Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last decade, you’ve heard someone talking about CrossFit. If you’ve never stepped into a CrossFit class, there’s a good chance you envision a room full of sweaty people randomly throwing weights around and performing weird-looking pull-ups. The reality is that a professional CrossFit gym is like a well-oiled machine with the best trainers and a community of people who support one another during some of the most intense workouts.
If you’re curious about what CrossFit is and you’re considering taking a class, but you are on the fence, let us introduce you to the fitness trend that changed the industry. Here is everything you’ve always wanted to know about CrossFit.
WHAT IS CROSSFIT?
CrossFit is a unique type of workout that is centered on functional movements. We know you hear that term a lot, so what does functional movements mean?
Functional training exercises are those that strengthen and improve everyday movements. For example, perfecting your squat, a foundational CrossFit exercise, will help you pick up groceries, perform household work, and play with the kids. Functional exercises also lower the risk of injury.
These functional movements that make up CrossFit are a collection of the best exercises found in weightlifting, gymnastics, running, and several other types of fitness. You’ll find a variety being used such as gymnastic rings and battle ropes. Chances are that when you try a CrossFit class, you may already be familiar with some or most of these functional movements.
DO I NEED PRIOR EXPERIENCE?
Speaking of being familiar with exercises, is prior experience necessary to begin with CrossFit? Not at all.
When you begin training at a reputable CrossFit gym, you won’t be thrown in with the more advanced class; rather, you’ll enter a beginner-friendly class that focuses on the basics. In the beginner’s class, you can expect to learn the most basic yet most important exercises for a CrossFit workout.
We can’t stress patience enough. These exercises will take time to learn. Your body has to learn to cooperate with itself as it builds a stronger connectivity between the major muscle groups. The more you practice, the more feedback you ask for, and the more determined you are, the faster you’ll master these beginner-friendly CrossFit exercises.
ARE THERE BEGINNER-FRIENDLY CROSSFIT EXERCISES?
If you’re a go-getter who wants to get a head start and learn some of the exercises before your first class; there are several foundational exercises that make up the bulk of CrossFit workouts:
- Bodyweight Squat (also called Air Squat)
- Overhead Squat
- Front Squat
- Sumo Deadlift
- Shoulder Press
- Push Press
- Push Jerk
- High Pull
- Medicine Ball Clean
While you don’t need to know all of these exercises before you enter a class, it might be a good idea to familiarize yourself with a few. In this way, you’ll have a bit more confidence during your first class.
If we could recommend exploring any exercise on this list, it would be the barbell deadlift. The deadlift is one of the most beneficial exercises out there; it’s also the exercise that is performed incorrectly the most. Check out our deadlifting checklist that can help you perfect your deadlifting form.
With that said, enter every class with an open mind to receive feedback and learn. It could take a few sessions before you get better at performing one of the exercises. Be patient and keep practicing.
WILL I GET INJURED?
One of the negative stereotypes related to CrossFit is the idea that you are guaranteed to be injured. Like any activity or sport, the chance for injury is always present; however, there are things you can do to minimize that risk:
Warm-Up and Stretch: The first thing to do to avoid injury in CrossFit is to warm-up and stretch. Never enter a workout with cold or unprepared muscles. Warm up for 5 to 10 minutes then perform some dynamic or moving stretches like arm circles and alternate raising your knees to your chest.
Practice Makes Perfect: Second, practice the exercises. As you are in the learning curve of CrossFit, remember that you need to practice daily. That doesn’t mean you have to load up a barbell every day; you can move through the basics with bodyweight only.
Rest and Recovery: Third and arguably most important, get plenty of rest. Sleep is essential for learning and recovery. The information and kinetic movements you learn during CrossFit classes are cemented in your memory during sleep. Studies show that skipping on sleep can worsen your memory. Sleep is also the time when the body recovers from those intense workouts. Missing out on sleep increases the risk for overtraining, which can put you at risk for injury or illness.
WHAT CROSSFIT TERMINOLOGY SHOULD I KNOW?
Like any new class or group where you have to learn a skill, you’ll start hearing some strange abbreviations and words. Thankfully, the CrossFit terminology you’ll be learning makes sense and it’s straightforward. For example, WOD stands for Workout of the Day, an abbreviation you’ll see and hear every time you step into the gym.
Want to familiarize yourself with all of the CrossFit terminology you’ll need to know? Check out our article on the complete guide to CrossFit terminology.
IS THERE A SPECIAL CROSSFIT DIET?
While there is no CrossFit Diet, there is a diet that the official CrossFit website recommends. It’s called the Zone Diet, which focuses on healthy protein and complex carbohydrates with a small amount of healthy fats.
With the Zone Diet, you’ll be eating lean protein choices such as chicken breasts, responsibly-sourced fish, and grass-fed beef. You’ll accompany this with complex carbohydrates that come primarily from dark, leafy vegetables. And you’ll top these meals with healthy fats in the form of avocados or olive oil.
Is the Zone Diet required? No, not at all, but the official website stresses following a diet that will provide plenty of energy for workouts and nutrients for ideal recovery. Other diets that CrossFitters have been known to use are the Paleo Diet and Ketogenic Diet.
If you haven’t even stepped into your first class, don’t load up your plate with too many things to think about. Focus on getting started with CrossFit, then visit your dietary choices. Above all, strive to eat better, not perfect.
HOW MANY DAYS PER WEEK WILL I NEED TO TRAIN?
There is no set number of days you should train in CrossFit; it all depends on your needs and ability.
If you’re a beginner, you may only want to train two or three days per week until you become more experienced, eventually adding another day or two. Maybe your fitness focus is somewhere else such as a sport and you want to supplement your workouts with CrossFit; in this case, you might only have time for one workout per week. Then there are those ultra-disciplined people who want to crush it with four or five training sessions per week.
The best way to know how many days you should train in CrossFit is to talk with your trainer. As always, chat with your doctor as well before beginning any exercise program.
IS CROSSFIT RIGHT FOR ME?
Most people can do CrossFit workouts, but that doesn’t mean everyone should do them. If you have a history of injuries or surgeries, CrossFit might not be your best option. Those with lower back and shoulder issues should speak with their doctor before trying CrossFit. With that said, many trainers can modify you WOD (workout of the day) to suit your needs.
Overall, CrossFit is an excellent way to build muscle, gain strength, and get in better shape whether it’s for sports or everyday health.
HOW DO I FIND A CROSSFIT GYM?
Ready to find a CrossFit gym? Don’t sign up with the first CrossFit gym you find. Check out our article on how to find a reputable CrossFit gym.
READY TO TRY CROSSFIT?
Are you on the fence about trying an introductory class? What questions and concerns do you have? Let us know on our Facebook.