CrossFit Does Not Make You Big

Tuesday October 25, 2011

5 Rounds:

400m Run

20 Release Pushups

25 KettleBell Swings (53/35)

First of all, sorry to disappoint all of you out there who were trying to get huge for spring break 2012. I know, there is nothing like sculpting those traps to the point where having a neck is debated by onlookers. I feel like I’m pretty in touch with the goals of the females in the gym and that’s why we are doing our best at CrossFit Redondo to transform you into Chinese swim team from the 1992 Olympics.



I hate to point fingers, but ladies this blog entry is mainly for you. Over the past 2 years, I have heard on countless occasions a statement that goes something like this: “Yeah, I’d like, totally do CrossFit but I don’t want to get big.” I try in vain to explain the idea behind metabolic conditioning, the fact that we are training the central nervous system, and that weightlifting does not mean you will turn into a roided out man-woman. But sadly, these pleas usually fall on deaf ears, and the decision that massive amounts of rapid muscle gain are inevitable, and the elliptical and Pilates are the only options.



All kidding aside, a well-designed CrossFit program will not turn you into a big, non-functional Gold’s Gym meathead. Before we get into some of the science behind what CrossFit does to the body, let’s take a look around the gym. If you can find a one-year+ CrossFitter in our gym that can be argued as being “big” I will gladly hand out a one-year membership for free. Richard (2.5 year crossfitter) has a 405lb deadlift which is 2.8 times his body weight of 145lbs. He also runs a sub 5:30 mile, did a mile of burpees around a track, and can back squat close to 300lbs. He is the same weight he was in high school, but much, much stronger AND faster. I know this is only one example, and a male member to boot but the point is there: he is not big, he is strong and fit.


Let’s explore the purpose of the METCON, short for metabolic conditioning. These are the bread and butter CrossFit workouts like Fran, Cindy, and Diane. They are done quickly and designed for maximum power output. These workouts, as well as strength training, (think part A) build lean muscle mass. It has been proven, that the more muscle you possess, the more fat you will burn, even while you are not working out. After a typical CrossFit workout, your body will burn fat for up to 48 hours to meet the demands of an increased metabolism. This means more muscle, and less fat aka that “toned” look everyone is looking for. I hate using that word, but it’s what most females want to hear and you can achieve this look with CrossFit. More than a look, you are now a more bad-ass human being.

Going off the fact that more muscle=less fat and more muscle means faster metabolism, let’s explore the cardio junkie mentality. The first thing someone thinks about when trying to get back in shape is to start running. In fact, many set a goal to run an half or full marathon, knowing the large amounts of training will help them lose weight. However, long-slow-distance or LSD training is a muscle wasting activity. When your body runs out of glycogen (the main source of energy), it begins taking proteins from muscle tissue to provide energy to support these long bouts of exercise. So instead of building muscle and increasing metabolism, you are actually losing muscle and getting no metabolic benefits. Take a look at any professional marathon runner and you will see zero musculature and frankly a very weak and unfit individual. Many people with the best intentions to get in better shape become slaves to the LSD model, and will never get the results they want.


CrossFit will make you stronger, it will make you leaner, it will make you more efficient. It will not make you big. The few instances it will increase your weight is if you start the program underweight, or with little muscle mass. Because of the variance piece of CrossFit your body will be molded into a working machine, capable of doing almost any physical task presented. Our bodies are smart. Why would the body decide to pack on huge amounts of muscle and added weight when every other day it knows it will be jumping, pulling itself up, running, or doing anything else where a solid strength to body weight ratio is ideal?  It just doesn’t happen.


For those of you who have not seen results on the scale but see your strength numbers going up and know you are getting faster, have no fear. When you have a 5 minute PR (and you will) or add 15 lbs to your deadlift, that is your system telling you that it is getting much more efficient and much stronger. Better performance in the gym CANNOT happen without physiological and anatomical changes! Throw your scale away, and watch your clothes fit better, the compliments come steady, and your ability to crush your non-CrossFit friends in any physical task. Try playing a game of beach soccer with someone who only runs for a workout and see who runs out of gas first!

Workout of the Day: Thomas Norcio- best workout to date. Did the round of 18 reps and change RXed and looked very solid on the ring dips. Once he has a better grasp on the movements and skills, he will be right up there on the leader boards.