Don’t do CrossFit bro, you’ll lose all your gains

Not a single real pull up was done that day

Great way to lose muscle and get injured


These are all comments I came up against a lot when I started my venture into CrossFit. So, did I lose all my gains? No. Did I get horrifically injured? No. While it may have taken me longer to increase my muscle mass, I most definitely have! I have also been able to improve my endurance, strength, coordination and accuracy. Is it possible to improve multiple aspects of health and performance, and still build muscle mass?


The Science of CrossFit and Building Muscle Mass

A recent post by WOD Science, looked into possible reasons why male and female CrossFit athletes can build a substantial amount of lean muscle mass. Each reason has a varying level of science behind it but are all valid points.

  • Working to failure has been shown in research to promote muscle growth. During many CrossFit style workouts, athletes will reach the point of failure, rest, then continue. This continued reps to failure may well stimulate significant increases in muscle mass.
  • Generally speaking, there is a lot of volume in CrossFit style workouts. There is no doubt that even with lower loads on the bar, the reps and exertion may well exceed regular gym workouts. Higher volume of reps and sets has been linked to increases in muscle mass.
  • You gotta confuse the muscle bro. Whilst this is beginning to drift into the realms of “Bro Science”. The phenomena of a muscle getting used to an exercise to the point of no adaption is still upheld by many. Whilst never repeating a workout may be a step too far, keeping things varied can ensure you never reach the point of no adaption.


The Research is Limited

Unfortunately, the research into CrossFit is minimal. However, you may well have noticed that many CrossFit athletes sure have a large amount of muscle mass! There will always be cries of steroids but that’s a whole other debate. As evidence based practitioners and Leading Personal Trainers in Berkshire, all NK Fitness coaches do our best to stay up to date with the literature. If you have limited time and can only see us once a week, it is likely we will incorporate some CrossFit style training into your sessions.