An Essential CrossFit Guide for Beginners

A fitness regimen that coaches people of all fitness levels, CrossFit may be the most popular and most misunderstood fitness trend out there. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s all about or nixed it entirely, it may be time to take another look. The exercise philosophy is helping members of more than 13,000 affiliated gyms -“boxes”- discover a love of exercise, reach their fitness goals, and empower each other. Here is the essential CrossFit guide for beginners you’ve been looking for!

An Essential Crossfit Guide for Beginners

Here’s everything you’ve ever wondered about CrossFit and more:

  • What is CrossFit?
  • Who is CrossFit for?
  • What do you do during a CrossFit workout?
  • How to find a CrossFit gym
  • Myths and other questions

What is CrossFit?

Don’t know what to do with all of those weights? Don’t worry! The coach and other CrossFit instructors will help you.

Don’t know what to do with all of those weights? Don’t worry! The coach and other CrossFit instructors will help you.

Something about the primitive design of the gyms, or “boxes” as CrossFit participants often refer to them as, combined with the idea of heavy weight lifting conjures negative memories of high school gym class for some people. But if you look closer into a CrossFit “box” you will often find just the opposite: A group of people of all fitness backgrounds supporting each other.

CrossFit is a high-intensity fitness regimen that incorporates elements of interval training with weightlifting, gymnastics, plyometrics and more. Primarily a strength and conditioning program, CrossFit’s daily workouts consist mainly of weight lifting, aerobic exercise and calisthenics (body weight exercises).

Many police academies and military units incorporate the program in their training.

Who is CrossFit for?

Developed by Greg Glassman, CrossFit is, at its core, a training philosophy. By design, CrossFit is broad and inclusive, and harnesses a community of camaraderie and healthy competition. While the organization touts that it conditions the world’s fittest, Glassman designed it to be “infinitely scalable,” for people of any and all fitness level.

CrossFit participants range from grandparents to olympic athletes, and everything in between. However, there is one thing Glassman says CrossFit participants have in common: commitment. For any committed individual, CrossFit exercises don’t change per person. CrossFit trainers simply just scale the load and intensity of each exercise for each person’s individual experience and needs.

What do you do during a CrossFit workout?

CrossFit workouts are usually about 45 minutes to 1 hour long.

CrossFit workouts are usually about 45 minutes to 1 hour long.

When you first walk into a CrossFit “box,” it looks different than your typical gym or barre studio. Because CrossFit relies so heavily on weights, you won’t see a big sea of cardio equipment. Instead, there are barbells, dumbbells, jump ropes, pull up bars, kettlebells, resistance bands and many other tools that you may or may not have used before. But don’t worry – that is what the class is for!

CrossFit workouts are usually about 45 minutes to 1 hour long. Everyone moves at their own pace, as instructors walk around keeping track of everyone’s progress. Workouts use constantly-varied, high intensity functional movement to help participants reach fitness levels they never have achieved before. A typical session includes:

  • The warm up: A typical Crossfit warm-up session is about 12-15 minutes long. It’s designed to get your blood pumping, and often includes jumping jacks, jump rope, lunges, squats and more.
  • Workout of the Day (WOD): The heart of the CrossFit workout routine, each day, there is a Workout of the Day, or WOD. Trainers prescribe the WOD to participants, often writing it as an a Rx on the wall. You can get a sense of a typical WOD and follow WODs here.
  • Strength/Skill Training: On some days, this part of a CrossFit workout is dedicated to skill, focusing on drills that will enhance skills included in WODs. On other days, a class may focus on strength, including exercises such as squats and deadlifts.
  • Stretching: The cool-down stretching session gives your body a chance to get its temperature back to normal and your muscles a chance to recover.

Each day, the workout tests a different portion of your core and functional strength. The goal is not to specialize in one area or another, but rather to challenge your body in different ways each day.

How to find a CrossFit gym

There are 13,000 affiliated CrossFit gyms, or “boxes,” around the world.

There are 13,000 affiliated CrossFit gyms, or “boxes,” around the world.

Almost all CrossFit gyms will let you come in and try a workout for free. Trying an initial introductory class (with a friend, if you’re more comfortable) is a great way to start. The introduction class includes a quick overview followed by a basic body weight movement workout.

Here is a map of all of the CrossFits around the world. Chances are there is one near you! With so many to choose from, it’s important to pick one that meets your individual needs. Make sure:

  • There is an experienced coach there that you feel comfortable with.
  • The WODs posted on their website are varied. If not, it could be a sign that the coach is inexperienced.
  • The location and schedule is convenient for you.

Myths and other questions

Is CrossFit dangerous?

You may have crossed CrossFit off of your list because it sounds dangerous, or perhaps you know someone who was injured at one. During a typical CrossFit workout, a coach may encourage participants to lift as much weight as they can, as quickly as they can. As long as you remember that keeping good form is essential and don’t get caught up in the competition, CrossFit as a whole is generally as safe as any other fitness program.

Is CrossFit expensive?

Most classes are $10-$20. But remember you can usually take an initial free class. Try out a few different CrossFits in your area (why not, it’s free!) and then settle on one in which you feel the $10-$20 is a solid investment in your health.

Is it like High School gym class?

The ultimate question: If you hated gym in high school, will you hate CrossFit?

Not necessarily. The camaraderie and support other participants provide and the instructor’s ability to tweak any exercise so it’s achievable make it very different than gym class. However, if you prefer individualized sports or have one specialty that you would miss if it weren’t included in your workout, such as dancing, it may not be the perfect choice for you.

For most people, however, it can be an empowering way to reach health and fitness goals.

Thinking of trying CrossFit? Proper hydration is essential.

Many people who do CrossFit follow a Paleo diet that is high in protein. Did you know that Healthy Human is proud to be the first certified Paleo Friendly product, outside of food and beauty, by the Paleo Foundation?

If you are considering starting a CrossFit regimen, join us over at Healthy Human and make us your essential hydration partner.

Like our essential crossfit guide for beginners?

Are you a CrossFit devotee? Do you have some CrossFit tips for beginners? Let us know in the comments below.