Crossfit – Is it safe?

The sport of Crossfit is starting to become really popular. As more and more people choose to participate in this activity the number of Injuries seems to rise accordingly. So then this begs the question of whether or not Crossfit as a sport or a means of getting fit is really safe or not. I am going to be taking a pragmatic viewpoint on this subject and try and examine both sides of the argument. Ultimately it will be up to you to decide if Crossfit is something you want to take on or not.

Sports and General Safety

Sports are by their very nature unsafe. By unsafe I mean you are not immune to getting injured. You are typically pushing your limits while you are competing against others. This level of competition is what sometimes results in people getting injured on the field or even while training.

All sports have their injuries. Football is one sport where people seem to get injured every single game. As that game is very physical and involves a lot of tackling and hitting into each other that just makes sense, it is expected.

So one could argue that sports by their very nature are just unsafe, it is the level of safety then we are really discussing. Relatively speaking any sport when taken up by a wide mass of people would naturally cause more injuries overall.

Crossfit compared to other sports

However, Crossfit on the other hand involves a lot of weight lifting, gymnastic moves, and other activities that people generally don’t associate with injuries. While people are getting injured every day in their gyms they are typically not in front of millions of viewers on television. But that is from the viewpoint of Crossfit as the competitive sport, but what about the people in your local box?

Those who choose to take on training in Crossfit do so typically because they are competitive in nature. So when they seem someone beating their time for the day’s workout of the day (WOD) they want to try and hurry up and that is when injuries occur. It is the point where form is sacrificed in order to beat someone else that is when Crossfit becomes dangerous and unsafe.

The principles of Crossfit are by their nature not particularly unsafe. In fact if you are always using proper form, always properly warming up, there would be very little likelihood of yourself getting injured.

Crossfit Exercises

Many exercises that Crossfit employs involves a lot of compound movements. The squat, push jerk, and the other Olympic lifts are dynamic and can be tough on the human body. Using proper form is crucial to avoid injury.

However, not all Crossfit exercises are particularly dangerous. You could create a wide range of WOD’s that just involve body weight movements and still consider yourself a Crossfit athlete. Many times the most difficult exercises involve relatively simple devices such as a jump rope, the double under is one such exercise that has a tendency to cause a lot of problems for many people.

Why is Crossfit becoming popular?

This sport or activity is becoming popular because many times people want to get healthy but don’t have a support system to help them through it. A group of people who are determined to better themselves each and every day is something that can be really compelling to those who have let themselves go.

Quite honestly those who attend a Crossfit box or gym are more likely to succeed in their weight loss goals. Not only will you have the peer pressure to improve but you will also be held accountable, those that can really thrive in that environment will be very successful.

But Crossfit is not about just losing weight, rather it is trying to forge yourself into the best athlete that you can. Sometimes you may need to have other programs available to ensure you are keeping yourself on track but this is a great way for truly overcoming any obstacle you may have in your life.

Some people attend their local boxes because they find their trainers to be very motivational and by that very nature they can succeed in other areas of their lives. After all just being healthy is great but having your entire life become better as a result is just a fantastic side benefit.

Final thoughts

So in conclusion Crossfit is no less safe than any other activity where you would put strain on your joints and muscles. The idea that this an unsafe activity is patently false, there are thousands of people working out nationwide at any one time and they are not all becoming injured. Just use some common sense and strive to avoid injury by training in the right way and in a preventative way so that your muscular system can handle the stress you are placing upon it.

How to determine body fat percentage

There are many ways to determine your body fat percentage. The reasons why you may want to do so are varied, needless to say the less bodyfat you have the healthier you are perceived to be. If you are planning on entering into any type of bodybuilding competition figuring out where you are at the moment you begin to train for a competition is crucial to your success.

You can use a variety of techniques to give you an estimate of your body fat. These methods will range in cost and effectiveness. The cheapest way to do this is by using calipers. You can buy some calipers from various locations for under 20 dollars. I know has several different calipers for sale from 15 to 50 dollars. There are some digital calipers you can buy that will do the math for you, so that may be an option.

Using calipers

Most people use calipers and pinch different points on their body to give them some idea. Calipers are easy to buy and if you know what you are doing can give you a rough guess of what your body fat really is. If you don’t know how to use these then it may be best to go to some gym or other fitness facility that offers this service.

There are several good guides you can find online that will help you with this method. You will need to take measurements at various points around your body these include:

  • ·         Triceps
  • ·         Biceps
  • ·         Shoulder Blade
  • ·         Waist
  • ·         Thigh
  • ·         Calf

Using a 7 point method you can fairly accurately determine your overall body composition. While this can be used as a general guide it should not be used as the gospel truth. However, since this method is relatively cheap you can check yourself over several months to monitor your progress without too much hassle.

The accuracy of this method is really dependent upon the person doing it. If you should test yourself again using this same method and have lost body fat then that should be relative to where you started. Essentially if you are estimated to be at 12 percent when you started and then get measured again and are at 9 percent then you can rest assured that you most likely lost 3 percent of body fat. But, as I mentioned this is not a completely accurate method so while you may be measured at 9 percent body fat your body fat composition may be higher than that.

There is also a quicker 3 point method to determine body fat, but this is even more inaccurate than the 7 point method. But if you are in a rush for time then this may be the best way to go to see how you should be eating for the week or for the day.

Other more expensive yet more accurate forms of measurement

Using a hydrostatic tank can be a fairly accurate way to determine how much fat you are carrying around. This method involves dunking yourself in water and by using just the law of physics you can determine what your body composition is made of. Most of the time this will be manned by someone experienced in using this method and he or she will have a computer to assist in accurately determining overall body fat.

DEXA scans are supposedly the most accurate ways to determine bone density, muscle composition, and body fat percentage. These scans are not cheap, they typically run around 200 dollars if not more, but they are extremely accurate. Since this involves a lot of radiation it is not advisable to be used often, in fact maybe once or twice per year would be best.

If given the choice between the hydrostatic method and the DEXA method I would choose the DEXA method as that is the most accurate. Unfortunately, this method is very expensive so my second preferred choice is the hydrostatic tank. Either way both of these are highly accurate and will help you find your starting point so you will know how to modify your diet in the future.

The worst way to determine body fat percentage

Unfortunately there is some hype around bathroom scales that can supposedly tell you how much body fat you have. These devices are notoriously inaccurate and a complete waste of your money. Don’t bother buying any scale that offers this feature, it is just a waste of money.

Any device that relies on bioelectrical impedance analysis is somehow flawed as many of these devices seem to come out of the manufacturing facility flawed in one respect or another. Over time I would expect these devices to get better but unfortunately they just have not.

Another horrible way to determine overall health is by using a BMI calculation. This method is greatly flawed in that it does not account for muscle mass. So those who are very muscular can sometimes be wrongly labeled as obese. Clearly someone who has a body fat percentage less than 9 percent would hardly be considered obese in normal circles.

The reasons why body fat percentage matter

Body fat around your waist, arms, and other body parts really can determine your overall health in the long run. Unfortunately there are many people who have a lot of fat around their waist and as such are putting themselves at risk for various coronary heart conditions and cancer.

The leaner you are as an athlete the better you will perform, this is a direct correlation between your overall body fat and how flexible and mobile you are on the field. No matter what sport you play the better you can move around the faster you will be and that could be the difference between winning and losing.