanda | 25 May 2010, 16:09 PM

1. Universally scalable- anyone can do it, there is a scaling option for all physical levels of ability.

2. Constantly varied functional movements, then executed at high intensity if form/technique allows.

Bott, Carmen | 18 Aug 2009, 05:10 AM

Good article - I support your opinion (and those interviewed) and objective analysis of Cross-Fit. Performing Olympic Lifts in a fatigued setting for the General Population is an irresponsible application of sport science. Unfortunately, people ARE getting injured as my firm is fixing them on a weekly basis, plus re-educating them on the concepts of progression and periodization. There is simply a lack of understanding of human organism adaptation to physical stress and its subsequent supercompensation, which is fundametal physiology. I am not in agreement with their mandate, or code of ethics (or apparent lack thereof).

Johnson, Alan | 12 Jun 2009, 03:31 AM

There is CrossFit, which is constantly varied, functional exercise done at high intensity and then there is the reputation of CrossFit which is that of a renegade, elitist cult. The latter actually comes from people's reviews of CrossFit and not the actual community. I have had the privilege of being in the presence of the who's who of CrossFit and CrossFit headquarters through certifications, seminars and competitions. I even got a chance to hear Coach Glassman speak at my Level 1 Certification in Brooklyn. It was a real treat! I have yet to see why there is so much negative criticism about the quality of the coaches or the attitude of CrossFit athletes.

Most, if not all CrossFit gyms require that you go through a "Foundations" program which teaches fundamental movements. The first thing that you will notice is that you learn these movements with only your bodyweight or a PVC pipe. You'd be surprised at how much you can accomplish with a PVC pipe or a broomstick.

When it comes to exercise, "one size fits all" is actually the best approach. As Mark Rippetoe says in his book, Starting Strength, "Physical strength is the most important thing in life. This is true whether we want it to be or not."
Everyone benefits from getting strong. It shouldn't be seen as a goal, but instead, as a requirement. You will understand this when you are having difficulty getting out of the tub, off the toilet or needing assistance while getting dressed. While strength is the most important, it's only a piece of the fitness pie. CrossFit's programming addresses all 10 Physical Skills. Get good at everything instead of great at one thing. Who couldn't benefit from having strength, stamina, power, cardio respiratory endurance, flexibility, balance, accuracy, speed, coordination and agility? Another question is, why wouldn't you want to be good at all 10 Physical Skills? It would only improve the quality of your life.

Goh, Cheng | 01 May 2009, 03:19 AM

when people say "crossfit isn't for everyone", they truly do not understand the concept of crossfit. Our movements are functional, and natural. Intensity, is just like resistance. Intensity is progressive, when you stat as a beginner, and intensity and is different to each individual.

Fabio Comana states "My concern is that one cookie-cutter program doesn't apply to everyone," he said. Comana is refering directly to the "workout of the day". This is true in a sense that the workout does not explain any scaled versions. Everyone has varying degrees of health and fitness, abilities and disabilities, and it is up to good coach to correctly scale a workout. I do not think that Coach Glassman (the founder of crossfit that writes the workout of the day or "WOD") would be wanting to sit on his pc all day and write up different variations of the program. Crossfit also aims to round you out as an athlete and work on the "chinks in your armor", so in terms of being a cookie cutter program, is thoroughly incorrect, as we encourage your programming to reflect your weaknesses. The WOD is simply an ideal way to approach your workout, not something that is set in stone.

Walker, Jason | 13 Apr 2009, 05:26 AM

What really annoys me about people analysing crossfit from an outside perspective and not really learning about it or understanding it. Let me address your issues

Your problem with Cindy, a person doing maximum reps for bodyweight lifts. You say the problem is as many rounds in 20 minutes, whats the problem with that, you haven't actually stated why thats a problem? Its like saying its a problem to go for your fastest time in a 200m sprint.

Linda or "Three Bars of Death' as it was nicknamed is just like any other crossfit workout, intended to be scalable suited towards the abilities of the client. Crossfit workouts are all designed to scale the exercise, reps, weight, intensity etc and the WOD or Workout of the Day is designed at being something to aspire to when your fitness capabilities match. Of course beginners shouldn't attempt the full workouts, and a good CrossFit instructor will always preach that.

Whats stopping a sedentary person from attemtping a marathon or loading 180kg onto a bench press? These situations are potentially just as harmful, and considering CrossFit gyms have certified instructors coaching form Crossfit is a much safer situation. Any form of exercise can involve people overdoing themselves, why is CrossFit singled out as so dangerous when potentially any exercise can be dangerous when done with poor form or taken beyond the participants fitness capabilities.

The scenario where rhabdomyolysis occured could potentially happen to anyone, what if someone who hadn't exercised in decades went out and did a marathon, a similar thing may occur. Yet CrossFit has had this 1 case documented over and over again yet are the statistics raised about the number of deaths as a result of a triathalon, swim, or standard resistance training? No. Because your happy to have a go, yet not compare it to issues your 'safe' sports hold.

When you talking about Seniors Citizens doing the workouts...once again through poor or lack of research you don't have seemed to grasped one of the most important concepts to CrossFit - scaling. Workouts are designed to be scaled to the participants fitness levels!

Your wrong about speed is the main goal, CrossFit coaches are extremely (much more than the average trainer or gym goer) concious of correct form, browse the CrossFit main website and you will see an extensive library of exercise demonstrations, the same applies in the certifications to become qualified to instruct CrossFit.

Take a look around your normal gym at the clown doing Barbell Bicep curls, way to heavy for him, pretty much turning it into a back extension at extreme speed. Tell me that this is more functional, safe and can yield more positive benefits. In any sport or form of exercise you will always see people doing executing with less than ideal technique. Experienced CrossFitters may step over the boundary of perfect form at times in search for a high intensity, finding a good balance between technique and intensity is important. One without the other is useless.

Injuries aren't neccesarily viewed as badges of honour by everyone, like every sport there will be people who take it to the extreme. Many sports operate from the same kind of orientation, where in Australian Football in almost any game ever, you will find people playing or returning the the field in a state which would be much less than ideal to suitably participate.

I just dont know why everyone just wants to put down CrossFit when they are doing a great thing by getting many people fit and healthy who otherwise may not be.

I suggest in the future before forming an opinion on someone and publicising it for the world on a respected outlet, do some real research yourself and actually engage yourself into the full side of CrossFit. Not just getting your opionion from other articles on the net from other people who have failed to do the same thing.

I'm not having a personal dig or anything I'm just sick of Crossfit being unfairly represented by people who may be less than fully educated on what its about. I admit CrossFit isn't perfect but what Training program is?

A reply would be great, cheers.

Willis, Justin | 13 Apr 2009, 05:08 AM

I have been a strength and conditioning coach since the spring of '03 when I reeceived my CSCS and began work at WVU under Mike Barwiz. I just recently completed my CrossFit level 1 certification, and am sorry to say, this article is not the CrossFit I learned about. They teach Mechanics first, then tehnique, later followed (when the individual is ready) intensity. The whole speed concept, which everyone associates with CrossFit, is not supposed to be allowed until the first 2 parts have been established. Also, they pride themselves in being scalable. The basis of all the workouts is followed by all individuals, but the exact rep numbers, weight, and actual exercise are varied for each indivudual. Such as instead, a young 25 year old will do a chinup and a bar clean , while a grandmother who is 75 will instead do a pullin and a med ball clean. I will admit that I too thought everything CrossFit did was all about speed and eliciting that hormonal response, but when I was at the cert they continuously told us not to rev up the intensity until their form was perfect. Unfortunately, I do believe some bad trainers who just want to make their clients work really hard, don' t take the key concepts of CrossFit into account, and just want to make their clients feel like they were worked really hard. Hope this helps.

Carmichael, Jo | 11 Apr 2009, 06:59 AM

Excelent overview of this workout system. I have seen less experienced trainers running these workouts as group session for clients ranging in ages from 18 to 65 in the same group; I too have concerns when I see improper form coupled with speed. There are definite benifits to some of the workouts; if done with the proper modification and guidence under the watchful eye of an experienced trainer. Crossfit workouts are not for everyone. I have been a trainer for 23 years, I rotate some combinations from Crossfit into my own workouts - however, when dealing with the general population, we must train smarter not just harder.

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