Well that was a very sharp title, considering I advocate CrossFit to just about anyone who is actually willing to listen and have a willing conversation with me. But really though, it isn’t for everyone and I acknowledge that completely. However, there are different reasons why training only CrossFit may not be for you.
You are a pure strength athlete:
Now when I say that, I mean that you are either a competitive weightlifter or powerlifter, and only those 2 things. It is actually pretty simple why CrossFit may not be for you in that case. The conditioning done won’t make you stronger, it may make you fitter, but those sports are about 1 thing, and 1 thing only: lifting as much weight as physically possible at once. Now yes, there are people like Lauren Fisher who is a fairly competitive weightlifter and CrossFitter, in fact she just competed at the Junior World Championships and will be competing at the CrossFit Games, but she is an anomaly who also has a long history of weightlifting. Her weightlifting benefits her CrossFit, but her CrossFit doesn’t benefit her weightlifting, there is a reason she doesn’t place better and lift more when competing, it’s because she spends too much time doing things other than weightlifting. Now for her, that’s fine, she wants to do both, but if she wanted to really excel at weightlifting, she would definitely have to cut out a lot of her CrossFit because the conditioning alone weakens you (note: I love Lauren Fisher and am a huge fan of hers, and think that her ability to be successful in both, especially at only age 20 is incredible). It is however possible to use some techniques from CrossFit to improve weightlifting, just not the conditioning. A lot of the gymnastics could greatly benefit weightlifters, especially any handstand work to develop strength and stability in the shoulders. On the Barbell Shrugged podcast, Mike Bledsoe mentioned that doing ring handstand –push-ups always increase his jerk by developing unilateral strength and stability at a full range of motion. There is also a reason you see people like Dmitry Klokov doing lots of gymnastics work, he is doing whatever he can to just get stronger.
You play another sport:
Now this one is a little tougher to argue because I do think it can be incredibly helpful. There are countless stories of strength coaches who have incorporated CrossFit Football into their programs and have seen both increases in strength and speed of their athletes. What I mean in this point though is that if you play another sport, whether it is football, basketball, lacrosse, soccer, or anything else, you have to spend time playing your sport. Playing that sport and practicing specific skills is the only way in which you can truly be better at your sport. Think about that for a second, if you don’t practice your sport, then how do you plan on excelling at your sport? However, for their strength and conditioning program, I do think it is fine to use some CrossFit protocols, but I wouldn’t do it all the time, especially for the in-season programming. In-season is when you need to maintain your strength and conditioning and while some gains can be made, it is also very taxing because you are spending so much time practicing as well and that can inhibit your recovery. In the off-season however, I think it is fine to use it for your programming, but also make sure you are keeping it relative to your sport. For example, a running back doesn’t need to be doing 20-minute workouts everyday in the off-season when the average play lasts 5 seconds. However that running back also needs to build and maintain the conditioning to be able to maintain explosiveness throughout an entire game, and depending on his particular strengths and weaknesses as an athlete is how you will do specific programming. However, that running back, and any other athlete, should be doing plenty of strength training (and I am also a large advocate of gymnastics (gymnastics in the way that CrossFit defines gymnastics, not necessarily doing high level gymnastics that professional gymnasts are doing) as a means of both developing strength and stability but also in the development of body awareness) in the off-season for that is when serious gains can be made.
Those are actually the 2 major groups that I feel should not be doing CrossFit for the majority of their training. In general, if you need a specific skill for whatever your goals are, you should spend enough time to become proficient in that skill, but you can use CrossFit as a strength and conditioning program to supplement their specific training.
If you feel that I have missed any groups or have any questions regarding this, feel free to leave comments. I want this to be a dialogue.