CrossFit Pros and Cons – One Weightlifter’s Perspective

Happy 16.4 day, CrossFitters! The CrossFit Open is nearly done, and every year since I’ve been aware of it, I’ve thought over the pros and cons of the Open and the CrossFit phenomenon in general.

As a ‘pure’ strength athlete, it’s easy to hate on CrossFit. The ‘everyone loves it so I’m going to hate it on purpose’ side of me comes out. But I do need to take a step back and look at it in more detail as it’s not that simple.


  • Increasing participation in strength sports
  • Reduction of stigma against strength sports (especially for women)
  • Increase in awareness of genuine healthy behaviours
  • More equipment readily available
  • More places to train if you are a weightlifter
  • Community spirit and positive competition
  • More emphasis on healthy eating and whole food diets (although this has a dark side– see below)
  • Showing women it’s okay to work hard and even make it desirable to do so
  • Good example for girls of what fitness is
  • Adding performance to the gym stereotype
  • Short shorts (especially for women)
  • Genuine heart felt support of those in and around the sport.
  • Inclusive to all, especially with the introduction of the ‘scaled‘ option


  • Sara Sigmundsdóttir- Whining about the rules of Olympic lifting:

Yesterday my student @sarasigmunds competed at the World Championships in Houston. Unfortunately I was unable to go with her as I am running training camps in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Sara got 80 in snatch in her first attempt but failed 85 twice. Even though 85 would have been nice – and especially in the second attemp so she could have a go at 90 – I am happy with her getting 80 as it shows me that it's becoming her new bottom level. The bottom level is a term we use for the weight you are able to hit on a BAD day. When your hands are torn, your CNS is fried and the technique is not on point. Saras bottom level in snatch used to be 75 but the fact that she got 80 I her first attempt is an indicator that it's on the way up. In the CNJ Sara did 100-105-110. The last lift is the one in the video. One of our many goals is for her to be the heaviest lifter at the @crossfitgames in 2016. For that to happen she needs to be technically razor sharp. Specifically for the CNJ we have worked Saras transition under the bar to assure that she always get a good bounce out of the hole and thereby use her legs strength effectively. The goal for the jerk is to always get it and never fail it however exhausting the clean might be. Sara nailed this jerk but technically there is still a great deal to be desired. I finally want to point out that this lift was ruled a no-lift by the judges. How that can happen boggles the mind. I want to state my position on this in the clearest way possible: I believe that weightlifting should be about getting the bar overhead and demonstrate control from the top position. How to get it there should not be a matter of aesthetics. The best technicians will rise to the top regardless like we see happening in CF. The rules, besides being bad rules, are enforced ridiculously inconsistently and time after time we see lifters getting their competition and careers wrecked by lousy, terrible judges. Don't get better judges, get rid of the bad rules and let people LIFT! #weightlifting101 #europeiscoming

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  • Weightlifting 101
  • A new set of diet phobias and fads– e.g. ‘Paleo’ and carbphobia (brown rice is gross, don’t lie)
  • Cult behavior, including a ton of jargon and belief that CrossFit is the One True Way
  • The selfie/swolfie thing leading to useless InstaFame
  • Safety– poor technique, people snatching on Swiss balls and balance boards– although some boxes don’t buy in to that stuff


  • Unrealistic coach training (give us your cheque and you are now a magic weightlifting coach!)
  • Neglecting bodyweight categories (see for example Iceland at the World Weightlifting Championships this year, where the top 3 CrossFitters were in the bottom of their weight classes)
  • Claiming to be the fittest on earth (dare I bring this argument up again… but there I said it)
  • Being average at everything and good at nothing
  • Whatever this is:



Come on, Camille, even Sonny thinks this is ridiculous brahh.

On Balance: CrossFit is Good for Strength Sports

Sure, CrossFit is super popular and comes with a hefty side of bullshit. But it’s growing, it’s new, and honestly has done more than anything thus far for weightlifting, strongman/woman, powerlifting and the general awareness of health and fitness. And it does this in a genuinely ‘healthy’ way, not just a ‘well marketed fitness fad’ way. However the focus on money making is always going to be an issue for me.

Still, taking both its pros and cons, I vote that CrossFit has benefited weightlifting and associated strength sports more than it has harmed them. Even if CrossFitters really need to learn how to bail out of clearly unsuccessful lifts.


So that’s what I think about CrossFit. What about you?



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