Is CrossFit Enough?
When I was training for my first Ironman triathlon, I was training anywhere between 11 and 17 hours a week. At peak, I was pushing a regular 15-17 hour schedule.
That is a lot of working out.
I am not going to lie to you: I looked absolutely fantastic. As I got closer to the race, I couldn’t KEEP weight on; there was one lovely day when I actually pulled on a pair of jeans while they were still buttoned.
The thing is: that lifestyle is unsustainable. I knew it then, while living it, and I know it even more now, when looking back at it: for me, I cannot sustain 17 hours a week of training, not if I want to remain married and employed and awake. But, you know, that’s kind of the deal you make with Ironman training and it’s fine for that particular goal, just not for life in general. (Note: There are better ways to train for an Ironman; my last one I used Crossfit Endurance, which I’ll write up here next)
So. What to do after Ironman? Well, as I mentioned before, that’s when I took up Crossfit. I needed something so vastly different from triathlon training (can we say burnout?) and Crossfit was it. I figured that of course I’d gain weight after the race, but hopefully with regular exercise I’d maintain some sort of decent enough body type.
Imagine my surprise when three days a week of Crossfit – averaging generously 3 hours a week- kept me at the same jean size as my 17 hours a week of IM training. Now, my body type was different, of course – with those three days a week of CF I found myself with more defined muscles overall but without, say, the ability to ride my bike for 5 hours. Given that my goal had shifted from “complete long endurance race” to “maintain some sort of in shape-ness while not up-ending my entire life in the process” this was a fair trade off for me.
The average Crossfit WOD takes about 20 minutes, with many WODs taking far less. That WOD, coupled with a thorough warm up, plus strength work, plus cool down, is about a 45-60 minute workout overall. The warm-up and strength training portion of the workout are as important as the WOD; if that were skipped I don’t think one would see the same benefits from Crossfit as others (Incidentally, this is why I prefer to do CF at a gym and not on my own; I don’t quite have the discipline to not cut corners).
When people look at Crossfit for the first time, and see the prices, it can be shocking. So much money for so little workout? Why pay THAT MUCH when you’ll have to supplement with additional training? I get it, I do. But I will tell you: with Crossfit as my go-to, main workout focus, I have stayed in shape with far less time investment that with previous undertakings.
I still run. I still swim. I still bike. But I do these things for fun, as they fit into my schedule, not as my main method of staying in shape. And here’s the kicker: I can still run, swim and bike with the same speeds (if not faster, in some cases) than I did when I was ONLY running, swimming, biking.
So, is Crossfit enough? For my current goals, for right now: I certainly think so. I now try to Crossfit 4x/week, and I focus on primal/paleo eating as much as I can, and have found myself able to stay in great shape without the need for excessive time investment. It works for me – has it worked for anyone else?