Why is CrossFit so Effective? Does it Really Work?

Jeff Baldelli
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What is Effectiveness, Anyways?

First, it’s important to note that CrossFit has seen plenty of criticism. Some of this criticism has been the result of a lack of understanding and some has been a result of a lack of information (particularly if you’re just looking at the research on the benefits of CrossFit).

However, a lot of the criticism is valid. Many CrossFit gyms don’t provide you with the right tools to get comfortable with all of the equipment, which can result in bad form when moving around.

Some of the exercises that you perform during a typical CrossFit workout are also repetitive and unnecessary for most people. Having access to a knowledgeable coach can help you avoid injury, but not everyone is in that situation.

That being said, if you look at the research on the effectiveness of CrossFit and, more importantly, the participants who completed the program, you’ll see how strong the program really is.

A study was conducted on 251 participants (both men and women) in which they began a series of CrossFit workouts for 10 weeks. The participants were around 50 years old and (unlike the typical CrossFit participant) they hadn’t been very active before.

Researchers divided the 151 women and 100 men into three groups. The first group participated in a moderate-intensity workout consisting of running, cycling, and various stretching exercises for twice a week for the 10 weeks. For some of the participants, this was their first experience with fitness.

The second group had a more vigorous CrossFit workout of running, push-ups, sit-ups, and squats three times a week for 10 weeks. The third group was the control group of women and men who didn’t exercise at all.

The groups were measured on 20 different parameters. The CrossFit group saw the most significant improvements. Their aerobic fitness increased an average of 10.9 percent, and their VO2 max increased by 8.5 percent.

The moderate-intensity group did not experience an increase in aerobic fitness, but their VO2 max did increase by 5 percent. Researchers believe this has to do with the nature of the CrossFit workouts. They had more sprints than the moderate-intensity group and included running intervals.

The control group experienced no gains.

CrossFit is Effective Because it is Measurable

CrossFit is a workout style that embraces the idea of results-based fitness. CrossFit workouts are designed to challenge the user day after day, week after week, month after month. And what they mean by this is you’re not only going to get an increase in strength and endurance, but also an increase in your fat burn and cardiovascular efficiency.

Take the CrossFit Workout of the Day, or WOD. This WOD can be found on the official CrossFit webpage, and has some pretty intense workouts. There are three types of WODs:

A) Burpee/Timer/Distance – This type of WOD is designed to test an athlete’s conditioning, discipline, and mental strength. It is based on the premise that hard work will bring the athlete success.

The goal is to complete the workout using as little rest as possible.

B) Weight/Distance/Timer – Again, this WOD tests both physical and mental strength. The goal is to move the most amount of weight in the least amount of time, with the most number of rounds possible.

The higher the amount of weight and the fewer the number of rounds, the more the workout tests the athletes strength. The lower the amount of weight and the more the number of rounds, the more the workout tests the athlete’s endurance.

C) Open – This WOD is based around the idea of “CrossFit is constantly varied functional movements performed at high intensity.”

It’s a force of nature.

The beauty of the CrossFit workout structure is that it is based around the idea that results-based fitness is the only way to see drastic, lasting changes in the body.

CrossFit workouts are designed to be measurable, not only for you as an athlete, but also for your trainer or coach who is watching your form and giving you cues as you move. This means that CrossFit’s effectiveness is easily measured by how you look, how you feel, and how you perform.

In this sense, Crossfit is definitely a workout that works for everyone.

What Are the Different Schedules and Modes of CrossFit?

CrossFit workouts are divided into three areas:

  • a) Endurance
  • b) Mobility
  • c) Strength

CrossFit Works Because it Reduces Boredom

You may have noticed that at the start of every workout, you receive an instructional video. It’s usually just a handful of images, text, and maybe a video or two. Such a video can cement key concepts in your mind on how to do a complex exercise.

If you’re anything like us, you sometimes struggle to remember how to do an exercise. Most exercises require a bit of balance, which makes it easier for beginners to look at videos. Highly complex exercises, however, require a lot of coordination and very specific muscle activation, which takes time to remember. A video reduces that time.

Now, you may be wondering why it isn’t always a good idea to use video tutorials. That’s because the videos can certainly raise your awareness of how to do a specific exercise correctly.

If you’re not an off-the-charts natural athlete, this can work against you. You’re basically watching someone else do the exercises better than you, and that will only cause you to feel bad about yourself. You may also end up doing exercises according to the video, but your body won’t follow instructions because you’re too uncoordinated. That’s why it’s so important to always work with an experienced coach who understands the nuances of different people.

Once you’re able to do the exercises properly, you have to make sure you’re maintaining the proper form while still feeling the right burn in the targeted area. Getting there can be quite an arduous journey, especially if you’re trying to do it alone.

CrossFit Works because It's Goal-Oriented

Your goals are usually laid out in front of you every day. As you crossfit, your body will become stronger and more energized so that you feel the excitement of the journey to accomplish your goal.

In most fitness programs, you work out for a few weeks and then you take a break. In the meantime, you may even lose your focus on your goals or gains because you haven’t worked out in a little while.

This is where the structure of crossfit transforms your entire experience.

CrossFit is Effective Because it Trains You Using Functional Movements

First off, CrossFit is a training program that focuses on high-intensity interval training, combining weightlifting and aerobic exercises.

Did you know that CrossFit is considered to be the most popular training program for the year 2013?

It has grown over 12% from 2012 and now makes up 14% of the entire fitness industry.

Functional Movement Training Functional Fitness Training Gymnastics Muscle-Ups Rowing Swimming 800m to Mile Run Sprinting

Crossfit is so popular because it is scalable to the fitness level of the exerciser. It has a varied exercise selection, supportive culture and most important because it is thought to be fun.

Most of the exercises are bodyweight movements. So it is not necessary to have expensive equipment. So anyone can do CrossFit even if you have a limited budget to buy equipment.

Functional movements are the foundation of the CrossFit program. These are exercises that use large muscle groups in the body to move large loads through space.

This is in contrast to traditional weight training that target only muscle groups in a single plane of motion. CrossFit utilizes squats (move huge loads vertically), pushups (move a lot of air horizontally) and deadlifts (move heavy loads laterally).

The combination of these exercises creates a comprehensive program that strengthens the entire body. CrossFit focuses on form and masterful execution. It is important not to sacrifice form for speed.

CrossFit is effective in this manner as, it takes the most out of every exercise. For example,

1 set of 10 squats with faulty form is not as helpful as 3 sets with perfect form.

CrossFit is a complex, ever changing workout program. It starts with a simple and intuitive philosophy and programming rules that create a solid base from which coaches and athletes can build upon efficiently.

The CrossFit mantra of,.

Ìincrease work capacity over broad time and modal domainsî is the driving force behind CrossFit.

The focus of the CrossFit program is on- and off-platform performance.

If you are not getting better at the workouts, you are getting worse.

CrossFit is designed so that any fitness is measurable and is a reflection of the foundation of functional movements.

CrossFit will not be attractive or feasible to man or woman who does not have a goal or understands not what they are training for.

High Intensity

Like we said above, different forms of exercise have different effects on different muscle groups, giving you different benefits. Some common exercises include yoga, walking, and light, cardio-based exercise like jogging. While most forms of exercise have the same effect on your mind and body, they vary greatly in how they use muscle groups and what parts of your body they target.

CrossFit, on the other hand, is pretty unique. It’s as much about weightlifting as it is about endurance or power.

Unlike other exercises, CrossFit training isn’t just about working particular areas of your body. It’s about working the entire body to increase endurance, improve flexibility, improve strength and power, while also improving your capacity to endure suffering.

This makes CrossFit a lot more intense than most exercises and also a lot more fun. The intense nature of a CrossFit workout means that many people who do CrossFit workouts also do cardio workouts and strength training at the same time because CrossFit workouts are just that intense.

CrossFit isn’t just about building endurance, but about building endurance while maintaining speed. Some of the best CrossFit workouts will involve running, for example, but will also include doing squats and other short-term exercises that work different muscle groups.

Many times, CrossFit sessions will consist of exercise that only last for a few seconds, meaning that you have to move quickly from one exercise to another. This kind of high-intensity exercise is very demanding and will have your lungs gasping for air. The result of this is that you’ll feel very tired, but at the same time, feel great about being able to deliver this kind of performance.

There are people who, for one reason or another, have an aversion to exercising. Some are bored by sedentary activities, while many others just don’t like it because they know that it’ll make them feel tired and out of breath.

When done right, a CrossFit workout lasts for about an hour, though it can last anywhere from 25 minutes to 2 hours. It’s so effective because it conditions you so that you’re able to endure being out of breath, out of your comfort zone, and out of your normal routine without getting bored.

CrossFit is Effective Because it Creates Well Rounded Athletes

CrossFit works because it encourages people to be well rounded athletes. The first category of exercises introduced into people’s routines are usually the core that supports the CrossFit exercise philosophy. These include exercises like pull ups, squats, pushups, sit ups, and burpees.

These are highly effective forms of exercises that involve the whole body, like an athlete should be. This helps reduce injuries and maximize athletic potential.

Another one of the best parts of CrossFit is that it uses a wide variety of exercises, rather than just doing the same few types of exercises over and over. Once a person is a master of core exercises, they can move on to more specialized exercise routines. This keeps the people who practice CrossFit from getting bored and helps them to continue to progress as athletes.

As important as it is to be well rounded, athletes still need to get good at something. That’s what’s so great about choosing exercises that work on isometric movements, rather than continuing to cycle through different exercises like a normal routine. Isometric exercises don’t require any special equipment and only a little bit of space, making them extremely convenient.

In other words, you don’t need to find a different location to do each exercise. All you have to do is change your positioning to work on different muscle groups.

The results you get from the cross training work is evidence of how effective this type of workout can be. The combination of body weight exercises and other low impact exercises causes a person’s basal metabolic rate to shoot up. This allows the body to burn more calories even in its resting state.

Although weight loss is a side effect of exercising, it’s not the main reason that most people do it. The main reason is to be in shape and be healthy.

92 percent of people that participate in regular activities, like going to the gym, cite health reasons as the main reason. However, if there were effective and convenient ways to get the health benefits without spending hours in the gym, the number of people who exercise would probably go up even further.

The best way to reap the health benefits of more traditional forms of exercise is to do a highly efficient method like CrossFit. It may not be for everyone, but it certainly has its place in the world of sport and life improvement.