Have you always stuck to hand weights or avoided strength training all together? If you’ve worried about getting hurt or were never sure what exactly to do with your gym’s selection of plates and barbells, CrossFit is a great place to start. Most boxes require new athletes to complete a basics course that covers equipment usage, proper lifting form and commonly used CrossFit terminology.
CrossFit is made up of constantly varied, high-intensity movements. Which means that over the course of one WOD (workout of the day) you may be running, rowing, swinging kettlebells and working on gymnastic moves like ring dips and handstands. Coaches use the timer throughout the class and keep athletes in constant motion.
CrossFit is all about metrics, but you’ll rarely hear anyone talk about pounds (unless it’s how much they’re lifting). Most CrossFitters keep track of their PRs (personal records) for specific workouts and lifts via notebook or app, which makes it easy to see improvements in strength and stamina over time.
The constantly varied nature of CrossFit means that every part of your body will get a workout, with specific emphasis on the glutes and thighs. Lots of squats, both with and without weight, mean a perkier butt. And an increase in muscle mass is a surefire way to boost metabolism.
Take a look at a typical class at any box and you’ll see a variety of ages, amounts of experience and levels of ability. Yet everyone’s getting a workout that’s HBD (hard but doable). That’s because scaling weight appropriately is encouraged, and nearly all CrossFit movements can be modified. For example, a new athlete may modify pull-ups by using an exercise band or opting for a lighter a kettlebell than the prescribed weight.
Critics call CrossFit a cult, but anyone on the inside will tell you it’s a community. The best coaches and boxes create a sense of teamwork and camaraderie. It’s not uncommon for more advanced athletes to share training tips with newbies and stay behind to cheer them on while they finish a workout. And athletes who start CrossFit around the same time often form a special bond as they improve and grow together.
You know how it goes: when time is an issue, you either focus on lifting or squeeze in a few biceps curls after 45 minutes on the elliptical. If you’ve only got one hour to work out, CrossFit is your best bet. Most WODs include a mix of cardio and weight training. You’ll be surprised how fast you can accelerate your heart rate with a 10-minute mix of burpees, push-ups and air squats.
Are you haunted by memories of the President’s Fitness Challenge? Did rope climbs give you nightmares well into your 20’s? CrossFit gives you the chance to confront all the movements that troubled you from grades K through 12, all in a supportive, non-judgmental environment. Good coaches will show you how to work towards challenging movements like pull-ups, handstands and rope climbs with strength-building exercises and progressions.
Yes, CrossFit is typically a significant financial investment. But, it’s much more affordable than sessions with a personal trainer, and you’ll still get many of the same benefits. CrossFit coaches make an effort to get to know every athlete so that they can help them with goal-setting. And, in every class, you can expect to receive guidance on form and technique.
After a couple months of CrossFit, you may find activities like carrying groceries or changing the bottle on the office water cooler to be a lot easier. That’s because CrossFit focuses on functional movements: carrying awkward items, sprinting short distances, lifting heavy things from the ground. CrossFit training is, in many ways, training for everyday life.