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A Beginner’s Guide To CrossFit For Hungry Athletes

Let’s face it, the act of working out, no matter how you get your shirt drenched in sweat, is about looking as close to an action figure as humanly possible. Okay, so that’s only part of why people workout, but it’s definitely a significant factor, especially as you’re starting. You see Lebron James hammering down a dunk or Chris Hemsworth as Thor onscreen flexing on his enemies and you wonder how they get there. Well, part of how most of them get cut physiques is CrossFit. Hate it or love it, CrossFit is a fitness system that has taken the world by storm. Even UFC fighters do CrossFit to complement their fight game, improving their strength and stamina to be fresh throughout all their rounds.

Well, if you’re interested in getting started in CrossFit, then you’re in the right place. Jumping into any novel workout routine can be a terrifying, nerve-racking experience, and CrossFit is no different. With this guide, you’ll get to know the basics of CrossFit and how everything works. Our beginner’s guide to CrossFit won’t prepare you for the pain you’ll endure doing this high-intensity workout, but it will give you the knowledge to ease into the system. Let us help you prepare yourself for your first CrossFit class.


Train Safely

CrossFit isn’t something to be taken lightly, which is why you should take the time to check in with your primary physician to see if your body is ready for the demanding workout routines. If your doctor doesn’t confirm that you’re fit enough to give CrossFit a try, you can ease your way into it by performing simple workouts to prep your body. The last thing you want to do is jump in head first and underestimate the difficulty of CrossFit training.

When you’re in a CrossFit class, you’ll find people at various levels, so be mindful that you can be competitive, but don’t try and outclass an athlete who’s been there for a few years. Keep yourself in check and evolve as a CrossFit athlete at your own pace. Remember the slow is smooth and smooth will eventually be fast. Most CrossFit gyms will offer free classes for beginners, so give it a whirl before you make a monetary commitment.

CrossFit Lingo

Talk The Talk

Just like any fitness system or sport, CrossFit has its own vocabulary. We don’t want you to feel completely lost when you take your first CrossFit class, so we put together a list of CrossFit lingo you can familiarize yourself with before you hit the first session. There’s plenty more vocabulary you should know for CrossFit, but this list is a solid start.

10 General Physical Skills Of Fitness: Endurance, stamina, flexibility, strength, power, speed, agility, balance, accuracy, and coordination are the 10 skills the CrossFit system will improve.

Affiliate: An affiliate gym is a “box” that’s officially connected to a CrossFit brand.

AMRAP: As Many Reps (or Rounds) as Possible

ATG: This stands for Ass To Grass, which prompts you to do a full-depth squat.

Box: A box is a barebones gym with all the necessary equipment for a solid range of WODs.

CFWU: CrossFit Warm-Up

EMOM: This stands for Every Minute On the Minute, which refers to interval workouts where you perform a task at the start of every minute for a specific amount of time.

Score: Your score denotes the total number of reps during one workout.

The Girls: Several CrossFit benchmark workouts that are given female names.

WOD: This refers to the Workout Of the Day, which is meant to utilize your entire body.

What Is CrossFit?

Know The System

Before we get into what you’ll be doing in a normal class, let’s define CrossFit for clarity. Former gymnast Greg Glassman created CrossFit to amplify the amount of work in a short amount of time within one routine. CrossFit borrows various movements from several different sports, including weightlifting, powerlifting, rowing, and gymnastics. In doing CrossFit, you’re training your muscles to help you move more efficiently so you can be more agile and swift in everyday activities or high-intensity sports.

Taking your first CrossFit class can be a staggering experience, but we’re going to dissect what goes down so you’ll be more prepared for your first session. There’s nothing worse than going in blind and trying to keep your composure when you’re surrounded by fitness freaks cleaning 300lbs and blasting through bear crawls. All CrossFit classes are typically broken up into three sections: the warm-up, skill or strength training, and the workout of the day (WOD).

First Class

The warmup is tailored to complement the skill or strength portion of the workout, preparing you for the drills to come. If you’re focusing on a skill component, the workout is designed to advance your motor skills and coordination through exercises like jump-rope, muscle-ups, or one-legged squats. If strength training is on the menu, then you’ll be working on power movements with exercises like squats or deadlifts.

After the warmup and skills or strength training, you’ll be ready for the WOD. In the WOD, you’ll be doing a set of exercises within a given amount of time or for a set amount of reps. In general, the WOD will work out your entire body, so get ready to feel the burn and push exhaustion aside because you won’t have time to be tired. The WOD can be anywhere from eight to 16 minutes, but it can also be as short as three minutes. Yes, a three-minute workout may seem like a walk in the park, but with the intensity cranked up to 90% it will feel like there’s a hungry lion in that park and you have a meat belt wrapped around your waist. CrossFit gyms will sometimes create their own WODs, but there is a myriad of benchmark WODs named after women that a gym will draw from. In addition, there are Hero WODs named after service men and women who gave their lives for this country.

WODs For Beginners

Meet The Ladies

If you’re the type of person who wants to be as prepared as you possibly can be before jumping into something new, you might be interested in trying some WODs at home. This will help you become familiar with some of the movements so your muscles won’t get completely shocked on your first day. We’ve picked out three WODs so you can test out the moves and sample the intensity level of CrossFit training. If you decide to try out any of these WODs at home, please make sure to do so in a safe space and with the assistance of a friend. Stop the workout immediately if it becomes too difficult. We all take pride in doing our best, but sometimes pride turns into ego, and when ego takes the wheel, injuries aren’t too far behind. The following are two beginner workouts you can try out and one that’s a little more difficult, in case you’re feeling mighty.

Finish as many rounds of this workout as you can within 20 minutes.

  • 5 pull-ups
  • 10 push-ups
  • 15 squats

Perform three rounds of this routine for time.

  • 400-meter run
  • 21 kettlebell swings
  • 12 pull-ups

Do five rounds of this workout for time.

  • 20 pull-ups
  • 30 push-ups
  • 40 sit-ups
  • 50 squats

Finding A CrossFit Gym

Home Away From Home

If you live in a city, chances are you’ll be surrounded by a dozen or so CrossFit gyms, so it can be difficult to sift out the best one. Selecting a CrossFit center isn’t the same as signing up for a commercial gym. The community and coach are crucial in the experience and overall results you’ll get through the CrossFit system. First, you’ll want to play detective and check out the coaches at the gym your crosshairs are set on. Take a look at the gym’s website and read up on the background of each coach, especially the head honcho. Here is some information on CrossFit training certification and trainer levels you should keep in mind during your search:

CrossFit Level 1

This is an ANSI (American National Standards Institute) accredited certification, meaning this coach attended a weekend course and passed the test. They’ll be able to teach you basic movements, as well as how to scale each of them, but nothing further than that. The certification doesn’t cover anatomy or dealing with injuries.

CrossFit Level 2

A continuation of concepts learned in the first level, this certificate program is a more in-depth course meant for those serious about quality coaching. Coaches with this certificate learn the mechanics of functional movement, effective methods of correcting faults, ideal presence and attitude, and much more.

CrossFit Level 3 Trainer

If the coach has passed level 1 and 2, in addition to passing the CCFT(Certified CrossFit Trainer) exam, they’re eligible for a level 3 certification. Coaches with this designation have completed a minimum of 300 coaching hours and maintain a CPR certificate.

CrossFit Level 4 Coach

Presented to a trainer after assessment and evaluation, the level 4 coach certification is the highest available. Ideally, you’ll want to find a gym run by a coach with this certification.

The community and vibe of the gym are also important to consider in your search for a fitness home. No matter what they say on their website about how their methods and family mindset are unmatchable, the only way you’ll really learn about the community of the CrossFit gym you’re considering it is by checking it out for yourself. If they don’t offer a free class, you can call and ask if you can try out a session to consider signing up.

Once you land a free class, keep a few things in mind as you train there. Are the coaches and trainers helpful and friendly? Is the gym well-kept and clean? Do you feel like there’s a real sense of camaraderie? If not, there are plenty more gyms to consider, so don’t settle on a mediocre fitness box.

CrossFit Gear

Conquer Your Workouts

Onnit High-Performance Speed Rope

The jump rope is a truly indispensable fitness tool for any workout, including  boxing and CrossFit, and Onnit’s version is one made particularly well. The High-Performance Speed Rope is a mainstay for athletes of any sport as it provides an incredible cardio workout to meet your calorie-burning needs and can keep up with any level of intensity. This speed rope is made with ball bearings for smooth action and uses an eyelet and clamp system, allowing the rope to rotate freely without any catch.

Purchase: $35

Rehband RX Knee Sleeve

Made from a 5mm thick SBR (Styrene Butadiene Rubber) and neoprene blend flex-material, the Rehband RX Knee Sleeve will provide you with excellent protection to keep you safe when you do the WOD. This compression sleeve has a 3D design for a comfortable, contoured fit that will allow you to move naturally when you take on the various drills throughout your CrossFit session. As you’re working out, this knee sleeve will reduce pressure and swelling, keeping you fresh while you’re gunning for your personal record.

Purchase: $36

Bear Komplex 3 Hole Hand Grips

Knock your CrossFit session out with the Bear Complex 3 Hole Hand Grips. These breathable hand grips have a carbon fiber design with custom wrist straps, making them ideal for doing pull-ups, deadlifts, gymnastics, and more. They are made with superior leather to reduce slippage and their design provides joint compression and improved blood flow, reducing the direct strain on your knees during squats. If you’re looking to test your skills, these hand grips are legal for both Raw and Open competition.

Purchase: $40

Dark Iron Fitness Weight Lifting Belt

Strap the Dark Iron Fitness Weight Lifting Belt on and you’ll benefit from full lumbar support when you lift heavy. It’s built with a heavy-duty metal buckle, several adjustment holes to give you the perfect fit, and patented quality cowhide leather for durability. According to Dark Iron Fitness, the leather they use doesn’t tear, break, or wear out. You’ll be doing your fair share of lifting when you dedicate yourself to CrossFit, and this lifting belt will assist you in doing so safely.

Purchase: $40

2XU Xvent Short Sleeve Top

Using a regular shirt won’t cut it when you’re doing CrossFit, but the 2XU Event Short Sleeve Top is ready for high-intensity sessions. The semi-fitted workout t-shirt features three-way cooling via Xylitol, which draws heat away from your skin’s surface, XVENT fabric for breathability, and custom jacquard panels for moisture management. This t-shirt also features IR blocking that reflects the sun’s rays in case you do a drill outdoors and cross-section polyester yards for moisture evaporation.

Purchase: $50

Rhone Mako Shorts

The Rhone Mako Shorts are built for extreme cardio training, making them ideal for CrossFit athletes. They’re made with a moisture-wicking, four-way fabric, built-in performance compression liner, and drawcord-adjustable waistband. These gym shorts are made with two side pockets, a media pocket, and a hidden stash pocket so you can carry all of your compact gear. The shorts have gusseted seams to keep you free and mobile during any type of drill.

Purchase: $78

Aer Gym Duffel 2

When it comes to gym bags, the Aer Gym Duffel is a minimalist option that will carry all of your essentials for CrossFit action. The duffel is built with 1680D Cordura ballistic nylon and has a whopping 22.3 liters of internal space. It has a ventilated spacious main compartment, isolated shoe compartment that fits up to a men’s size 13 shoe, and a padded pouch for a 15.6-inch laptop.

Purchase: $150

Reebok CrossFit Nano 8.0

Developed with insight form CrossFit athletes, the Nano 8.0 is designed for maximum comfort during exhausting workouts. These workout shoes feature re-engineered Flexweave uppers for breathability, durability, and stability. In addition, they have added cushioning at the forefoot for more comfort as you train hard and forefoot flex grooves for improved flexibility. Engineered to push you toward success in a variety of WODs, these Reebok shoes are a must for CrossFit enthusiasts.

Purchase: $180

Best Fitness Recovery Products

Now that you’ve gained some knowledge on CrossFit and picked up some gear, you’ll want to think about post-workout recovery to prevent injuries and stay fresh. Check out our picks for the best fitness recovery products and help your muscles relaxes after a grueling CrossFit session.