Should Mountain Bikers Do CrossFit?

Should Mountain Bikers Do CrossFit? Good question. Hopefully we can help you make an educated decision.

I nearly titled this video “why mountain bikers shouldn’t do CrossFit” but that wouldn’t necessarily be my view, here’s why….

This subject is subject worth exploring for soooo many people, not just mountain bikers. A caveat before starting: there are many “styles” of training out there and some work for some people, others for others. So I’m not about to hate on any training methodologies. We’re here to take a look specifically at CrossFit and weather or not you should do it for your off-bike training.

What is CrossFit?

Before we answer the question – should mountain bikers do CrossFit, we’ll take a look first at what CrossFit is. I’ll start by telling you about my history with CrossFit…

I own 2 gyms that were up until recently CrossFit affiliates. One of those gyms was a CrossFit gym for over 8 years, the other nearly 2. I say up until recently because I made the decision not to continue affiliating to CrossFit. There are many reasons behind this – the CEO being a complete liability was one of them. But the more relevant one was that I hated the fact that the way people viewed my gyms was largely down to public opinion of CrossFit the brand. This meant is wasn’t the great training we were doing with our clients that defined us, but CrossFit HQ.

You might think this is irrelevant but wait, it is really important you understand that all CrossFit gyms are different. Different gyms bring different priorities, experience and most importantly – coaches. Yes, they will all preach to you that their expression of CrossFit is the best for you, but that’s the problem right there. -Short sighted coaches who only know what they  know are dangerous. They ONLY KNOW WHAT THEY KNOW.

And what do a lot of them know? How to train for CrossFit the sport. CrossFit for “everyone” might be on their radar but CrossFit for MTB most certainly won’t be.

Back to  the point…

what is CrossFit. Well we now know there is the sport of CrossFit and there is the original, general population CrossFit, then everything in-between.

So CrossFit is (by their own definition): Constantly varied, functional movement, performed at high intensity.

The sport of CrossFit: A test of fitness. To find the fittest male and female on the planet.

And there is the issue – people mistake the sport of fitness with CrossFit for health and performance. If you are a mountain biker and need general physical preparedness a competitive gym may be dangerous for you. They might prioritise olympic lifting at high volume and “racing” every day. This means you could be wasting a lot of time but also expose yourself to unnecessary danger.

So Should Mountain Bikers do CrossFit?

With any competitive sport comes danger, which is so true with CrossFit the sport. Even if you feel this is irrelevant because you’re not training to go to the CrossFit Games, in most CrossFit gyms there is competition. Peer pressure and bravado that influences your decisions with weight/speed can be a problem.

For example, if there’s a workout that is “RX” or has a prescribed weight, you might be encouraged to work at that weight on movements that you shouldn’t even be doing. Take the benchmark workout “Isablel” – 30 Snatched for time at 62.5kg for men and 42.5kg for women, or 135lbs and 95lbs. Note: olympic lifting is very, very good for multiple reasons when training, but to get to a standard of mobility and technique for to be worth the risk can take a very long time. 

If you have the time to learn the olympic lifts great! But it shouldn’t detract from riding or the many other things you can be doing to improve your fitness. Otherwise, look for less dangerous options and work the basics really well. You will never reach your full potential without being able to perform the basics well. By practicing the basics you will also improve your  fitness with reduced danger.

Much like a martial art, you can only get to black belt by showing competence in each belt before it, that should be the same for strength and conditioning with olympic weightlifting heavy, for multiple reps, being black belt level.

The text in this article is different to the video, partly because there is so much to cover when discussing this subject. If you’re considering CrossFit please watch the video too for more insight.

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