An Overview of CrossFit
3. Likelihood of Overuse Injury
Another serious drawback of specializing is overuse injuries. Almost invariably with physical training comes an injury. However, the vast majority of training injuries are due to overuse. This is general knowledge in the fitness training world. Overuse injuries are common with any specializing athlete. Long distance runners with shin splints or stress fractures, bodybuilders with injured wrists, even gymnasts with strains and sprains. These athletes routinely tax the same parts of their bodies over and over each training session, workout, or competition. This routine and repeated use of a certain body part or joint is a serious drawback. CrossFit tries to avoid this as much as possible by not demanding using a muscle, muscle group, or joint in excess. That being said, CrossFit does not follow a pattern to ensure that a muscle group is not used two workouts in a row. While a workout might demand squats, and then the next day require walking lunges, even though similar muscle groups (the legs) are being used, they are being used differently and this situation is not happening each and every day like a distance runner using his or her legs to train every day.
4. Lack of Transfer of Training
The specialized athlete also lacks the ability to perform well outside of his or her area. As Greg Glassman states, "We [CrossFitters] do your stuff nearly as well as you [other training programs] do, you can't do ours very well at all, and we do everything that we both don't do much better than you can. Not very humble, I know, but true” (ASEP Lecture). For example, if you were to put a professional bodybuilder and a CrossFitter in a gravel shoveling competition; neither one trains shoveling gravel, but the CrossFitter would be able to shovel more gravel then another athlete (Glassman Interview 1). Any balanced athlete will beat a specialized athlete in any activity outside the specialized athletes’ discipline. This is obvious to all in the fitness training realm. No one like Lance Armstrong can win a competitive weight lifting competition just like a bodybuilder can’t win a bike race. Additionally, neither of those athletes would be able to compete with a long distance runner. CrossFit athletes strive to be able to compete against these specialized athletes, all of them. A CrossFitter trains to have the endurance for a bike race or distance run, or the strength for a weight lifting competition. Granted, a CrossFitter typically won’t beat a specialized athlete in that athlete’s field; they will probably come fairly close. Conversely a specialized athlete will not be able to do the same. An example of this is CrossFitter Greg Amundson. Amundson was challenged to attempt to run 100 miles in 24 hours. He had a month to train and prepare. Terms of the challenge included the fact that Greg would only do the WOD as posted on the CrossFit main site and do no additional long distance training. He only ran a total of two miles in the month leading up to the day of the run. He started the run from Camp Pendleton, with the plan of running 50 miles away and turning around to achieve 100 miles. Unfortunately, Greg was not able to compete the full distance. He managed to run 80.3 miles in 24 hours. He finished the first 50 miles in just over 11 hours and was only unable to finish the last 50 miles because of such intense pain in his feet and calves. In his article detailing the run, Amundson stated; “Although our goal was ultimately to cover 100 miles in the same amount of time, and certainly could have benefited from more sport-specific training, I had achieved 80% of what I had set out to do….In reflection, far from a failure, I see the run as a success for CrossFit, and living proof that CrossFit fitness is the best fitness program in the world” (Amundson). CrossFit programming prepared Amundson for an 80 mile run with virtually no long distance running training. This is a testament to the effectiveness of CrossFit. Amundson also hypothesizes that if he had done more long distance training prior to the run, he would have suffered typical runners’ overuse injuries (Amundson).