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What You Need to Know About CrossFit (and How to Train Safely and Effectively)

If you want the official mantra of what CrossFit CEO and Founder Greg Glassman thinks defines fitness, it’s this:

‘Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar. Keep intake to levels that will support exercise but not body fat. Practice and train major lifts: Deadlift, clean, squat, presses, C&J, and snatch. Similarly, master the basics of gymnastics: pull-ups, dips, rope climb, push-ups, sit-ups, presses to handstand, pirouettes, flips, splits, and holds. Bike, skipping rope, run, swim, row, etc, hard and fast. Five or six days per week mix these elements in as many combinations and patterns as creativity will allow. Routine is the enemy. Keep workouts short and intense. Regularly learn and play new sports.’

What you need to know about CrossFit

Those 100 words form and inform the basis of both CrossFit, and the kind of nutrition plan you might wish to follow, if you’re really going to go back to basics (we’re talking about a paleo diet, but we’ll come to that later).

In a bit, we’ll break down everything we’re about to mention, but first up, let’s take a look at what CrossFit is, how it began and all of that.

(There’ll be some skipping over essential stuff here, but don’t worry, it’s all going to be referenced again later on, so you’ll know exactly what’s what by the end of it.)

Here’s what you’ll learn in this article:

  • What CrossFit is and how it began
  • Who trains CrossFit
  • Pros and cons of CrossFit
  • CrossFit terminology
  • Example workouts
  • How to get started
More resources in our blog:

What is CrossFit?

Created by Greg Glassman in 1995, CrossFit is essentially a strength and conditioning program that was designed to improve and maximize the general physical fitness and performance levels of its participants.

Essentially, it’s focused on making certain you can physically handle anything that life throws at you. This is achieved by not specializing in any particular exercise discipline, but instead incorporating a broad range of strength, cardio and gymnastic routines.

The cornerstone of CrossFit is an array of continuously varied, functional movements performed at high intensity levels for short time periods. Movements like sprinting, rowing, jumping rope, climbing rope, flipping tires, weight lifting, carrying heavy objects, and several body weight exercises are incorporated into daily workout routines.

Crossfit’s unofficial mantra is to create athletes who are equipped with ‘general physical preparedness.’

CrossFit operates around a schedule of daily workout routines, more commonly known as WODs – Workout Of the Day routines. A complete workout can usually be performed in less than 20 minutes (although some are timed, and many are much longer, up to an hour and beyond).

There are a number of pre-set benchmark routines called ‘the Girls’ which we’ll come to later, and another set of workouts named after emergency personnel who have died in the line of duty, known as Hero Workouts. Again, don’t worry too much about these right now, as we’ll get into them in a bit more detail soon.

CrossFit incorporates a wide range of strength, cardio, plyometric and gym equipment. A single workout may include rowing machines, Olympic barbells and bumper plate weights, a plyometric box, dumbbells, jump ropes, climbing ropes and metal rig for pull-ups and other movements.

Other workouts might include running, weighted medicine balls or large, heavy tires. It’s up to the CrossFit athlete or their coach to determine the daily schedule and workout activities to be performed. Your coach will work out a plan to help build strength and cardiovascular fitness over a period of time known as a cycle.

CrossFit can benefit just about anybody that’s looking to improve the quality of their daily life, enhance their capability to perform physical tasks, or anyone who just wants to look and feel better.

Because CrossFit incorporates such a broad range of physical activities, the program creates power, strength, balance, athleticism and endurance, while burning fat for good measure! Everyone, men, women, old and young can all achieve exceptional results if they’re willing to put in the effort and time. The only limitation with CrossFit is how far you’re willing to push yourself each day.

Sounds intense? Sounds fun, we say! Let’s take a look at who trains CrossFit.

What kind of people train CrossFit?

What kind of people train CrossFit

The really great thing about CrossFit, is that absolutely anyone can do it
. Really, anyone. CrossFit Kids classes are popular all over the world, and the positive impact functional exercise can have on the elderly, both in terms of happiness, self-esteem and general health, is incredible.

Think we’re kidding? Check out 73-year-old Jacinto Bonilla and tell us we’re kidding. 

CrossFit is adaptable, too. Every movement in the sport of CrossFit has a scaled equivalent, so there’s never any reason for you not to be able to take part. Can’t jump onto a 24” box? You step onto it, or you step onto a 10” box. CrossFit is for everyone, and so if you’re wondering what sort of people train CrossFit, go and look outside. Look in the mirror.

Why people train CrossFit

Everyone has their own reason for training. Some people do it because they want to compete. Others do it because they want to lose weight or get stronger.

Every reason for wanting to train CrossFit is as valid as the next, and there as many reasons as there are people doing it (which is millions, by the way).

We went out to the Velites community recently to ask for some of the reasons why they love training with CrossFit. Here are just a few of their responses:

  • ‘CrossFit makes it possible for me to do things I just can’t do at a regular gym.’
  • ‘I’m 47 years old, and honestly, I’m stronger and fitter now after 3 years of CrossFit than I have ever been in my entire life.’
  • ‘I work in the police force, and CrossFit training is the best way for me to stay in shape, simultaneously improving my strength and stamina.’
  • ‘It’s fun! I get to hang out with my friends every single day, doing something that we all love.’
  • ‘I joined CrossFit because I moved to a new city and wanted to make some like-minded friends. It’s been great for that.’
  • ‘The CrossFit community is the best. So supportive. Everyone is so encouraging and you can make friends for life just talking shit about barbells.’

 Sure, getting strong and fast is one reason people love CrossFit, but the community is what CrossFit is really known for. Like our community members said, there’s nothing like hanging out with your friends every day, throwing down and getting fit, then chatting about it afterwards.

 You don’t have to be super competitive to do CrossFit. You just need to like to have some fun.

What you need to know abour CrossFit - Sónia Alves

Pros and Cons of CrossFit

Okay, before we get too carried away (we totally already did), let’s take a cold hard look at some of the barebones pros and cons of training CrossFit.

The Pros of Training CrossFit

  • You’ll get strong — all-over body strong, too. Working multiple muscle groups together.
  • Olympic lifting — you’ll learn how to properly clean and jerk, and snatch.
  • Increased stamina — your stamina and pain tolerance will rise.
  • Improved cardiovascular fitness — go harder, for longer.
  • Improved coordination — most CrossFit movements are designed to improve your bodily coordination.
  • Social life — you’ll make new friends!
  • Individual coaching — you’ll get a coach who knows you and your needs.

 The Cons of Training CrossFit

  • It’s not cheap — compared to a standard gym membership, CrossFit memberships can be x3 even x4 times the price.
  • It’s hard — expect to work hard if you want to see any sort of real return.
  • It’s run on scheduled classes — classes are usually an hour long and scheduled, so unless you can make open gym all the time, you’ll be working to their time.
  • Warm-up and aftercare — CrossFit warm-ups are long, and mobility aftercare is essential (and time consuming)

CrossFit Terminology: WOD the F?

The weird and wonderful CrossFit terminology

This part is a lot of fun. Here we’re going to slap down a massive list of all the weird and wonderful terminology you’ll hear being thrown around at your local CrossFit gym.

Free from Velites: Check out this infographic on NOTE  to help you get the most out of your first CrossFit experience.

Ready? Here we go. (Note: this list doesn’t include every movement, just the ones with shortened names or acronyms.)

Box – The CrossFit name for a gym. Named because original CrossFit gyms were usually very small, often found on industrial estates.

WOD – Workout of the Day.

RX – As prescribed. Doing all of the movements in a workout at the prescribed weight/numbers

Scaled – Doing a different version of a movement or a lower weight than RX.

AMRAP – As Many Rounds/Reps as Possible

BW – Bodyweight

C&J – Clean and Jerk

C2 – Concept2 (rowing machine or ski machine)

CFT – CrossFit Total (your combined back squat, bench press and deadlift)

Chipper – A long workout done for time (once through)

Clean – Usually done with a barbell, involves moving the bar from the floor or a hang position, to the shoulders.

CTB/C2B – Chest to bar (pull-ups)

DOMS – Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness

GHD – Glute Hamstring Developer (machine)

Globo Gym – Standard name for any gym that isn’t a CrossFit gym

Goat – Any movement you’re not great at, that you hate

HSPU – Handstand push-ups

Hero – Hero WOD (WODs named for front-line people who have died in service)

K2E – Knees to elbows (on the rig)

Kipping – Rocking motion of the hips, used to make pull-ups faster

Metcon – Metabolic conditioning

PB – Personal best

Pood – Russian weight measure (1 pood = 16kg)

Rep – Repetition

RM – Rep max (e.g. 1RM back squat)

Set – The number of reps in a group (e.g. 2 sets of 4 reps)

Tabata – Training method (8 rounds, 20secs working/ 10sec rest)

T2B/TTB – Toes to bar (on the rig)

TnG – Touch and go (not dropping the bar between reps)

Unbroken – Performing a set of movements without stopping or dropping the weight

Example CrossFit WODs (the basics)

No two CrossFit workouts are ever exactly the same, unless you’re repeating a Hero WOD or a benchmark Girl WOD.

CrossFit terminology - Ricardo Pereira

Here, we’ve put together six workouts and strength components (including one Hero WOD and one Girl WOD), to give you an idea of what you might see at a typical CrossFit box on any given week.

Monday

Strength:

Front Squat // Find a heavy double // Then 5 sets of 2 at 80%

 WOD:

16 min AMRAP // 5 power cleans, 10 burpees, 15 T2B

 Tuesday

Strength:

Strict press // 8 sets of 3 at 70% of 1RM

 WOD:

Fran // 21-15-9, thrusters and pull-ups

Tabata hollow holds

 Wednesday

Strength:

Deadlift // Find a heavy 3, 2 and 1RM

 WOD:

20 min AMRAP // 1 deadlift, 2 HSPU, 3 C2B pull ups // Add 1 rep to each movement every round

 Thursday

Strength:

Front squat // 5 sets of 10 reps at 60%

 WOD:

10 rounds // 10 strict pull ups, 30 double-unders (BUY Velites Fire 2.0), 10 kettlebell swing

 Friday

Strength:

Power clean // Find a 1RM // Drop weight to 75%, perform 5 sets of 5 reps

 WOD:

Chipper // 100 double-unders, 80 kettlebell swings, 60 pull-ups, 40 strict HSPU, 20 slam ball, 10 bar muscle-up

 Saturday

 WOD:

MURPH // 1 mile run, 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups, 300 air squats, 1 mile run // Wearing weighted vest

Velites tip: Don’t forget to download our free infographic to make the most of your CrossFit experience.

How to get into CrossFit

How to get into CrossFit

Alright, so if by now you’re interested in giving CrossFit a try, it’s simple to get in touch with your local affiliate and get started. Here’s how to do it in four easy steps:

  1. Google local CrossFit boxes in your area. Just search for ‘CrossFit [plus your city or neighbourhood]
  2. Call or email and ask to go and take a look at the place. One of the coaches will show you around and offer a taster session (often free, or for a small fee)
  3. Enjoy your taster session, take it easy, talk to people. Ask about membership options and sleep on it.
  4. Pick the membership that’s right for you, and get going on your CrossFit journey.

That’s all there is to it. There’s a lot to learn, but starting out in CrossFit is always a lot of fun.

If you enjoyed this article, share it, and tag a friend who you’d love to get into CrossFit with.

And if you need help picking the right equipment, including the right jump rope, talk to one of the Velites team at help@velitessport.com. We’d love to hear from you.

 How to get into CrossFit - Vrope Fire 2.0

Velites Sport

Written by Velites Sport

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