Updated: Feb 22, 2019
When done properly, Crossfit is an amazing fitness program. Crossfit athletes build a ton of strength, power, and anaerobic conditioning which leads to very solid athletes who generally perform very well in high-intensity fitness environments.
That being said, this isn't a question about whether or not Crossfit is good training for OCR, the question is whether or not it's the BEST method to use to compete in OCR.
The immediate answer is NO. Crossfit is NOT the best method to use to compete in OCR. I'll go into 2 reasons why this is the case. I would also suggest that these 2 points are all of the evidence currently needed to make an unshakable argument on this subject.
When choosing a training method, it's essential that your training method directly correlates to the sport you are competing in. If it's swimming, you HAVE to swim. If it's a Triathlon, biking HAS to be big part of your training. If it's power lifting, you won't get far if you don't do squats.
Crossfit will develop strength, mobility, power, speed, agility, anaerobic endurance, and more. What it won't do though, is make you a great runner. Crossfit athletes run, absolutely. However, the runs are usually short and are not an integral part of training in comparison to the rest of the training. IE - Running isn't the focus. The BIG issue with this is that every OCR requires running, and the vast majority require a LOT of running.
Personally, I am not as physically strong an athlete as I want to be (It's been a focus of mine this off season with great results so far), and I've been passed during heavy carries on MANY occasions by physically stronger athletes. However, I've still gone on to beat those same athletes because I've been the better runner in those circumstances. Becoming a good runner and developing speed is the fastest way you can improve your OCR time. If you are trying to be competitive in OCR, traditional Crossfit won't give you the running you need.
If we take a look at the top finishers in the Spartan World Championship races over the past 2 years, we find very few athletes (only 1 really confirmed) who use Crossfit as their main training method. I will never say that they don't incorporate Crossfit into their workouts at all; that is not a statement I can make with any certainty, but it is not how they spend the majority of their training. Most of these athletes talk about their training on social media, in podcasts, and in interviews, so we have a broad overview of what their programs are like and Crossfit isn't mentioned as a big piece for most. IE - Crossfit isn't making them competitive OCR athletes.
This same top-finisher approach could be taken with OCR World Championship and Tough Mudder Championship races with VERY similar results.
Spartan Race World Championship 2018:
1: Jonathan Albon 1: Lindsay Webster
2: Ryan Atkins 2: Rebecca Hammond
3: Robert Killian 3: Zuzana Kocumov
4: Ryan Woods 4: Raye Stenning
5: Cody Moat 5: Rea Kolbl
Spartan Race World Championship 2017:
1: Cody Moat 1: Lindsay Webster
2: Jonathan Albon 2: Zuzana Kocumov
3: Robert Killian 3: Alyssa Hawley
4: Ryan Atkins 4: Faye Stenning
5: Hunter Mcintyre 5: Rea Kolbl
Again, this isn't a knock on Crossfit. Crossfit is AWESOME when taught and performed properly. It simply isn't the BEST way to train for OCR. Training for OCR is a big mix of lots of different skills and strengths - it is it's own training "THING".
At Trio Fitness OCR we are working with athletes on this "OCR Training THING" to make well-rounded OCR competitors. Everyone is a competitor. For some it may be competing against others, and for some it may be competing against themselves. Whatever the case, we'd love to help you grow as a competitor in OCR.
Trio Fitness OCR is a remote training company founded by brothers Joel and Luke Hayes. As Certified Personal Trainers and Elite/Pro level competitors in OCR, they decided to build a company that would help the sport of OCR grow by growing the competitors in the sport.
Joel Hayes (article author)