The Difference Between Our Mtn Fitness Program and Crossfit

This last week brought some new things to light, namely that our program is being confused for the largest trend to hit fitness in the last 20 years. The coaches here are RFT Coaching do not hate Crossfit, in fact I held a level 1 Crossfit coach certification for many years, and got started coaching out of a local box in Salt Lake City, UT. I even used their system for awhile when I was first in the SOF community, and I continue to add things here and there that are very similar to their system. However as a training system and program, RFT Coaching is not affiliated with the brand of Crossfit and there are some glaring differences in how we program and the results you can expect. Click here to try us out! 

Crossfit has it’s merits. It has brought to the forefront the idea that people need to lift weights, and lift heavy, often. That’s a fantastic accomplishment. It creates muscle confusion and helps to increase gains (more on this later), and it has plenty of uses when it comes to military and law enforcement applications. They believe the definition of fitness is: increased work capacity across a broad range of time and modal domains. This in itself is a fantastic definition of what all coaches are trying to achieve, not just Crossfit. They use this to describe what fitness is, and RFT Coaching respects that definition, in fact there is a lot of truth to it.

With all that being said though, we have found some glaring holes in the system. One of the biggest is endurance. There are not a lot of Crossfit athletes out there winning Spartan races, bike races, road running events, or trail running events. If you watch the Crossfit Games you will notice during the endurance events they all seem to struggle, a lot and those events are (surprisingly) getting shorter and shorter to accommodate. I had a lot of respect for them when they did a full triathlon, but since then they have gotten away from events that might last 2 hours+. A lot of this is due to the methodology and packaging for television. Many Crossfit coaches (not all) believe that if they increase the lactate threshold capacity (about 2-4 min) really high this will transfer to other areas. This is sort of true. If you only train in the <30 min realm you can expect to have good results only in the <30 min events. Once it goes into the 45+ min time frame the athlete will suffer.

Another issue is with the randomization. In some ways this works well, but it leads to plateaus in training over time. RFT Coaching uses a periodized system which focuses on one specific pillar of training for a period of 3-6 weeks. These pillars of training include: strength, work capacity, stamina, endurance, and durability. There is room for some randomization here, and rarely are our athletes doing the exact same workout during a phase or even a complete cycle (6 months), but instead we focus on the overall goal of the training. We have found that this promotes more advancement over all of these modes of training. Our system may take a little longer to hit some strength goals, or work capacity goals, but ours is much more sustainable and we can predict the outcome after a phase. For example, our gym in Salt Lake is finishing up an eccentric strength phase and they will expect to see a 5-15% increase in strength (based on the lift and experience of the athlete). We know this because we have tested it out and have years worth of data using this training style, so we can easily make those predictions with a high level of accuracy.

A big argument against Crossfit over the years has been injuries. This is an area of contention because those that have been injured doing it are going to say it’s bad and promotes injury, while those that have never been injured will argue the opposite. As a whole I do not believe that Crossfit itself is to blame for injuries. I believe the use of overly complicated movements and the inexperience of coaches and athletes are more to blame. For example, an athlete will never see snatches done at RFT Coaching. We feel that this lift is too complicated and specific for the majority of novice lifters to accomplish safely. The snatch does have a lot of great benefits like learning to engage the shoulders, and knowing how to control your body in space, but the risks of a shoulder dislocation if done improperly are simply too high. Also, to use this lift for a timed workout totally goes against the function and purpose of this lift (it is meant to showcase total explosive power and body control, and as such to be used properly requires enough rest time to allow your body to recover from the effort and a high enough weight to elicit the proper physiological response). When I see this lift, or other like it, programmed in a high intensity workout I cringe. Add to that a hyper competitive setting and it’s no wonder why some people get hurt. We use clean and jerks in lieu of the snatch, and will only teach the snatch to people who can execute a clean and jerk with perfect form, which may take years.

Another big difference is that we do not put names on the board after the workout, nor are we “always competing”. Many boxes out there insist that athletes turn themselves inside out every day just to have the fastest time on the board. We have found over the years that this has a great effect if someone is in the top 3-4 spots consistently. Maybe they will work harder to make the next step in order to beat that other person. However, for the lower ranked folks this simply discourages them. Many will feel that they can’t make that top spot even after years of training so why bother trying that hard anymore. We have found this to be especially true with new clients who are already rather intimidated walking into a gym. We want our place to be welcome to all, elites and novices alike. We like to tell people “we are all on the same journey, just some of us are a little further along”.

The competition mindset can also lead to burnout, over training and injuries. If someone is going 100% every time they train they are going to eventually get hurt. Ask any top coach or athlete and they will tell you about the 90% rule. Always come home feeling like you could have done one more interval, one more rep, one more round, or one more set. Save that extra 10% for competition day, when things are actually on the line. RFT Coaching encourages our athletes to work hard, train often, but always leave one more in the tank… never know when we might just change things on you mid training session :).

Hope this helps to clarify some things about RFT Coaching’s signature Mtn Fitness Program and the Crossfit method. Click Here to get set up with a pass and come train with us!

-Aspera Non Spernit-

Coach Chris