Chances are, you’ve heard about CrossFit and you’ve been at least a little curious about it. Maybe you’ve even tried it.

CrossFit is a global phenomenon: 12,000 locations, hundreds of thousands of diehards, and a full-body workout that can make you look like a superhero. If you have never heard about CrossFit, it’s defined as constantly varied movement, usually done at high intensity and/or high volume. But what does that mean, exactly? Basically, it means that CrossFit workouts feature a wide variety of movements – and many slightly unorthodox fitness tools – to simulate the demands of a highly active life. It features a large collection of workouts and training styles that take the idea of cross training to a whole different level. Working out is usually performed in timed workouts with a fixed number of movements and including Olympic lifting movements like cleans and snatches as well as plyometric and bodyweight movements.

If you have heard about CrossFit before you may have heard amazing things. There are a lot of things to like about CrossFit. It packs a big workout into a short timeframe. It’s built around interval training and weights, which are known to challenge muscles and build fitness.

Equally you may have heard its dangerous and there is a high risk of getting injured. The reason people get injured is because exercises are not universal; just because a movement looks great doesn’t mean we should all try it. We need to be  mindful of our physical limitations as long as we apply this we should be ok. The problem is there is an urge when training with others to want to lift as much as them or go as fast and this is where injuries can happen. That said the camaraderie of the CrossFit community is really powerful and a reason so many get hooked on it. Overall it is up to you as an induvial and the keys to success in almost any fitness endeavour include listening to your body, working within your limits, and adequately fueling and hydrating your body. It’s also important to get much needed rest time to ensure you don’t get overtrained or injured. Ultimately, which fitness routine you decide to incorporate into your lifestyle is your choice.

What does a CrossFit workhout look like?

CrossFit exercises are nothing new and whilst it all sounds a bit intimidating, that doesn’t mean that the exercises associated with Crossfit, like burpees 🙂 you should avoid doing all together.

For example, Fran, one of the sports signature workouts, is a workout couplet that consists of thrusters (a front squat into an overhead press) and pull-ups. Squats, overhead presses and pull-ups are all moves that you should include in your toolbox.

CrossFit WODs are incredibly varied but there are themes that run through most of them. The most obvious is that you’ll be doing high amounts of reps of a handful of exercises at speed. Here are some exercises we can all take into our training,

Burpees

I do love a burpee! It sits at the throne of bodyweight moves because it hits you everywhere and jacks your heart rate at the same time. There are lot of variations you can throw in to make burpees more difficult or modify the movement to scale down the intensity. But the concept is simple: get your chest on the ground then stand up, jump and clap at the top because every burpee completed is a victory onto itself.

Squats

Everyone should squat regardless of what they do. Bodyweight squats will hit your legs hard but also assist with hip mobility. They’re also convenient. If you have enough space to sit down, you can bang out a set of squats wherever you are. Going at bodyweight also allows you to add volume and make them part of your cardio routine. Weighted back squats and front squats also require you to work your core. So yes, you can squat for six-pack abs too.

Box jumps

It’s a great plyometric move. Leaping from the ground onto a box, bench or other elevated surface, activates your body’s fast twitch muscles to generate force and increases agility, athleticism and explosiveness. The higher you jump, the more muscles your body will recruit. And it burns fat fast. Just be careful to set the box jump at a safe height, especially if you plan for high repetitions.

Simply start with your feet at shoulder-width distance, shoot your hips back and bend your knees. Quickly jump vertically, landing with both feet firmly on the box and stand tall at the top. Be sure when jumping back down, to land with a slight bend in the knees to reduce the impact on your joints.

Thrusters

A Thruster is a front squat into an overhead press. Combing a front squat and an overhead press, thrusters might feel like a terrible decision when your lungs are on fire but if you want an efficient and effective way to hit every muscle in your body with one most, thrusters are basically a one-stop shop that you can perform with a barbell or a set of dumbbells. Light of heavy these will burn!! It’s a full body movement that jacks up the heart rate up, produces lactic acid and muscular fatigue and eventually leaves you on your back gasping for air.

Pull-ups

There are tons of pull-ups in CrossFit and there should be. Pull-ups are a tremendous upper body builder that increases strength and hits your arms, back, shoulders and core. But because a CrossFit workout might use them in high volume, many athletes element a kip or a butterfly kip either to accomplish more reps or to rip through them faster in timed workouts. It is much more beneficial to do them without a Kip epically if you are not a CrossFit competitive athletes you don’t need to go high speed  on these. And avoid altogether if you habve shouler mobility issues or injuruies. To perfoma a full up focus on keep your elbow inward and facing the floor. Pull your bodyweight up through your lats and focus on getting a full range of motion with your chin above the bar at the top and your arms straight at the bottom.

CrossFit Diets

Also to talk a little about nutrition for CrossFitters. One reason why CrossFit has been so successful: It promises more than just a workout. It gives you a lifestyle. To keep their energy up, CrossFitters are encouraged to follow something called a Paleo diet: heavy on meat and vegetables – food fit for a caveman.

When it comes to losing fat and building the physique you’re working toward, diet plays a much bigger role than exercise. Your diet also has to be able to fuel your exercise. If you aren’t supplying your body with proper nutrition, it will not be able to fully recover from your workouts. When this happens, you may start to experience symptoms of overtraining syndrome, including decreased performance, depression, sleeplessness, even muscle loss and fat gain.

And the dietary recommendations that go along with CrossFit’s workouts are a little vague, at best. In general, CrossFit HQ advocates paleo, Zone and other high-protein, low-carb diets. While I definitely agree that people tend to mishandle carbs, it’s important to recognize that this macronutrient is a major source of fuel for your body, especially during extremely intense workouts like those involved in CrossFit. So, without proper education, it’s entirely possible for CrossFitters to simply not eat in a way that supports their workouts.