I did my first bar muscle-up tonight. It was my first attempt at one. I also hit the 100 double-under mark. Unbroken. I also keep feeling like I’m injured, or at the very least, banged up. There are knots in my muscles, aches & pains in my joints, and little feelings of “is that really hurt or is that just CrossFit.” I don’t think I’ve been truly 100% since the day I started.
Lately I’ve been contemplating the pros & cons of all the serious work I’ve been putting in. Is it really worth it? Could I be doing damage to my body that I’m going to regret 20 years from now?
I’m not even going to try to answer those questions. I don’t think I could even if I wanted to. I’ll let ya know 20 years from now.
The question I would like to answer tonight is:
What kind of role has CrossFit played on my fitness?
A Quick Disclaimer
Please don’t mistake this post as an opportunity to brag about my accomplishments, talk myself up, or anything of the sorts. That’s not at all what this is about. Sure, I’m proud of how far I’ve come in my fitness journey, but I’m humbled every single day when I walk into that gym. I have so far to go, so much to learn from so many amazing athletes & friends, and I truly believe that CrossFit, at its core, is about so much more than physical fitness.
So this is not me gloating. But I do hope this article helps with 2 things:
- A benchmark for where I am, physically, right now. So I can compare to the future and check progress.
- A real-life, fact-based example of the efficacy of the CrossFit concept of fitness
My Previous Training & Background
I played team sports from age 5 all the way through college. In high school & college, I worked out at the gym. Not much with weights, but every bodyweight & crazy weight/cardio combo you could think of. After college, I got into distance running, and completed a few shorter triathlons.
I don’t think there’s any one word to accurately define my “CrossFit background,” but now you have an idea where I started.
I started CrossFit in September 2013. I went through 20 classes of a Groupon deal in about 6 weeks. After that was over, I resumed marathon training, and ran the Richmond marathon in November. I picked up with CrossFit again in January 2014.
When I started CrossFit…
- I couldn’t do a double-under.
- I never even tried a muscle-up.
- My flexibility was slightly above average for a dude who’s run multiple marathons & ultras.
- I could hold myself up in a handstand, but only using the wall. Maybe for 3 seconds off the wall… before I came crashing down into my coffee table.
- I can’t remember the last time (if ever at all) that I did a deadlift, power clean, front squat, overheat squat or snatch.
The criticism, concern and sometimes just outright nastiness towards CrossFit is going to continue. I think some of it is presented well, and should be seriously considered. On the contrary, some of it is just plain hogwash. Regardless, here’s where I am today, after 6 months of CrossFit.
- 100 double-unders, unbroken
- Handstand walk 30ft
- I can jump up, onto & over a 24″ box, repeatedly, nearing the speed of light
- I can do both bar muscle-ups & ring muscle-ups
- Front squat 210lbs
- Power clean 180lbs
- The fact that I have done even one successful snatch with good form is a miracle. Those things are insanely difficult.
- I’m about 3mm from touching my heels to the ground in a downward-facing dog pose. Sooo close!
- I can touch my heel to my butt (without looking like a pretzel) & can touch my toes with ease
- The fastest pace I’ve maintained in any running race was during a 4-mile race a month ago, in which I sustained a 6:36/mi pace. Faster than my best 5k time, when I thought I was in peak running shape. And with no running-specific training.
Have I beat myself up & gotten injured (a few times) in the process of getting here? Yep. Sure did. — Hmm, I wonder what I could do if I actually felt 100% healthy… — But I have a hard time denying that the fitness I have achieved, nearly 100% due to CrossFit, is substantial.
People might define fitness in different ways, but one of the ways CrossFit defines it is (and I have a hard time arguing against any of these skills as counting towards improved fitness):
- cardiovascular/respiratory endurance
All of the progress I have made fits very well into one, or several, of these areas. I’ve improved in all of them. Without a doubt.
CrossFit Makes You Better
If I continue to write about ALL the ways CrossFit has made me better, it’d be wayyyy past my bedtime. And we’d be getting into so much more than the physical. That’s for another day. (maybe even a book someday…)
But if you’re not sure if CrossFit can help you get better at something, take a look at the list above. Do you want to improve in any one of those 10 areas? Perhaps a couple of them? Well then yeah. CrossFit works.
But please do be careful. Take it slow. Learn proper form. Practice the movements. Listen to your coaches. And listen to your body. If you do all that, I think you’ll be pretty satisfied with the results 🙂