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CrossFit vs Bodybuilding: Risk & Recovery

The argument that has been around since CrossFit hit the scene. An argument I’ve never understood. I'm not going to tell you why CrossFit is better, because I don't believe it is. We all have different goals, and depending on yours, different training styles are more effective. The main criticism I hear is that there is an apparent massive risk of injury from CrossFit. Did you know that there is a higher rate of injuries per hour in running than CrossFit? That’s yet another reason to hate cardio sessions.

Fitness in general has advantages and disadvantages, but so does sitting on your arse and doing nothing. The number one disadvantage of any training is injury; we all accept that risk. If you train hard week in week out, it will happen one day. What can we do to reduce this risk? 

  1. Make sure you learn from someone with good knowledge and coaching experience. 

  2. Don't over train or under recover. 

Both of these relate to bad practices, not the discipline/sport.

First, let's talk about coaching...

By definition, a coach "gives (someone) professional advice on how to attain their goals".

That is the first responsibility of any "coach". So as a coach, if I were to injure an athlete by not managing correct movement, it would be counterproductive to their goals and negligent on my behalf. This goes for PT’s, CrossFit coaches, tennis coaches, etc. No matter what sport, picking a qualified and experienced coach is vital. You are putting your health and fitness in someone’s hands, so make sure they are the right person for the job.

We’ve all seen the CrossFit Fails videos. I shake my head in disbelief just as much as anyone. Disbelief that there are people who do ridiculous things outside of their ability and disbelief that there are "coaches" who let their members put themselves in danger of injury by doing things far outside of their ability. I don't believe there are coaches who intentionally hurt athletes, but there are ones who let their clients sacrifice safety for the moment of glory when they get a PB. As an athlete, be honest with yourself; you know when your body is in a bad position. If you don’t, ask your coach.

Secondly, over training / under recovery...

There are so many people who neglect recovery. I was one of them. When I first got bitten by the fitness bug, it took me years to discover what a rest day was, let alone the benefits of it. Injury is your body telling you that you’re putting certain muscles/joints under too much stress. Whether that’s from incorrect movement or insufficient recovery, you need to listen to your body. I’ve injured myself twice in 3 years of CrossFit, and both times have been due to poor maintenance/recovery.

These days, I put equal emphasis on recovery as I do on training and my results reflect that. Proper recovery should consist of the following:

  1. SLEEP – The single most important factor! Not just sleep, but quality sleep. Look at the external factors that are limiting this and address them.

  1. REST DAYS – I have 1 active rest/recovery day and 1 full day off. My active rest day on Thursdays usually consists of swimming/yoga/walking. Keep the body moving and support recovery.

  1. NUTRITION – Good quality food is key to performing at your best. You wouldn’t run a race car on e10 and expect it to perform well, so why do it to your body? Reward your body with the nutrients it needs and it will reward you with performance, health and fitness.

  1. MOBILITY/MASSAGE – I try to get a massage every 2 weeks at a minimum and spend a lot of spare time on mobility and stretching. I recommend Kelly Starret’s book How To Become A Supple Leopard for any athlete wanting to move better.

  1. SUPPLEMENTATION – As always, if you want to perform at 100%, you need to make sure you have a solid supplementation to assist/complement good nutrition. These are the products I use daily.

    1. Pre-Workout

      1. ATP Infrared

      2. AminoLogic Carnilogic (L-Carnitine)

    2. Intra-Workout

      1. BCAA’s – Cyborg Fusion

    3. Post-Workout

      1. BodyScience (BSc) Naturals Organic Protein

      2. Aminologic L-Glutamine

    4. Daily

      1. Glycine, Vitamin D & Zinc – Poliquin

      2. Dragons Breath & Alpha Mars – ATP Science

      3. Digestive Enzymes – Before each meal

      4. AminoLogic Phytologic – On waking

      5. AminoLogic MangaRedz – Before bed

      6. Aminologic Fibrelogic – Before bed

With better coaches and better recovery, risk of injury will greatly reduce. Listen to your body and your coach and you will be able to stay injury-free, no matter if you’re a bodybuilder or a CrossFitter.

Greg Woulfe is a Mass Nutrition Sponsored Athlete. View his profile.