The number of people doing CrossFit is increasing exponentially. With the high level of growth, a number of questions or myths arise from those unfamiliar with the specifics of CrossFit or from those who have not yet ventured into their local gym to have a look for themselves. In this article we will take a look at 5 popular myths and the facts vs. fiction.
Myth #1: CrossFit causes Rhabdo.
The Facts: This myth is probably the most famous one out there. In reality, Rhabdomyolysis is a condition that results from a breakdown of muscle and the subsequent release of muscle tissue into the bloodstream. Rhabdo can be caused by a number of factors including extreme overheating, viral infections, the use of drugs, electric shock, or extreme muscle strain. The reality is that most people will stop or slow down before they push their body into a state where they risk Rhabdo. The key to avoiding any injury or condition is to listen to your body. There is a big difference between pushing yourself hard and being reckless. Telltale signs of Rhabdo include the loss of control of arms or legs or dark (soda colored urine). If you ever experience any of these symptoms, get to a hospital immediately.
Myth #2: You have to “prepare” to start doing CrossFit.
The Facts: The best way to get better at CrossFit, is to do CrossFit. Many who believe the “prepare first” myth are often those that are considering taking the plunge and trying out a local affiliate, but for whatever reason do not feel as though they are ready. They say things like “I am going to begin running for a few months, then I’ll join CrossFit.” You may also hear, “I haven’t worked out in X amount of years, I’m going to get in shape first and then I’ll come with you to CrossFit.” While any exercise is better than none, jumping in and beginning a CrossFit program will get you in better physical shape very quickly. Additionally, CrossFit is a program where you check your ego at the door and rally around everyone as a member of the team. Whether you are the best athlete in a class or the newest, you have a home at the CrossFit box. Besides, workouts can always be scaled to meet individual abilities, which leads to myth #3.
Myth #3: Scaling means you always have to scale down.
The Facts: “Infinitely scalable” works both ways. To “scale” a workout means to modify it to meet the individual needs of the athlete. Generally, we first scale load, then scale movement. If you (or an athlete you are working with) can perform the prescribed movement safely and efficiently, but simply aren’t strong enough to do it at the prescribed weight simply lighten the load. On the flipside, if the load is too light to achieve the desired response of the workout, then scale up and make the load heavier. If a movement cannot be performed at all, or cannot be performed safely for the prescribed number of reps, then scaling would involve modifying the movement to achieve the same or similar desired result (for example, substituting goblet squats for overhead squats for a person that can’t maintain a good position due to restrictions). If you consider yourself a good CrossFitter, try upscaling sometime. Some simple ideas are to substitute muscle ups for rings dips, pistols for air squats, or raising the height of a box jump. In fact, if you have ever upscaled one of the baseline workouts, click the link below to go to the community section and share it with us.
Myth #4: CrossFit is mostly cardio and bodyweight movements.
The Facts: CrossFit combines Olympic Weightlifting (snatch and clean and jerk) compound weightlifting movements (squats, presses, deadlifts, etc.), basic gymnastics (burpees, pull ups, dips, muscle ups,) and common endurance movements (running, rowing, biking, swimming) to create a program that enhances “general physical preparedness” and makes people ready for anything and everything. These movements are combined in many different schemes to create a program that is constantly varied and never routine. In simple terms, you will be doing much more than simply running, doing burpees, and other bodyweight movements. In fact, you will be lifting heavy weights and challenging the limits of your physical capabilities often. That being said, if cardio challenges or distance running is your passion, I have seen more than a few people improve their race times after doing CrossFit for several months.
Myth #5 (for the ladies): CrossFit will make me too big or make me look manly.
The Facts: Unless a woman is taking testosterone boosters or some type of steroids, her body is simply incapable of becoming massive and bulky like her male counterpart because of differences in hormones. CrossFit will help you build lean muscle, and lean muscle does have a number of health and physical benefits. Lean muscle helps burn more calories (both at work and at rest), look more toned, and raise metabolism. Like they say; “strong is the new skinny”. There are literally no downsides to becoming the strongest, healthiest version of yourself you can be.