While the top CrossFit games competitors may be good at a lot of things, chances are they will never beat a top athlete in one particular sport. “Because of the specific skills that every sport requires, a generalist will never be the best at anything other than being a generalist,” says trainer Mark Nutting. For this reason, the CrossFit games enable those who enjoy CrossFit to have a level playing field for competition. It makes it fun for those involved, but the workout does not translate to any other sports field, Nutting says.
You may get hurt doing CrossFit, but research shows that your injury risk is similar to that of other sports. CrossFit’s high-intensity programs and recent incident of a CrossFit trainer’s severed spine during a competition have put a spotlight on its injury potential. A 2013 study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research of 132 CrossFit athletes found that 97 (73.5 percent) of them had experienced an injury during CrossFit training. Nine required surgery. Researchers determined the injury rate as similar to that of Olympic weightlifting, powerlifting and gymnastics. “Taking the most difficult lifts and doing them for time is a bad combination,” says Tom Holland, MS, CSCS, author of “Beat the Gym” and a Connecticut-based exercise physiologist. “You should stop when your form is compromised – this is called ‘technical failure.’ Injuries are more likely to occur when you keep going.” Stay safe by knowing when to stop and by finding the most educated CrossFit coach.
“Get in shape for what?” is the question those considering CrossFit training should ask themselves, says Mark Nutting, CSCS, fitness director of SACO Sport & Fitness, Saco, Maine. “CrossFit certainly can improve the cardiovascular system, but does that make it the best for improving your endurance race time? No,” says Nutting, USAW certified and a CrossFit Level 1 trainer. “Is it the best for my 83-year-old mother? Not a chance. It would be rare for a CrossFit instructor to know how to periodize (create a schedule of programmed workouts used with athletes preparing for a competition) a program to complement the sport’s already demanding physical requirements.” Getting in shape requires a well-designed program personalized for the individual, created by a qualified professional and focused on your specific goals.