I’ve been doing crossfit for 10 years now, and I’ve seen a huge change from the early days until now, and most of it has been for the better. However, there have been some persistent myths, and legacy training scars, that have been passed down from crossfit generation, to crossfit generation. Most often there are no good reasons why these ideas linger, but linger they do, to our detriment. This article will expose those myths, and show you how they can hold you, and your training back.
Myth 1: Bench Pressing and Bodybuilding is Worthless
This one leads to much eye rolling, and face palming, when I hear someone mention this to me. The bench press has great utility and transfers well to all overhead movements. It is a great exercise for your triceps. In fact, you will probably never see a great bencher without huge triceps. Guess what, you need those monster, horseshoe triceps for all strict presses, and any other overhead lift. So, if you’re okay with never pressing serious weight, then I’d stay away from the bench press.
I’ve also experienced nearly as much push back when I recommend that an athlete do some isolation training, or gasp, bodybuilding. I normally trick the hell out of my athletes by calling this “accessory” training, which seems to be more palatable. Jokes on them, because they would fit right in to Golds gym with that accessory training.
Bodybuilding’s only goal is to increase muscle size, and guess what, crossfitters need to increase muscle size if they want to get stronger. There are only two ways you can actually get stronger, increase in neuromuscular efficiency, or increase in muscle size.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to leave half my gains on the table because someone once told me I can’t do isolation movements. Check this article out for a research based hypertrophy plan for crossfitters.
I believe these two ideas persisted as a reaction to the bodybuilding community, from the early days of crossfit. The thought process was that bodybuilders aren’t “functional” so we shouldn’t do anything that they spend a lot of time doing. While not the worst logic, it sure isn’t the best. Personally, my definition of broad, inclusive fitness doesn’t mean neglecting whole planes of movement, or training inefficiently!
Myth 2: Mobility is King
I might get a lot of heat for this, but I’m gonna say it anyway. Mobility is an enabler, not a goal, and if taken too far, it will be a real detriment to your fitness. Before you get on the twitters, and the googles, I’m not saying that mobility isn’t important, because it is. I take issue with the amount of time people spend with it.
If you are new to fitness, or you have had some injuries, or just aren’t very flexible, then you will have to spend more time on mobility. The goal of mobility training is to allow you to move into all the positions you need in your day to day, and for your training style. You’re not trying to get ready for Cirque Du Soleil.
If you ever want to see mobility gone wrong, go to a local crossfit competition and you will see tons of athletes rolling around on lacrosse balls, and mashing their muscles. Some will even be using power tools on their muscles. I’ve got some more bad news for you, a lacrosse ball isn’t going to make soreness go away, nor is mashing your muscles really doing much.
Those things do cause some pain, which will cause a concomitant release of dopamine in your brain, so when you take the pain stimulus away, you feel better because of the lingering dopamine. Don’t dispute me I used science words!
Myth 3: Paleo and Low Carb the Only Way to Go
This one is kind of dying out, but when I hear another newish crossfitter ask another what diet they should do it’s generally paleo, or maybe ketogenic, but almost always low carb of some flavor or another.
There is nothing wrong with these diets, and they have worked incredibly well for many people, but that does not make them ideal for crossfit. Any weight loss diet that works, functions by reducing the amount of energy you are eating to a level below what you are using. There are a lot of ways to do this.
Paleo and Low carb are often great ways to lose weight, but we really get into trouble when we start to prescribe these for athletes looking for performance. I’m not talking about your Rich Fronings, I’m talking about anyone who wants a better Fran time, or a bigger back squat. If you are trying to increase performance you will most likely need carbohydrate to do that. Don’t believe me? Read this article that demonstrates a 10% performance increase with carb supplementation. Newsflash, that’s pretty close to the boost that steroids can give you.
The key for any diet is to feed your body what it needs depending on your body type, and your goals. Don’t shy away from ⅓ of all nutrients because someone has great success losing weight. Eat the right food, in the right quantities for your athletic goals. Here is the ultimate guide to crossfit nutrition.
You’ll probably have noticed a common theme throughout this article. Most things, when kept in moderation, can be of great benefit. It’s only when we start to fall into the trap of a little’s good, then a lot’s better, do we really start to take away from our fitness. Remember only a Sith Lord deals in absolutes.