CrossFit is the latest exercise fad. It is now offered at more than 5,500 gyms around the country. But watch out. It can be dangerous—the high-intensity, high-impact workouts carry considerable risks, particularly for those who aren’t sure when to say “enough.”

Extreme routines: A CrossFit round might include five pull-ups, 10 push-ups and 15 squats. You’ll do as many rounds as you can until the time is up (perhaps 20 minutes). The instructor and your workout partners will push you to keep going, with exhortations like “Crush it! Finish it out!”

And CrossFit rewards those who push beyond their usual limits.

Example: A popular T-shirt in the CrossFit community features Pukie the Clown, a reference to the exercise-­induced vomiting that’s a badge of honor among hard-core participants.

Or consider another CrossFit “mascot,” Uncle Rhabdo, which refers to rhabdomyolysis, a breakdown of muscle tissue that can occur during intense exercise and can lead to kidney failure. Despite the macho humor, rhabdomyolysis is life-threatening.

Do it safely: For the seasoned athlete, CrossFit can be an excellent workout if done safely….

Twice a week. That is the limit unless you’re already in superb shape. The three-day break
between sessions will allow microtraumas (small tears) in the tendons to heal.

Don’t overtrain. It’s fine to feel exhausted during a workout, but only if you stop as soon as you notice it.

Don’t sacrifice good form. It’s easy to get sloppy in your movements when you’re fatigued or rushing to keep up with the class. Poor form is probably the main cause of workout-related injuries.

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