The Problem with Crossfit

In Bodyweight Mastery by Admin8 Comments

Crossfit is a strength and conditioning program which is very popular and for a large part I like what they are doing. A lot of bodyweight exercises, kettlebells and barbell workouts and generally well rounded program is something that I practice myself.

Of course what I’m talking about here is a generalization. Not all Crossfits and their trainers are going to be equal.

Apart from a couple of small things I dislike about Crossfit, like the kipping pullup (which is ok, but if you are doing only kipping pullups and avoiding regular ones you are definitely missing out), I don’t like the fact that Crossfit program is too random and it lacks progressive training.

In case you aim to get better at something like handstand pushups, the workout of the day or going to a Crossfit gym will give you a handstand pushup workout only once in a month or so. To be honest, that’s not nearly enough training if you are looking to improve your strength and technique for that particular movement.

Variations and changing up your exercises is generally a good thing, but if you don’t have any kind of a structured way to work toward your goals, you won’t be able to make much progress. Whatever your goal is (handstand, muscle up, freestanding handstand pushup, etc), you need to work on those particular movements on a regular basis.

In case you want to continue with Crossfit workouts, what you can do is practice specific movements for your goals before Crossfit exercises and work on a skill, but make sure to keep them light and easy.

In the upcoming No BS Strength secrets workshop one of the coaches, Travis Stoetzel competes in the Crossfit games. But he doesn’t just do WOD’s daily. Instead he follows a program to get himself better and what he needs to do, and throws in more “metabolic conditioning” workouts on top of that.



  1. Lately I have been telling people that ask me about Crossfit not to practice Crossfit workouts only. I tell them to maybe practice Crossfit style training once or twice per week so the other day or two per week can be devoted to either skill training or strength work.

    Generalized I view Crossfit as most trainees metabolic conditioning work which can be a pretty big stress on the body if done exclusively, especially with higher degrees of necessary strength and exercise randomness as you mentioned so much that form could break down in lesser trained not as skilled individuals.

    1. I agree with you Ken. Metabolic conditioning is great but it can easily be done too much.

  2. I hear ya. I do stronglifts 5×5 on mwf, on tues and thurs, I’ll do some kettlebell work for about 10-15min, rest for 5, then do 3 sets of a tabata protocol of a crossfit type workout, usually a lot of bw and sprinting. But I like to have my main workouts as a progressive load to see progress. In a month or two, I may change my kettlebell work to concentrate on olympic lifts or sandbag training. I’m not a stickler when it comes to my secondary work, I like that to be changed up. I think in late fall, I’ll do a month of bodybuilding as a secondary to my strength training…wanna look good for thanksgiving and santa clause lol.

    1. I’m with you. The secondary work is where more variety and and should really be added, because if you want to progress consistently you need to work consistently on thins.

  3. I agree with you about kipping pullups. I have permanently wrecked shoulders from wrestling for a long time and the kip is just too dangerous – for me.

    And certainly if you want to work on a specific skill like muscle ups or handstands – you have got to put in the time.

    That said much of “the problem with Crossfit” is that the programming is often put together by people who are just doing the mainsite exercises or are not experienced enough to actually create programs.

    There are plenty of people who have just taken a Level 1 Cert over a weekend and then go right into being a head trainer at a gym that they are psyched to open.

    My head coach of my Crossfit gym where I have been going for almost 6 years is one of a very small handful of Level 3 Crossfit coaches and his programming is both random and progressive.

    I have been part of his coaching training program for nearly a year and we are learning not only how to coach movements but also mobility and anatomy and structuring workout sequences. And after 9 months I feel just barely capable to really and effectively run a class the way I would want to. And that isn’t even my own programming – I am implementing his stuff.

    I can not fathom how a Level 1 Cert is qualification enough to really take care of the wide needs of athletes coming in. That said, if I ever get my Level 1 Cert I feel I will be much more capable of coaching well…programming is whole different level of skill.

    1. Yep, like I said it does depend on the trainer. I think you experience illustrates this well.

  4. Our best athletes don’t just do the WODs, they are actively involved in Dru Patrick’s power lifting classes plus they extra skill work throughout the week.
    The met cons, amraps, etc have their purpose but strength comes first.

    1. Frank I was thinking about mentioning you as an exception in this post cause you run a Crossfit I’d be very pleased to go to.

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