CrossFit workouts have recently soared in popularity, as proponents swear by the regimen's capacity to improve strength and overall fitness.
Now, a study at Ohio State University confirms what CrossFit fans have been saying all along — that the high-intensity power training workouts can dramatically improve aerobic fitness and body-fat composition.
According to the 10-week OSU study (via RealClearScience Aug. 20), male and female participants who did CrossFit, a strength and conditioning program that combines weightlifting, sprinting and body-weight exercises done at high intensity, achieved significant improvements in aerobic capacity and body fat.
The study tracked 54 participants who did weight-lifting moves such as the squat, dead lift and overhead press performed at high intensity with extremely short rest intervals in between sets. The research showed that all of the participants improved their aerobic fitness, decreased body fat and gained lean muscle.
However, the study noted that CrossFit can be risky because of the relatively high injury rate. While proponents such as "The Biggest Loser" star Bob Harper say proper technique curbs the incidence of "overuse" injuries, exercise scientists caution that CrossFit workouts can lead to injuries even if done with proper training and supervision.
"Crossfit has very ballistic training," Dr. Mark Kelly, an exercise physiologist at the American Council on Exercise, told Reuters. "You're asking people to move fast through a large range of motion. Even with coaching, the foundation of stability, mobility and psychomotor skill has to be laid [first]."