The Life Cycle of a CrossFitter, Part 1: The Dreaded Plateau

The Life Cycle of a CrossFit Trainer

Crossfit is a workout system that uses high intensity interval training (HIIT) to build muscle mass and improve fitness. It was started by Greg Glassman in 2003 and it’s now become one of the most popular forms of exercise among young men around the world. There are many different variations of the program, but they all involve some form of HIIT workouts.

While there have been other programs that focus on building strength and endurance, none have reached the popularity or reach that CrossFit has achieved. According to Google Trends, searches for “crossfit” increased dramatically after its inception in 2003. It’s popularity continues to grow today with over 3 million members worldwide and an estimated $50 million annual revenue.

It seems like everyone wants to get into the lifestyle, but only a few actually stick with it long term. While I’m not saying you shouldn’t try it out, I think you need to know what kind of person you want to be before committing yourself.

What Is A CrossFit Lifestyle?

A typical CrossFit gym consists of several small group classes where people do various exercises and movements in groups of 4-6 at a time. The classes last an hour and are designed in a way that work different parts of your body on a regular basis.

For example, one day you might do a lower body workout, like squats and lunges, followed by an upper body workout, like push-ups and pull-ups, and then finish with a cardio session, like running or cycling.

Other sessions may focus on specific movements like Olympic weight lifting or gymnastics.

CrossFitters tend to have a very regimented lifestyle. They eat at specific times, and eat certain foods in certain portions. They also sleep at specific times and take several naps throughout the day.

Most new members are encouraged to take part in as many classes as possible to really get the best experience. This includes 4-5 hour long “open-gyms” where you can work on your technical skills or simply socialize with others.

The Life Cycle of a CrossFitter, Part 1: The Dreaded Plateau - | Gym Fit Workout

If this sounds like your kind of lifestyle, then you’re ready to join. But be warned, it’s not for everyone.

The Dangers of the CrossFit Lifestyle

While there are many positive aspects of taking up CrossFit, there are also some serious downsides that you should be aware of before jumping in head first. Here are just a few things you should think about before becoming a part of the community:

1. It’s Expensive

CrossFit is one of the most expensive forms of exercise out there. Not only will you have to pay for your membership, but you’ll also need to constantly buy special foods and supplements that are encouraged, but not required.

You’ll be told that these things are necessary for your fitness goals, but allow me to burst your bubble a bit. They aren’t.

Most of these things are nothing more than your regular vitamins and minerals packed into a pretty container at a higher price.

Sure, you can get away with just the regular food you buy at the grocery store. It might not be as “effective” as their special egg whites or steak, but it will still work more or less the same.

2. It’s Very Competitive

Have you ever been to a regular gym? Do you remember how some people work out completely naked while others don’t even wear headphones?

Well, you can forget about that when it comes to CrossFit.

Everyone is hyper-competitive and there is a slew of different accessories needed to separate yourself from the rest of the pack. Not only do you need technical skills, but you also need clothing and equipment to complete the look.

The Life Cycle of a CrossFitter, Part 1: The Dreaded Plateau - GymFitWorkout

Unless you’re willing to fork over a lot of money for the latest snapback hats and wrist wraps, you may feel out of place at your local CrossFit gym.

3. You Will Get Sporty

CrossFit has been gaining a reputation of attracting a certain “type” of person. Muscular, sporty, and somewhat geeky are just a few words that would be used to describe the folks who take part in this fitness regime.

While there’s nothing wrong with being sporty, it isn’t for everyone. CrossFitters tend to be very technical about their workout and diet. If you’re looking to just lose weight and get in shape, this may not be the place for you.

4. It’s Not Flexible

The CrossFit community has been criticized for its inflexibility when it comes to new ideas and concepts. This is especially true when it comes to anything created outside of their community.

If you want to get into CrossFit, be prepared for a very rigid approach to your training and diet. The idea is to push your body to the limit, which means no rest for you!

Who Should (And Shouldn’t) Try CrossFit

If you’ve decided that CrossFit sounds like a good fit for you, then by all means give it a try! Just be aware of the potential downsides and make sure you’re making a fully informed decision.

The Life Cycle of a CrossFitter, Part 1: The Dreaded Plateau - gym fit workout

If you don’t like the sound of any of these things, then CrossFit may not be for you. On the other hand, if you think you can handle all that comes with this fitness regime, then by all means take part in this very demanding sport.

The next step is to find a good gym near you so you know where to go!

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Written by Prof. Kevin Anderson MS, CSCS, FIS, CES, PES, ISSA.

Kevin is a Professional Fitness Trainer based out of Sacramento, California with over 25 years of experience working in Fitness and Health Care industries. He’s been published in several fitness magazines including Women’s Health Magazine, Men’s Fitness, Muscle & Fitness, Exercise for Men Only, and Exercise for Men Only. He is a Professor in two Physical Education graduate programs, and consults with the Sacramento Kings NBA team in Nutrition and Exercise. He’s been serving on the Board of Directors of the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) and is the Chair of the NSCA’s Certification Commission. He also is a member of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM).


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Sources & references used in this article:

The plateau effect: Getting from stuck to success by B Sullivan, H Thompson – 2013 –

Bulky but Still Beautiful: Representations of Healthy Femininity in the CrossFit Narrative by C Madliger – 2015 –

Current Trends In Health & Fitness by HTBTA Fat –

Saturday June 20th by MU into Summer –