The Benefits and Risks of CrossFit: What You Need to Know

December 18, 2019
CrossFit is an exercise strategy that can offer many benefits when practiced properly. However, it carries some risks that you should know. Discover them here!

CrossFit is a form of high-intensity power fitness that’s become very popular around the world. While its initial goal was to prepare people with physically demanding jobs, nowadays, it’s been adapted to all audiences. Do you know the benefits and risks of CrossFit?

Although this type of training is quite attractive for those who want to lose weight, increase muscle mass, and gain strength, it has some disadvantages people should consider before practicing it. Below, we explain them in detail.

What’s CrossFit?

Before knowing the benefits and risks of CrossFit, it’s important to know what it’s all about.

This is a form of training based on constantly varied exercises with functional movements that are executed at a certain time, which shouldn’t exceed 50 minutes. The activities practiced include cardiovascular exercises, weight lifting, and strength work. It also aims to explore a person’s different skills and physical abilities.

However, it’s necessary to have enough fitness, flexibility, balance, and muscular and respiratory resistance. It also requires proper motion biomechanics, as not doing the exercises properly can lead to spine, joint, and other bodily injuries.

So what are the benefits and risks of CrossFit?

A man lifting weights.

You should also read: Follow An Exercise Routine Without Causing Muscle Hypertrophy

The benefits and risks of CrossFit

Although CrossFit has become popular around the world, its practice is controversial. While many of its benefits have been supported by studies, cases of multiple injuries and serious consequences have led people to believe that it can be dangerous.

The big problem is that many people have decided to practice it without first evaluating their fitness and state of health. Some people have even decided to follow intense workout routines without the supervision of an expert trainer.

Below, we’ll detail these benefits and risks.

The benefits of CrossFit

Contrary to what many people think, CrossFit isn’t an exclusive form of exercise for high-performance athletes. In fact, nowadays, many people practice it around the world.

However, it’s necessary to know how to adapt it to each person’s physical abilities. In this regard, the exercise routine won’t be the same for a person in poor physical condition than for those who exercise regularly or are used to vigorous exercise. Therefore, it’s imperative to consult your doctor and evaluate your physical performance before trying it out.

In light of the above, and respecting the biomechanics of movement of each exercise, CrossFit offers interesting benefits such as:

  • It increases cardiovascular and respiratory endurance.
  • It increases physical endurance.
  • CrossFit enhances coordination and balance.
  • It improves mood and self-esteem.
  • It helps to increase muscle mass.
  • CrossFit helps people lose weight (it’s considered a “fat burner”).
  • It fosters relationships, as it’s often practiced in groups.

The risks of CrossFit

As we mentioned above, CrossFit can be dangerous if you don’t take precautions. If you don’t evaluate your current state of health or do vigorous exercises without having the necessary endurance, you can suffer from:

  • Muscle, ligament, tendon, and bone injuries.
  • Spine injuries.
  • Weakening and prolonged fatigue.
  • Cardiovascular system changes, such as increased blood pressure.
  • Rhabdomyolysis, a condition that involves the breakdown of muscle tissue. As it causes the release of muscle fiber contents in the blood, it can lead to problems such as kidney failure and arrhythmias.
A woman getting a checkup.

After a physical examination, the doctor can determine the severity and location of the degenerative injury.

Discover: What’s Better When You Exercise: More Weight or More Repetitions?

Tips for practicing CrossFit

To practice CrossFit safely, you need to follow some tips. First of all, it’s essential to determine your state of health and whether you suffer from any conditions. Then, don’t forget that vigorous exercise isn’t recommended in cases of illness.

Apart from this, it’s very important to consult with a trainer specialized in this discipline. The professional can teach you how to do the exercises properly to reduce the risk of injury. Here are other recommendations:

  • Start with moderate routines adapted to your physical condition.
  • Gradually increase the intensity of the exercises.
  • Take enough time to rest and recover.
  • Ensure adequate hydration.
  • Follow a healthy and balanced diet.
  • Warm-up and stretch before doing the exercises.

Are you interested in trying CrossFit out? If so, please remember the benefits and risks and assess whether it’s right for you or not. Also, don’t forget to seek advice before you start.

  • Meyer, J., Morrison, J., & Zuniga, J. (2017). The Benefits and Risks of CrossFit: A Systematic Review. Workplace Health and Safety. https://doi.org/10.1177/2165079916685568
  • Claudino JG, Gabbett TJ, Bourgeois F, et al. CrossFit Overview: Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Sports Med Open. 2018;4(1):11. Published 2018 Feb 26. doi:10.1186/s40798-018-0124-5
  • Choi EJ, So WY, Jeong TT. Effects of the CrossFit Exercise Data Analysis on Body Composition and Blood Profiles. Iran J Public Health. 2017;46(9):1292–1294.