CrossFit, P90X and Insanity Are you fit enough?

by Mike Ryan, Navy SEAL and Brad McLeod, Navy SEAL

For members of our military, the minimum isn’t good enough.

Which is why they’re taking on CrossFit, P90X.com, Insanity, and other ultra-intense workout plans.

And while it’s good to want to push harder, faster, and longer in the quest for elite fitness, workouts need to be approached with good sense and patience.

What is CrossFit?

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An article inWired magazine recently addressed the rise in popularity of these operational athlete workouts. This intense fitness plan trifecta is currently being studied by the Consortium for Health and Military Performance, or CHAMP, at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. In the article, Katie Drummond writes, “Indeed, CrossFit in particular has become linked to serious injury, including a 2008 lawsuit by former Navy sailor Makimba Mimms, who alleged that the program led to permanent disability from rhabdomyolysis, the breakdown of muscle fibers that can cause kidney failure.”

Shaun T. Insanity workout on Dr. Oz

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Can CrossFit really cause Rhabdo? Well, any long intense workout done in the heat with the potential for dehydration can cause Rhabdo. Read on…

So how do we choose with all of these high intensity workouts out there on the market? CrossFit, P90X, and Insanity workout can help members of our military achieve tactical athlete physical fitness that will keep them working at peak levels while under the stress of combat. These workout regimens are also known for helping those interested in joining the military prepare for BUD/S, boot camp, and military physical fitness tests (PFTs). And they help give an edge to those already serving who want to join special forces/special operations like the Army Rangers, Navy EOD, Air Force Pararescue, Marine Corps Recon, and the Army’s covert Delta Force.

Tony Hortons P90X workout

If you’re thinking about beginning one of these workout plans, be sure to set reasonable goals, follow the plan accordingly (troops know how to follow orders, right? …right? Right!), and consult with superior officers and others who have experience with these workouts.

For CrossFit we recommend that you do a 5 minute mobility warmup at the start. If your going to lift weights make sure you do this with a properly trained coach. Make sure you are properly hydrated especially if it is hot out. This is how athletes get hurt as they get behind on their water on a long hot CrossFit workout and end up with heavy muscle fatigue or even Rhabdo. Make sure you have a proper cool down (rowing, walking, foam rolling) and drink lots of water post workout.

CrossFit does have a few drawbacks if your training
buds warning orderfor Special Forces. Make sure you are in a gym that understands your needs. Many CrossFit gyms are competition geared.. meaning they are training you for CrossFit competition (even if you don’t realize it). Make sure that you are using less barbell and more sand bags and rotational movements across the body. This is what you will be doing in Special Forces – paddling a boat, swimming, carrying gear, rucking in the mountains.

If your going to use the Insanity workout to train for Special Forces you will need to add a long endurance component after the workout. We think the bodyweight that Shaun T. shows is great and having tried the workouts you can see really good movements. But you will have to build endurance. Pick up a ruck sack and march a few miles after the workout.

Similar for P90X. Great workout but you will need to add the endurance component. Go trail run after the workout for a few miles. Or get on a C2 Rower and go for several kilometers. P90X is good for burning calories, getting good bodyweight movement and we really like the yoga component.

Here are a few questions that athletes in our gym asked.

Question: “Coach, which is harder.. the Insanity workout vs BUDS workout?”. The Insanity workout can be hard but only last 30 minutes. The BUDS workout that we did every morning was 1 hour, then we did pull ups, then went on a 4 mile sand run.

Question: “Coach, can I use the CrossFit workouts to train for Navy SEALs? Is there a difference between CrossFit vs Navy SEAL workouts?”. Yes; you can use CrossFit workouts but make sure you add in an endurance component. Run, swim or bike long distance. Add in rowing long distance.

Question: Can you get rhabdo from P90X and CrossFit? You can get rhabdo from any high intensity exercise especially if your dehydrated. The key is to build a good base before you do intense exercise. Don’t get off the couch and try a hard workout. Always stay hydrated.

Question: Is the Insanity workout good for pre boot camp? Yes; it is good workout as it uses bodyweight. Try it out and post up a comment below to let us know how you do.

Question: How do you compare the Deltafit vs P90X workouts? They are similar workouts with cardio and intense bodyweight exercises. I would try both and see which one works best with your body.

Question: What are some good crossfit workout routines for special forces? The Murph workout is a very good CrossFit workout for Spec Ops candidates.

Question: Would you recommend the P90X DVD workout before Marine boot camp? Yes; P90X is a good program. Add in some running and ruck marching and go out and get dirty in the mud and that will help. We discuss here if the Insanity workout is good for SEAL training.

Question: Does p90x help with military preparation? P90x can help you but also add in running.

Question: Does the military use Crossfit insanity or p90x? The military does not advocate any programs but many athletes train in those styles to get ready for the military.

Question: Is Sean T from T25 Insanity at Navy SEAL? No, Shaun T is not a Navy SEAL.

Question: Hello Coach Brad,
I have an insane question for you. What your thoughts about Crossfit’s association with rhabdo? I know people on heart medication who train and run marathons. I know people who train for Ironman triathlons with stress fractures. I have caught myself in swimming in Tampa Bay right before lightening storm. Is it about moderation?
Thank you for your time.Niki

Answer: You can avoid rhabdo by being fully hydrated, keeping yourself in good health and fitness and not doing excessive repetitive movements (jumping pull ups). Athletes get hurt when they think they are in better shape than they are. They don’t hydrated before and during an event and they get involved in workouts that have excessive jumping pull-ups or GHD sit-ups.

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