Busting Crossfit Myths - Part 1

Posted by Lora on Wed, Oct 19, 2022

I just absolutely love the sport of CrossFit and functional fitness as a methodology, as it has totally transformed my fitness, body, health and life. The fast growth of the sport over the past 10 years and the number of businesses and jobs it has spawned, just shows that I am not alone in my sentiments. I believe that functional fitness applied correctly can transform people’s health in ways that not many other methodologies can. However, here the key words are “applied correctly”.

The sport has grown tremendously in the past years. That, of course, has led to an increased demand for gyms, coaches and products that support athletes in their journey to health and fitness. As with everything growing exponentially it is difficult to maintain high quality without diluting the knowledge base. And this is exactly what happened to CrossFit. Today there are over 35,000 CrossFit certified trainers, and yet only 27% of them have an exercise-related degree.

Naturally this leads to more and more conflicting information and more and more lower qualified coaches. I mean, you can’t blame them. CrossFit requires just a 2 day course and a multiple choice exam in order to hand you a certificate allowing you to coach people on their journey to better health.

All this plus the large amount of conflicting information on the web, lack of scientific research and CrossFir influencers spreading their opinions as facts, creates an environment where popular culture becomes the rule. Surrounded by much CrossFit folklore, there are 3 widely spread doctrines that are not only based on zero scientific evidence, but also fuel criticism towards the sport, are dangerous for those who practice it, and quite frankly grind my gears.

In the following articles I will be the CrossFit MythBuster discussing why those popular assumptions are absolutely false.

Myth #1: Always go RX when you can

There is a widely spread belief that going RX when you can is the best way to approach a workout. While this might be a good strategy when competing in The Open, this is definitely the wrong way of approaching your training.

Why is going RX the best strategy for The Open?

The reason why we want to go RX for The Open is that even 1 RX rep would take you higher in the leaderboard than a complete scaled workout. In my opinion, this is a complete oversight by CrossFit Inc. as it pushes athletes to optimize their Open strategy for the wrong thing. How can any system (or coach, or athlete) agree that 1 rep of RX movement is a better overall performance than an entire workout with appropriate scaling?! While we cannot change the way CrossFit Inc. judges athletes’ results in their competitions (except maybe keep making noise about it in articles and stuff ;), we can stop perpetuating this way of thinking when it comes to our training.

Scaling is your friend

Scaling in your everyday training is one of the best things you can do to achieve sustained results in your fitness. Intelligent scaling that is appropriate to your level of fitness, as well as a clear plan on how to progress into the full movement, will allow you to achieve the desired adaptations without risking overtraining or injury. Scaling appropriately is a big topic within CrossFit, however there is no one definitive guide on how to properly scale.

While there is no clear recipe, here are a few important considerations when it comes to scaling. Think about what the desired stimulus of the workout is. If you are new to the sport, discuss that with your coach or training buddies. Think about whether that stimulus is a particular metabolic pathway, hence preserving the time required to complete is most important, or perhaps the key stimulus is the movement pattern or movement complexity. There is a great article by Jeremy Gordon CF L-4 available here. It does not contain a formula for scaling CrossFit workouts, but it should help you get in the right mindset. And remember scaling is your friend, so do it as often as you need.

So next time you see a WOD and you wonder “Should I go RX?” ask your coach what are the intended stimuli for this workout, think of the last time you did something similar, consider your personal best for some (or all) of the movements present.

In the next article we will be discussing why you should NOT put in your max effort into every workout.

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