Sport Sciences for Health

, Volume 15, Issue 1, pp 21–33 | Cite as

The benefits and risks of the high-intensity CrossFit training

  • Elina A. Gianzina
  • Olga A. KassotakiEmail author
Review Article



The main aim of this study was to conduct a systematic review of the recent research output produced on CrossFit and to examine the benefits and risks of the high-intensity CrossFit training.


Systematic search of PubMed, ScienceDirect, Scopus and Web of Science was conducted. Thematic analysis of the research output on CrossFit was performed and each of the included articles was assessed using the Delphi Scale for quality assessment of individual studies.


A total of 25 articles were included in this study. Based on our results, high-intensity CrossFit training incorporates both aerobic and anaerobic elements, which in turn improve cardiovascular fitness, anaerobic capacity, and body composition of individuals of all levels of fitness and of both genders. CrossFit has also positive psychological effects on athletes, such as exercise enjoyment, challenge, satisfaction, and goals achievement, which lead to high levels of retention and adherence of participants to CrossFit programs. On the other hand, high-intensity CrossFit training includes risks. These are musculoskeletal injuries occurring at different body parts, with most common being shoulder, lower back and knee injuries, and other more severe but less common injuries, such as exertional rhabdomyolysis.


The findings of this study indicate that intense CrossFit training improves the six out of ten general physical skills of athletes, as proposed by CrossFit Inc., such as cardiovascular/respiratory endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power and balance. The other four physical skills, such as speed, coordination, agility, and accuracy, are yet to be verified.


Systematic review CrossFit training Benefits Risks Injuries 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This review article does not contain any participation of human subjects or animals.

Informed consent

For this type of study, informed consent is not required.

Supplementary material

11332_2018_521_MOESM1_ESM.docx (19 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 18 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Italia S.r.l., part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Physical Education and Sport SciencesDemocritus University of Thrace, University CampusKomotiniGreece
  2. 2.Strategy and International Business Group, Warwick Business SchoolUniversity of WarwickCoventryUK

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