Jillian Michaels Says She "Doesn't Understand the Logic" Behind CrossFit Training

"To me, Crossfit is exercising, but it's not about having a plan," said the trainer.

Jillian Michaels doesn't shy away from talking about her qualms with CrossFit. In the past, she's warned about the dangers of kipping (a staple CrossFit movement) and shared her thoughts about what she feels is a lack of variety in CrossFit workouts.

Now, the former Biggest Loser trainer is taking issue with the entire approach to CrossFit training. After receiving some questions on Instagram and her fitness app forums about the safety of CrossFit, Michaels dove deeper into the topic in a new IGTV video.

Jillian Michaels attends AOL Build at AOL HQ on November 15, 2016 in New York City
Getty Images/Jenny Anderson/WireImage

"I am not trying to bash anybody, but when I get asked a question, I'm going to answer it with my personal opinion," she shared at the beginning of the video, noting her years of experience in fitness and personal training. "My opinion isn't just a random 'I don't like this,'" she continued. "It's based on things that I've learned about over decades about what works, what doesn't, and why."

As you might already know, CrossFit essentially combines gymnastics elements, weight training, Olympic weightlifting, and metabolic conditioning, with an emphasis on intensity. But in her video, Michaels said she feels that, for the most part, these fitness modalities tend to be more suitable for "elite athletes" than the average person. To that point, Michaels said there isn't really a "plan" during CrossFit workouts, which might make it harder for beginners to progress and build up to these challenging exercises. (Here's a beginner-friendly CrossFit workout you can do at home.)

"To me, Crossfit is exercising, but it's not about having a plan — a training-specific program — and progressing that plan," she explained. "To me, it seems like beating after beating after beating after beating."

Sharing an example, Michaels recalled a time when she did a CrossFit workout with a friend that involved 10 box jumps and one burpee, followed by nine box jumps and two burpees, and so on — which really took a toll on her joints, she said. "By the time I was done, my shoulders were killing me, I jammed the hell out of my toe from all the burpees, and my form was a mess," she admitted. "I was like, 'What is the logic here other than me being exhausted?' No answer. There is no logic to that." (

Michaels also took issue with doing AMRAPs (as many reps as possible), in CrossFit. In her video, she said she feels that the AMRAP methodology inherently compromises form when you apply it to the intense, complex exercises involved in CrossFit. "When you have exercises that are so technical like Olympic lifts or gymnastics, why are you doing them for time?" she said. "These are really dangerous things to be doing for time."

TBH, Michaels has a point. It's one thing if you're an athlete who's consistently dedicated months, even years of training to master the technique and form needed for exercises like power cleans and snatches. "But when you're new to these moves as a beginner or someone with basic coaching, you probably don't have the form down" enough to do it with the intensity that most CrossFit workouts demand, says Beau Burgau a certified strength and conditioning specialist and founder of GRIT Training. "It takes a lot of time and a lot of one-on-one coaching to learn these modalities properly," continues Burgau. "Olympic weightlifting and gymnastics aren't instinctual movements, and when you're pushing yourself to the brink of exhaustion during an AMRAP, the risk for injury is high."

That said, there can be huge benefits to not only AMRAPs but also EMOMs (every minute on the minute), another CrossFit staple, Burgau says. "These methodologies are great for muscular and cardiovascular endurance," he explains. "They also allow you to track your fitness gains and let you compete against yourself, which can be highly motivating." (

Still, you can't reap these benefits if you're not practicing the exercises safely, adds Burgau. "No matter what exercises you're doing, you should be performing the moves correctly and not jeopardizing your form in the process," he says. "Everyone loses form the more fatigued they are, so benefitting from an AMRAP or EMOM really depends on what movements you're doing, your fitness level, and the recovery time you give yourself after that."

Continuing in her video, Michaels also voiced her concerns about overtraining certain muscle groups in CrossFit. When you're doing exercises like pull-ups, push-ups, sit-ups, squats, and battle ropes — all commonly featured in CrossFit workouts — in one training session, you're working your entire body, Michaels explained. "I don't understand that training plan," she said. "To me, when you train, particularly as hard as you do in a CrossFit workout, you need time to recover. I wouldn't want to do a workout that hammers my back or my chest and then hit those muscles again the next day, or even a third day in a row." (

In Michaels' opinion, it's not wise to do any exercise for days on end without proper rest or recovery for that muscle group between workouts. "I love that people love CrossFit, I love that they love working out, I love that they love the community it provides," Michaels said in her video. "But I wouldn't want you to be doing a yoga workout every day. I wouldn't want you to be running every day or three days in a row."

Burgau agrees: "If you're doing intense full-body workouts of any kind, repeatedly for days, you're not going to give your muscles enough time to heal," he explains. "You're just fatiguing them and risk putting them into an overtrained state." (

The reason why highly experienced CrossFitters and elite athletes can sustain such a rigorous training schedule is that, in most cases, it's literally their full-time job, adds Burgau. "They can spend two hours a day training and spend five more on recovery doing massages, cupping, dry needling, yoga, mobility exercises, ice baths, etc.," he adds. "A person who has a full-time job and family usually doesn't have the time or resources to give their body that [level of] care." (

Bottom line: There's a lot of work you need to put in before making advanced CrossFit exercises a regular part of your workout routine.

"Just keep in mind that even though it feels amazing in the moment, you have to think about longevity and the way in which you're taxing your body," explains Burgau. "I'm a huge proponent of finding what works for you. If CrossFit is your jam, and you feel like you've mastered some of these movements, or you can do them modified, awesome. But if you're uncomfortable and pushing yourself too hard, don't do it. Longevity and safety are so important — and don't forget that there are hundreds of ways to train and get the results that you want."

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