Jillian Michaels’ 5 Problems With CrossFit Generates Controversy

The celebrity trainer has a bone to pick with CrossFit.

Former host of NBC’s The Biggest Loser and enormously influential fitness titan Jillian Michaels has been trending in the CrossFit® community for coming out with a list of concerns she has with the training methodologies.

The controversy started in a December article she wrote for Shape that was entitled “Why Jillian Michaels Wants You to Stop Kipping in CrossFit.”(Check out our article on 4 reasons injuries happen from kipping pull-ups.)

It heated up some more on February 7 when she appeared in an Instagram post that focused on what she perceives to be a lack of variety in the movements.

And this week she decided to double down in an article on her official website. She said that it “wasn’t totally true” that she was “slamming” CrossFit, a word that many headlines have eagerly used to describe her stance, but she does go on to detail a pretty darn thorough argument against it.

She lists her concerns as follows — we added relevant quotes after each entry, but her full article is worth reading to get a better sense of context.

1. The Exercises Can Be Too Complicated for the Average Person

… They are often performed in a fatigued state, which is not how any of those fitness modalities like gymnastics or Olympic lifts were meant to be done…

2. Instructor Certification Isn’t Rigorous Enough

… To teach CrossFit classes, an individual only has to complete a weekend certification program….

3. CrossFit Training Logic Doesn’t Make Sense

Why are prescribed WODs (workout of the day) often uniform when it comes what weights each gender should lift — and why is this not ALWAYS prescribed on an individual basis? Why perform one exercise or two exercises doing “as many reps as possible” in seven minutes? … How is the workout individualized? How is it designed to progress an athlete? How is it offering a balanced approach to fitness? How is recovery being programmed?

jillian michaels

4. There Is No Prioritizing of Recovery

Unless, I have missed something and all the people I know who do CrossFit are doing it wrong, CrossFit doesn’t seem to make significant efforts to build in recovery days (…) CrossFit workouts several days in a row, let alone 5 days a week, doesn’t allow the body much time to heal from the workout.

5. Not Enough Variety

CrossFit has a limited number of key exercises (…) I prefer to train muscles with as much variety as possible, using as many angles of push and pull as you can incorporate over your training regimen to utilizing as many modalities of fitness — balance, speed, strength, power, agility, mobility — possible to train the muscles.

It’s unusual to hear a complaint that CrossFit doesn’t have enough variety. What are your thoughts?

Featured image via Gage Skidmore on Flickr.

Nick English

Nick English

Nick is a content producer and journalist with over seven years’ experience reporting on four continents. His first articles about health were on a cholera outbreak in rural Kenya while he was reporting for a French humanitarian organization. His next writing job was covering the nightlife scene in Shanghai. He’s written on a lot of things.

After Shanghai, he went on to produce a radio documentary about bodybuilding in Australia before finishing his Master’s degrees in Journalism and International Relations and heading to New York City. Here, he’s been writing on health full time for more than five years for outlets like BarBend, Men's Health, VICE, and Popular Science.

No fan of writing in the third person, Nick’s passion for health stems from an interest in self improvement: How do we reach our potential?

Questions like these took him through a lot of different areas of health and fitness like gymnastics, vegetarianism, kettlebell training, fasting, CrossFit, Paleo, and so on, until he realized (or decided) that strength training fit best with the ideas of continuous, measurable self improvement.

At BarBend his writing focuses a little more on nutrition and long-form content with a heaping dose of strength training. His underlying belief is in the middle path: you don’t have to count every calorie and complete every workout in order to benefit from a healthy lifestyle and a stronger body. Plus, big traps are cool.

3 thoughts on “Jillian Michaels’ 5 Problems With CrossFit Generates Controversy”

  1. This woman is clueless. Shes not an expert in the field of CrossFit and all the modalities it covers so its safe to say she should not be commenting on CrossFit without fully understanding it. As far as workouts being individualized thats not the point of CrossFit, CrossFit is the closest programming to suit the majority of general population. How are her workout DVDs individualized? Its not… most CrossFit coaches actually have honors degrees in sports science or biokinetics, or are being mentored by someone with those degrees so they have a far better understanding of movement which is why you wont see a crossfitter squat on medicine balls. *drops mic while sipping on something thats not soda stream*

    • I politely disagree with you.
      Her experience or lack thereof makes no impact on the veracity or falsehood of her claims, so I don’t think you can successfully refute her statements by saying she is not an authority (again, not assuming she is).
      The fact that crossfit coaches have honors degrees or get their education from elsewhere makes no difference to the point that the CF instructor certification is lacking.
      You do actually see crossfitters squatting on the most ridiculous things they can find so yeah…..
      Don’t trip on the mike on your way back up to the platform. 😉
      Meant in jest.

  2. She’s not wrong.

    It’s the same motions in a single plane over and over again. Mostly taught by non-certified people. Members have no idea that the instructors have no liability insurance. I’ve had a class run by subs a few times where I have to question if they even know CPR if the older or newer people have an incident. Clients come in when they can, but the programming doesn’t take into account their personal schedules or recovery needs. Find me a physiology textbook explaining why 7 minutes of random exercises is beneficial to the developing athlete NOT written by Glassman.

    People just go after her because she is a woman and is associated with a TV show that most people don’t like.

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