Is CrossFit Dangerous?

CrossFit, an exercise regimen that is known for its intense Workouts Of the Day (WOD), is currently under fire from many sources who claim the regimen to be unsafe. This battle of wills and opinions has left the CrossFit community angered about the reputation of its beloved workouts. However, the question posed by CrossFit’s opponents may not be a bad one: Is CrossFit too dangerous?


The Beginning of CrossFit

First, before there can be an attempt to discuss whether or not CrossFit is a safe and viable exercise routine, it is imperative to understand just what CrossFit actually is and where it came from.

CrossFit was designed by Greg Glassman, who based his program on the concept that the body shouldn’t just be trained in one capacity, but should be capable of performing under any circumstance and with great speed and agility. This training is done through a series of incredibly intense daily workouts that are designed to test the body and take it to the edge of its physical capacity. has a great article that discusses the beginnings of CrossFit, citing that “the CrossFit ethos holds that adherents train to enhance 10 key physical qualities: cardiovascular/respiratory endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, coordination, agility, balance and accuracy.”

What the Critics Say

As CrossFit is designed to take a workout to the extreme, many critics are arguing that the extreme is enough to bring on serious injury. Some go so far as to say that the nature of CrossFit is such that it can bring on a life-threatening disease known as rhabdomyolysis, a condition that can cause muscles to break down and can lead to kidney failure.

Erin Simmons, from ErinSimmonsFitness, describes why she will never recommend CrossFit to anyone. Simmons, who holds a Master of Science in Biology, has worked with many trained athletes and coaches, none of whom have ever recommended the type of workout that CrossFit promotes. “People think that hurting is a good thing, that pushing your body’s limits means you are getting stronger, and that not being able to walk the next day means you had a good workout,” says Simmons. “People should be properly educated on form, acceptable rep numbers and the warning signs of when to stop.”

The lack of training and experience of CrossFit instructors and enthusiasts is what makes CrossFit so dangerous in the eyes of trained professionals who have made the study of Kinesiology their life.

What the Enthusiasts Say

CrossFit enthusiasts embody the expression “no pain, no gain.” To those who strictly adhere to the WODs, the sculpted body they see in the mirror is proof that they are stronger than they’ve ever been or ever would be had they decided against the CrossFit routine.

The CrossFit culture allows enthusiasts to become part of a community of people who are striving to better improve their overall physical and mental health, showing that going at it alone will get you nowhere, but teamwork will bring you to the top.

Cristina Goyanes, from Shape Magazine, wrote an article that seeks to debunk all of the myths that taint the reputation of CrossFit. To Goyanes, CrossFit doesn’t mean you’ll be faced with a workout that is designed to make you throw up from its intensity, and it doesn’t mean that you have to be competitive or strictly devoted to the sport. She also says that performing the WODs doesn’t mean you’ll find yourself being visited by “Uncle Rhabdo.”

With two sides as separate in their thinking as oil and water, there’s no telling who will settle the debate or whether it will ever be settled at all. If you’ve had some experience with the CrossFit culture, what have you learned about the debate and what are your thoughts on which side is right?


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