Does 70’s Big hate CrossFit?

I was talking to a friend online the other day, and he sent me this video of a guy snatching. The guy was a lighter lifter yet was snatching over 100kg and up to 122kg decently well. I didn’t know who he was, and I thought, “Oh, nice.” Then I saw that my friend had said, “I know you hate CrossFit, but we have some good lifters.”

I was shocked, and not because the lifter (who I later learned was Ben Smith) was a CrossFitter, but because my friend, who I’m pretty close with, thought I hated CrossFit (CF). So I wanted to clear this up. And by the way, Ben, that was some good lifting.

This website started when I was running the CF program when I was at the Wichita Falls Athletic Club. Before I moved there I had done CF for about a year, ran a CF group at my university, started an affiliate, and earned the Level II Certification (which is not easy to obtain). I enjoyed how I could compete against other people compared with my “bodybuilding structured” workouts (I posted on the main site for a few months — one time Gillian Mounsey and Chris Spealler were the few people to beat me). But I also loved lifting and wanted to do more of it. When I got to Texas, I considered keeping some conditioning work in my program, but opted to do a linear progression for real since it would help me coach other people.

An old picture of me doing a workout at CF Atlanta in 2008

In the time at Texas I slowly shifted into Olympic weightlifting and was decent. I qualified for nationals at my third meet despite an injury two months prior. Meanwhile I traveled and worked for Rippetoe in the Barbell Certification Seminars, part of the specialty seminars that CrossFit HQ has available. Since then I have started doing my own 70’s Big workshops and they mostly occur in CF facilities.

I point all this boring shit out because I would say that I had a negative view of CF for most of the time I was in Texas despite running an affiliate. However, I’ve been involved with CF for four years and have traveled to many affiliate gyms around the world, and no longer look at CF negatively.

I’ve said this before many times on this site, but CF has fantastic people involved in it. Most of the friends I have nowadays are a indirectly a result of CF or our interaction with it. When I attended the Level I in 2008, I was impressed with the lecture ability of Pat Sherwood and the military guys. They were willing to help, and Pat answered some of my e-mails months after the certification. I’m continually impressed with the kindness and willingness to not only help, but learn in the community. The desire to learn and get better is my favorite part of CF. CF has managed to foster an environment of people who rabidly want to know more, and are willing to pay money to do it. That’s a special thing, because spending money to do something represents full commitment into doing it (i.e. sacrificing to gain).

I also alluded to how I’ve met various people who are or have been involved in HQ like Chris Spealler, Todd Widman, and Adrian Bozman. I used the last two guys as coaching models early on and consider them the epitome of “good people” in CF. I’ve also met other “higher ups” in HQ like Nicole Carroll, Tony Budding, and Greg Glassman. I don’t know them very well but enjoyed the time I spent with them. That doesn’t mean I agree with everything they do or say, but I don’t even agree with everything my friends do. It may be entirely possible that these people, as well as others within HQ, think I’m an asshole or something. But I would suspect that while I have disagreements over some things they do, we still would have a jovial relationship if we were in the same room.

And besides, disliking somebody for different training methodology is bush league. Who am I to put down a guy who wants to “WOD his ass off”? I may disagree with the implementation of it (with respect to his goals or injury potential), but that doesn’t mean that guy is a bad person. Every training methodology has a group that looks at other groups unfavorably. I used to do this, but nowadays I just don’t give a shit. If someone wants my objective analysis of what they do with respect to their goals, then I’ll gladly give it to them (I’ve always aimed to help people). If someone wants to train for the CF games, I’m the first one to say, “Then do CF, (just make sure you’re strong).”

Skeptics of my stance might say I’m trying to suck the cock of CF with this post, but that’s not true. It’s easy to make fun of CF or the people that do it. There are silly or dumb aspects, but, again, there are silly things that my friends do. There are stupid weightlifters and stupid strength trainees. There are stupid Americans and Europeans. Every social group is going to have mock-able things going on, and that’s true of CF. I allow light jesting of CF on this website, but I’ve also defended it and put an end to overt criticism and mockery.

I just can’t hate something that has done so much for the realm of strength and conditioning, even if CF only consisted of assholes (it doesn’t). Glenn Pendlay wrote this the other day explaining how much CF has had an effect on the sport of Olympic weightlifting. CF is a catalyst for many athletes to “try and compete in new sports” which was one of the rules in early CF lore. And it’s worked. Powerlifting, weightlifting, adventure racing, and mud runs all benefit because of CF. There are legitimate places to train all over the world because of CF (some of them don’t allow you to do whatever you want, but many of them do — just ask). Not to mention that CF has allowed specialty experts like Kelly Starrett to improve the quality of training for all athletic activities (and this alone would be reason enough to like CF).

So I write as a beneficiary of CF in that it has exposed me to truly wonderful people, excellent gyms, plenty of opportunity, and improved my ability to coach and train. Sure, there may be a person doing something goofy every now and then, but that same person is willing to go out of there way to help you nearly 100% of the time. That’s why I don’t hate CrossFit.

74 thoughts on “Does 70’s Big hate CrossFit?

  1. I don’t hate Crossfit…I hate that they are now referring to it as a “sport” and that they call everyone who does it an “athlete”.

    It’s a strength and conditioning program…it’s what actual athletes do to get better at/train for a sport…

  2. everyone keeps saying CF is not a sport

    if there is a competitive event i.e. The Games that the participants train for would it not be considered a sport?

    strongman events follow the same format, there’s a medley of shit that they do

    i guess what i’m asking is –

    what else isn’t a sport?

    what else isn’t a sport guys?

    “crossfit isn’t a sport,” all right, so what else isn’t a sport?



  3. no but seriously i don’t give a shit

    i wish i could complete Helen and one of the best times i ever had was trying to do Linda with snatch grip deads in place of deads and overhead presses instead of bench

  4. Solid post. I have crossfitted on/off for over 5 years (currently I am following Wendlers 5-3-1 w/ some conditioning mixed in) and I see it as two things. It is a gateway for other sports aka powerlifting/weightlifting and knowledge. Whether they stay or go, crossfit has brought to the attention of many the likes of Rip, Burgener, Everett, Simmons, Verkhoshansky, Wendler, Romanov, Dave Tate, Robb Wolf, Pendlay, etc…my library alone has expanded exponentially because of crossfit. Ultimately though with saturation comes lessened quality. Plain and simple, there are some Crossfit gyms that should not be open, not because of facilities but because of coaching. Of course look at all the fitness zombies in the 24hr gyms that follow some recently certified trainer around doing one-legged step ups on a Bosu ball in a squat rack. What is worse?

  5. Dont hate Crossfit one bit. Honestly CF has done a fuck ton for all strength sports IMO. I train at a CF facility where I am not only welcomed but encouraged to slam bars get chalk and sweat everywhere and do weird fat guy stuff. So yeah I actually dig crossfit quite a bit.

  6. I’ve never done crossfit, never been to a cross fit gym (the closest once is 150 miles away). It seems as a pure outsider that although there are negative/nagging small things, overall it has helped the strength community.

    But how come when I see pictures of crossfit online/tv it’s always dudes shirtless?

  7. Maybe this isn’t going to make me any friends on here, but I’ll tell the truth. We’re not in the trust tree?

    I wouldn’t consider Strong Man, Powerlifting, Olympic Weightlifting (although in my mind this is on the cusp of sport/non sport), cycling, or running “sports”. I also would not consider the people who take part in those things to be “atheltes” simply because they do those things.

    In my mind, these things all lack some kind of required raw talent. Humans are born with the ability to run (obviously there are exceptions to this), lift things, throw things, etc. This is what Crossfit preaches — that the movements are what our bodies are made to do. The human body wasn’t made to catch a football, get hit by 350# linemen, dribble a basketball, hit a baseball, ice skate, handle a hockey stick or lacrosse stick, kick a soccer ball (I HATE soccer but I’m still willing to put it in front of Crossfit on the sports continuum), etc. (I realize that I’m leaving a lot out right now but I’m at work and I’m trying to make this somewhat quick).

    Powerlifting, while, yes, it does require strength, balance, and technique, is moving a (lot of) weight in a straight line. I did the Crossfit Certification. I was there when they told me that this is a natural human body movement. Yes, some guys move more weight in a straight line than others. I don’t think this makes them better athletes or better at a sport. It makes them stronger. Strong man (I’m basing this on what I’ve seen on ESPN over the years…Derek Poundstone, if you’re out there, I mean no disrespect) is pretty similar in my mind. Picking up (heavy) things and carrying them is a natural human body movement.

    Don’t get me started on cycling and running…but the best guys in these activities are just the guys who have more time to do it than everyone else.

    And that is where I would draw the line. Look at the major sports out there (some of you may disagree with using these as an example, but it’s my comment so I’m going with it). The best football, basketball, baseball, and hockey players are not necessarily the guys who JUST work the hardest in their training. It’s a mix of having some talent and putting that talent to the best use (by way of training) on the field.

    I could quit my job (or own an affiliate with a handful of trainers) and focus for the next 2 years on crossfit workouts. And probably be pretty damn well in the Crossfit Games Open. Probably qualify for regionals.

    I could do the same thing…quit my job and focus on football or hockey (which I’ve played for 25 years…I’m 28 for reference) and you’re not going to see me in the NHL…or the AHL. Just putting the time into training does not make someone good at a sport. It makes them good at whatever they’re training at…but it doesn’t make them good at a sport.

    To my earlier point about Olympic Weightlifting…I’ve done olympic weightlifting and competed in a meet recently. I’d put this on the cusp of being a sport. While they’ll say that weightlifting is a natural body movement, picking a weight up off of the ground to overhead is not a natural movement (I’m not well versed in kinesiology, I’m just basing that on common sense). This is something that requires a lot more balance, technique, speed, etc. I just couldn’t justify putting this in the sport category while I was putting Crossfit and Powerlifting in the non-sport category.

    Finally, like I said, I did the Crossfit certification. I tried to run a Crossfit gym in my spare time after a full time (cubicle) job. It didn’t pan out and I never opened an affiliate. I still follow Crossfit Football every morning. Like I said in my first post (which Brent and his traps gave me a hard time for, hence the essay I am writing now), I don’t hate Crossfit. It really is one of the best (if not the best) strength and conditioning program out there. I believe that. I simply don’t like the fact that we’re prasing Crossfitters as “elite athletes”.

    Have a great day ladies and gentlemen. Thanks for the chance to rant.

  8. I’m with Stroup. I also train at a CF gym, and at the end of the day, it’s a place where you can bang heavy weights and get work done. Sure, if there’s a hardcore powerlifting gym or Olympic lifting club, I’d join, but for the vast majority of us, the best facility in your area will likely be a CF.

  9. @JStadt7

    I almost feel like that is a regional thing. Here in New England, CF fees average 200-300 a month for various levels of membership. In perspective, thats a car payment for me. In contrast, the “top tier” fitness club Equinox is around $75 a month I think, where you get saunas, massage, towels, etc in addition to the gym.

    imo, such a high rate breeds or contributes to this elite attitude, I don’t really know anyone in my lifting circles who could afford that.

  10. In my opinion a sport has to involve true athleticism. So this knocks out anything involving a mastery of skills as opposed to actual athleticism. So things like archery, shooting, curling, darts, and bowling are all knocked out with this one. You could also make an argument for a pitcher in baseball but that obviously takes more explosive athletic movement/skill then any of the above mentioned.

    Secondly the athlete cannot have something doing the damn work for her or him. They have to expend the energy themselves. This is why NASCAR is not a sport. They have Tony Stewart on Wheaties for fucks sake. That is insane. The guy can race his ass off in car and that requires a high level of a certain skill but so does surgery and you don’t see Dr. Wong on a fucking box of Wheaties.

    Lastly it must have at least some (and this is the key word) objective scoring method to determine a winner. So anything like diving, gymnastics, freestyle skating, bodybuilding, etc is not a damn sport because it relies entirely on judging with no objective scoring component. Now sports like weightlifting, boxing, MMA, and the like use judges but still have objective components such as total weight lifted in weightlifting, a KO, TKO, total punches landed, etc in boxing, and thus does not totally rely on subjective scoring to determine a winner.

    If you use the criteria listed CF Games do fall under a sport. But it doesn’t take a trained eye to see they are doing a workout and using the best time to determine the winner and calling it a sport. There is a reason why no one else has done that before and quite logically its because the whole thing is stupid. But you can still call it a sport.

  11. Well my CF gym is the best gym in my town. They have a SUPER nice pro style facility they just happen to do CF in it. Haha. Only 50 bucks a month. Pee Dee Crossfit (aka Competitive Edge) is a solid facility with good people in it. I sure for every snobby facility there are 3 facilities like PDCF who are not that way.

  12. Having a competitive event that you train for doesn’t make something a sport. There’s a fuckton of activities that have national-level events that require training. Is competitive eating a sport? Is beer pong a sport? CF isn’t a sport. It’s a training regimen. Their “competitions” are about who can train the hardest. Like andrew said, real athletes use CF to help them train for their real sports. Athletes don’t use other sports to help them train for their sports. You don’t see football players playing soccer to help them train for football, because soccer is a separate SPORT that requires distinctive athletic ability. CF is applicable as ASSISTANCE to a variety of sports, because it’s a versatile TRAINING method. Not a sport.

  13. This sport v no sport thing is stupid. I dont know about any of you, but even though I played a sport (rugby_) in college I would still have to delineate myelf from the real athletes. I am not talking about the people doing other sports, but those guys on my team or those guys playing in the big leagues who just have “it.” Echoing what andrewjoy said, there are just some people who have it and whatever athletically they do, they excel in, sometimes with minimal practice or seemingly effort. We all know those types, the guys who were the fastest and quickest on the pitch or field. These people were probably not you, if you are posting on the 70’s big website. Maybe there are a couple of beasts on here, but most of those natural beasts could give two rats asses about lifting. As far as bashing crossfit, I can do it all I want, but without it, I would never have gotten into strength training, olympic lifting or any of this fine stuff that I pass my days with. Also, the reason why I don’t like crossfit is because where I live, in the DC area, it is absurdly expensive and small and cramped. Rumor is that this one gym near my house has a monthly rent of 10,000 bucks. wtf. And I have a cramped and crowded schedule, so cf doesnt work for me. But without cf, I wouldnt be where I am at today and please lets give mad props to k-star. That stuff is brilliant. Also, I just bought a bearing pendlay bar for $530 with shipping. woo yea! If anyone in the DC area is looking for a good barbell for power cleans, squats, pressess and deads let me know. I have a good condition 29mm york power bar that now needs a home.

  14. In regards to dues in the Northeast which is where I live (and probably NYC, and probably CA), everything is more expensive. Housing, apartments, CrossFit. I honestly can’t fault someone for charging a price that the market will in fact bear.

    Part of the issue, and it’s already been stated, these that have the equipment, space, and mentality to allow Olympic lifts, chalk, sandbags, kettlebells, etc. The $20/month chains don’t offer that. If you want to do those things, you will need to buy them yourself or join a CF (and many are negotiable on price to a point depending on what you want from them).


    basically everything IS sport.

    p.s. good article.

    p.p.s live and let live. you wanna pick up heavy shit or run around and pick up lighter shit lots of times its better than watching it on TV. running around picking up shit might not be as fun as throwing shit and catching it but those days are over for most of us and one of the best things about 70s big is the encouragement to compete regularly.

  16. How much did weigh in that picture Justin? You look like a god damn monster now compared to that, in the picture you look cut up, but not very filled out

  17. Can someone get Justin a needle and some thread? Because he’s fuckin’ ripped!

    Hey Justin, do you need a band-aid? Cuz’ you’re fucking cut up brah!

    *Sorry – I saw multiple comments heading in this direction so I had to.

  18. @andrewjoy do you really think if you had all the spare time in the world to train/workout that you could beat the same equivalent of a strongman in your weight class? Odds are…I highly doubt it. Same thing for running/sprinting or cycling.

    That’s why you don’t see every rich kid turn into a pro athlete, I know plenty of kids, when i was a kid, whose parents had money and you know what, that kid that had all the practice/training/1 on 1 coaching etc still sucked. yea they might have gotten better, but in the end there are still kids/people who are better in a given athletic skill.

    A sport (in my mind) is something that takes skill in an athletic way. Yea I do think darts is a little bit of a stretch for a sport, but in the end I still would bet that if you practiced all day and all night for years, a pro would still whip you. I’m sorry but professionals didn’t get there just on lots and lots and lots of practice, most professionals have an “edge” or what another poster mentioned they have “it”…whatever that it is, they have it.

    Either way interesting perspective and it made me think about how I view sports.

  19. I would probably join an Xfit box if they’d let me follow my own program or at least one that I worked with the people there on so that it was conducive towards my goals..

    but they won’t, and they charge $150+ a month, so fuck ’em. I don’t need bumper plates to squat/press/powerclean/deadlift/etc. and do conditioning.

  20. Note: for the cost of a year’s membership to a Crossfit gym, if you’ve got the space you can build an awesome gym in your garage or basement.

  21. There are lots of good people and positive things in Crossfit. There was a Crossfit gym that I joined for two weeks while I was on leave. They were pretty cool and accommodating since I was like “Hey I’m only hear for a couple weeks and would like a place to train and use chalk without any problems.” Not a lot of gyms tolerate that. I like how Crossfit has a competitive attitude and exposes many to barbell sports.

    I don’t like a certain elitism that believes Crossfit is the only way. I think Crossfit is great for conditioning and losing weight, but it is not the end all be all. For strength, they are definitely sub-par. At the Crossfit gym I was at, there was a circuit that included a 315lbs deadlift, jump rope, and pistols and I was one of two people in the gym that did it Rx. A couple people asked me about the Crossfit Total (squat, press, deadlift) and if my numbers were above 1000lbs which they were and I was one of maybe two or three who were capable of that at that gym. Crossfit doesn’t place a high enough emphasis in strength from what I’ve seen. We should all know that strength is the most important aspect of fitness. Strength makes you harder to kill.

    My only other times seeing Crossfit is a group here on base which also only does a majority of light weights in a circuit and have one guy who is pretty good at Oly lifting for his size and another who is a monster at the muscle ups and other bodyweight exercises but only like 140lbs.

    For the sports question that has been brought up several times on this site, I believe sports are something that a primitive man used to survive and everything else is a game. Those primitive men needed to be strong, run and swim fast, and fight well. I consider strength sports like strongman, Olympic weightlifting, powerlifting, Highland Games, track and field, cross country/marathon running, swimming, and martial arts to be a sport.

  22. @mattwhaleshark

    Are shirts allowed in pork beating?

    Answer: No. Shirts are not allowed in a climate controlled home.

    If you switched out Miley Cirus for “All Things Considered” that would be a video of me. Well done.

  23. @andrewdjoy

    Running isn’t a sport and runner aren’t athletes? So Usain Bolt isn’t an athlete? Wake the fuck up idiot.


    Diving and gymnastics aren’t sports? Wake up idiot.

  24. Justin you look transparent in that picture. It’s like looking at an anatomy poster. no homo.

    I’ve never done crossfit or been to a crossfit gym, but in the few interactions i’ve had with crossfitters, i felt like I was talking to a Jehovah’s witness or something. I enjoy talking about lifting, but not if every time I say something the response is “yeah we do this and that and you should do crossfit its so good for your this and that and will make you a better this and that”.


    seriously though, justin, tore up.

  25. Never got the impression there was any Crossfit hate here, quite the opposite actually. I’ve only been to a Crossfit gym twice for events (Crossfit Total and Pendlay seminar). I thought the guys were really nice–many of them were helping me out during the Pendlay seminar and I was the only non-CrossFit person there. I kind of wish my own powerlifting group had that atmosphere. Regardless, CrossFit memberships are ridiculous here ($130-$200/mo), so I pay $35/mo at my gym and am buying a power rack for my house. Truth be told, I would like to find a good weightlifting club.

    There was also a local news “investigative report” on CrossFit that was aired last night:

    Justin also looks much smaller in that Crossfit picture, so I think it is only right to conclude that CrossFit makes you (or keeps you) small.

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