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In the past several years, high motivation and high intensity workout routines like Cross Fit, P90X, and others have caught people by storm to meet their workout goals. They guarantee results and, of course, most of us would love to be as fit and trim as those who appear in their advertisements. You can watch training videos all over the Internet, buy the programs for use in your own home, and even watch leading athletes engaging in them.

When high intensity is admired, form and safety often lose out to heavier weights and more repetitions.

These programs, for the most part, are a brilliant blend of strength, power, cardio and team or trainer support. But they operate based on the tried and true principle that doing more than we are used to causes change in our bodies to make us more fit. The idea is that if we just follow along, we will become a more fit version of ourselves, and if we don’t, we will not.

Their high volume and lofty results, however, can come at a price. When high intensity is admired, form and safety often lose out to heavier weights and more repetitions. As a result,  injury is a real issue, especially for the adult population.

Increasing research, along with personal statements from many former CrossFitters are confirming that these programs can be “over-intense” and have misguided goals. Cross Fit continues to grow at an enormous rate and plenty of participants have successful experiences.

Many of us, especially if we’re engaged in Ornish Lifestyle Medicine, should take serious caution before trying this approach to exercise. This is because these kinds of programs are similar to competitive sports. Think about it: Most adults wanting to get in shape, lose some weight and return to the strength of their youth don’t sign up with the local college basketball or football team to get in shape.

The recommendations based on science are clear when it comes to fitness and health for adults. The American College of Sports Medicine recently released their new recommendations for adult fitness. They include goals that are similar to the Ornish Program. The Ornish Lifestyle Medicine Guidelines are meant to minimize risk and promote health and fitness. (See Updated Ornish Lifestyle Medicine Guidelines.)

Cross Fit and programs of this nature have their place in fitness and have done a lot to bring back interest in strength training. It’s important, however, to be an educated fitness consumer, and understand that your goals and limits play a huge part when deciding the right path for you. Try not to let peer pressure or fashion force you into a high intensity workout unless your body can really handle it.

When it comes to strength training, what helps remind you of your limits?

Contributed by

Phil Hardesty
Exercise Physiologist

Have a healthy, happy and fit week!!

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