CrossFit Training for Men Over 50

CrossFit is a form of exercise, generally done at gyms. Many of the gyms pride themselves on a community-based atmosphere, joining those as little as 7 years old with those upwards of 70. While the workouts will be the same regardless of age, there are a few things to consider before joining CrossFit when a man is over the age of 50.

A man exercising with weights in a gym. (Image: 4774344sean/iStock/Getty Images)

Definition of CrossFit

The CrossFit tag line is Forging Elite Fitness. According to the official website, CrossFit is a program that "delivers a fitness that is, by design, broad, general, and inclusive. [Their] specialty is not specializing. Combat, survival, many sports, and life reward this kind of fitness and, on average, punish the specialist." Each studio has a different way of explaining what it does, but the premise is the same. The workouts are fast and intense, focusing on 10 fitness goals -- accuracy, agility, balance, cardiovascular and respiratory endurance, coordination, flexibility, power, speed, stamina and strength.

Workout of the Day

The CrossFit website provides a workout of the day, or WOD, for its members to follow, as well as any one else with the equipment who can perform the workout. Most workouts are either timed, performing as quickly as you can, or are given an amount of time where you need to complete as many rounds or reps as possible. The workouts include but are not limited to Olympic and power lifts, kettlebells, plyometrics, body-weight exercises, gymnastics, running and rowing. In one example of a WOD, you are to perform four handstand pushups, eight kettlebell swings and 12 GHD situps as many times as possible in eight minutes. The exercises are listed on the website with videos.

Men Over 50 -- Silvers

When an older person joins a CrossFit community, such as a man over age 50, many affiliate gyms have a name for this population -- Silvers. Silvers come to work out but might require some extra attention due to their age. An entry in CrossFit Journal by Joey Powell likens them to a classic or antique car. While it may have set speed records back in its day, it's likely that it won't or should not push itself to that limit any more. Intensity is not as important with Silvers. If you are over 50, don't strive to huff and puff and pass out on the ground. Properly prepare your body, work hard enough to challenge yourself and listen to what your body is telling you.

Benefits of CrossFit

In a study published in The Cochrane Database of Systemic Reviews, strength training was credited with helping older adults gain the necessary strength for everyday activities. CrossFit is definitely a workout style that prepares you for whatever life may throw at you. A lead researcher in the article, Chiung-ju Liu from Indiana University stated that older adults, even those up to 80-years-old, who have a health condition benefit from strength training. Training two or three times a week provides huge improvements in strength and energy.

Dangers of Overtraining

The high-intensity workouts, heavy weight and enormous amounts of repetition come with a price. According to an article in "The New York Times" one CrossFitter wound up in the hospital with rhabdomyolysis, a serious condition where muscle fiber breaks down and is released into the bloodstream, poisoning the kidneys. Other reports in the article include knee injuries, pulled muscles, chronic soreness and even separated shoulders. The workouts are not for the faint of heart. If you have any pre-existing conditions or injuries, you should inform your coach. Using proper form while exercising should be your utmost concern over how many repetitions you can nail out.

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