Meet the experts – ​misconceptions about CrossFit, exposed!

Meet the experts – ​misconceptions about CrossFit, exposed!

CrossFit Level 1 Trainer and Bank VPT Alice Miller bust some myths surrounding CrossFit training. "I've compiled my own list of misconceptions. My aim is to debunk some of the myths, and get individuals training their way to a fitter self, with fun and challenging programming" she says. Listen up.

First off, what is this CrossFit thing? And why do they do funny pull-ups?

CrossFit is a brand and a fitness regime that has swept the world by storm, created and owned by a gent named Greg Glassman in the USA. CrossFit is constantly varied – functional movements performed at high intensity. These movements are based upon weightlifting, gymnastics, running, rowing, strongman and more. CrossFit is about moving a large load, quickly, thus maximising our work done in a shorter time. Intensity is the word of the day, every day. With intensity in our workouts marked by time, we get results and we can have something we can measure, this is imperative as without measurable data we cannot track our progress or create goals to aim for.

What I love about CrossFit is that it’s for everyone, no matter what your background is, or how old you are, or what your current fitness level is. No workout is impossible. It’s fun. You can train with your friends, you can make friends while you train, and you can find a community of people that are committed to being active and living longer, healthier lives.

CrossFitters get injured easily

I have injured myself more walking (and running) down my stairs at home than in any gym I’ve ever been too. This is a massive misconception about CrossFit. Yes, people do injure themselves in the gym and in a CrossFit box, but it is usually due to poor coaching, programming and technique. Football, boxing and hockey have a higher injury rate than CrossFit, but people still partake in these. If you perform the movements correctly with a focus on technique and only building in weight where appropriate, it decreases your risk of injury. This is important across all sports, and in learning new skills. This is why we scale!

Since focusing my own training upon CrossFit principles, I’ve learnt a great deal about good movement practice, mobility and how to reduce injury by incorporating dynamic warm-up drills as well using yoga techniques on my 1-1 clients. This increases the range of movement in their joints. Unfortunately most jobs involve sitting down at a desk all day, repetitive postures that are held for long lengths of time. This decreases our range of movement in our hips. If you’re coming into the gym and immediately try to hit a 60kg back squat as part of your warm up, something is wrong. It’s not CrossFit that’s creating injuries, its lack of knowledge, poor coaching and poor warm ups that contribute to gym injuries. By working 1-1 with my clients I create tailor made programs with focus on their weaknesses to help improve their strength and mobility where they need it most, so they can be content in knowing they are contributing to their quality of life, and be able to do the basics such as bending down to pick up their kids or playing football with them in the park.

Training with me they find much more confidence in barbell work and can rest easy knowing they practice great technique in everything they do in the gym, therefore reducing their risk of injury.

“After nearly three months of having Alice as my VPT I'm now stronger, fitter, more flexible and have the confidence to use any piece of equipment in the gym. My squat position has gone from an embarrassment to something I am the most proud of.” Kailey, current client.

You need to be ‘fit’ to do CrossFit

This one confuses me - why wait? If you wait a year until you feel you’re ‘fit’ enough to train with CrossFit programs when will you ever be ready? It’s like saying you’re going to start to lose weight in the New Year. Why not start now and improve your fitness levels sooner and get you making steps to better your health and life. By waiting to be ‘fit’ you’re simply lengthening the process!

It’s important to know that all CrossFit workouts can be scaled. No matter your fitness level, age, weight or sporting background, anyone can take part. Every workout and exercise can be progressed and regressed. There are usually two types of workouts in CrossFit – RX (translated to ‘as prescribed’) and scaled. Scaled can be to whatever is within your abilities. This could mean decreasing the repetitions, weight or time to what is appropriate. It’s all relative intensity, you may be working just as hard as the person next to you, who’s lifting double what you are. But you are expending the same amount of energy. Just know that a year from now, you’ll be looking back at your old self and be chuffed at the progress you’ve made. So why wait a year to start?

But I don’t want to get bulky and put on too much muscle!

Working in a gym and speaking with people on a daily basis, putting on too much muscle or having the appearance of being bulky is very much one of the biggest misconceptions about weight lifting in general, not just related to CrossFit. Girls want to ‘tone’ but not put on muscle. I’ve got news for you ladies. ‘Getting toned’ means putting on muscle. Putting on muscle does not mean getting ‘bulky’. Putting on muscle means training, lifting weights, eating the right foods, sleeping the right amount of hours your body needs, refilling your water bottle at the cooler multiple times a day. It’s a lifestyle change, and one that takes months, if not years to do. Training with CrossFit programming or attending classes doesn’t mean you’ll be turning into the next Brook Ence overnight, it means you are committing to making a change to your current self, improving your fitness level and giving yourself the confidence you needed to sign up for the half marathon or obstacle course you’ve had your eye on, but didn’t feel confident enough to tackle.

CrossFit gets you fit, helps you lose fat, gets you stronger, faster and makes you feel fantastic when you’ve PB’d (personal best) on your deadlift and squats! My female clients that I see every week have made drastic improvements to their strength and those that have committed their time to my programming, have also seen muscular gains and a reduction of body fat. Who isn’t stoked on that!?

Ladies need to know that strong is sexy, having muscles is beautiful and squatting more than some of the boys in the gym is empowering. Why not get started?

We can’t do ‘real’ pull-ups

Strict, butterfly and kipping pull ups are three varieties that are taught at CrossFit gyms and all three are equally important. Kipping and ‘butterfly’ pull-ups are performed to increase the amount of work done in a shorter time frame. Strict pull-ups have their place in every programme and in every gym due to the sheer amount of strength and muscle gained from such exercise. It's important to nail the basics first, so this is why we get members to master the art of the strict pull-up before moving on to more complicated movements. “But what if I can’t do pull ups?” Fear not, contrary to popular belief, not all gym goers can perform a strict pull-up, it took me years of practice to get to where I am today. There are many progressions we can look at to get you repping out pull-ups like a champ, it just takes practice.

Fancy improving your pull up game? Interested in Olympic Lifting or improving your squat? Get in touch!

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