Ok you want a smoking body, and you’ve heard, and seen, crossfit is a great way to get it.
And you’re not
certainly help with weight loss, fat loss, and building muscle. But,
and this might be a controversial, unpopular opinion, in the
calisthenics vs Crossfit debate, I think you should stick to
Before you dismiss
me, hear me out…
Crossfit isn’t the
only way to get a smoking body.
Calisthenics is just
as capable at getting you ripped. If it’s paired with a healthy
lifestyle and a balanced diet, obviously.
Do me a
favour...google calisthenics movements and look at a few of the
It should only take
a second. Come back when you’re done.
Did you notice
anything about the people doing the movements.
The first thing you
may have noticed is that most of them are men. Please don’t be put
off by this. Calisthenics is not just for men. You are, or you can be
strong enough. And you will not look like a man.
The second thing you
hopefully noticed is that everyone has an amazing figure. Yes, I know
they’re men, but they’ve got defined muscles and not a lot of
fat. They look strong. And athletic. That’s the look you’re going
for isn’t it?
workouts really do have the ability to get you the physique you’re
after. Because calisthenics is essentially a type of strength
But, the added bonus
is there is even less risk of you looking bulky.
I’ve spoken many
times about how strength training won’t make women bulky. We just
don’t have the testosterone levels needed to build muscle mass to
the same level as men.
calisthenics, because you’re only using your own bodyweight, no
extra weight you’re really not going to look bulky.
One thing you should
notice about all of the men doing it, they haven’t got massive
muscles. Not compared to say a bodybuilder.
They are super
strong. And they have lots of lean muscle yes, but muscle size isn’t
the focus with calisthenics. Overall strength is. Overall fitness is.
Now, I love a good
tussle with a really heavy weight. Lifting something above my head,
or flipping a bloody big tyre. But, I know not everyone is like me.
And women do get concerned about lifting heavy weights.
calisthenics exercises can help.
You’ll still be
doing some really cool stuff, especially when you’re more advanced,
but weights don’t come into at all. It is purely body-weight
So, if calisthenics
and crossfit can get you the body you’re looking for, why do I
think you should stick with calisthenics? In a nut shell, I think
it’s going to be easier for you to workout if you stick with
Let me explain?
As I’ve mentioned
above, calisthenics exercises are bodyweight exercises. It’s
essentially bodyweight training to get you fitter and stronger.
You don’t need any
fancy equipment. In fact you don’t need much equipment at all.
A pull-up bar maybe,
when you’re more advanced. Possibly some resistance bands. But none
of that is essential. You’ll get an amazing, very challenging
workout with just own body weight.
And that means you
can workout anywhere.
In the local park
while your kids play on the swings. In your living room after you’ve
put them to bed. Maybe your garden while they watch their favourite
As long as you’ve
got your body and a bit of room you can do a workout.
Crossfit though is
very equipment heavy.
The whole ethos of
crossfit is that it takes principles from many disciplines.
Powerlifting, Olympic weightlifting, gymnastics and functional
training. And that means you could be using anything from resistance
bands, to kettlebells, to medicine balls, to Olympic bars, to cardio
machines, to dumbbells, to weight plates, to gymnastic rings, to a
pullup bar. And the list goes on.
So, unless you’ve
got a very well kitted out gym at home, and if you have can I come
and play, you’re going to have to go to a local crossfit gym to get
your workout done.
And before you say
it, I know not every workout of the day, or WOD, will use all of that
equipment, some will just be bodyweight movements, but, at some point
during your crossfit program you will need access to all of that
So, if you need to fit your workout in around childcare, school runs, kids activities, etc. stick with calisthenics.
As I mentioned
above, Crossfit takes it principles from powerlifting, Olympic
weightlifting and gymnastics. It’s this cross section approach that
makes it very effective.
But, it also means
there are some very complicated moves involved.
The clean and jerk
and the snatch for example are not moves for beginners and you will
need instruction to get the right technique.
I dabbled a bit with
Olympic lifts a few years back.
I worked with a
personal trainer, who specialised in Olympic lifting, weekly and I
did that for about 6 months. And I was only just getting them smooth
enough to include them in a workout.
And these are
movements I’m familiar with. I hadn’t done them with Olympic bars
before, but, I knew the mechanics of the movement, and what I was
supposed to be achieving.
But it still took me
Even now, I wouldn’t
be comfortable doing them on my own at home, or at speed during a
the moves involved in a calisthenics workout are probably very
familiar to you.
Squats. Lunges. Push
ups. Pull ups.
There are advanced versions of these movements, muscle ups for example, which you may need assistance with, but, at the beginner level, you should be able to do most workouts on your own.
Another reason to
get instruction with Crossfit is that the injury risk is quite high.
It has been compared to the risk of injury in rugby.
Well, it’s going
to be isn't it?
at speed, potentially with heavy weights. It’s kind of a recipe for
There are some
statistics that show the risk of injury with crossfit is about 20%.
Just to put that into perspective, calisthenics is about 9 injuries
per 1000 hours of training.
So, yes, there is
still a risk with calisthenics. But, to be honest there’s going to
be a bit of a risk with anything you do. But, yes, crossfit is quite
One way to reduce the risk is to get instruction and have trainer involvement during your WOD. And that means going to a gym.
Bear with me on
workouts are done for time, that means you do the exercises, cycle
through the rounds as quickly as possible.
Yes, that’s great
for getting your heart rate up, and for burning body fat.
But it can mean you
don’t build strength in your muscles.
I’ve been to a
crossfit training style class or two and during the core section I
always have a look around. And I would say the majority of people
aren’t using any core muscles to do the moves.
using momentum. Momentum to get down and momentum to get back up.
That and the muscles in their legs. Or their arms. Or their neck.
actually using their core muscles.
So how do you stop
using momentum, and sky rocket the strength of your core?
Slow it down.
When you slow the
movement down you’ll actually be focusing on using the muscles in
your core. Concentrate on it.
Contract and engage
But I can’t get
that number of reps done AND slow it down.
And that, I think is
the problem with Crossfit.
The focus is on
getting the numbers done, as quickly as possible. It’s not always
the best way.
It has it’s place,
absolutely. But, not at the expense of proper form, and not at the
expense of not working the muscles you’re trying to work.
If you can’t get
that number done, then don’t do them.
Do half, and really
focus on using those muscles and those muscles alone.
I promise you your core will thank you for it in the long run.
Now, before you
think I’ve just got a downer with crossfit, I’m going to say, I
actually like doing Crossfit.
I go to a group
class every week. Well, as close to every week as I can.
I find it fun. And
challenging. And even as a personal trainer I find it pushes me out
of my comfort zone. It’s at a time I know I can get there. And it
gives me an opportunity to get out of the house.
So, if you still
really want to give it a try, then great.
Find somewhere that
does group classes and be safe. I’ve got some tips below to keep
But, if you’d
prefer the luxury of working out whenever you can, I really would
stick to calisthenics. You won’t be sacrificing results. But you
may just find that you’re able to stick to it a little more.
Having said that, if you do want to try Crossfit, here are my top tips to keeping safe:
Learn the main moves
before you go to a class.
WOD’s are fast and
intense so you might not be able to get the help you need during the
class. So, do it before.
You don’t have to
stick to a crossfit instructor. In fact I’d suggest you don’t.
training methods come from powerlifting, Olympic Lifting, gymnastics.
So, seek out instructors in all of those field if you can.
The more the better.
Remember the risk of
injury is high with crossfit training, so if something isn’t
feeling right then stop.
It might be
difficult getting the attention of an instructor during the WOD, but
you must if something has started to hurt or feel uncomfortable.
Especially if it’s your lower back.
Don’t be afraid to
stop and ask for help.
Ask them to show you
how to do the movement properly. Or, let you know what you’re doing
A good rule of
thumb, engage your core.
And by engage I mean
tense. Like someone’s about to punch you in the stomach. Tense your
core and lift your pelvic floor.
That should be
enough to take the pressure off your lower back.
If it’s not. Ask.
There will be a
workout for you to do. And it will have the number of reps of each
exercise. Whilst you should absolutely push yourself, don’t feel
like you have to stick to the numbers.
Can’t do 50
lunges, 40 squats and 30 burpees in a minute?
Pick something a
little more realistic.
Remember no is going to be checking on you, unless you’re competing in the crossfit games. Everyone else is concentrating on what they need to do. Nothing more.
At the end of the
day, what really matters when choosing the type of workout you’re
going to do, is, are you going to enjoy it? And there is a lot to
enjoy with Crossfit.
If you go to group
classes you’ll be working out with like-minded people. You’ll be
pushed way past any comfort zone you ever had. And you will,
undoubtedly, get fitter.
calisthenics will be just as effective at getting you fitter and
Let me know which one you decide to try, and how you get on.
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