Crossfit For Seniors Over 60 – Is It Worth It?

Hello friend! In this post, you will learn all about CrossFit for seniors over 60. Is it a good form of exercise for seniors and are there safety precautions etc.

CrossFit took the fitness world by surprise in the 2000s.  CrossFit boxes were popping out in every town and social media was filled with enthusiastic CrossFitters.

What set CrossFit apart from the more traditional strength sports of weightlifting, powerlifting and strongman was the focus on working as a group and improving general fitness instead of just strength.

That said, strength training was arguably one of the most important training methods in CrossFit.

While the popularity of CrossFit increased it also received a lot of negative reputation.

Reports of injuries started to surface and many strength coaches questioned the efficacy and safety of this type of training.

This didn’t stop CrossFit from growing into a worldwide sports phenomenon with massive events and a multimillion company behind it.

But the question in your mind probably is if CrossFit is suitable for seniors and if it’s something you should get into.

Let’s start by looking at what exactly is CrossFit.

What Is CrossFit

CrossFit stands for cross-discipline fitness as it’s a branded fitness regimen that uses constantly varied functional movements.

The CrossFit brand and a company that was formed in 2000 by Greg Glassman and Lauren Jenai. CrossFit is a franchise business, meaning they sell licenses to gyms, known as “boxes”, for the right to use the CrossFit brand and training.

Training principles of CrossFit include mixing aerobic exercise, calisthenics, powerlifting, and Olympic weightlifting at high intensities.

CrossFit also uses a lot of equipment from different fitness disciplines like gymnastics, strongman equipment, barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, rowing machines, etc. CrossFit can even include movements from self-defense disciplines.

While CrossFit was originally geared towards people who need versatile physical fitness in their jobs (the military, rescue personnel, paramedics, police, etc.) it soon became very popular among recreational fitness enthusiasts.

CrossFit became especially popular among people looking for an alternative to traditional fitness and exercise wisdom.

Not surprisingly, CrossFit also has nutrition recommendations based mainly on paleo, keto, and zone diets as well as counting macronutrients.

CrossFit is typically performed in a group setting where a “workout of the day” or WOD is performed.

A WOD typically consists of one or two exercises performed for varying repetitions and against time with the aim of beating your previous results.

CrossFit publishes a WOD every day on its website.

Is CrossFit Suitable For Seniors

CrossFit is known for its very technically demanding exercises and high intensity. Exercises like snatches, muscle-ups, and handstand push-ups are very common in CrossFit.

All those exercises require excellent mobility and proprioception, very high strength levels, and a lot of training. So is CrossFit really suitable for seniors?

Here’s where CrossFits versatility comes into play. The fitness regimen is designed so that it can be scaled to any level of fitness or to any age for that matter.

So there are special WODs for seniors that take into account age-related limitations and safety factors.

For example, snatches can be replaced with kettlebell swings or deadlifts, muscles-ups with assisted pull-ups or some form of row etc.

So seniors can definitely do CrossFit. But here’s an important thing. Seniors should only perform CrossFit at a box that specifically offers CrossFit for seniors and actually have experience and qualified trainers for seniors.

And this takes us to the biggest risk of CrossFit. The experience level of the trainers at your local box.

Risks Of CrossFit For Seniors

In my opinion, the biggest risk with CrossFit is the trainers. I think this is the reason why CrossFit has gotten a bit of a bad reputation for getting people injured in the past.

CrossFit does require its affiliates to be competent and certified of course. But the problem is enforcing this on the countless affiliate gyms around the world.

So there have been reports of trainers that push beginners too hard, don’t take time (or don’t have the skill) to teach proper lifting form, or lack intelligent workout programming.

An inexperienced trainer can for example overestimate the skill and strength levels of beginners, which can be detrimental when performing complex movements like snatches or clean & jerks, especially for repetitions.

Beginners are often incapable of determining if their technique is correct and what the safe limits of their performance are. They rely on the experienced eye and guidance of the trainer.

The risks become even greater when training older people as the physical fitness and medical background can vary significantly more between individuals.

That’s why I recommend that you interview your local box if they have a senior group. Ask them what kind of qualifications and experience they have in training seniors.

It’s important to make sure that you will receive personal instruction and a workout that is scaled for your experience and performance level.

All that said, I personally have extremely good experiences with CrossFit trainers. I haven’t actually participated in CrossFit, but I’ve taken weightlifting classes on a local CrossFit box and the trainers were extremely professional.

One was actually a national-level weightlifter and this is always a good sign. Someone with an athlete background is likely a better trainer than an enthusiastic but inexperienced person who has passed an entry-level certificate course.

In coaching enthusiasm, unfortunately, can’t replace experience and education.

Benefits Of CrossFit For Seniors

If you have good trainers, CrossFit is actually great for seniors because it combines strength training with exercises that improve your cardiovascular health and challenge your balance.

This type of training is excellent for preventing age-related decline in physical performance and health.

Strength training has many benefits for seniors. It will help you maintain and increase muscle mass, improve metabolism, burn fat, improve bone strength and help keep your body functional.

Cardiovascular exercises will help keep your heart healthy and strong while improving metabolism and giving you energy and stamina for everyday activities.

Finally, exercises that challenge your balance are extremely important for fall prevention as you age. Suffering a fall is one of the most common reasons for hospitalization for seniors.

Fortunately combining balance training with strength training can go a long way in preventing the likelihood of falls. Strength training will also make your body tougher in the case you do fall, reducing the risk of dire consequences.

Options For CrossFit

If you can’t find a CrossFit box for seniors in your area or just want to know about strength training options for seniors, there are a lot of them.

Powerlifting is a great option for seniors as it involves slower movement patterns than CrossFit but is great for functional strength and preventing age-related muscle loss. Just like with CrossFit, you will need competent training though.

Starting Strength is also a great option for strength training for seniors. It’s very similar to powerlifting but with a few additional exercises and a focus on functional strength.

Starting Strength gyms often offer training for seniors so if there’s a Starting Strength gym near you, ask them if they train seniors.

Strength training at home with dumbbells, bodyweight, and kettlebells is always a great option as well. However, it’s a good idea to get some professional coaching in the beginning to avoid injury and to make your strength training efforts more effective.

It’s also good to realize that there is no need for a dedicated strength training discipline for seniors. You can simply do bodyweight or resistance band exercise a couple of times a week combined with versatile exercise.

Swimming, cycling, jogging, nordic walking, rowing, kayaking, and even gardening, and home improvement are great forms of exercise that will help keep your body strong and healthy.

That said, it’s still important to do at least some form of strength training a couple of times a week as it’s superior for maintaining muscle strength and mass to other forms of exercise.

Conclusion

I hope you found this post about CrossFit for seniors over 60 useful. If any questions popped into mind, you can leave them in the comments section below and I’ll do my best to answer you.

As a recap, CrossFit is a versatile fitness regime that can be excellent for seniors over 60 if the trainers are experienced with this age group.

CrossFit has a bit of reputation for people getting injured but this is likely due to inexperienced trainers that the organization can’t really police. My own experience with CrossFit instructors is very good for example.

CrossFit combines strength training, cardio, and balance skills in a way that’s very effective for preventing age-related decline in physical health.

The best way to get started with CrossFit as a senior is by asking a local CrossFit gym if they offer training for seniors and what kind of experience they have with it.

Thanks for reading and see you next time!

Leave a Comment