CrossFit – A Guide for Beginners
There is no way that you haven’t heard of CrossFit. It is the latest workout trend, and you can see it just about anywhere. On the TV, internet, in the gym, even on your way to work. People are talking about it, so it must be good, right? Well, let’s find out.
What is CrossFit?
If you check out the official website (yes, there is an official CrossFit website) you can see that CrossFit is a fitness program, created by Greg Glassman. It combines the best aspects of gymnastics, running, weightlifting and similar sports.
There are no regular gym movements here. CrossFit uses functional movements with high intensity, so the workouts are short and difficult. And believe me when I say difficult. It is all about getting the highest power output in short time. You do more, take the heaviest loads in less time than in the gym. So, intensity is the key.
CrossFit also uses data. It is not unusual to see whiteboards and charts in CrossFit gyms. Actually, you should be surprised if there are none. It is all about keeping track, measuring time and performance, all to motivate you to do your best. Simply put, there is no better motivation, than beating the clock.
Gyms or Boxes?
Box is the proper term for CrossFit gyms. Why? Simply because they look like concrete boxes. There are no fancy machines here, no TVs, no mirrors or motivational posters. There are only walls, essential equipment (bars, kettlebells, ropes etc.) and of course a whiteboard.
Expect to see some basic gear in your box:
- Bumper/steel plates
- Pull up bar
- Squat box
- Medicine/slam balls
- Jump rope
- Battle rope
- Climbing rope
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Before starting CrossFit, do your homework. You could just go in, but you’ll only end up tired and confused. If you learn the lingo first, you will just get tired.
AMRAP– as many reps (rounds) as possible. For these workouts, the time is predetermined, often 20, 30 minutes. The exercises are predetermined, and you have to do as much as you can in the given time.
AMRAP is a really intense workout. It is challenging for anyone. No matter if you are a beginner or a pro, AMRAP will not give you a break, literally. Besides getting you to hate yourself, and that friend who put you up to trying CrossFit, AMRAP can also:
- Burn fat
- Build strength and muscle
- Increase your stamina and endurance
- Help you improve your technique
- Motivate you
Here is an example of AMRAP, so you can get an idea of what it’s all about:
- Duration – 25 minutes
- Exercises – 15 Push-ups, 10 Kettlebell swings, 10 Wall-balls, 15 crunches.
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You would do these exercises without taking a break. After you’ve completed the round, start all over. When the time is up, you can lay down, rest or faint if you want to.
WOD– workout of the day. It is a specific workout that everyone does for this day. They are usually skill and strength based.
Hero WOD– a more difficult option.
Metcon– metabolic conditioning. If you’ve ever thought WODs are though, wait until you get to metcons. Unlike WODs, metcons don’t care much about skills and strength. The main focus here is conditioning, stamina and endurance.
The girls– Hearing, we are doing Fran today, would be weird anywhere else but the CrossFit box. No, it is not what you think. CrossFit workouts have girl’s names.
Keep in mind that these girls aren’t easy, so get your CrossFit shoes on as they will give you a run for your money.
The exercises– there are many exercises that you will do here. Burpees, Snatch, Box Jump, Clean and Jerk, Wall Ball etc. Be prepared to hate them all. There is no need to learn anything before you start, as your coach will explain everything.
What to Wear?
Dressing for CrossFit is just like going out. You don’t want to wear just anything. First, make sure your clothes are comfortable. It’ll get really hot, really fast, so the clothing should be lightweight and breathable. Men can go for shorts and t-shirts, while women should choose shorts or capris, and a tank or cropped top. Ladies, I would recommend investing in a good sports bra.
When it comes to your feet, they need to be extra comfy, and stable. So, your bunny slippers won’t do. Make sure you get a good pair of CrossFit shoes. They need to be lightweight, breathable, firm, and flexible. Also, forget about basketball shoes and similar. You want to be close to the ground, and as stable as possible.
You may even want to invest in some good CrossFit gloves and grips.
If you ever mentioned to someone that you want to do CrossFit, you’ve probably heard how bad for your joints it is, and how you can get seriously injured.
The truth is – CrossFit is no more dangerous than your regular gym. This study was done exactly for that purpose, to show how do CrossFit injuries compare to gym injuries. It concluded that the injury rate in both is almost the same. Meaning, CrossFitters get injured just as much as your regular gym junkies.
There is a lot to say about CrossFit safety, as it is really important. You have to take it seriously. Since most of the exercises involve more muscle groups, and complex movement, it is important to know what you’re are doing, how to do it, when to do it, and how much weight to use.
Let’s say you do a squat. Come on, do it right now. Did you think about your form? If your answer is yes, great. If no, do it again. Where are your knees? Did your heels get off the ground? Was your back straight the whole time?
You have to learn these things before you start with the real workout. It goes for the gym too. Only then can you exercise without a fear of an injury.