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Just How Hard is CrossFit?CrossFit is one of the most popular new fitness and exercise trends. Thousands of people around the country are getting into CrossFit, trying the amazingly difficult new Workouts of the Day--or WODs. If you've never tried CrossFit before, you may have no idea how challenging it can be. So just how hard is CrossFit?
Cardiovascular ChallengeThe beauty of just about every CrossFit WOD is that they involve a whole lot of cardio. You don't actually spend half an hour running around on a treadmill or cycling, but you never get a break from the high intensity exercise. Your goal is to push through the WOD as quickly as you can, with as little rest between each set or exercise as possible. By the time you reach the end of your workout, you're usually pretty exhausted, and you've pushed your cardiovascular system to its limits. If you're not accustomed to high intensity exercise, you'll find the HIIT-style cardio of CrossFit can be absolutely exhausting, and you may not be able to keep up at first. Don't worry: it gets a bit easier with time!
Take a look at any of the WODs, and you'll see that they involve A LOT of repetition of the same or similar exercise. Take the WOD named Cindy, for example. For this workout, you fit as many rounds of 5 pull-ups, 10 push-ups, and 15 squats as you can into 20 minutes. Even if you perform the workout slowly, that's still a lot of exercise! Your muscles will be burning, and you'll push yourself to your limits. Be prepared to do a lot of bodyweight exercises, and you'll have to force yourself to keep working well beyond what you believe your limits of endurance to be. While CrossFit doesn't push you to the point of injury, it's definitely designed to test your muscular endurance!
Calorie BurningDo you have any idea how many calories you can burn in a single CrossFit WOD? Most of your workouts average 15 to 25 minutes, and you burn a whopping 13 calories per minute. That's far more than the 10 calories per minute you burn with a regular workout, or even less if you're doing low intensity exercise. That means you'll burn anywhere from 250 to 300 calories in your average WOD! You can burn a lot more calories in a shorter amount of time, all thanks to the high intensity exercise you are doing.
Joint DifficultiesOne of the things that makes CrossFit less than an ideal choice for many people is the toll it can take on your joints. While some workouts are designed to be easy on your joints, CrossFit is NOT! When you hit your WOD, you are performing high intensity, high impact exercises. You are meant to do them with the proper form (which will keep your joints in good shape), but that doesn't reduce the amount of impact and strain placed on your joints. You can end up pulling, twisting, or straining something easily, and the WODS can take a serious toll on the cartilage between the joints. People who do CrossFit are often more likely to develop joint problems (in their knees, shoulders, elbows, ankles, and hips) tanks to the high impact exercise. Sadly, there's not much you can do to prevent it. If you're going to do CrossFit, you need to realize that you are increasing your risk of joint injury, or you may develop joint problems (such as osteoarthritis) much more easily down the line. It's the price you pay for extreme fitness!