Cross Fit seems to be all the rage right now. And if it’s not Cross Fit specifically, it’s Boot Camps and other related classes, all intended to push you to your absolute point of exhaustion and if you’re lucky, vomitting. The bodies these people have are unarguably amazing. But is it really good for you? I will play the devil’s advocate in this piece.
There’s no doubt that constantly changing routines, implementing muscle confusion, and pushing yourself beyond what you thought you were capable of produces results. Serious results. But are our methods becoming too extreme? Is vomiting a sign of conquest or is it your body telling you, “this isn’t right.”
I was recently reading an article regarding Cross Fit and one of their guys who overdid it and actually ended up in the hospital with rhabdomyolysis. Rhabdomyolysis, (called Rhabdo for short) is a kidney condition most commonly induced by excessive exercise. The potentially life-threatening state, occurs when muscle breaks down and myoglobin, the byproduct of muscle fibers, is released into the blood stream. This basically clogs up the kidneys and poisons them.
Regularly pushing your body to failure can lead to Rhabdo, especially if you are dehydrated. Your body can’t clear the toxins and your kidneys can’t clear the byproducts. The real problem is the new people who are flocking to Cross Fit gyms, or even taking Boot Camp classes. They cannot tell the difference in over exertion and the unfamiliar rush of endorphins. They confuse muscle fatigue with effectiveness and end up injured.
For this reason, my conclusion on the debatable effectiveness of Cross Fit is mixed. I think you can only be as safe as your instructor and your own common sense. Pay attention. Find out how long he or she has been teaching this method of exercise. CrossFit level-1 trainers are certified after completing a two-day seminar and 50-multiple-choice-question exam. In theory, your instructor could only have two days of training under his belt. This isn’t usually the case, but it is becoming a problem for Cross Fit’s reputation. On the other hand, I know a guy who is an instructor and he is in insane shape and I would undoubtedly trust him as an instructor. You need to know your limits and if you’re not sure, invest in a wrist heart rate monitor and be sure to drink plenty of water throughout your routine. Cross Fit is obviously an effective workout, but I also don’t think you need to straddle a heart attack to achieve noticeable results. Don’t confuse exhaustion with effectiveness. There is a difference in building and toning. Know what you want and do a little research or ask a trainer his suggestions for you.