Are boot camp style classes the best fit for you?

May 20, 2014

I am frequently asked about the effectiveness of boot-camp style systems such as CrossFit.  My opinion about these “train hard” programs is always the same: it depends on your individual strength and flexibility deficits, your training history, and your specific athletic goals.  These types of boot camp style programs can be effective, but without a firm understanding of these three areas, all that hard training could actually be doing more harm than good.

To be fair, each of these areas need to be addressed for every individual before starting any fitness training.  However, CrossFit can be a more aggressive style of training and that is why there tends to be a higher injury rate when compared to other training styles.  This is especially true for novice athletes who have not gone through a whole body strength and flexibility evaluation.

The point of training is to improve your condition, not to make it worse.  Training hard is actually easy to do, however, training the right way before training hard takes more effort because you need to have uncovered the answers to the three question we addressed.  Getting this complete picture first will always bring about better results versus just jumping right into “training hard”.  To get the best results, you must start with the “train right” mentality.

Before you jump into a “train hard” program make sure you have a professional evaluate your strength and flexibility issues, and tell them about your training history, previous injuries, and your specific goals.

If you are already “training hard”, having a better understanding about your own deficits will add a powerful punch to your current program as you make necessary corrections.  Taking this approach is purposeful and will help you to get the results you are looking for, instead of just doing a bunch of random exercises that are hard to do, and may not take you where you want to go.

Boot camp style programs tend to allot weight a large percentage of training volume to squatting type exercise movements because they are “hard” to do, especially when done in large volumes with weight added to the body.  While these types of movements can be beneficial to help to primarily build strength in the quads, glutes, and low back muscles, to be most effective, the right attention needs to be paid to the opposing muscle groups.

If your real goal is to be faster, stronger, and more resistant to training related injuries, the “train hard” approach might not be the best way to get there until you do this…

Focus on improving the strength in the muscles that oppose the squatting motion first.  Concentrating on your whole body strength and flexibility is what allows you to reach your real potential in any sport.  Training right means you are focused on what matters, not just training hard.

It makes sense to want to improve the strength of the muscles that propel you forward such as the quads, glutes, and back muscles for most land based sports, but when the oppositional muscles are neglected (those which oppose the primary movers) you might be increasing your risk of getting injured while not actually improving your speed at all.

Balancing your training program can help you get the most out of your strength training program and allow you to train much closer to your true potential.

Train Right, Train Smart, then Train Hard!

Coach Kaehler

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