Unless you have been living under a rock for the past few years, there is a new craze in the fitness world that has really caught fire… CrossFit.  Whether you have seen the CrossFit Games on ESPN or have heard your friends talking about things like Rich Fronning, burpees and wall balls, the term is not new to you.  Although the term may not be new to you, the workouts may be.  So if your interest is piqued, maybe it is time to try a beginner CrossFit workout…

What is CrossFit?

CrossFit is the sport of fitness through the use of constantly varied functional movements performed at relatively high intensity.  Many of the Workouts Of the Day (WODs) are timed events where you complete as many rounds as possible in “x” amount of time or see how long it takes you to complete “x” workout.  The use of the clock in CrossFit is a double-edged sword.  While it is great for the competitive spirit, it could also encourage the lesser-trained athlete (or beginner) to do “sloppy reps” in order to finish the workout quicker.  One should NEVER sacrifice form for speed.  NEVER.


So… is Crossfit dangerous?

There is potential danger in ANY workout when you combine improper form with lifting heavy weights at high speeds, but the fact that CrossFit workouts have a timed aspect, the CF community has taken a lot of unjustified and unwarranted backlash when people DO get injured.  The clock tends to bring out the inner Rocky in all of us, so the first thing to remember when doing a beginner CrossFit workout is: SAFETY FIRST.

With that said, this article will give you a beginner CrossFit workout that should help build a body that is capable of practically anything and everything.  The idea here is to hit as many muscle groups in as many planes of motion that we can so that the kinetic chain (combination of nervous, muscular and skeletal system) is firing on all cylinders.  Whether you are an elderly individual with cardiovascular issues or a Navy Seal keeping in shape for the next mission, the program will be the same.  The difference is that you would scale the load and intensity to suit your level.

Image by Runar Eilertsen.

This beginner CrossFit workout is a combination of a few CrossFit Benchmarks rolled into one:

The workout

– 5-10 minute dynamic warm-up.
– Perform as many rounds as possible (AMRAP) of the following in 15 minutes:

– 200-meter run

– 50 jump ropes

– 5 pull-ups

– 1 0 push-ups

– 15 air squats

– 20 full sit-ups

 – Cool down, work on mobility, foam roll and stretch.

 Tips for the workout:

1.  Do not run as fast as you can to start the workout.  Remember, this is a beginner CrossFit workout and you are just starting out!  Pace yourself to last the full 15 minutes.  If you go all out in the first minute, I would be willing to bet that at some point during the 15 minutes, you will be sitting down, possibly gasping for air, nauseous and asking yourself why you bothered to read my article.  You may even want to send me hate mail.

2.  If you are not able to do pull-ups or do not have access to a bar, then find a way to do a pulling motion.  Whether you have a TRX band or have to tie a rope around a tree, find a way to pull your body inward using your back, shoulder, bicep and forearm.  If you cannot find a way to simulate a pull-up, you can grab a weighted object (preferably a dumbbell) and do a rowing motion.  If you only have one weighted object, do a single arm rowing motion.  That’s the beauty of the routine… no one is watching or keeping track.  Unfortunately, that’s also the downside.  No one is there to critique your form.

crossfit2Image by Runar Eilertsen.

3.  If push-ups off the toes are too difficult, modify the push-up.  Have your knees on the floor and keep your body straight from your knees to your shoulders as you lower your body down and push away from the floor.  If it is still too difficult, do them off a bench at an incline.  Find a way to place your hands shoulder width apart, lower your chest down between your hands and extend your arms until they are straight, but not locked out at the elbows.  Touch the chest to the floor/bench each time.

4.  For the air squats, pretend you are sitting in an imaginary chair.  Feet shoulder distance apart, bend at the knee as you push your hips back.  Your heels should always have contact with the floor.  Once your hips get to knee level (or below), start the concentric movement upwards until you have extended the hips and knees and are standing nice and tall with good posture after each repetition.

5.  The sit-up should have you in a position where you are lying on the floor with your heels down and approximately 6 inches from your butt.  If this is too hard, move the feet further from the body and still try and keep them down as you do the sit-up.  If it is still too hard, turn it into crunches.

6.  When the 15 minutes is up, mark down how many rounds you were able to complete, so you have the records for next time!  If you were to continue this routine 3 times/week for a month, I would expect your movements to become more efficient and your time to improve at least slightly with each workout.

7.  Remember that it is you against you.  You know your limits and your body better than anyone else, and you should be listening to your body throughout the workout.  If you feel that you’re going too fast, slow down.  If you can’t perform the movement, modify it.  It’s not rocket science.  Heck, it’s not even exercise science.  It’s common sense science.

8.  My last tip is the most important.  Have fun with it and feel good about what you were able to accomplish in such a short time!

I finished the beginner CrossFit workout… what now?!

After you have tried the beginner CrossFit workout, you can decide if it is something you would like to continue with.  If so, there are “boxes” sprouting up all over the place.  You will need to do their intro course and pass their OnRamp, where you would learn the 9 Foundational Movements: 1) dead lift, 2) sumo deadlift high pull, 3) clean, 4) squat, 5) front squat, 6) overhead squat, 7) press, 8) push press, 9) jerk.  Yes, you could do the beginner CrossFit workout at home (or anywhere, really), but if you want to start seeing better results and really challenging yourself, you should try being involved in a CrossFit program for a month at the very least.  After that, you would be a part of the CrossFit community, one of the healthiest fittest communities of all!

**If you have any questions, comments or concerns, please feel free to email me!

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Pollyanna Hale Health and Lifestyle coaches
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