Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Body Building vs. Cross fit Wars

I am not a bodybuilder or a Crossfit athlete but I have been amused over the years by all the taunting these disciplines consistently give each other on videos and comment boards all over the Internet. It appears that these two groups have joined the ranks of passionate rivals such as Coke vs Pepsi, Ford vs. Chevy, and Marvel vs. DC Comics.

The most common criticism I hear about Crossfit is about the kipping pull ups. The mocking comments their critics leave always include several "and not a single pull up was done that day". Another common swipe taken at Crossfit are the comments that say "an orthopedic surgeon or chiropractor's dream" insinuating that the athletes are destroying their bodies with the form and volume of exercises they perform. Crossfitters typically fire back at body builders with comments about doing arm curls in front of the mirror, taking steroids, and not being able to walk up a flight of stairs without getting winded.

I can understand how each of these camps can get defensive when others criticize something they are so passionate about, but I still don't get the why some make it such a rivalry. I have respect for any sport. I really don't enjoy watching baseball, lacrosse, hockey, or rugby, but I respect the athletes who participate and excel at those activities. My hat is off to anyone who is active and enjoys physical activity.

I know many people have thrown the entire Crossfit movement under the bus and claim it is a dangerous fad. There are actually several aspects of the sport I am not a fan of but I am still impressed by the athletes and totally entertained with the Crossfit games.

My interest in the sport is similar to how I view mixed martial arts, strong man competitions, or motorcycle jumping at the X games. I don't personally do these activities, but I really enjoy watching the top people in those fields compete and am motivated by their success.

I do have reservations when it comes to Crossfit but I also have concerns about body building, running marathons and many other sports. No sport is perfect.

I don't like the fact that everyone has the same workout. I really believe in customizing a workout to the individual. I also don't enjoy doing Olympic lifts and having a team of people yelling for me to finish 30 reps for 8 sets of exercise while racing against someone else. Performing super high reps and sets under a time limit can be an invitation for injury.

Many bodybuilders claim Crossfit is extreme, but so is getting down to 5% body fat and shaving your legs and having someone paint you brown before you flex your muscles in front of people. When it comes to bodybuilding, I have no desire to wear a speedo on stage and pose in front of people but I still admire many body builders and their dedication and effort even though many people claim the sport has turned into a freak show.

Bodybuilders are often accused of being cocky and narcissistic. Some people are intimidated by the big guys at the gym and feel that they look down on those with less impressive physiques. Crossfitters can also rub people the wrong way with their intense loyalty to the sport. Their tight knit community and almost evangelical zeal has prompted some to compare it to a cult.

I believe Crossfit workouts will help improve a person's conditioning, but I don't think it is the key to be a successful athlete for any particular sport.  If you are a basketball player the best training you can do is practice playing basketball. If you want to be a faster runner, then practice running. The law of specificity applies. If you want to get good at Crossfit exercises then get familiar with and do their work out of the day.

Even though I share some of the same concerns as Crossfit's bodybuilding critics, I just don't understand the argument that Crossift is not a sport. If badminton and golf are classified as a sport, how are the diverse and physically demanding events performed for Crossfit not? Saying it only conditions you to get good at exercise is like saying volleyball is not a sport, it is just practicing to get good at hitting a ball over a net. There are stadiums of people who go to watch them compete against each other. Points are awarded on a performance basis and a winner is crowned. It is a sport.

To all the Crossfit haters on the Internet message boards, how can you not be amazed with Rich Froning and the other elite athletes? I'm in awe of their conditioning. I'd love to see their critics attempt what they do. To all the haters of bodybuilding who say they are just too big and not good athletes, you need to remember they are intentionally trying to get massive with the proper proportions, symmetry, and definition. Their goal is not to see how fast they can climb a rope or push a sled across a field. Each discipline has different goals they are intentionally trying to accomplish so people need to realize that before they make comparisons or start ripping on them.

I guess haters are always going to hate. Despite the head butting between bodybuilding and Crossfit, I still admire much about each sport and think it would be nice if we could focus more on the common ground and the good that any sport or exercise has to offer instead of the differences.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

What Successful Dieters Have in Common

Almost everyone who loses weight with a diet eventually gains it back after the initial loss. There are a variety of ways to lose weight, but as soon as you stop the behavior that helps you lose weight and revert back to your prior habits the weight is bound to come back. That is why lifestyle change is so important for long term success. It's one thing to lose weight, but it's another to keep it off for an extended amount of time.

The National Weight Control Registry (NWCR) is an organization that monitors successful long term weight loss. They provide data they obtained from participants who had lost at least 30 pounds and kept it off for over 5 years. Here are some of the common practices that those successful in controlling their weight had in common.

98% Modified their food intake
94% Increased their physical activity
62% Watch less than 10 hours of TV per week
78% Eat breakfast every day
90% Averaged an hour of exercise per day
75% Weigh themselves once a week

These are some telling insights into long term weight loss. This shows that people with the most successful long term weight maintenance constantly monitor their weight and focus on proper nutrition and physical activity. Taking these precautions is not always an appealing route when society touts quick fixes with little effort. Weight maintenance is similar to real life, "there's no such thing as a free lunch."

There may be some people who have lost weight who didn't follow all of the above activities, but I still think those lifestyle changes can make a big difference for most people in the population. If you are attempting to lose weight, I'd encourage you to look at these 6 activities and consider which ones you could do better at.