Title. Why I Quit Crossfit for Powerlifting. Image of weights in the background

Disclaimer: Before we begin, I want to stress this is my personal experience with Crossfit. I have a lot of respect for the sport.

This time last year, I was power walking to make it in time for my first 9.30am WOD (workout of the day) I’d bravely (or stupidly) signed up for the night before. My previous gym had closed down – something I was almost in tears over at the time but look back on as a pivotal turning point in my fitness journey – and I’d had the Crossfit carrot dangled under my nose for a while. I’m competitive, ridiculously competitive and we seemed like the perfect fit. Before I knew it, I was attending classes daily (or sometimes twice a day). Six months in, I cancelled my membership. But why did I quit Crossfit for powerlifting?

There’s no denying Crossfit is an enticing sport. The daily WODs offer up combinations of weightlifting, powerlifting, high intensity cardio and gymnastics all tied up in a 45 minute bow. The aim: go hard, go heavy, go home.  However it is worth noting every exercise can be scaled back to suit the individual, appealing to beginners as well as the more advanced. Within the time frame you warm up, practice technique and go up against the clock. It’s about speed and lifting as much as you can. Each class brought nerves and excitement I craved more than my morning coffee. I was making friends, taking on new challenges, growing in confidence and getting fit (it’s one hell of a calorie burner). But as the WODs rolled by, I just couldn’t shift the feeling something wasn’t quite right.

I relished the idea of deadlifting more than my body weight or joining the 100kg back squat family. The WODs involving any of the three compound lifts (squat, bench and deadlift) were my favourite. But how was I going to improve my technique? Let’s take deadlifts as an example: I’d be deadlifting on average about once a fortnight. This would involve developing ‘technique’ in approximately five minutes and then going hell for leather against the clock. Everything went out the window (the instructors didn’t seem to mind either), I logged my score and went home. In a fortnight, I’d be attempting to beat this number with some more flawed deadlifts.

These lifts might look easy but they are ridiculously technical more so for safety reasons than anything else. Have you ever attempted to deadlift over and over as the clock counts down with nothing more than a five minute training session on your C.V? Crikey, even if you’re an experienced powerlifter it’s one hell of a challenge. The more deadlifts you do without break, the more your form breaks down and you open up the door for injury to waltz right in. Injuries aren’t uncommon at Crossfit. I’ll never forget that snapping sound when one guy broke his wrist taking on an ambitious clean. My desire to hone my technique and stay safe now vastly outweighed my interest in logging a new personal best against a stopwatch. I wanted to learn these compound moves correctly and focus my entire training around doing so. I quit a few days later.

It was hard leaving my family because that’s what you are, a family. And I’m not suggesting Crossfit isn’t worth attending because I’d recommend it over a commercial gym any day of the week (even though I was forking out a hefty £75.00 a month for the pleasure). It’s not cheap but if you show up, give your all and prepare to lay on the floor feeling sick afterwards, you’ll get results.  However if you develop a remote interest in powerlifting (or weightlifting for that matter), is Crossfit right for you?

I would argue no, it’s not. If you’re a powerlifter looking for a new challenge then absolutely, sign yourself up to Crossfit; only if you’re willing to put technique before your score.  But it doesn’t work for beginners or at least, it didn’t for me. To truly develop form, technique and/or strength – particularly if your aim is to lift as much as you physically can – you’ll need far more than Crossfit can offer. In fact, I would suggest putting Crossfit on the back burner until you gain some sort of weightlifting experience. But if you want to dive in head first, I can pretty much guarantee Crossfit will not be enough on it’s own; to properly learn these lifts you will need a PT and/or a second gym. At my class there was such a high demand for WODs, open gym time was few and far between.

I don’t regret my time at Crossfit. I made some great mates, improved my box jumps and burned a lot of calories in the process. But I’m most grateful to the sport for my new found love of powerlifting. Perhaps as my goal progressed from simply getting fit, it was inevitable my WOD days were numbered. But then I think ‘that could have been my wrist’.  Every sport has it’s risks but for Crossfit, it wasn’t a price I was willing to pay.

Technique before reps, always. Weeks later I joined a gym specialising in powerlifting and strength training which quickly became my second home (until lockdown that is). I train four times a week (which I’m still keeping up just now as I’m fortunate enough to have a squat rack at home), have a fantastic PT and I’m going from strength to strength – quite literally! I’ll be entering my first powerlifting competition next year and sharing my full journey here on A Strong Soul. I’d love to have you along for the ride! For more details, click here.

Well…that’s my experience with Crossfit! Now I’m be interested to know yours to get the conversation going! Please leave your experiences, thoughts and comments below.

Comments (35)

  • Sarah | Boo Roo and Tigger Too

    22/04/2020 at 1:56 pm

    I think it is important to try the different types of workouts available to see which one is more suited to you.

    1. Sarah

      23/04/2020 at 5:38 pm

      Definitely, it’s trial and error many cases. Sometimes the workout you love takes you by surprise. I never thought I’d be powerlifting but I love it! Have you discovered your favourite?

  • Ashlee

    22/04/2020 at 2:46 pm

    I totally agree with you, technique and safety is a much before we get into speed. So happy you realised this and chose to learn correct form! Too many get into the competition side of it and forget it’s necessary to get you form down first and really the instructors should have enforced this.

    1. Sarah

      23/04/2020 at 5:39 pm

      You’re so right and the instructors should have pushed for this more. They almost seemed dissapointed by anyone trying to put technique first. And I don’t think regardless of your experience, technique should always come first.

  • Samantha Donnelly

    22/04/2020 at 3:09 pm

    The only exercise I do daily is wak the dogs, but I do know from talking to others that trying different exercises is good for you and you will find the one that works best for you

    1. Sarah

      23/04/2020 at 5:40 pm

      I definitely have with powerlifting! And walking the dogs is great exercise, with my labrador it was hard to tell who was walking who, haha!

  • Talya Stone

    22/04/2020 at 4:33 pm

    I absolutely love lifting weights although I haven’t done as much as I would have linked to during lockdown. I love how it makes you feel for the rest of the day – so powerful!

    1. Sarah

      23/04/2020 at 5:42 pm

      Great, another fan! I’m so fortunate to have a squat rack and be able to work on the three compound lifts just now. But I completely understand and sympathise with your situation, I’m missing my gym terribly! Have you found other ways to workout just now during lockdown?

  • Cristina Petrini

    22/04/2020 at 4:42 pm

    I exercise but I keep on pilates and I do a bit of cardio, but nothing more I don’t think I would be able to bear the hardships of crossfit!

    1. Sarah

      23/04/2020 at 5:43 pm

      If you love your cardio you’d do very well because it is heavy cardio. I did really enjoying rowing but the airbikes…they were brutal!

  • Rebecca Jones

    22/04/2020 at 5:10 pm

    I’ve never joined a gym so I’ve never tried cross fit (I walk outdoors and do alot of yoga). One of my besties has power lifted for a year or so – it’s made such a difference for her – good luck with your powerlifting journey.

    1. Sarah

      23/04/2020 at 5:44 pm

      Thank you so much. I’m really enjoying it and looking forward to sharing my journey on my blog. Yoga is great, I’m a big fan!

  • Jennifer

    22/04/2020 at 7:07 pm

    I also prefer lifting weights over anything cardio based. Despite working out for over three years now, I still have no stamina for cardio

    1. Sarah

      23/04/2020 at 5:44 pm

      Couldn’t agree more. I enjoy certain forms of cardio but I much prefer powerlifting and developing my strength. How are you getting on?

  • chad

    22/04/2020 at 9:41 pm

    I’ve never done crossfit seriously but I agree with you, powerlifting is awesome!!! I’ve been doing it for years and I love it.

    1. Sarah

      23/04/2020 at 5:45 pm

      That’s great, would be really interested in knowing more about your powerlifting journey. Do you share it online? Always looking to connect with fellow powerlifters!

  • Heather

    23/04/2020 at 3:07 am

    I never got into crossfit, but I know a bunch of people that swear by it and a few that are power lifters and LOVE it!

    1. Sarah

      23/04/2020 at 5:47 pm

      Crossfit was great and I have no regrets but it highlighted my love of powerlifting. If I was ever to return to Crossfit (and I never say never) there are things I would do differently. Number one being, always put technique first!

  • Kate

    23/04/2020 at 8:27 am

    I’ve been on a health and fitness journey for 2 years now and during this time I have had to revise and change my workout schedule numerous times.That’s why I found your post so interesting because you had the same journey where your past favourite type of workout had to be revised and adapted to suit your current needs. I personally have never tried crossfit but weightlifting has been something that added to my workout regime last year. Thanks for sharing.

  • Soph

    23/04/2020 at 11:37 am

    I’ve been thinking about how I’ll change up my exercise routines when things start to go back to normal so this was so helpful to read-I’ll keep this in mind!
    Soph – https://sophhearts.com x

    1. Sarah

      23/04/2020 at 5:54 pm

      Thanks, hope it helps and you find an exercise routine you enjoy. That’s the most important thing!

  • Rebecca Smith

    23/04/2020 at 12:07 pm

    I think it makes perfect sense that you quite Crossfit for power lifting. As you say that could have been your wrist and as a beginner you still needed to hone your lifting technique.

    1. Sarah

      23/04/2020 at 5:53 pm

      Definitely. It could have been my wrist regardless of my experience because there’s more of an interest in the reps you do rather than whether you do them correctly with Crossfit unfortunately. I’m glad to be developing and making the progress I am now with powerlifting, I love it!

  • Jenni

    23/04/2020 at 2:15 pm

    I haven’t tried crossfit before but it sounds like it worked for you for a while but now you have found something which suits you even better which is amazing! I am still trying to find a type of exercise I love as it makes workouts so much easier.

    1. Sarah

      23/04/2020 at 5:51 pm

      I’m sure you will find what works for you Jenni, it’s all trial and error! No exercise is easy and it’s hard work, but when you find one you are passionate about it makes pushing yourself that little bit easier, usually, haha!

  • Kacie Morgan

    23/04/2020 at 3:43 pm

    I have often considered trying out cross-fit but I didn’t realise it was so accident-prone; the sound of that guys’ wrist snapping must’ve been terrifying.

    1. Sarah

      23/04/2020 at 5:50 pm

      It was certainly a horrible moment. All sport has risk of injuries but I feel for Crossfit, the risk is a lot higher due to the competitive nature of everything you do. I would certainly advise if you are planning to try it out to always remember technique before reps! And if you have little or no experience working with weights I’d work on that before fully committing to Crossfit.

  • Bella and Dawn at Dear Mummy Blog

    23/04/2020 at 5:58 pm

    We know a lot of people that do CrossFit and it is one BIG family (a lot of people do it for the social side too) and rave about it. It’s fascinating to hear about your experience. Never thought about powerlifting and if we were in better shape we’d consider it x

  • Yeah Lifestyle

    23/04/2020 at 8:27 pm

    Thank you for sharing your two cents worth on crossfit. I don’t really enjoy doing this but a lot of my friends so and often wonder what is the pros and cons of it. Your explanation has made this clearer for me and understand why powerlifting is better.

  • Jenni Grainger

    24/04/2020 at 1:22 pm

    I do an exercise app each day that I love as it varies my routines. I used to go to a weights class like powerlifting but it wasn’t for me. I think everyone finds what is best for them

  • Kara Guppy

    24/04/2020 at 3:32 pm

    My husband’s best friend does crossfit and he loves it – he keeps trying to sign us up. I can see why it got a bit much, it certainly isn’t for me

  • Charity

    24/04/2020 at 7:37 pm

    So glad you found a workout that works for you. Sometimes, you have to take a couple of different classes to see what is the best fit for you!

  • Melanie williams

    24/04/2020 at 10:45 pm

    Wow £75 per month is steep…there is so many more cheaper work out activities for sure xx

  • Hannah

    26/04/2020 at 2:09 pm

    I have to admit I am very lazy when it comes to fitness. I’ve heard of many people doing cross fit and have always wondered what it was

  • Kuddy

    23/10/2020 at 12:58 pm

    I share your concerns, I decided to quit Crossfit within the last few weeks to focus on Novice Linear Progression using Starting Strength. I ‘m pleased my coaches were understanding.

    At some point during the Intermediate stage I plan on returning to Crossfit. I like the variety of skills and movements, and also discovered I was a good runner early on despite my body type, but I’m still scaling most workouts mainly due to lack of strength and did not improve much from the 2019 to the 2020 Open. I dont have a huge disire to compete, but enjoy the process of training in itself. My Deadlift is already very high but I’m relatively weaker in the other 3 main lifts and Olympic lifts.

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