It’s safe to say that, unless you’ve spent the last few years literally living in the saddle, you have heard of CrossFit.
CrossFit, which is best known for short but intense workouts that aren’t for the faint of heart, has dominated the fitness scene for the last decade. And it doesn’t seem to be a passing fad, either. Its popularity continues to grow as more and more CrossFit-specific gyms (commonly referred to as “boxes” within the CrossFit community) continue to pop up in new towns.
The attraction of belonging to a CrossFit box offers a sense of community and pushes your physical and mental limits with a diverse set of workouts. This variety is an essential component; because, let’s be honest, we live in a society that struggles to stay committed to any one thing for very long.
But should cyclists do CrossFit?
See what category you fall into below to help you decide whether to join this ever-growing community.
The Weekend Warrior
If you’ve been knocking out the same old routine—riding two to three days a week and performing a 20 minute core workout twice a week—it might be time to change things up.
CrossFit will give you an opportunity to add variety to your program. Supplementing your riding with strength training and metcon (metabolic conditioning) workouts will not only improve your cycling performance, but you’ll also make major physical gains.
Who doesn’t want to look better in a cycling kit?
As you approach the offseason, you should have a plan on how you can improve your riding sans bike.
Hitting the weights should be at the top of your list.
CrossFit can offer you the opportunity to strength train while pushing your aerobic and anaerobic capacity. The program also provides a fun and competitive atmosphere that frequent participants find very addictive. Plus, if you live in the UK CrossFit classes will provide a nice break from trying to cycle through rough weather.
The Master Rider
Age can become a factor if you want to do CrossFit.
If you are a millennial, the intense, strenuous workouts will most likely appeal to you. But if you are a master rider, the idea of kettlebell swings and box jumps might not be the best way to progress as a rider at this point in your cycling career.
Staying injury free is always the number one goal, and the risk of injury dramatically increases with ballistic movements. If you fall into this demographic, I suggest you focus solely on strength training—nailing down a progressive program that incorporates squats, deadlifts, bench presses and shoulder presses. You will get more bang for your buck with this type of program.
You need to keep in mind that as you age, the quality of your connective tissue isn’t the same as it was when you were younger. Fortunately, there are some CrossFit boxes that offer pure strength training classes that focuses on the big lifts—squats, deadlifts and presses. This would be a much better choice.
The Serious Cyclist
If cycling is your life and performance is always the top goal, then you require specificity in your cycling program.
You need to spend the majority of your time in the saddle, cranking out mile after mile. That is not to say you shouldn’t be doing some sort of cross training, but you should direct your focus, time and energy toward the bike.
CrossFit’s return on investment for this type of cyclist just isn’t there. If your training takes a hit because your legs are dead from an intense CrossFit workout, then you are putting yourself in a vulnerable position for your next race.
Specificity matters when it comes to performance. If you want to be the next great cyclist, your training needs to reflect those goals.