Crossfit and the Middle Aged Tactical Athlete

I’m not sure when that it happened.  When I was in my 20’s, I thought people in their 30’s were “Middle Aged”.  When I was in my 30’s, I thought people in their 40’s were “Middle Aged”.  Now that I am in my mid-40’s, I’m not sure who to blame now.

I’ve spent my entire career, and life, looking to running for physical fitness.  In my 20’s, and 30’s, I had many 40 or 50 mile weeks.  I kept me in pretty good shape, kept the gut off, and provided me with the mental-health-alone-me-time to solve all the worlds problems.  I often heard people say “I hate running, I’m not running unless someone is chasing me”.  That wasn’t the case for me.  Until the FIRST knee surgery.  I didn’t rehab really well.  I surely didn’t change my eating habits.  That resulted in weight gain, and a loss of overall fitness.

About a year and a half or so ago, I started doing Crossfit with a coworker.  Well, if you can call it that.  I was doing a Crossfit style workout or two each week.  When I did my research on Crossfit, I was met with a lot of guys who said that Crossfit was a fools gold, that the high repetition would do nothing but cause injury.  And I could see that with my experience with running.  I could also see it by looking at the Crossfit website.  Some of the weights on the daily WODs were ridiculous for me to try to pull.  So, I ate right and did a mix of running, running on the elliptical, and weights.

And then I knuckled under and joined a Crossfit box.  (A box is the term for a small garage type gym that Crossfit seems to thrive in).  I submitted (and somewhat humiliated myself) to taking the on-ramp classes and they were met with much success and ego checks.  I learned a lot about the movements in the different lifts, as well as how to scale my workouts to make the most for me.  I learned that the Crossfit website WODs are structured for the elite of Crossfit, and the rest of us mere mortals need to scale it.  Yeah, and I learned humility.  It was the second or third day we did a little WOD that seemed simple on the white board, and I got my behind smoked by a 24 year old girl.  She finished the WOD almost a full two minutes ahead of me.  But, the big thing I learned was that Crossfit Boxes are a great support network.  The population of any given Box seems to be genuinely sincere in assisting, supporting, and fellowshipping with the other occupants.

Is Crossfit the perfect workout?  Nope.  Is it for everyone?  Nope.  Can people with health issues participate?  Absolutely.  Any workout can be scaled around bad knees, or shoulder problems, or other issues.  It is about goal setting.  My goals are simple.  To work a little harder to remain stronger and faster than the younger guys at work.  And I have observed good results from Crossfit.  I also have set the goal to run a sub-45 minute “Murph” in armor next Memorial Day.

There is a difference between doing Crossfit, and joining a Crossfit Box.  Joining the box was worth every penny to me.  Fitness needs to be functional.  Moderation is the key.

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About Jerry Jones

Jerry Jones has been a Sheriff's Deputy in Kentucky since 1996. Jerry is currently assigned as a patrol deputy, firearms instructor and senior operator/training supervisor with a multi jurisdictional tactical team. Jerry is Kentucky POST certified to teach firearms, SWAT, and sniper operations and deployment at the Academy level. Jerry is also the President/CEO of Operation Specific Training and the Law Enforcement Representative for Apex Tactical Specialties.

8 thoughts on “Crossfit and the Middle Aged Tactical Athlete

  1. Good reasoned article! Advocacy short of religious fervor. (you know what I’m talking about 😉 ) Life long trainer here, pretty much non-stop running and weights for I guess 40 years or so now. Studied and experimented with a few doctrines. Seems Crossfit organized and monetized something very similar to earlier functional strength methods (Coach John Davies and earlier). I seem to recall Charles Poliquinn being really down on CF many years ago but articles on his site now seem to have changed the tone dramatically. My sons do a ton of CF in the Army now and their workouts just amaze me. Overall I think it’s a great trend. I didn’t join a “box” but went along for the Memorial Day Murph this year. Yikes, took me 89 minutes to finish what my son finished in 36 but I didn’t cheat a rep. To your point, I train solo my way but I don’t think I could consistently pull off the “blood in the mouth” CF workouts by myself. The “box” would be needed.

  2. Cool article and awesome job on deciding to increase your fitness !

    I think Crossfit has some good things going on. I think a greater amount of people training and pursuing better fitness,health, and longevity is a great thing. A lot of someone’s success and results depend on the type of programming and coaching that particular gym incorporates. Crossfit affiliates can vary greatly from gym to gym. I disagree with certain principles and methodology but think the general idea is solid. Personally I don’t like the fad “culture” or “lifestyle” and lingo that Crossfit brings with it. A lot of cross fitters that buy into this think Crossfit is king and all other types of training is a waste or inefficient. I have been Crossfitting for over 3 years and enjoy the challange and benifits it brings with smart programming.

  3. I’ve been participating in Crossfit workouts for about a year and a half and really enjoy them. I’m also in my 40s and was looking for a way to get into better shape. I was humbled in the beginning trying to figure out how to tailor the workouts for me. I had to get past trying to do the prescribed RX weights. Now I get a challenging workout a few times a week that has increased my fitness dramatically. They folks I work with started going and they’ve lost weight and increased their fitness. All good things for people working in stressful environments. As with all fitness programs, you have to ask a lot of questions and know your limits. My Crossfit gym is owned by a firefighter/paramedic and a physical therapist. They’re adherence to proper lifting techniques makes sure everyone gets a workout and minimizes injuries. Last year I did Murph slick, my goal this year is to complete the WOD with armor.

  4. I trained at the original CF gym. Just after Coach Glassman opened it. I wish I had stuck with it. Sadly fitness etc… has always been a battle with me. Through out the intervening years I trained on my own off and on (including running). Not with a whole lot of consistancy or success

    Ive been going to a friend’s CF gym since last february. 3-5 days a week. I scale , adjust – wieghts reps time distance etc.. when I need to. At 46 Im in the best shape of my life.

    There are many different types of CF gyms out there. Most nay sayers clearly havnt been to a good one. A good coach will call bs on your form – wont let you get hurt, will scale the wod for your issues , regardless of what they are. At the gym I go to there are people of every type – beasts to broken people young old and in between.

  5. Full disclosure…I work for

    The issues Charles had with Crossfit pertained concerned the performance of Olympic lifts for high repetitions (regardless of exercise form) and having first-timers perform WODs alongside others who had been Crossfiting for years. But now, it seems, certain Boxes (having seen an increase of injuries among new members) have amended WODs for beginners.

    • Thanks so much for that info! That rings a bell (high rep technical oly lifts). The CF gym my younger son has been in a few years and where I’ve visited and did the Murph is a good one I think. Very focused on getting the form right.

      I remain an enormous fan of Poliquin’s work. Thanks again!

      • Technical breakdown becomes an issue once Olympic lifts are performed over 5-6 reps…from there, risk of injury increases dramaticlly.

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