“Is CrossFit right for athletes?” This is a question I hear all the time when speaking with any potential member of our community. I even hear it as just a common question among those who already workout in our box. Because of that, I thought it would be useful to visit this idea in a bit more detail.
The Short, Short Version
If you got that reference to the movie, “Space Balls” you and I can be best friends. If you don’t watch this. Anyway, in short the answer to the above question is a simple, “yes.” But as we know, it is always a longer answer than just one word.
However, I have yet to see a sport in which being stronger, faster, and more mobile is a bad thing. To illustrate this point, let’s look at three instances, in very different sports, in which CrossFit has helped an athlete achieve their goals.
Starting off about as strong as it gets, here is a video in which an Olympic level rower states that she uses CrossFit to prepare for her event. Interestingly, this rower from Northern California, Erin Cafaro, also utilized CrossFit to prepare for the London games.
In that article and subsequent video, Erin talks about how she is undersized to compete within her sport. She is 5’9 while most Olympic rowers are 6’0 tall. To compensate for this, Erin utilizes intense weight training, as well as interval training which is exactly what CrossFit supports utilizing 90% of the time for the daily training. Combined with heavy lifting, longer endurance, and an appropriate diet, that interval work becomes even more effective.
For the triathlete, the biggest benefit of CrossFit is that it is the antithesis to specialization. The triathlete works at extreme endurance levels; at the other end of the spectrum CrossFit performs mainly weightlifting and body weight moves done at high intensity.
Triathletes are often times weak in terms of overall strength. Sorry, that is just how it is. But what happens when they get strong? Strong does not equal bulky, as some people presume. Strength does not have to go along with size. A stronger triathlete expends less energy per step, stroke, and pedal, and therefore has a lot more left in the tank for that last kick.
The Basketball Player (aka team sport athlete)
For many team sport athletes, they believe that getting individual training can be the leg up to advance past the competition. This desire spawned the “sport specific training” which, quite frankly, I just don’t love. Until you are in the top, top percentile and only focusing on one piece of training, sport specific work simply does not make sense to my mind. For many athletes I never see it become as beneficial as a more well rounded general physical preparation program, such as CrossFit.
On a personal level, I have become an infinitely better athlete since I started training solely in a CrossFit style. I played soccer for NC State University at the Division 1 level, and I can honestly say had I found CrossFit before graduation. I now jump higher. I run faster. I am able to distribute better than I did when I still played because I’m so much stronger and it takes less energy. Plus, if it is good enough for the military academy, it is good enough for me.