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Circular Strength Training vs Cross Fit

My sister started Cross Fit Training and she is loving it, which makes me really happy because she is finally working out.  She is not overweight or has any weight problems, she just didn’t move much.  She was starting to complain about moving and lifting things as if she were a woman 3 times her age.  She is starting to see results and she is loving it.  I have seen and read a little bit about Cross Fit, but enough to judge it.

The past week I went to Bogotá for my cousins wedding, and I decided to give Cross Fit a chance.  My first impression was, ” Finally a gym were people actually come to TRAIN, instead of making social life”.  My second impression was,”this isn’t anything new”.  Considering I’m still quite ignorant on the subject, to me Cross Fit was the same old calisthenics with some kettle bells, dumb bells, and medicine balls.  The workouts of the day (WOD) are tough and are real high intensity, but there were a couple of things that I didn’t like:

1. Warm up:  First of all it included static stretching.  It has been shown in the scientific literature that static stretching is not good for warming up. Why? Because it affects our performance by reducing our ability to express power.  Secondly the mobility exercises we did only targeted about 3 joints (shoulders, hips, and knees), and left the rest starving for some juice.  Finally, the used plyometric exercises like knees to chest.  Plyometric exercises require a lot of power and energy, and if you are not properly warmed up, you can injure yourself easily.

2. They don’t work along the 6 degrees of Freedom.  The 6 DOF is a term taken from aviation that describes the way we move through space.  We can  heave (moving up and down), sway (moving right and left), surge (moving forward and backward),  pitch (bending forward and backward), yaw (twisting right and left), roll (turning right and left).  What I saw from Cross Fit is that it fails to work on the last two or three.

3. Sophistication.  To me the exercises just seemed too simple.  I was told in the introduction that Cross Fit worked the mind, but I haven’t really seen this.  As I said before, the workouts are tough, but not complex.

As a former gymnast, I’m a real admirer of sophisticated movements and body weight strength.  I just love it when people try to imitate what I’m doing and find themselves really tangled up.

Aside form these three things I loved Cross Fit, it is something the fitness industry really needed.  I was tired of the traditional gyms full of tough guys that fall apart when the going gets tough.  This brings up a story by the way.

Story:  A few years ago when I was becoming a Red Cross Volunteer (In Colombia volunteers are asked to do a lot of rescue work.  As a matter of fact the best rescue units in the country belong to the Red Cross) we had a 3 day field trip where we had to walk for hours, carry rescue people, and learn how to navigate through a forest at night.  We were allowed very little food and water, so fatigue was our most loyal companion.  Within my team we had a personal trainer.  This guy was big, his legs were like tree trunks and he was wide as a bull.  At he beginning I thought he was an asset to the team, but after we had to carry him twice, I changed my opinion.

He fainted on us twice during the three days.  The skinny guys like me had to carry his muscular ass about a mile all the way to camp.  Thanks to him I realized the big muscles are not an advantage in the real world.  Hell, the girls preformed better and complained less than him.

End of story

I loved the community.  I think this is Cross Fit’s biggest Plus.  Competing against a friend is the best way to improve and challenge yourself.  A lot of people under estimate the power of motivation and Cross Fit has a lot of it.

Circular Strength Training on the other hand is my preferred training technology.  It differs from Cross Fit because it is more involves more mobility drills, more sophisticated movements, and CLUBBELLS!!!!  I will use this space to express the awesomeness of club bells.  Believe me you will never know how weak you are until you have used club bells.  I got mine a few days ago and I’m loving them.

In CST you don’t only progress in reps, rounds, and sets, but also in sophistication.  Your movements become more complex and challenge your brain a whole lot more.  This helps you become more body conscious.  You kind of get a feeling of where everybody part is doing.

CST has a little bit of yoga, martial arts, science, and psychology.  In other words it is packed with benefits for your health.  Most athletes that have tried them have become champions, due to its injury free nature.

If you want to learn more about it go to RMAX International.

Personally I think Cross Fitters can benefit a lot by incorporating some of the things taught in CST.



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3 Thoughts on “Circular Strength Training vs Cross Fit

  1. Josh on July 26, 2011 at 8:45 am said:

    I saw your post on the CrossFit mainsite and wanted to note a couple things.

    1) I don’t know what box you trained at but, CrossFit warm-ups do not typically involve static stretches. If static stretching is ever done, it’s after the WOD. Typical warm-ups consist of something similar, if not exactly what you’ll find on Otherwise it will be what we like to call “Active Warm-Up”; walking lunges, air squats, push-ups, 400 meter run, etc. There are also many barbell movement warm-ups that can be involved.

    2) “the exercises just seemed too simple” To most people, muscle-ups, turkish get-ups, and double unders (to name a few) are not simple. Also, Olympic Lifting movements like the snatch, split jerk and clean take a lot of time, strength, coordination, and intelligence to master.

    Again, not sure where you did your research…but, I’m not sure that you really did any.

    • Simple doesn’t mean they are not hard, it means they are not complicated from a coordination point of view. The exercise you mentioned can be learned in one session. If you have tried any of the Commando level exercises in the Tacfit Commando program, you will see that these exercises cannot be learned in one afternoon. They are not about strength but coordination.

  2. Josh on July 26, 2011 at 8:37 pm said:

    A muscle-up or clean and jerk is simple from a coordination standpoint? That’s ridiculous, and you’re amateur article is ridiculous. Your follow-up comment just proves my point. I gave you the benefit of the doubt and read your article…now I’m sorry did.
    Do CrossFit more than once before you try to form an opinion, right an article, and post it on the mainsite.

    Ar least this ridiculousness passed the time for me today while I was on break at work, and for that I thank you.

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