Why I Stopped Doing CrossFit

why I stopped doing crossfit

I love CrossFit. Like, love it.

I think it’s one of the coolest, most challenging workouts around today. I love its focus on functional fitness. I love the variety. I love the community aspect of it.

In fact, I did CrossFit for nearly a year before I decided to give it up. When I was living in Brooklyn, I went to the most amazing CrossFit gym, CrossFit Virtuosity, and had the time of my life.

The people were cool. There were both men and women, and no one expected me to work less hard because I was a chick. And the coach (as they’re called in CrossFit) was inspiring and just, well, awesome.

But when I moved to San Francisco, I decided to give it up. Here’s why:


If you’re not familiar with the workouts, CrossFit combines movements such as sprinting, jumping, rowing, bodyweight exercises, and climbing rope to make some short, intense, ass-kicking workouts, not altogether that different than the ones we do here on 12 Minute Athlete.

The main difference between my workouts and the Crossfit workouts is the Olympic style weightlifting they do in their workouts—including lots of heavy squats, shoulder presses, jerks, snatches, deadlifts and cleans.

I loved the high intensity work. I didn’t love the heavy weightlifting.

You could certainly say it’s because I’m a girl that I didn’t like it, but I’ve talked to others who have had the same reaction: I just got too damn sore from it. So sore I didnt have the energy or desire to do all the other active things I wanted to do. So sore that sometimes I could barely move for days afterwards.

Obviously, I could have pushed a little less hard and given myself a break more often… but that’s not how I do things.

And yes, I could have taken some extreme recovery measures… ice baths, weekly massages, etc. but in the end, it just wasn’t worth it to me. I don’t mind being sore, but I didn’t want to be so sore that I couldn’t do any other workouts or activities the rest of the week.


CrossFit gyms follow the Paleo diet, which if you’ve never heard of it includes mainly meat, nuts and veggies—any form of grains are frowned upon, and more extreme Paleo followers won’t even touch dairy, some fruit, and alcohol.

As a vegetarian (I’ve been one since I was six years old), this leaves me with pretty much nothing to eat. I can’t survive on nuts and veggies only!

(It has been done however—see Susan Lacke’s vegetarian paleo experiment on No Meat Athlete to learn more.)

Some CrossFit gyms are more lax about diet than others, but the ones I’ve been to have all been pretty extreme Paleo. And for good reason: all that meat no doubt helps with recovery and performance, but I just wasn’t willing to change my diet completely for the sport.

I felt it put me at a disadvantage—and also like I had to hide my diet from my fellow CrossFitters.


Although most CrossFit workouts are fairly short—ranging from 5 to 20 minutes on average—an entire CrossFit class lasts for more like an hour. That combined with getting to class early to stretch and warm up and staying after to foam roll meant the time commitment was more like an hour and a half a day, four to six times a week (or however many times I could handle it).

That’s a lot of time to devote to just exercise. Doing CrossFit on a regular basis meant I rarely had time to do the other active things I love – hiking, various sports, and exploring the Bay area outdoors with my dog.

Also, as a side note, I noticed doing CrossFit would cut into my work time since I’d get so spent during the workouts (I couldn’t help but push myself as hard as possible every single time) I’d have trouble re-focusing for an hour or two after a morning or afternoon class.

Body composition

All right, guys, this is where I’m going to lose you, so feel free to skip this section. Because while CrossFit builds (in my opinion) a pretty awesome male physique, as a female CrossFitter, I began to quickly hate the way my body started to look.

I have nothing against muscular physiques—I love a strong body more than anything and I feel best when I’m as lean and strong as possible. But I naturally have fairly broad shoulders, and not surprisingly, CrossFit made them even broader.

They got so broad I had trouble fitting into normal shirts… And I definitely lost some of myfeminine appearance.

In fact, when you look at the CrossFit women such as the ones in the CrossFit games, you’ll notice that this is a pretty standard consequence of the sport.

Obviously, appearance isn’t the only thing that matters—but after realizing I was constantly sore, always nursing an injury, and didn’t like how I looked because of it, I decided my days of regular CrossFit were over.

(This was also around the same time I began creating 12 Minute Athlete workouts, which I now do six days a week, and feel better and stronger than ever.)

I love the community but…

This isn’t to say I’ll never do Crossfit again.

In fact, nearly every time I go home to visit my family in the Portland, Oregon area, I go to a CrossFit class or two with my dad or brother—and I’m happy to say that I still beat most of the guys.

It’s always fun, and challenging and extremely grueling, and the community is always fantastic.

But every time, I’m always happy to return to my 12 Minute Athlete workouts that leave me stronger, more focused, and injury-free—with plenty of time and energy to do other fun things.

Because to me, that’s what exercise is all about.

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152 thoughts on “Why I Stopped Doing CrossFit”

  1. Hi Krista

    We reached the same conclusion over here in the UK so we launched something more appropriate for women – http://www.hiitgirl.com. Response so far has been so good that we’re about to open our first London studio.

    Love your 12 minute athlete concept!

    Kind regards

    Susan Dyson
    Founder | Hiitgirl

  2. Good perspective.

    Lots of great stuff to be gained from the Crossfit philosophy and principles.

    But I also agree that for many people, it is possible to seek out and get too much of a good thing – work volume at high levels of intensity – with insufficient recovery time (or work capacity).

    The time element and focus on power is such a great thing. But the environment of pride and competitiveness and even well intentioned encouragement from other athletes can easily lead to bad decisions – extra reps with poor form that can cause injury.

    Every affiliate is unique but from my outside in view Crossfit gyms on the whole should increase recovery time, and focus more on athlete safety and longevity.

    • Well said, Mark. I completely agree that there’s a lot of great stuff to learn from the Crossfit philosophy, but that more focus could be given to recovery and longevity. And, like you said, all of the CrossFit affiliates are different – some do this better than others.

  3. Hmm 12 minute sister. Calling your bro out on the Internet ( smiles ). You are pretty good at that crossfit stuff. When are you going to do a Cyclocross race with me!

    Or maybe a dunk contest?

    • Haha. Hi bro 🙂

      Maybe my first Cyclocross race should be with you on a unicycle, I feel like it would be more fair that way 🙂

      And a dunk contest… I will do that! And I will lose.

  4. Have just found your blog and i like it very much. I have recently started crossfit and i like it very much. However, the soreness is starting to get to me, we have worked our shoulders every day for 5 days and am starting to move like an old woman. This hiit souns very interesting. Thank you.

  5. Reasons why I love this post:
    1. Your honesty.
    2. Your perspective.
    3. Your honesty. 🙂

    Especially your honest assessment about how boxed out the female physique becomes. Is this shallow? Eh. I don’t think so. Curves are a good thing, and I like mine.

    Keep on keepin’ on!!

  6. I love the honesty and making it clear these are your perspective regarding Crossfit. I left Crossfit as well. My first box had a coach who believed he was god’s gift to women. When I realized I could easily look up a variety of workouts on line and not having to pay $150. a month to watch a coach while he was sexting, the decision to exercise at home became easy. Searching for more workout led me to your blog. With enough motivation, I too, believe a great workout does not have to be lengthy and ‘heavy.’

  7. Krista, I am a girl and had all the same issues with CrossFit as you did. I was always sore after workouts, especially the ones that involved heavy lifting. I never had desire to excel at Oly lifting for time, so I joined a Barbell Club to focus on my form. I got fairly good at snatching and cleaning the bar, but noticed how my body started changing: my quads and my glutes got bigger. I have always been a naturally slim and trim woman, so bulking up was not an option (although the CF myth tells us that women don’t bulk up. We do, but some of us embrace it. It is a personal choice, and I admire women who look CrossFIT.) So I quit Oly lifting and went back to doing CF WODs (avoiding the ones that called for high rep Oly lifts – recipe for injury.)

    What triggered my decision to quit was the pain in my arms after performing a WOD that included 100 pull-ups and 150 push-ups. I was trying to keep up with men who knocked out 20 pull-ups in one set while I was kipping 1/2 the time and using the band 1/2 the time. I could not lift my arms above parallel a week thereafter. Putting on a shirt became tricky.

    And then someone I knew got a mild case of rhabdo from muscle strain (he is fine now.) And I realized how easy it is to go overboard doing exercises while the whole gym urges you on and demands “just another rep.” Personal responsibility no longer factors in, and pain signals are drowned out by the collective pressure to perform. You ignore your own body because the authority, the coach, is right there, watching the WOD.
    In CF you are supposed to receive personal attention, but it is not to be confused with personal training. When i was WODing alongside 20 other members, 1 coach was “directing” the class and did not pay attention to us individually. CF IMHO is not worth it for $200 a month when the same WODs are given to 170 lbs men and 110 lbs women. The concept of scaling does not apply to body weight exercises, and even scaled Oly lifting movements performed with bad form are dangerous in more ways than injury potential.

  8. As a former track athlete I what it means to train hard but these Crossfit women take training to a whole new level. They are awesome! Every time I see a competition on tv and the strength that these women have, I’m just blown away. I am sure that they too experienced the kind of soreness you mentioned, but they stuck with it. Everyone has to know their limits and what workouts are best for them. Crossfit isn’t for everyone but the important thing is actually working out and being consistent.


  9. I just found this blog post when I googled about how CrossFit women look like men. I am concerned about the popularity of CrossFit in my country (Dominican Republic), and some female friends of mine, mostly models, undergoing the risk of turn their model bodies into MEN bodies!!!!… I love how you just cut to the chase on this subject, and show the pros an cons. By the way I LOVE YOUR BLOG!! and your 12 min workouts / dont waste your life in a gym philosohy!!! 😀 keep up the GREAT work!!

  10. I am so confused!!! I started Crossfit and Paleo eating about 6 months ago and love the results. The box I am a member of even used my before and after pictures to promote their facility…. But I scale down all of the weights for each WOD, I never Rx, not once… Now I am being told everyday that I need to add more weight to the bar and it is getting old fast!!!! I do not want to look like some of the other women at my box who are getting bigger looking and some have muscles men would envy by lifting heavier weights. I look like a woman and would like to stay that way and enjoy the CF community and workouts but I don’t want to be told every day to go heavier!!! And why scold me now after posting my pictures when I got these results by not Rxing??? Why didn’t you post the other women’s pictures if I am not doing it properly? Then I hear “Don’t you want to get stronger?” Well, a couple of weeks ago we had to hold our handstand for as long as possible and I beat everyone in my group, both men and women. These folks have been doing CF for over a year…. Ok I am beginning to ramble… Sorry. But I am ready to quit and I don’t know if I am over reacting…

    • Thanks for your post! It sounds like you really enjoy crossfit and like the changes in your body, so do what feels good to you. Just because ” they” are encouraging to use heavier weights doesn’t mean you have to do it. It is your body, your decision, your life ;-). I also do crossfit, 1 1/2 years now, but only twice a week. I also do yoga and bootcamps and some aerial stuff. One very nice cf coach once tried to encourage me to clean 100 lbs and , yes, I have the strength,, but didn’t feel comfortable to go from 88 to 100. There is a very competitive culture in cf and many people get injured! It’s very important to listen to your body and intuition! Don’t quit, just do your own pace! Have fun and enjoy!

    • Great comment. I totally get this at my box. “You’re stronger!!!! Add more weight!!!” I suffer from sciatica and radiculopathy, so my lower back is tender ALL THE TIME. Shari, my advice is do not give IN or UP on CF. Know your limits and what your goals are. I, too, want to continue to look and feel feminine in my clothes. People can look at me and tell I “workout” but no one asks me if I’m on Roids!!!! I’m not interested on Rx’ing either. And if it really starts to get to you, remind your coach that you pay them…not the other way around!!!!

  11. I’m glad I read your blog. I too tried Crossfit for 3 months. I’m 55 years old, but beat many of the young members when running was involved. I would get so sore after every class, and I have always worked out. I also lost a lot of definition in my back and shoulders. I actually thought it was my age, but now I see that other woman feel the same. ( I am in great shape, especially for my age.) I can spot a Crossfit guy on any given day, but the average crossfit gal never seems to really get a nice shape. I don’t mean thin. I hate that. I just mean a nice healthy and evenly balanced shoulder, hip, and thigh ratio. Thanks again for the blog.

    • No, I see her point.

      If your workouts have you feeling constantly sore or too tired to do anything else with your day then it’s time to try another workout regimen because the whole point of working out is to improve your lifestyle & feeling constantly sore or too tired to do anything else is the opposite of that.

  12. Great post! I have been interested in trying crossfit because I would like to build some muscle but I have heard a lot of negative things about how the lack of focus on form and extreme workouts can cause serious injury. Thanks for posting your view— it kind of gave me a like at both sides of cross fit.

  13. Thanks for this post. I am 2 weeks shy of completing 1 committed year of CrossFit, and I hate my body more than ever! Like you, I have broad shoulders and a broad back. Now? I look like a sumo wrestler or football player. I decided to take a hiatus from CrossFit and get back into running which I’ve always enjoyed and kept me looking and feeling lean (leaner than what CF has).

  14. You for got to add: TOO EXPENSIVE. I paid about $200/month! I did crossfit for 3.5 years and was getting really good at it. I lost body fat but gained huge shoulders & back. I couldn’t fit into my shirts! Because I would get intense during WODS, I often got sore and had about 4 injuries requiring treatment. There were months I couldn’t even bend over to put my socks on or tie my shoes. In the end I just decided to quit this expensive torture and give me body a chance to look feminine again and feel normal again. Crossfit is not for everyone, and that’s okay. As long as your workout give you the results you want/need, then it’s all good!

    • Did you succeed in reducing your shoulders and traps? I am now in that stage and reallg would apprexiate some help with slimming down advice?

      • I’m SLOWLY losing the extra bulk – traps, back, shoulders, quads…by doing NOTHING but cardio (running, walking, dance, elliptical). Havent lifted anything over my head in 6 months.

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  16. Thanks for this. I’m a month shy of completing my first year and think I may want to quit also. I love the community and find it super fun, but I just don’t like the way it’s developing my body. It’s not a feminine physique in my opinion. My goal when starting was to lose a dress size and 10lbs, but a year later I am 10lbs heavier and roughly the same size. I do feel firmer and stronger, but by no means leaner. I’ve never been a dieter and I feel like if I’m spending close to 9 hours a week on exercise between crossfit, yoga and jogging I should pretty much be able to eat what I want in modest portions… However I feel like I need to diet more than ever before. I feel puffy and bloated, and the only way to alleviate that is to restrict carbs from what I understand. Also just my personal makeup- I’m someone who’s butt & thigh is not exactly in proportion with my waist measurement making it tough to get any of my pants to last a year without ripping. Squatting 150lbs is not helping me in that department.

    • Thank you so much for posting your experience! We have a lot in common, it seems. I joined CrossFit in November 2013 to drop 10 pounds of body fat. I’m 5’9″ and weighed around 165 when I joined, a solid size 8. After 8 months of CrossFit, I can’t squeeze into 10s. I weigh 176-7. I’ve gained 2 inches on my thighs, 1.5 on my biceps, 1 on my calves. My waist measurement has stayed the same, and by BF% is roughly the same or maybe a little lower (depending on the method: BEI pegs me at 25, bodpod at 24). I noticed about two months ago that every part of my body was bloated, especially my thighs, knees, and hands. The cellulite on the fronts of my legs was OUT OF CONTROL, far worse than it ever was when I worked out at the globo gym. I wasn’t eating crazy amounts of food, either. The sense at our box was that you feed the body when it’s hungry. I didn’t go full paleo, but I did limit carbs to one serving and then usually a sweet potato. This very same diet in the past has led to weight loss, but I just kept getting bigger.

      I think the most irritating thing right now is that my quads are so developed that not a single thing fits. Since I’m already bottom heavy (40 inch hips, 36 chest), this is not a flattering look on me. I quit CF when I mentioned now much I hated that my thighs have gotten bigger and was called out for buying into the mainstream skinny ideal. Um, I’m not skinny. I just want my pants to fit. And I get so very sick of people telling me it’s because I eat too much, because women can’t get bulky. I did.

      • wow, this is really interesting. I too am very bloated – my hands have been swollen for 12 months now and I can’t get on any rings, some of which used to fly off when my hands were cool. I don’t subscribe to the paleo/low carb diet anymore but I did for a good 10 months – which i thought was the reason for all my water retention and inflammation. I’m wondering now if it is the actual weight training… have you noticed a decrease in the bloat since cutting back?

        • Yes! Leigh, I’ve been away from CF for just over a month now, and I’ve lost five scale pounds that I know must have been water weight. My fluid retention was so bad that I could *see* it, pockets of fluid on the insides of my thighs and across the top of my stomach, above my belly button. For the record, even when I was 50 pounds heavier, my stomach was the last place I gained any size. The deciding factor for me was when my hands and feet both swelled up and turned hot and itchy, just randomly on a Saturday. (I hadn’t eaten or drunk anything out of the ordinary, so I don’t think it was an allergic reaction.) My body is back to what I would consider normal now, and my blood pressure has dropped back into normal range. (All that fluid must have been making it high.) It took about three weeks of LOTS of water. I only did light recovery-style exercises for the first week after CF. Lots of walking, some BW squatting, planking, stretching.

          I think CF can be great for lots of people, but it didn’t fit my specific chemical makeup. I’m still working out, lifting heavy 2-3 days/week and doing cardio 2-3 days/week. I don’t have any of the inflammation problems that I had when I was CFing, and my periods are even easier. Good luck!

      • I agree. I’m definitely bulkier after CrossFit a year. My traps are out of control ab I’m quitting today especially after reading this. Does anyone do the 12 min workout that’s this article is promoting)

    • Thank you for posting this. I also tried CrossFit. There were a few things I noticed. First, most of the women were bulky and did not have feminine, enviable physiques. Not saying that the whole point of exercise is to look good, but if we are all honest with ourselves, we all want to look fit and sexy! The girls had massive, muscular thighs, big arms… And since we women carry fat no matter what we do, it was almost like they just put muscle under their fat, and they just ended up looking bulky. You will hear instructor after instructor reassuring you that we won’t get bulky as a woman. I have found that to be true. And those who do not get bulky definitely don’t seem to actually lose any fat or become smaller. Another thing I noticed was that there was too much damn rest in the class. The class did take an hour, but we were probably only actually physically active for about 15 to 20 minutes of that time. We would have intervals of one minute of work, then a minute of rest, then a minute of comparing our records with one another, then a minute of instruction for the next exercise. It just seemed like an awful lot of standing around. If I’m going to work out, I want to work out. I don’t want to just sit around and wait while my heart rate gets back down to baseline. Just looking at all the rest and the format of the whole workout, it’s no wonder CrossFit isn’t really a great way to lean out. Although I enjoyed CrossFit, I am starting to think that is a little overrated. If you’re looking for something fun that will make you strong, go for it. But if you are a woman who wants to be thin and lean and have decent cardiovascular fitness, it’s not the best thing in the world.

  17. Loved your article! My husband does crossfit and he looks amazing now. In fact, he looks so much better than when we got married and he just turned 40! I tried it after he wouldn’t stop raving about it. I’ve always been in shape and in fact was a competitive gymnast for over 10 years. Within 3 weeks I was so injured it wasn’t even funny. Due to my years in gymnastics I suffer the inevitable consequence of arthritis in many areas of my body and weakened joints from countless sprains and strains as a result of the sport. I slipped a disc in my neck while doing crossfit and was laid up for close to a MONTH! While at the gym however, I did notice that the women looked like men, IMO, and I would get scolded for scaling down my weight because I had no desire to look like a man. Needless to say, my doctor and chiro told me to stop crossfitting immediately and go back to my regular cardio, yoga, and sensible weights that had kept me lean for all the years prior. I’m not putting down crossfit by any means. After all, it has given me some great eye candy in my husbands appearance, but I have always thought it wasn’t the best for women. Maybe if they came out with an option for “lean” muscle workouts instead of a one size fits all routine?

    • After reading this I have decided to walk away from crossfit. I have been doing it for a year now and I have gained weight and to me my thighs look bigger. I kept telling my trainer I didnt want to be bigger and he kept saying you look fine. I knew I didnt because my clothes where tighter. Thanks for the information.

  18. Oh my goodness, thank you for this post and all the replies. I have been freaking out for months because my weight has been going up with my cross fit classes (not quite a year yet). I can see more muscle and am more defined, but my clothes doesn’t fit well anymore because I am increasing in muscles where, yes, I never had them before, but it’s not helping me feel feminine!

    I kept searching and searching for information on-line and thinking maybe I’m crazy and just doing something wrong, because everyone and everything I found said you will not gain weight or bulk up, just tone up. So, reading what everyone says here makes me feel sane again!!!

    I have always been fit as a long-distance runner, and lean. I just wanted to be more toned. I didn’t think I could get larger, but I have been, and it’s making me crazy. Watching the scale go up when I should feel fitter but can’t fit my clothes makes me wonder what I am doing wrong! I have always been a healthful eater, but like others, I have never had to really think about what I eat – until now with the Paleo approach. Other than this new clean diet and working out with cf, there is no other explanation for why my dresses are tight in the rib cage area!

    I agree – too much cf can cause a female body to start, well, losing those curves. I feel so much better after finding these posts, so, THANK YOU. I am not going crazy – even if I can lift more, if I don’t feel feminine, it’s not what’s right for me. Everyone has a different idea of what makes them feel good, and I like to fit my clothes, not have to buy new clothes in larger sizes.

    • I have been having the same problem. I thought it was me I was bugging out. I love being strong but I can not deal with being larger. I am so glad u am not the only one

  19. Yes! Thank you! Everyone out there says “Women should lift heavy weights, you won’t get bulky. It’s genetically impossible to get bulky.” Guess what: I got bulky! My clothes didn’t fit in the shoulders and legs and I didn’t like the way I looked. I now do yoga, dance, tennis, walking, some running and some strength training but mainly with body weight or light weights. For me, the type of body I want is more dependent on the foods I eat (I eat primal) than exercise.

  20. Thank you for sharing this. Everyone told me I wouldn’t, couldn’t, bulk with Cross Fit. I’m here to tell you I was positively huge after six months. Genetics maybe? I don’t know, but I quit and I feel like a quitter, but I just couldn’t handle hating my body. I’m now in recovery mode: losing bulk and trying to slim down while keeping strength. Thanks for your website! It is such an encouragement!

  21. I am at this point right now!I started crossfit eight months ago with ten pounds to lose and have gained at least that and maybe more.I am finding it very difficult to get clothes to fit ,and really only feel comfortable in gym clothes at the minute.Any time I mentioned to the coaches I was struggling to reduce my weight or maybe gaining I got told I wasn’t training hard enough ,eating properly ,I wouldn’t be able to ‘bulk up ‘as a female and that when I got stronger the fat would drop off me !So i persevered .I am so happy to read this post because now I know I’m not imagining it!I think that the workouts also stressed me in a way that made me more prone to weight gain ,because honestly my diet was no worse than ever before!

    I am struggling now and would really like to know how long it took anyone to lane out again ,and what type of diet ,workout routine they followed?

    • So I’m on month three (or so?) after leaving CF. In the first month after I stopped, I lost a bunch of water weight. My knees still looked swollen, though, and my body still looked flabbier than when I started CF. I was still 1.5-2 sizes larger than when I started. In the second month out of CF, I counted calories (which I HATE doing), and following my TDEE, tracked at around 1300/day. I’d get 200 or so more on exercise days. I was following IIFYM, so I would eat carbs if I had the calories for them. I wasn’t refeeding. I tracked everything. For exercise, I was running at a moderate pace a few days a week and doing some light weight exercises like squats and lunges, some core work. I didn’t lose a single pound in four weeks. In fact, my weight would shoot up 3-4 pounds and then drop back down. But no actual loss. My energy was LOW. I went to the doctor for bloodwork, and everything seemed normal except my blood pressure, which was high. I’ve always had low BP, but the doctor said that the high BP could be because my body was still repairing itself and retaining water. She also noted that I could have high levels of cortisol, but I didn’t do a hormone test.

      In this last month, I’ve adjusted my diet (high protein, very limited simple carbs), stopped counting calories, and dropped 11 pounds. At last, my clothes that fit LAST summer, pre-CF are starting to fit again! For exercise, I’m lifting (low rep, high weight) twice a week and cardio (spin mostly) twice a week. That’s it. I’m in the gym maybe 4 hours a week. My friend who is still going to my old CF box is always sore, so sore that she can’t do much of anything else and she ends up sitting on the couch and snacking, so her weight is staying the same. She says that the WODs are so intense that she sees stars.

      I’ve come to learn that, for my body, intensity does NOT equal a productive workout. But it’s taken me about three months to get my body back to a place where it responds to nutrition and training in predictable ways. I have to say, CF really did a number on me. It sounds like other people have the same experience.

        • I Have been doing Crossfit since the summer of 4th grade.and i am now in 10th and FINALLY getting competitive! I love that my body is noticeably muscular its one of the best parts, feeling strong, i love being sore for the satisfaction that i did something and ill become stronger from it! My coach is a games athlete and the fittest man goes too my gym. I have amazing coaching and community and if you really did enjoy crossfit as much as you said then, you would love too show how strong you look.

          • Moriah, we’re glad you’ve found something that you really enjoy doing. There’s something for everyone, but what works for some doesn’t always work for others.

  22. I started CrossFit 30 pounds lighter than I am now. Yes 30. I was a former competitive swimmer and long-distance runner so I was always very lean. I was reassured by the coaches at my box that I would not get “bulky” and that it was all a myth. Well I’ve gone up 2 clothing sizes and can hardly fit into any of my clothes. I eat a very clean diet and carry more muscle than fat but my composition is hardly favorable to me right now. I currently crossfit 5-6x a week and still swim a few times a week but right now I am looking at easing up on the weights as I would definitely appreciate a less bulky look.

    • I can relate! I started CF a year ago at a size 6, 145 pounds. I now weigh 160 and am a size 10. I didn’t change my diet either. Nothing fits right!

      I am trying to lean up as well by lighting my weight load. However, it’s very hard when you have coaches calling you out and saying you can lift more. Then when you tell them you are purposely lifting less so you won’t bulk up, you get the same old line, “that’s a myth, you won’t…” Then there are the girls around you who think you are “cheating” a WOD by lifting less when they also know you can go heavier. How do you tell those women, “sorry, but I don’t want to look like, well…you!” Lol

      Sad to say, but I think it’s time to give up CrossFit. I just don’t get the same “high” from it that I once felt. 🙁

    • OMG! Me too! After 18 months I have gained 30 lbs, my stomach sticks out, my calves are huge as are my thighs and my arms and traps… Forget about it! I found this typing in “crossfit and getting fat!” I thought it was because I’m 50 and maybe my hormones are going haywire but I’m always sore and feel inflamed. What’s even worse is I’m a CFL1! I really either want to quit or just do body weight for the wods even though I love the challenge of Olympic lifting! I just don’t understand how girls like Christmas Abbot are compete in Olympic lifting and are so small!

  23. Very modest approach in your writing on this subject. Excellent presentation of your blog too.

    As a Personal Trainer I train a variety of Women aged 16-83 and all of them have the same concern of not wanting to “look like a man”. Heavy Weight + High Volume = Big Muscles. Many women here seem to be surprised by this repercussion of crossfit training methods…it startles me. I don’t want to accuse anyone of being dishonest but we have to look at this objectively and try to understand where this misconception comes from as to why women are being told that they wont get bulky, when clearly lifting heavy weights, performing olympic lifts and generally training like Advanced Athletes train will certainly make you look like an Amazon!

    My advice to any women looking to scale down their physique post cross fit.
    1.Lighten the weights and keep your workouts short, to around 30-45 min.
    2. Stretch and warm up at least 5 min.
    3. Try a Body Part Split instead of WODs.
    4. Try Dumbbell Circuits.
    5. Eat enough calories. Never go under 1200 k/cal.
    6. Do try Yoga and Pilates
    7. Limit your Cardio sessions to 1-2x a week if you want to keep your boobs and butts. (keep it short)

    All exercise, when done correctly IS FUNCTIONAL. So don’t let anyone poison the well by telling you only a certain type of exercise program or class is functional training.

  24. Despite my gender I don’t like getting bulky and all muscled up since I do long distance running and kayaking. I simply don’t want to carry another 5-10 kg of muscle around a marathon or long distance trail run. But I do like the intensity and feel of the crossfit workouts. Sore? Yes, occasionally which comes from changing exercises and hitting your muscles in new ways. Knowing yourself and scaling is key, don’t let everyone else’s ego get to you. You can train on and enjoy your days when they are all injured and busted up! Having passed 40 I do crossfit endurance, which is less heavy lifting, less technical and more cardio – but still gives me the crossfit feel and fantastic physical results. With a demanding job, a family of four and far too many hobbies and other interests 😉 the less go-go-go-way suits me better. I simply want to enjoy all the workouts that I do manage to fit it, instead of “punishing” myself for not hitting a 120 pct. everytime. Less macho? It takes a real man (or woman) to live a healthy and balanced life!

  25. OMG FINALLY!!!!!! I’ve been googling “too bulky from crossfit” and all I ever find is the same old line “No you WONT get bulky, that’s a myth!” Ugh. I’ve been crossfitting for 4 years. After year 2, I was thrilled with my body. I had lost about 15 pounds and I was trim and toned. 2 years later I HATE how I look. My thighs are huge, I don’t look feminine in shirts anymore… I’m very solid and toned, but overall I look heavy!!! Tried my first Bikram yoga class today- I’m going to try this for a month to try and lean out. Thank you, thank you for posting.

  26. I replied below about stopping because of bulkiness, but I want to say that I LOVED crossfit. Loved the people, loved the wods, loved the high, loved the way I felt after a workout. If there were alternate wods that were only running/rowing/jumping/pushing/burpees/pullups/situps/toes2bar/light kb, I’d probably do Crossfit for the rest of my life.

    • I am so glad I found this blog. I have been so frustrated about my size and weight 3 years into crossfit. When I approached the coach about it he basically told me that I was delusional and if I wanted to modify my workouts then I should not workout with the other ladies at it would “cause confusion!?!” So much for crossfit not coming across like a cult. It seems like everyone has drank the koolaid and put aware the scales and mirrors. I loved crossfit and I have always been in athletics and have an athletic build ( which is fine) but I could not stand being that big anymore. i am in the process of leaning out again. Running / rowing everyday. I hate to loose muscle but I just dont know how to do this.

      • Hey Meredith- I so feel you. I’ve been doing cardio on the elliptical at the Y every day, 30 minutes, NO INCLINE, but intensely so I’m sweating. Then I do 10 rds of 10 situps, 10 squats, 10 pushups. Then I REALLY stretch. especially the quads. After a week and a half, I’m already feeling smaller. I’m sure running would do the same thing.

        I havent been to my old box in like a year, but when I see pics of the girls on FB they’re all HUGE. Tried on a shirt today that used to be my favorite but a year ago made me look massive: it fits right again because after a year of not lifting heavy, my traps have shrunk down.

        I think there are genetically thin women who this will never happen to, but for those of us with an athletic build, it’s inevitable. And I agree, a shame that you’re “Looked down on” if you chose to scale.

  27. OK YES! This is the blog post I’ve been looking for. THANK YOU!

    I’ve been doing Crossfit for just over a year and had to stop last month because I’ve become very self conscious about my body–in particular, the broadness of my shoulders, neck, and back. I feel like the manliest woman of all time! Ugh. This was a tough decision for me, because I loved the workouts, the people, and the coaches.

    I’ve always been a long distance runner. I kept that up while I was CFing, but my runs were slow and sore. Always. Since I’ve stopped, I’m cruising at much faster speeds and am able to run distances comparable to what I was running pre-CF. Very happy about that!

    I’ve leaned down a bit in the last month, but would like to get my body back to a pre-CF look. Healthily, of course. Does anyone have any recommendations or suggestions? I’m currently running 45-60 minutes each day and doing some very light weight training 1-2 days per week. What else might help? Yoga? More cardio?

    • Hey Robin- I’ve been doing a lot of research and here are some tips I found (that seem to be working).
      – Work out on an empty stomach in the morning if possible
      – Despite our conditioning to eat protein all day everyday, back off a bit and eat fewer meals, spaced wider apart.
      – cutting back on calories obviously will help yo lean out faster
      – more cardio, yes- but longer and moderate intensity (think long distance run vs. sprints)
      _ stretch!! Especially your quads, arms, shoulders after your workout.

      I havent lifted anything overhead for like 2 months and I’m finally losing my overdeveloped traps and back… I’d like to get back to lifting eventually, but much lighter weight.

      Good luck!

    • Hey there, not sure if you will read this but I have been where you are at at the moment. The very best way to muscle atrophy, which is what you need to do, is to stop working out entirely for around a month to six weeks. There are no exercises that will make your muscles smaller, because every form of exercise bar yin yoga or stretching will build some muscle and all the places you have too much muscle in now will be the first to gain, because of muscle memory. You could try power walking for an hour to 1.5 hours at a time because long steady state cardio does burn muscle, plus yin yoga to try and stretch out those short tight muscles. Perhaps also try a few days of juicing per week to lose further muscle. When you have leaned down a bit, you can start your normal routine of running, flow or power yoga ( NOT too much chaturunga, this will just build your shoulders up again). I lost all my muscle I didn’t want but have to be constantly vigilant, even too much yoga, unweighted squats or aerobics and my thighs come back. I have also had a lot of success with the Tracey Anderson method. Running doesn’t get me big but too make makes my arse huge!

      • I have stopped working out as well, and well the rule was true- use it or lose it. With my sedentery life and diet i pretty much lost my size, but i was all squishy if i may say it like that but its constant struggle, since everything seems to bulk me back up did some mat exercise for bum and back ( since i developped that classic turtle bodybulder back) but that was clearly a mistake Cause now i look like an unexperienced kid bodybulder- skinny legs, large upper body- especially traps and lats. I had the same shoukder hip measures and now they are dusproportionally huge, that my jacket dont fit eveb though i am a lot skinnier than before. How can i lose it? Any advice? I am doing some leg exercise to even out but that is bringing me to my cf shape and since bf percentage is higher than before it looks even worse. I am skinny though, 55 kg, 172 and really confused.

        • The leanest girls I know do yoga and go running for 45 minutes, 4-5 times per week. And for weights, only use 3-5 lbs free weights for their arms. Have you ever thought of doing that to slim down?

          • I haven’t lifted any for couple of months, but still struggle with upper body hulk look. I am losing hope that is even possible to return to my previous shape. I can slim down my legs easily, but for upper body its harder i guess. Any advice would be very well appreciated 🙂

    • Hey,
      I’m in the same pridicament you are in. I want to quit crossfit, but I don’t want to turn to flab. I just want a smaller version of myself. How has your workouts changed since you quit crossfit? Are you happy with your results?

    • Hi Robin!
      I was wondering if you had any success in reducing your upper body mass.I still struggle with neck, traps and shoulder mass. I reduced my legs with jogging but I only look worse actually since my upper body did not shrink, so I look like a bodynbuilder. skinny legs big upper body. Do you have any advice? Much appreciated.

  28. Good post and some great comments! My story: I am 37 yrs old, 2.5 years in at CF, the transformation has been really cool and I love my body and how strong I am. I did reach a crossroad after 1.5 yrs where my coach sat me down and asked me about my goals at that point. Did I want to geek out on the lifting and really get into it (he identified risks involved with the changes I would see RE: getting bigger, less-defined etc), or did I want to maintain what I have and focus just on being the fittest version of myself with good diet and reasonable exercise? I chose the latter and though I can do the RX weight for most WODs, I often scale it down slightly, and I don’t go crazy with the lifting. Still do the olympic lifting classes, but its more because I love learning the proper technique and form and hanging out with my friends, not to nail a huge PR. Diet is crucial for me in controlling how I look – I am not paleo, but I really pay attention to what I am eating and notices that even a couple of days of eating well or eating poorly shows on my body and how defined I look. I’m truly surprised to hear that people are “scolded” at their gyms for not going heavier – it would never ever happen at our box, unless someone wanted to be encouraged in this way. Everyone does what works for them and it falls in line with their particular goals. All this to say I see now more than ever the value of a good coach who will work with you 1:1 on your goals and help steer you in that direction. This is what we pay for at CF! I fully agree that if you are working as hard as most of us do at the box, then you should absolutely be happy with the results you are getting – it’s definitely not for everybody!

  29. Very interesting post, I found this while looking for info on what is normal body weight for athletes in crossfit, I am very petite 52kg (114lb) and extremely lean, I find that I’m naturally good at most gymnastics work because I’m light, but I’m actually quite stong aswell compared to my size, I’m convinced genetics have a lot to do with if you will bulk out or not, I would love to bulk up and gain muscle and look stronger but I’m making very slow progress with body weight and still look very skinny, in some lifts I lift as much as some girls who are a stone heavier and have done crossfit far longer and train more than my x2 -3 a week! Hopefully in my second year I will see more weight go on!! Maybe I’m doing too much Metcon wods and cardio which keeps me thin? Since many of you girls seem to have bulked out, has anyone any advice on how to put on weight?

    • Sharon, I’m in a very similar position. I’ve been Crossfitting for about 1 1/2 years now. I’m 5’5″ and 113#, so am very petite (naturally), and my weight literally HAS NOT CHANGED in the entire time I’ve been training. However, my body composition has. I came into CF as a former gymnast and recreational runner (I’m not genetically “meant” to be a runner, if you know what I mean!) with decent cardio/aerobic capacity, but lacking good muscle mass. Most runners have that problem. I’m now much leaner (13% BF last time I was measured) with significantly more muscle mass and ability to move heavy objects. Yes, that translates to everyday tasks as well – half the point of Crossfit. Granted, my max lifts compared to the others at my box seem pretty low. But if you take into account my size, I lift as much as my 200# male coach does – which blows my mind! Remember that it’s all relative. I know I will never win a competition WOD that involves 1RM lifts because of my size, but I can kill on the handstand walks and pistols… it’s all about knowing your strengths and weaknesses, and knowing what’s “real life” possible. Also keep in mind nutrition (no, not necessarily Paleo) – protein is important for lean muscle mass and for recovery, and the right kinds of fats and carbs are important for your “engine”, or metcon ability.

  30. Thank you for sharing this!!! I’ve been doing Crossfit for three years now, and I’m feeling a little bit disillusioned. When I first started Crossfitting, I was 5″3, 125#s and wore a size 4/6 in pants. Before Crossfit, I rode my bike and ran a lot and that kept me pretty trim. Despite this, I decided that I wanted to get strong, and signed up for a Crossfit program.

    And although I’m definitely stronger (I can clean over 100#s, deadlift over 250#), I look like a LINEBACKER. I’m the biggest I’ve ever been in my life — almost 140#, which does not look great on such a short frame like mine. My traps and arms are huge, but not defined, giving me a bulky, hunched-over gorilla look. My thighs and butt are even BIGGER — I have to wear a size 8/10 in pants now, but while they’re tight in the thighs and butt, they’re so loose in the waist area that it looks like I have an air bubble in my crotch area!!! Nothing fits right, and I don’t look feminine at all — just bloated and heavy.

    There’s not a whole lot of posts like this out there for women — it’s all Crossfit dudes saying the same thing, that Crossfit doesn’t make you bulky, that it’s a myth, and that even if it does, why should you care because strong is beautiful, etc. But I’m here to tell you that is NOT true. Crossfit does make you bulky, and, although it makes you strong too, it’s mostly up to genetics as to whether you end up looking good or not. Like it or not, women face a lot of implicit and explicit pressure from society to be small and feminine, and Crossfit can’t just ignore that.

    Now, after 3 years, I’m officially throwing down the towel on Crossfit. I love the workouts and the intensity, but if I continue down this road any longer, pretty soon, folks are going to think I’m a dude. Any recommendations for post Crossfit workouts that will get me back to my original 125# frame?

    • M, I am exactly where you are at right now and have similar proportions. Almost have 4 years of Crossfit under my belt and and I have been completely frustrated and confused until reading all these comments. If I’ve got all this muscle and I’m all strong and can do all this fancy stuff and, most importantly, I eat well, shouldn’t I be lean too? Wth? I started CF to lose 10 pounds (gained b/c of medication which I had stopped before Crossfit) and to make some friends. I lost the pounds and was lean and fit for about 1 and half years. Then I started to blow up and am now 10 pounds over the 10 pounds I had lost! I gained muscle, yes, but also more fat despite getting stronger and doing more. My diet didn’t change – it was the same way of eating as when I lost 10 pounds!! I was told to eat more because of the muscle, I did – healthy stuff, and that didn’t go well either.

      Over the last year or so I’ve been back and forth with Crossfit, mostly b/c I love it, and the people and Coaches there. I was never pushed too hard but I guess I’m similar to Krista, I go in saying “I’ll take it easy and just have fun” and come out of there pushed to the limit by me, myself and I. I never needed to be pushed, trust me.

      A light bulb went off when I started reading these comments. I’ve read this post many times but b/c I was so brainwashed (about women getting bulky and other things) I didn’t put 2 and 2 together – or maybe didn’t want to. The body does crazy things when it is stressed out and inflamed. I used to do dumbbell circuits, body weight movements and running. If I was gaining weight I paid attention to my food and it was gone in a couple weeks, no worries. My body and I were friends. Now, I feel like I am so disconnected from my body. It doesn’t respond anymore to anything – even trying to get stronger.

      I’ve started doing my own thing and it’s not easy to change. I have been doing what I used to do before CF and it turns out, I’m looking forward to my workouts again, instead of just the people. I wasn’t enjoying Crossfit like I used to and it became difficult for me to go because I was so frustrated with my body. I won’t even get into the injuries I’ve had over the years which are totally my fault. I didn’t listen to my body, I listened to others and let their progress be my motivation. But now that I’m bulky and overweight – regardless of how strong I have become, it’s not worth it b/c I just don’t feel healthy. It’s hard to put down the barbell but that’s exactly what I’ll be doing for a while. I’ll be signing up for some races and doing some good old body weight and dumbbell circuits and using 12 minute athlete as a guide for some workouts. I hope this helps to give you a place to start. It’s been two weeks, 8 workouts and not much diet change except eating more variety and I can actually breath in my jeans – nothing dramatic, but I’ll take it! At the end of the day you have to not only enjoy what you do but also enjoy what it brings to your life.

      • Thank you all for saying the stuff that is taboo to say… I have been doing Crossfit for about a year and, while I have loved doing it and all the people at my box, I don’t like how my body is changing. I love being stronger, but I also am naturally broad in the shoulders, and now my clothing is starting not to fit. I just feel uncomfortable. I don’t think I’ve lost much fat, so, after a year and A LOT of effort, I’m basically the same size as I was before–not my intention at all. The workouts often wipe me out, and I can’t figure out how to eat appropriately for the activity level. I also think I’ve been inducing pretty regular inflammation in my body, because I feel bloated and puffy for a day or two after attending a class. Thanks for sharing all the insight! Time to move on.

      • C, I stopped Crossfitting shortly after writing this comment. In the 2ish months I’ve stopped, I immediately dropped around 7lbs and dropped a pants size without changing my diet. It turns out that I really was just swollen and bloated from Crossfit! Although I’m still bigger than I’ve been in the past, I definitely feel more feminine. Clothes are no longer too tight around the thighs/butt/upper-back area.

        As for exercise, I’ve just been riding my bike (10k total, 5k to work and another 5k back at a moderate pace), doing some lightweight calisthenics exercises (lots of core workouts) and rock climbing three days a week. Despite this scaling down on exercise, yesterday at the gym, I was surprised to find that I could still clean 95# repeatedly fairly easily… but without looking like a linebacker!!!

        Despite all this, it IS hard. I miss Crossfit a lot, and I do feel like my overall fitness/cardio levels have gone down. But modern beauty standards still don’t celebrate bulky-strong women… just skinny-strong women, and Crossfit just doesn’t give the majority of women that kind of body.

    • Exactly my reason for not doing CF as a full time workout. MIX IT UP!! Women who like sexy jeans should do HIITs. If you’re not getting results, get a trainer. Or- just be consistent!!

  31. Do you have any photos of your shape when you were doing crossfit and after? My wife has been doing it with me for nearly a year and is now struggling to get clothes even though she is stronger and in more athletic shape than before…plus loves Crossfit.

  32. I am so glad I found this article/website. Actually, I came across this post a few months ago when contemplating whether I wanted to continue with crossfit or not. Needless to say I’m finding myself in the same boat two months later. I started crossfit with my husband almost exactly one year ago with the hopes of building lean muscle and becoming more fit. When I started I was around 135 lbs. (I’m 5’6″) and now a year later weigh almost 148 lbs. But it’s not just the weight gain that has got me contemplating leaving crossfit.

    While I know I have more muscle mass and am definitely stronger than I was a year ago, I find I’m having the some of the same issues as stated in this article. I spend way too much time in the gym for the minimal results I’m getting, I’m constantly sore, I don’t feel like I look lean or feminine, and I generally feel my body is exhausted/inflamed. Don’t get me wrong, I really love crossfit and all of the people at my gym but I just don’t think it’s what is going to work for me long term.

  33. I just quit my box today after over a year and a half of Wall Balls, DU’s, HSPU’s, EMOM’s, AMRAP’s, METCONs, Chippers, Benchmark WODS, Hero WODS, Is this Paleo? and… ugh… I’m tired

    The BIGGEST problem with Crossfit that I never hear anybody really talk about is that the paradigm ITSELF does not distinguish between “Exercise” and “Training”. There is no periodization whatsoever. Training is meant to be temporary. Because human beings can and will break. But every time in the Box, we go 100% with heavy weight as fast as we can go. “Just scale”, “Take more Fish Oil”… yeah right.. that is not the Crossfit culture everyone tries to lie to themselves about. Almost none of us are ever going to the games. Come on, be honest now. Unless you can RX Elizabeth in under 3 minutes and do loads of unbroken muscle ups, you’re not going to the games. So why kill yourself everyday until you inevitably get injured!? Not smart.

    Secondly, you’re not sore, you’re injured. Almost everyone is. Shoulder Impingements, bad knees, bad backs, tennis elbows, torn rotator cuffs. Someone is always complaining about how their shoulder hurts or their knee or elbow hurts.. Always, every day. They are not the huge blow out injuries from Football games, they are slow, nagging and degenerative.

    “You just need to find a good box”… please refer to my first point.

    And the pullups… Christ on crutch with the kipping pullups! One of my fellow Crossfitters asked me once “How many kipping pullups equals a strict pullup?” I was like “ummmm. zero.”

    The reality of Crossfit:

    – You will get ripped
    – You will make tons of friends
    – You won’t go to the games
    – You’ll injure yourself
    – The intensity level is not sustainable long term.


    I’m going for a run.

    • So glad I always went with my knowledge and expertise and never signed up to do full time. I “dabble”. Everything you speak of is what I’ve known would come from over training.

  34. Thank you so much for posting this. I started Crossfit at 35 years old (as a marathon runner) three years ago at 5’3 weighing 115lbs. I now weigh 132 pounds and look like I can pick up a small car. I ditched crossfit and am back to training as a runner using weight training to supplement.

    • Lori-

      Have you gotten results? I’m in exact same boat here- it’s been two years crossfitting- I was always a runner and circuit trainer. I hate how I got so built and thick. I’m off crossfit two months since March and running with two days of circuit training(cardio with light weight). I’m finally feeling it but not getting smaller. Let me k ow how you are doing!

      • I too was wys afraid to lift weights thinking I wouls get bulky. I’ve been doing crossfit fpr 9 months straigjt and i’ve had the opposite effects. I’m 5’7. When I started I was 243 very broad back and shoulders (not in the muscular way just fat) and very large thighs (size 20) today I’m 207 lbs thighs are much smaller i’ve leaned out and my back and shoulders are not as wide. I literally ‘came in’. For years I suffered with shoulder and foot aches and now I don’t. This has been the only thing that works for me. This suer was the first time in 15 years I wore a swimsuit. I’m 34. I’m sad to hear so many of you had bad experiences. Maybe it’s the coaches, maybe you were pushed to hard. Not every box is a good box. I hope everyone here finds what they are lookimg for be it crossfit or not.

  35. So I think the issue with soreness from CrossFit is the fact that everybody has to complete the workout even when you start to slow down. It is when you can no longer perform the reps with speed when your muscle fibers begin to break down. You would be best to stop the exercise when you just start to slow down–at that point, you have stimulated your neuromuscular system for adaptation, but you will not have days of soreness after. CrossFit programming often results in inefficient, unnecessary muscle breakdown and rebuilding. Tell the coaches, you want to stop the workout at the point where you are slowing down, as a form of scaling (rather than scale the weight, scale the reps), but do not predetermine ahead of time. Some coaches will not like it because they have the attitude that you must be encouraged to complete the predetermined reps.

    • You know, I got the SAME thing…. it was basically bashing females with muscle. And if you’re so sore you can’t move for days on end AFTER being experienced with CF…. then something is wrong. If anyone can explain to me why you need to RUSH / do speed work with an olympic bar…..???

  36. I know every one has preferences, but all I got from the comments is a lot of negative criticism about being a muscular woman or “bulky”. Women come in all shape and sizes, if some one works hard and has the musculature to show I don’t see why they should get bashed just because it’s not society sandards. Other wise its a good article and good insight.

    • No one is bashing muscular women. The negativity is directed at ourselves and how “we” want ourselves to look. Girls/women who like muscle mass and want to look as strong as they feel – more power to them. Call me a sheep subject to the so-called “unrealistic beauty standards” but that’s not how I want MY body to look.

  37. This article is exactly what I was looking for – I can relate! I loved Crossfit – really did! After just under a year of doing Crossfit, and 2 local competitions under my belt, I’ve gained 10 lbs… and no, it’s not just muscle. It’s a combination of muscle and fat. My body comp is different, but I wasn’t getting the leaner look I had hoped for.

    I’m not new to working out and have reverted to bodybuilding-style workouts – i.e. body-part split workouts. I will be adding more cardio soon.

    But really, this wasn’t the trigger for me leaving. It was the community. I had a great group that I swore were my friends. Something happened at the box: I went to do some post-WOD squats and got told that it’s not a free gym and I only pay for the hour of CF class. That peeved me so I chatted with the head coach. I got told that the gym isn’t a free for all gym and that if I was peeved I can leave :/ Weird, crappy, but ok, I did (merely because of how it was handled and how I was spoken to).

    After not going for a couple weeks, I realised NONE of my “friends” really checked up on me – so disappointing and really got me sad.

    I still have some “crossfit-like” workouts (tabata style workouts, for example) on cardio days, but I don’t think I’d rejoin a box.

    • How funny. My CF “friends” also stopped talking to me after I left CF and went back to the Devil Globo Gym (which I love and where I’ve lost 10 pounds and leaned out). I was a fierce defender of CrossFit, even after I quit, but now I’m seeing just how deep the “programming” really goes.

        • Hi Suzan! I just saw this reply. Sorry!

          It’s been a journey for me, for sure. I dropped the first 10 pounds by, first, taking about a week or so off of all exercise. I just focused on drinking a LOT of water, eating fresh foods, stretching, and walking. CF left me feeling very inflamed, bloated, swollen, sore, and tired. It took about three months of light exercise (moving from walking to short jogs, jump roping, some body weight work like squats, but never to failure) to see the really see a change. But I can say that in the two months after quitting I got rid of a TON of water weight, way more than is normal for me. After I had gotten to a place where I felt happy and more comfortable, I started regularly going to spin classes, running (not intensely, just at a conversational pace), and moving back into weighted exercises. I still lift weights, but I use a pyramid (12/10/8/6 reps with increasing weight) and I lift ONLY 2-3 days a week. It’s never to the point where I feel sick or totally exhausted (like it was with CF). I try to leave a bit in the tank. Since I’m not beating myself up 4 days a week, I have the interest and energy to do more recreational activities, like long walks in the sun and ice hockey, riding my bike, and trail runs.

          I didn’t have the energy for ANY of these activities last summer, so I’m glad to feel like I’m getting back to my old self.

          I still don’t yet fit into my old shorts, and that makes me unhappy. I still have one inch of thigh muscle that wasn’t there pre-CF. It’s muscle, so that’s good, but I’m bummed that my favorite summertime clothes still don’t fit the way they used to and that I still have more front-of-the-leg cellulite than I had pre-CF. I’ve started running more and more often, because I know that running (not intensely, and not necessarily HIIT) leans me out. I can run consistently for a month and look leaner.

          I hope some of this info helps! Good luck!

          • omg- I thought it was just an age thing! I’ve always had nice toned legs but now the front of my thighs are all lumpy and saggy….that’s a cf thing too?????? UGH. Same about the shorts – my thighs are solid as rocks but I don’t fit in any of the cute shorts that I did like 1 year into crossfit. What you described activity-wise is exactly what my instincts tell me I should do…but I stubbornly feel I have to be doing intense HIIT workouts to lose weight. I’m going to start your water advice today and go on a nice long walk. p.s. still love watching regionals but DAMN these girls are gettin huge!

          • Yeah, it was a hard thing for me to decide to quit cold turkey, but I’m so so happy that I did. My fear was that I would get soft and fat immediately, but almost the opposite happened. I mean, I must have built some fitness in CF, so that’s good, but it didn’t lead to the look that I wanted. I would recommend that you give it a month or two of doing something different, lower intensity and longer duration. If you don’t see results, you can always go back to CF or HIIT. I found it a huge psychological relief, besides the physical improvements, when I quit CF, but it took about two weeks to come back into perspective. I mean, I’m almost a year out from quitting, and I’m still dealing with the aftermath. Good luck!

  38. This is a great discussion and such a relief to hear from other women. I had the same experience with CF, left it for 2 years, missed the intensity of CF and recently got into bodyweight exericse and HIIT programs.
    I was following Mark Lauren’s book & app but just like CF, it caused me to start bulking up (and I never got past the novice/beginner level). On top of it, I’ve been dieting because I know from experience how important diet is (though I don’t do paleo, I’m more on the vegetarian side). I’s incredibly discouraging to have your jeans get tighter and tighter. So here’s the question: how it HIIT/bodyweight exercising different because that’s what the 12-minute workouts basically are? Yeah, it’s not CF but I’m not convinced it won’t cause the same bulking problems. Thanks!

    • Hey Pamela – In my experience trying to go from bulk to lean again, HIIT classes, while awesome for people first starting to get in shape, can just continue to build muscle, or at least maintain it, for people who’ve been crossfit training for a while. I do want to train that way eventually, but to achieve my immediate goal I believe we really need to stick with dieting and running/walking/dance… any cardio that doesnt give your muscles a “pump”. Even cardio boxing started to bulk my shoulders again.

      • Hi Suzan, Yes, I agree and thanks for your thoughts. I’m doing the same — back to walking and running on the mini-trampoline. (My knees can’t take the trail running anymore.) It’s incredible that every woman I know who works out won’t go near crossfit and even bodyweight training because of bulking out and every guy I know claims women can’t bulk up because they don’t have enough testosterone. It’s ridiculous — women know when their clothes don’t fit and they know why!

  39. Hey krista, i just discovered your blog and loved it.

    I have a similar experience, gained too much muscle and became completely disproportionate and uncomfortable in my own skin. I can handle few extra pounds but not the overdevelopped upper back wich messed up my posture and give me gorilla look. I leaned out a bit watching my diet, running occasionally and doing yoga in my overall body, except my upper back which sreeems to get bigger with bodyweight excersize only. Is there a way i can reverse it or i am stuck with it?

  40. Great article! I’ve always wondered about this myself regarding CF. I went Paleo for 6 months without doing crossfit and lost 15 pounds, but not in a good way (I looked almost ill, and felt very lethargic).

    In regards to CF weight gain, will someone answer me this?

    If, hypothetically, I went to a crossfit gym and told them I simply did NOT want to do upper body weight-lifting, would they still allow me to join? For example, if I took the classes but just didn’t do any of the dead-lifts, etc.? Wouldn’t that provide a solution to the upper body bulk but without losing the opportunity to meet cool people and to have awesome workouts for your buttocks, etc? Is this possible? Because I am considering going to a crossfit gym tomorrow to ask just that.


    • Hi Jessica- I have no idea how your local box will respond to that, but do be prepared for the “women bulking up is all a myth” speech. I imagine they won’t love the idea, because especially as a beginner it means one of the coaches having to find you a substitute for every upper body lift, which is pretty often. Also, be aware that you will feel a little out of place when everyone goes to set up their bars for the wod and you are just standing there. My advice is to just stay with the barbell only, no plates (15 lbs) which is how you will start out as a beginner. When they start to tell you to add more weight, just say you have a bad shoulder and you’d like to just stay at this weight. I’m sure if I’d stayed with 15# bar, 26# kettlebell, 18″ box, 10# wallball, I’d look exactly the way I want.

    • Hey Jessica – the box I go to has a specific class on the schedule three days a week that includes everything except the lifting. I’ve seen it at another box as well and may be called Fundamentals or something. Not to be confused with whatever they call the beginner’s classes; it’s specifically for people who want crossfit without the lifting. And it costs less! Personally I like the lifting, but I’m in my early 40s and have a tall, willowy frame. Even if I bulk up I will likely never look bulky, but even if I do I won’t care. My health and strength are more important than looks.

  41. I wish people would stop with this “oh, girls can’t get bulky..It’s impossible”! Trust me it is possible and reading all these comments make me feel glad i’m not alone. I quit crossfit at the end of 2014 because i was bulking up wayy too much! I know I naturally have an athletic build so its easy for me to put on muscle but I thought crossfit would help lean me out…I was wrong! I tried crossfit for three months and gained 15 lbs of muscle but I looked like a football player! I’m already 6ft and being 6ft and extra bulky was not a good look! Started bikram yoga and lost some of the bulk already. I realize lifting is not for me or any girl that has a naturally athletic built! Just lift your own body weight and u will get the lean look!

  42. I can totally relate to this post! i did crossfit for around 5 months and stopped a year ago .. My body is at its biggest and i hate it!
    My legs (thighs) are not getting back to what they were before (im doing on and off cardio and HITT) and i watch what i eat (low carb diet).

    Did u go back to being lean after crossfit? What workouts do u recomend to get lean again?

  43. I was searching through some pictures of cross fit women after I had a reunion with my family and somebody commenting on my body.

    I have realized that I also began to have a lot more broader shoulder and thighs.Three years ago, I had very feminine looking body only to gain some muscle to have a tone looking fit body. But after lifting weights so heavy, I am beginning to look very bulky which was not my intention of why I was lifting heavy weights. And if it had not been said from my mother, I would not have realized that my body composition has changed drastically. I do eat clean for most part – lean meat and clean carbs and greens- but it seems like on top of fat I am gaining muscles. I bought into the claims that women can not become bulky because we don’t have testosterone hormones. Learning expensive lesson from my own experience. It is very painful.

    Going forward, I will still lift but lighter. And now I am trying to incorporate a lot more cardio and eat even more clean so that I can achieve more fit and firm skinny look this summer.

  44. I don’t understand most of these posts sorry. I’m 46 maybe that’s it. I have been physical my entire life doing everything from long distance running, to picking fruit, cleaning, computing for many hours for all of it day after day. I know as an older woman everything breaks down, this is I know from personal experience. So sore every damn day, wake up sore, joints sore, stiff, tired, lean against aloft becuas it feels so good, don’t worry about core after all your old you need a rest. I have been to gyms has personal trainers ran, sit ups and still nothing fixes the degenerative mess I was slowly becoming. I joined crossfit 13 months ago and I have NEVER been in better shape. Build body mass? Well firstly I lost my 6 kilos of fat have gained muscle thankfully becuase you need that as your getting older. It’s high time so one did some research and put it out there about how important being strong is, especially as you are aging. I thank crossfit for my impoved zest of life, my ability to work harder (not just working out). I love the younger woman and how they care about their appearance but if appearance is where its at then I am already finished here.

  45. Many think the crossfit body for women is sexy, and maybe for some women and the men who love them, but it is not for ME or my husband’s desired look for me. I just completely quit all explosive movements, weights, sprinting and anything with resistance which was most of the workouts. I saved my money and just jogged and walked for 3 months. Yes, I lost a lot of muscle mass, but that was what I wanted. Now I do the walking and jogging, trampoline stuff, yoga and pilates. I feel better, no more struggles with tendonitis and bursitis, IT, sciatic pain or burning thighs. But I also eat well. I portion everything to just about the same amount every three hours, never more than 3 oz of protein and always 2 handfuls of leafy greens, every meal. I stay at about 14 percent body fat and wear 2 sizes smaller in all my clothes now.

  46. Thank you for this post and for all the replies. This has happened to me too, despite being told that women can’t bulk up! Despite spending more time working out, and eating cleaner, I’ve been getting bigger with increased body fat. I’ve decided to stop lifting (I’ve got to a point of severe overtraining) and going to spend the next few months focussing on walking, yoga, cycling and stretching. I’d like to hear more from others about how long it took them to get back to “normal”.
    Thank you again for broaching this subject.

  47. I’ve been contemplating quitting crossfit. I’ve been doing it for close to two years. I was introduced to crossfit after doing a half marathon that left me with severe IT band issues; I knew I needed something different. I fell in love with cf and with the community. I’m lucky the coaches at my box are very knowledgeable and introducede to paleo and healthier eating. While I don’t have the upper body Strenght , I hate snatching but I do it 4x a week. My shoulders have become broad and it wasn’t until recently that I did a Zumba class and sweated for an hour straight , I forgot how much fun that was. I enjoy crossfit but recently I know that I will never make it to regionals and I’m ok with that. I come from a very competitive box. I’m just torn , while I like cf , the classes are just not long enough and I’m not paying attention to other muscles like biceps , triceps but my shoulders are broader and I’m at 165 pounds where when I started cf I was 150.

  48. Wow thank you for posting this!! I have been crossfitting for 2 years now and just in the last six months gained 9 lbs of pure muscle – with my lbs of fat staying the same.

    I feel uncomfortable in non-workout clothes due to big shoulders, big arms, traps, thighs, you name it. The only big thing I do like is my butt.

    When I tried expressing my concerns to other women from my cf gym they tried to blame it on any other possible reason (diet, not going hard enough during wods, stress, IT CANT POSSIBLY BE CF) and think it’s crazy I don’t want to look like this. This is the first article I have read along with all the great comments that finally speaks to the concerns I have had.

    I have been 80% following paleo and starting to reconsider my diet. Paleo is great and I love the concept of eating real whole foods, but I think the emphasis on high fat is preventing me from leaning out.

    In the last month I have stopped going to Crossfit and instead been running, biking, playing tennis, and doing Beachbody 30 min videos (21 day fix) – I have definitely leaned out and am seeing abs for the first time.. Ever. I have also slightly changed my diet – lowering healthy fats and increasing healthy carbs. My cf friends barely talk to me and don’t agree with this at all.
    Thank you so much for posting I finally feel not crazy!!

    • found this article googling “big butts crosffit” lol and so happy to find others feel the same way! I have been CFing about 1.5 years and LOVE it, love the box, love the people – NOT loving my thighs and Butt! I have always been athletic, love working out – always had a “bubble butt” but CF has made it a bigger bubble. The frustration of trying to get on my skinny jeans I owned pre-CF is awful!! I eat relatively clean(not paleo, just clean) but I admit I have my wine cravings and enjoy apps & a martini here and there – a girls gotta live!

      I told the coaches I want to lean out not bulk up – like all of you guys I got the same thing – you won’t bulk. I go 5-6x a week and really the last 6-8 mnths is where my thighs have begun to annoy me and now summer is here!

      I want to stop going and try to get back to my old size 4’s – anyone have an opinion on maybe CF 2xs a week and doing running or longer bouts of cardio exercise the other days ? I don’t want to get mushy either! lol but this is a lot of work to be unhappy with my body!

      or is cold turkey the way to go ;-(

      • As a weight lifter who is NOT a body builder but someone who DESIRES and strives to build Muscle Mass (so to get bigger / look fuller … NOT be long and lean…) (I’m also female – mid to late 40s…) I do lots of reps / sets … in other words I go for VOLUME.

        Guess who else, from my observations, does VOLUME? Cross Fit!!! So lots of reps / sets / 100 of this … 50 of that…. more of this…. you are working out like a BODY BUILDER or a muscled athlete (the latter bng my goal – which is doing lovely btw – LOL).

        You may be better off with MORE cardio …. LESS volume (drop the reps / sets and even weight load if necessary … in other words … don’t work to hypertrophy (where you can’t lift the weight one more time)…. in other words, do the SAME moves as CF but DROP the number (I might add significantly) from what you are doing.

        Also, be prepared that your body may be like mine – muscular – no matter what. DNA girlfriend. But try dropping to maybe 10 reps 2-3 sets. Me, I’d be doing for MUSCLE MASS 10-12 reps and 5-8 sets … so you see the difference, yet we can do the same exercises.

        I hope this helps. I build for muscle mass – to bulk up – to get bigger – the look looks great on my 5’2 physique. My legs are big – yup. My upper body is more filled out. I don’t do drugs. But I also don’t exercise like someone who just wants to “tone” up (and toning doesn’t really exist – a muscle either gets bigger or smaller or stays the same. No such thing as “toning.)

        • ^This comment x 100!! Crossfit is high volume weight training and if you are doing it 5-6x/week you are going to gain weight – both muscle and water weight. And not allow yourself time to recover properly. Crossfit is too intense to be doing it more than 3x/week.

          If you don’t want mass, but you do want strength gains you want to lift in the 4-8 rep range for 3-5 sets. Take a look at Stronglifts, Starting Strength or Simply Shredded Female Program

    • Thank you so much for posting this and also for all of the comments. I am struggling SO hard to undo the results of two years of crossfit. I have lost “friends” and had die hards argue to no end with me that I must be doing something else wrong…diet, supplements etc and that my shape and weight gain couldn’t be a result of crossfit. to break it down, I joined to get back in shape after a couple years off after a baby and was at 145 lbs. Now I am 160 and SQUARE! I completely lost all shape in my midsection and can NOT figure out how to get back to normal. I am three months back at (gasp) a regular gym working out 5 to 6 days a week. I’m upping cardio and doing targeted weight training including ab days. Help! Any insight or successes in this manner would be so helpful! Great to know I’m not alone!

      • just do cardio and stay off the weights for a while. well, at least a year. change your diet perhaps, i went vegeterian for a while, now i am practicly a vegan. and dont do too musch exercise. listen to your body. took me a whle to get back to normal

        • Ok, I understand a lot of the comments so far. I am a Muay Thai, Crossfit loving runner. However, I think a big part of being healthy is being happy. If that means Zumba to you or a jog with your pup, thats great. Heck, eat whatever you want. You can be a healthy vegan and meat eater, its all about quality and moderation. So diet should not the thing to focus on here… I just felt the need to respond to you advising someone to stop lifting weights and just do cardio. It is actually the worst advice possible. Women need to preform some form of weighted exercises to help prevent osteoporosis. Not only do weights prevent osteoporosis but muscle mass also increases your metabolism and helps balance hormones. Leading a healthy life as a woman has to include some form of weights. It doesn’t mean you have do crossfit or become a body builder, just have fun with it, use proper tech and enjoy your strength.

    • Love this! I have been doing crossfit for 4 years now and at first I felt amazing I was lean with some muscle but after about a year that’s when I started noticing mass gain. I was just so bulky and thick I had a six pack but was literally so thick. Nothing fits and I’m 25 years old so that’s quite depressing. People commented on how I was a beast or strong like man or I look like I can lift a lot. And yes I was proud I was so strong. I have a natural build to my body broad shoulders six pack without exercising. So doing crossfit 6 days a week with extra lifting and huge amount of protein I was huge! I had enough for the past month I stopped crossfit style workouts. I took off a week from the gym and I eat a vegetarian based diet no protein supplement so min amount of protein and in that one week I felt amazing! And already saw changes. Now I’m doing more cardio an body weight movement I am loading mass so I notice more flab but overtime I know it will go away my waist has been getting smaller and have more definition now even with the small amount of protein I eat. It’s a myth that women won’t get bulky because it’s all about your body type I have a twin sister with a small frame who does crossfit I eat way better than her and we work just as hard I them gym as he sits at a lean 113lbs and I’m at 145lbs! Lol there is hope ladies just have to take some rest up the cardio few times a week and decrease your protein intake

  49. It is unfair to blame Crossfit. If you go extreme with anything you will get extreme results. You may even get injured.

    To avoid injury, I progress slowly. The amount of weight I lift in any given WOD, the modifications I make, and even whether I finish a WOD are MY choice. A lot of commenters sound like they are giving into peer pressure at their Box. I don’t do box jumps to preserve my knees, and instead step up and step down. I don’t do Kipping Pull ups due to concern of injuring my shoulders. I don’t do handstand pushups, to avoid falling and injuring my neck. Everyone has the CHOICE to do movements, skip them, or modify as desired.

    I subscribe to the philosophy, everything should be done in moderation. After 6 months of Crossfit 5-6 days a week, I found myself stronger, faster and ready to tackle a triathlon, so I switched from 5-6 days to 2-3 days per week to allow training time for swimming, running and biking. I also started meeting with a personal trainer at a traditional gym once a week to focus on lighter weight more reps. Once or twice a month I make it to a Zumba class just to mix things up.

    I find these activities along with eating a balanced diet, and daily stretching have helped me obtain a strong, lean and feminine physique. Each of us has to find the right balance, and for me Crossfit is definitely part of the equation.

  50. Ok, so I am here with you all in. 5 weeks in gained 5 pounds. Crazy weights. Thighs rubbing. Going down to 3 days a week and running 3. Hope that moves the scale down so I can fit my clothes not toss them.

  51. I’ve never been to a box where you’re required to eat paleo. I crossfit but have never eaten that way. I just eat healthy and for my body. Since I moved across the country I can’t afford to crossfit but workout at the gym with a rig and all the weights for xfit. To be less bulky I just do low weight high reps with just the bar. Also I’m sure if u told the gym you had time constraints you could be there no more than an hour. I had to get back to work at my old box since I went at lunch. Workouts were average 40 min

  52. Sorry I disagree with almost everything you said.

    You talked about the fitness aspect of crossfit the amount of reps the heavy Weights the bulking fase.
    Is is absolutely not true that all crossfit nutrition is based on Paleo.
    If you know your body and you have enough knowledge you should stick to your gun and do what works for you.

    Any sports can give you a nice toned muscular body (depends on your goals).

    Crossfit empowers you give you confidence and pushes you from your comfort zone.

    It all depends what you really want and complaining about one sport or the other or time etc doesn’t change anything you need to make that change.

  53. Hey everyone, sorry to hear that the women doing CF is bulking up rather than staying lean or losing the fat. What I’m going to say isn’t to discount the myth of how women can’t bulk up. They can as we all know that’s true. What I’m not seeing is your calories in numbers and your macro-nutrient for the diet that you’re on. From my knowledge if you’re at a caloric deficit it’s next to impossible to build muscle especially if you’re on a diet with high protein and low carbs. What I’m assuming is that there is a possibility of a caloric surplus in your diet which is causing the muscle hyper trophy along with the heavy lifting.

    Exercise is 20% of your results. 80% comes from your diet and the number of calories your taking in.

    No one is talking about nutrition just the exercise portion.

    Just my two cents. Feel free to flame me! 😀

    • Sam I think there’s some truth to that – one of the best parts of starting crossfit was burning so many calories and shocking your body into this new need for fuel that you almost felt like you could eat whatever, whenever, and the more protein the better. Couple that with lifting heavier and heavier, and your newly slim physique is going to gain mass.

  54. My box has 2 types of exercise: Fitness & Performance. I do the Fitness because I need to lose weight, and I know it will tone me down and shape me up better than the Performance. Performance is making sure you can lift certain amount of weights appropriately.

  55. I have just started crossfit. Tomorrow will be workout #6 and I have noticed that it is VERY upper body focused. I enjoy the cardio aspect of crossfit (cause you won’t catch me on a treadmill, LOL) and the fact that the workout is already written out for me, but I am tailoring it for myself. I am not doing heavy weight, only going twice a week and doing a focused lower body day at my “globogym” as they call it.
    I’m taking what I like an leaving the rest and if anyone has issue with that, I’ll be making a quick exit. I would like to maintain my long/lean look.
    So glad I read all of these comments!

  56. Huh, I’m fascinated by all the comments left by women who grew bigger doing Crossfit. I would love to see what their programming looked like because I started out as a lean long-distance runner (5’3″, 20%is bodyfat, in between sizes small and extra small) and got leaner after a little over a year of Crossfit (18% bodyfat, solid xs). I go 4-5 times a week and I’ve never felt too tired to just sit around all day afterwards and I’m definitely much stronger and faster in general as well. Maybe I’ve just been exceptionally lucky because my gym is amazing and I love my coaches and they push us in appropriate ways?

  57. Great post!

    I’ve been weightlifting for 2 years and started crossfit bootcamp last February. This month I decided to CrossFit (with the weights) and I love it better than the bootcamp version. I hate running and anything that has to do with pushing my lungs to its limits.

    I gotta say I’m lucky to be in a box where the coaches are very keen on form and adding weight. It’s actually very individual in a sense thatno one cares how much you’re loading and if you really finished your reps. My box mates (regular CrossFitters) and I don’t give crap about each other once the clock starts running.

    I am all for embracing the kind of body you want. I agree and salute you for recognizing that you don’t like the physical change =) I’d like to add however, that not all women get bulky in CrossFit. Me for example, I’ve been lifting for years and if you pass by me you wouldn’t think I could lift 80lbs. With the soreness and injury? Nadah. Maybe I was a weightlifter before a crossfitter but I tend to listen to my body more than peer pressure. If I wake up in the morning and could feel my arms like it has bricks inside it, I’d skip the box and let my body recover. I don’t care if my boxmates think I’m weak. I’m in this for the long haul, I have time to catch up =)

    So to summarize, I’d like to say, in any sport or workout, always listen to your own body. Not everyone recovers quickly (I’m a good example) but that doesn’t mean you’re not getting stronger. I tend to rest more because I learned that I get better with rest, not with continuous exercise. I hate resting but I have to program it because I have far greater goals than beat my box mates and perform for my coach.

  58. Great Post! I too do CF but here in California at one box they have CF cardio. No barbells or heavy lifting are involved. We use Kettle bells, Barbells when it comes to lifting. It’s is a short 45 min class. It’s a great way of doing CF without all of the heavy lifting.

  59. Some women are more prone to bulkiness than others. I used to lift heavy, believing on faith the fitness “experts” who promised me that it would be “almost impossible” for a woman to get too muscular.

    Fast forward a few months….and I hated the look of my large legs, boxy shoulders, large arms and huge thighs. At this same time, some personal issues forced me to re-examine my priorities and mental state, and figure out how to incorporate emotional healing into my exercise routine.

    Enter yoga, which has made me toned, slender, curvy in all the right places, and more mentally focused and calm than I used to be (though I still have my crazy b*^tch moments). Granted, I do a vigorous form of yoga where the instructor sometimes curses like a sailor, and it is more time consuming than lifting, but it has worked wonders for my self-esteem and my body. I do add some interval cardio on my off days.

    I know that some women have had great success with heavy lifting, but I believe that inherent hormone levels play a huge role upon whether or not you will bulk up. I have higher testosterone levels than the average woman, and my muscles respond more like a mans when I lift heavy. I didn’t like the way that made me look or feel. Vigorous yoga keeps my muscles long and lean and is more suited to my short frame and body type.

    Go with what works for you!

  60. interesting post and comments. i can see why crossfit isn’t for everybody and that it can give very different results depending on your genetics and body type.

    i was anti-crossfit before i tried it (i remember my first class and my first month, i was very skeptical) but then i fell in love with it. i’m quite tall and lean, don’t build muscles easily and have very long and thin limbs (especially arms). for the first time in my life (and i’ve tried different things) i have a nice proper female butt, you can see some nice definition in my legs and arms, my abs are starting to show a bit (i tend to carry weight around waist) and i still wear same clothes though i probably weight more (not checking it really, i’m relying more on what my mirror and clothes say).

    i definitely have hard time performing some movements: because of my body proportions proper squat is a challenge, i ‘m getting better but still it’s a struggle, lifting heavy weights with my long thing arms is very difficult, so i’m taking it easy and increasing weight slowly and when i feel comfortable doing it. nobody puts pressure on me to lift more or be quicker with repetitions, what’s more, my coaches pay attention to me and my performance and try to help me improve the technique and avoid getting hurt.

    haven’t made any friends in the gym because i’m not there to make friends and i really have no interest in chitchatting with random people (that is actually my alone time!), i compete only with myself, i listen to my body and don’t push it too hard when i don’t feel comfortable and i’m very happy with my results.

    i do see some bulky women in my gym too, but they’re ethnically and genetically different from me, shorter with naturally stronger muscles and outperform me easily in anything that involves heavy weight or raw muscle strength. i tend to perform much better in different cardio exercises. at first i was annoyed but then i realized that not every body was supposed to be the same. i probably wouldn’t like to look like those bulky women i’m talking about but for my body type crossfit gives me what i want – some definition finally haha! but like i said, i understand it’s not the best option for everyone, body or personality-wise.

  61. Well, first of all let me introduce some things, I’m a guy, I love strength and I love weightlifting, and I can understand you don’t like the physiques of top crossfit girls, but I don’t think the problem is heavy weights, you can see a lot of femenine powerlifters and weightlifters who doesn’t look so muscular, and I don’t know why you make crossfit and paleo as one only thing, I do crossfit I don’t do paleo (I don’t like it either) and I workout the heavies. If you get sore lifting weights, keep going until your soreness will disappear, it’s called adaptation, we can adapt to everything. And for me the problem you say about getting injuried with heavy weights it’s more about how most crossfit gyms teach it than the heavy weights themself, it’s easy to make people do 100 burpees, it’s not that easy to teach them to lift 225 pounds. And finally, spending some time on stetching and foam rolling will always make your body feel better, I think you should keep doing that.

    So my point is I understand you like to spend more time on other things but i don’t believe your reasons, but I respect them, I just wanted to write my opinion.

  62. Interesting post. I see that it’s a few years old, but wanted to comment anyway. I identify with a lot of the reasons you stopped doing CrossFit, but not all of them. I found that my body has changed for the better. I naturally have a thick waist and narrow hips, very far from hourglass. Lifting heavy has broadened my back and rear, actually helping to create a more balanced appearance!

    • That’s great Jess! Different things work for different people, so it’s important to see what’s best for your body because it’s unique! 🙂

  63. I’m so glad I found this article! I am in my mid-40s. I cross-fitted for about a year and a half, but then stopped and felt like a shameful “quitter”, particularly since my husband continued on and still loves it. I am about 5’5”, started at about 135-138 and ended up at 148-150. I did not knowingly change my diet, but gained both muscle and fat, and could no longer fit into most of clothes, particularly my jackets and blazers I need to wear to work. I am more of an athletic apple-shape, and most of my visible gain was in my upper arms, shoulders, and traps, and a little in my quads too. I also started developing a little bit of cellulite (I never had any before!) in weird places like my upper arms and the inside of my thighs. I never lost any belly fat or grew a nice round butt like I was hoping for when I started. Time-wise I traded running/cardio for barbell lifting and that was not a good decision for me, in the body aesthetics department. I started back to more cardio, more body weight resistance training, targeted glute work, and smaller dumbbells. All your points were spot-on! Too much time in the gym for minimal pay off, constantly sore and tired, and not lean looking. I loved the music and the community aspect of Crossfit, just wish our box had been more supportive of light weights and more body weight stuff.

  64. Iam beyond happy to find that blong and read the compilations of comments.Struggling with weight most of my teens twenties I did heavy weight training and 30/30/40 macros in my 30s with elements of croas fit to lose bunch of weight ( approx. 80lbs in 2y) but 6 mo in with intensity going up and nunber of reps( as my body adapted) I started getting really thick.
    Not to sound shallow here but as a teen girl of 270 pounds( at times escalating beyond 280 lbs) I found myself hitting 160 lbs and size small – for a week ; Until ppl at the gym – other women specifically confronted me where do I get my building blocks from aka muscle growth stimulants.I was bulky, sort of disformed muscular 34 year old girl, thick- fat and I caved into mild depression – i was not overweight although lose skin would daily remind me of 20 years of ovesity war I had with it; and on the flip side of it – how I looked strong and manly with huge shoulders and quads and calves that simply did not allow for my body to feel pretty in a dress or a skirt.
    After stressing it further to my coach/ trainer and expressing my concern; he did decompress all-around- gym comments down to jealousy and fell back on “scientific” reserch how women dont have ability to bulk up. Etc

    I did quit cross fit training back in 2012 due to injury that pretty much stopped all my efforts for several months; without training and without cutting down to 1000cal? due to my history of being very heavy, my body gained 50 pounds in 6 mo.Seemed impossible also from scientific point; but knowing how hard it is for me to shed weight inspite of huper focus on macros and foodlog, for the lack of previous training effort the weight issue came alive again – almost immediately.

    One thing no one ever tell you, especially when training in a group of peers under one coach is… when too much is just too much of stress on specific part of the body and when exactly it will break beyond repair needing withdrawal from training for x- amount of months.Then what?
    Same is with, imo, the idea of “women are not built to bulk up ” concept- one does not fit all; just like some thin men out there have a very time gaining muscle mass which is found attractive-when they do; some women have super easy path to gain muscle mass without any stimulants; and that, imo, is not generally considered physically attractive.

    I found cross fit mentally and physically exhausting – beyond weekly recovery; when i stopped, i missed the camradery of people I trained with, greatly.It took 3-4 years to find a combination of cardio and strength to lean out and atrophy and lose the weight I regained in a post – injury phase.
    I think what made a major difference is a realization that the variety is a key; being gentle with the body and mind is a key, learning to listen to my body and not the coach is a key.
    Even thou I loved how I felt mentally( identity affecting, I guess) after doing 100 wallballs and 100 burpees ( that minute); i was crushed seeing myself in the mirror next day.
    You would think you would feel amazing going from being heavy to be able to put 20 hours of training a week. Well… Not really.And definetely not when injury took a place of all training efforts to keep the weight at bay.And for sure not when you start feeling like your hard core efforts sort of betrayed you leaving you with the body you cant seem to like regardless how you look at yourself in the mirror.So you are not overweight anymore but nor you feel shapely and soft…

    My point is… when going from no training ( or being overweight) to exploring which training becomes a niche I think it is almost too easy to fall in a trap of overtraining esp with a group of like minded people; soo many incentoves there! But i did find it to be a trap and it took a long time to recover from it on all levels, not only healing injuries but learn how to make peace and how to be very choosy of training methods that came after cross fit…

  65. Im 56 and looked great before crossfit. Im stronger but not as cardiofit as before and worse is my shape. My thighs are hudge and arms thick. Idk how to get back to the other me. Any suggestions?

  66. I’ve been doing crossfit for about 3 years and the soreness faded eventually as I became more consistent with my workouts. Athough crossfit kept me challenged and motivated to work out, I too lost my feminine figure over time and my sexy feeling also diminished. So eventually I stopped doing crossfit and I am almost back to my regular body now, although I have less motivation to work out at a regular gym and don’t have a feeling of a community in a regular gym as I did at crossfit, and I started gaining weight in my lower body as a result. So there are definitely some pros and cons to working out at a crossfit box, I guess in the end you just have to look at your priorities and think about what matters to you. Women come in various shapes and sizes, I’ve seen petite women that have been doing crossfit for awhile and they do NOT become bulky and then there are others like me who DO get bulky over time and are not comfortable with it.

  67. I stopped crossfit due to same situation, as i grow stronger so does the number of my plates. I love the fact i can do heavy lifting but what i do not like is that somehow im the type who gets bulky easily? Even before starting crossfit, i had naturally broad shoulder. After crossfit? I had hard times finding clothes that doesnt makes me look huge especially from neck to shoulder. I had to stop crossfit bcos i wasnt unhappy with the way my body changes. Doing cardio and my body are slowly losing it weights but still having a hard time making my arms smaller.

  68. Hi. I gotta tell you this post has fallen from the sky in a very appropriate moment in my life. I’ve been doing CrossFit for two months now and am now in my second lower back injury. It all comes down to form and technique. No matter how hard you try to focus when you’re in your last round of power snatch you end up sacrificing form and technique, specially if you’re just starting out and are nearly about to puke and pass out. I love your honesty here and feel like this issues are not properly addressed in the CrossFit community worldwide. Many boxes in my country just focus on basics and don’t pay attention to clients like me who are new to this and need more supervision in the first months.

    Thanks for the post.

  69. I am 46 years old, have been a Crossfitter for 7+ years and I LOVE it….especially the heavy Olympic lifting. Some days I am sore, other days I’m fine. It just depends. I don’t worry about being too big or bulky because muscles are sexy, IMO. Plus, I’d need to be in a Crossfit gym 7 days a week for more than 2 hours a day to start looking like a dude, so I really don’t get those comments. My advice to women is do what motivates you. Do what makes you feel good, strong and confident in yourself. If that means lifting heavy shit, then more power to you!


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