First Step to Crossfit
First Step to Crossfit
Crossfit is EVERYWHERE these days
You can watch the Crossfit Games on ESPN. Watch commercials, motivation & tutorials on YouTube. It has a huge presence online. As a matter of fact, people working out in gyms have yet to get familiar with Crossfit. Believe me, to do Crossfit one needs to be crazy about fitness, physically as well as mentally
You might be wondering, “Hey Canute! What the hell is Crossfit, and is it for me?”
It goes back to 2012 when Reebok had introduced Crossfit in India. Since 2012, we have had many Indian Crossfit Athletes who have done remarkable jobs. But has it penetrated the Indian hearts? I’m just making an attempt to voice out that Crossfit is something everybody should do, can do, or shall at least make an attempt to do it.
What the Hell is Crossfit?
Crossfit is advertised, in four words, as “The Sport of Fitness”
The Crossfit prescription is performing “functional movements that are constantly varied at high intensity.” Crossfit is a core strength and conditioning program. The Crossfit program is designed to elicit as broad an adaptation response as possible. Crossfit is not a specialized fitness program but a deliberate attempt to optimize physical competence in each of ten recognized fitness domains. They are as follows:
Cardiovascular and Respiratory Endurance
Crossfit is a training program that builds strength and conditioning through extremely varied and challenging workouts. Each day the workout will challenge your functional strength or conditioning by focusing on the goal of building a body that’s capable of practically anything and everything.
Crossfit is extremely different from a commercial gym.
Who is Crossfit for?
According to the Crossfit site, this program “is designed for universal scalability making it the perfect application for any committed individual regardless of experience.
Everyone to be honest. I know that sounds crazy but it’s true. Parents, college students, adults, teenagers, youth, many professional and elite athletes are all participating in the Crossfit Program. Prize-fighters, cyclists, surfers, skiers, tennis players, triathletes, and others competing at the highest levels are using the Crossfit approach to advance their core strength and conditioning, but that’s not all. Crossfit has tested its methods on the sedentary, the youth, overweight, pathological, and elderly and found that these special populations met the same success as our stable of athletes. We call this bracketing or scaling. If our program works for Olympic Skiers, the overweight, and sedentary homemakers, then it will work for you.
• Beginners to weight training – If you have NEVER weight trained before, Crossfit is a great place for you to start. You’ll learn how to do all of the important lifts in a super supportive and non-judgmental environment.
• People looking for support and community – Every Crossfit gym has a really tight-knit community feel to it. You’re not just a membership payment to them…you’re a person that needs help. • Fitness fanatics – The way Crossfit is structured, you are working out with regular consistency. The general protocol for beginners is 3 days on, 1 day off. Once the body gets used to the workout, one can go in for 5 days and a day off. • Masochists – This means that you’ll often be in situations where you are using 100% of your effort to finish a workout, exhausting yourself, and forcing yourself through incredible amounts of pain.
Although Crossfit can be for everybody, it certainly ISN’T for everybody.
There are a few people for whom I don’t think Crossfit would be as beneficial, but this doesn’t mean they won’t enjoy it: • Specialists: Crossfit prides itself on not specializing, which means that anybody who is looking to specialize (like, let’s say a powerlifter) will not get the best results following the standard Crossfit workout schedule. If you want to be good at a specific activity, that’s where your focus should be. • Sport-specific athletes: Like the specialists, if you are an athlete training for a sport, you’d be better off finding a coach that is trained in getting great performances out of athletes in your specific sport. Every sport has special movements that require certain types of power in specific muscles. Crossfit prepares you for everything, but won’t improve your specific sport skills unless you are training for those specific sport skills! Many athletes choose to combine Crossfit with sport-specific workouts. • Solo trainers: Some people, myself included, love to work out alone. Crossfit is group training, which means you won’t have that opportunity to get your stuff done on your own.
Is it dangerous?
In short, yes it can be, for a few reasons…but not as dangerous as you might be led to believe.
1. In the wrong situations, with the wrong coaches, and a person with the wrong attitude, Crossfit can absolutely be very dangerous.
2. During a Crossfit workout, you’re generally told to complete a number of strength training or endurance exercises as fast as possible, or complete as many repetitions as possible in a certain amount of time.
3. When people push themselves too hard, too much, too fast, their muscle fiber break down and are released into the bloodstream, poisoning the kidneys. At Crossfit, they refer to this as “Uncle Rhabdo,” though it’s not something funny or enjoyable.
What’s a Crossfit class like?
Let’s say you’re interested in joining a Crossfit class…but you don’t know what you’re getting into!
Practically every Crossfit gym around the world will let you come in and try out a class for free, so contact your local gyms and find out what dates and times they’re having newbie sessions. This is how the classes are usually structured:
Introduction class – For people who have never tried Crossfit before. Usually, there’s a quick overview, and then a basic bodyweight movement workout, and then they talk to you about joining. These are usually free.
On-ramp/Elements – If you’re interested in joining the regular Crossfit workout, you’ll most likely be required to go through the on-ramp/Elements course. The purpose of these is to teach you the nine foundational movements of Crossfit and all about proper form.
Sumo Deadlift High Pull
No matter how experienced you are, these are valuable and worth the time and money. Even if you think you have perfect form on your squats, deadlifts, and/or overhead presses, it’s amazing what can be fixed when you have a trained set of eyes watching you do them.
Regular classes: This is what you’re probably used to seeing or hearing about. A regular Crossfit class takes anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour. Everybody starts at the same time, there are instructors walking around helping out and keeping track, and everybody is supporting each other and probably sweating a lot.
Most Crossfit gyms will split their classes into three or four sections:
Dynamic warm-up – not jogging on a treadmill for 5 minutes, but jumps, jumping jacks, jump rope, squats, push-ups, lunges, pull-ups. Functional movements, stretches, and mobility work that complement the movements you’ll be doing in the workout that day.
Skill/Strength work: If it’s a strength day, then you’ll work on a pure strength movement (like squats or deadlifts). If it’s not a strength day, then you’ll work on a skill and try to improve, like one-legged squats or muscle-ups.
WOD: the workout of the day. This is where you’ll be told to do a certain number of reps of particular exercises as quickly as possible, or you’ll have a set time limit to do as many of a certain exercise as possible.
Cooldown and stretching: Either as a group, or you’re allowed to stretch out on your own. This would also be the time for people who pushed too hard to go puke in a trash can and stretch their stomach muscles
How to find a Crossfit Gym
So, let’s say you’re interested in trying out a Crossfit class or maybe joining a Crossfit gym. If you happen to live in a city, there are probably more than a dozen Crossfit in your area. Other than picking the one that’s closest to you, why not put a bit more thought into it? This isn’t like picking a commercial gym – the community and coach are so freaking important.
First and foremost, you need a gym with competent, experienced coaches. You should be able to see through that particular Crossfit gym’s website – not the main CF site – who the coaches are and how long they have been teaching, including their certifications. Just go to Crossfit.com & search the affiliate section out there to get a renowned box.
Well, I personally go to the 9th Gear Gym, Mulund, Mumbai, India. Have done research on several Crossfit boxes. The ones mentioned in the affiliate section are just mind-blowing but costly for me & quite far as well. Thought of an alternative & approached various gyms within my area. Discovered a couple of them who have Crossfit Training but not all have a good setup. 9th Gear has a proper space & the community out there is just awesome.
The other important thing to check out is PROGRAMING! The crossfit program can be truly random, and an inexperienced coach can accidentally program back-to-back workouts that use the same muscle groups in the same way, not giving you enough time to recover. On every Crossfit gym’s website, there’s a blog where they post the workout of the day. Look over this for the gym you want to check out – see what they typically do. If they do high rep cleans three days in a row, they obviously don’t program well. Or if you see every day for a week with heavy shoulders movements, be wary!
Remember, most Crossfit will let you attend one class for free. If you have a few in your area, try out each of them once before making your decision. Go to each of them, and make note of the other members there – are they supportive of each other? Did they introduce themselves and welcome you? Were the coaches nice and hands-on with their advice during the workout? Crossfit gyms are no different.
Can I do it at home?
Every day, CrossFit.com puts out the workout of the day (or WOD), which can be done at home, in a commercial gym, or in a Crossfit gym.
Every Crossfit gym will put out their own WOD as well, which can be different from the CrossFit.com site – if you happen to find a local Crossfit site that you enjoy but don’t attend full time, it’s more than okay to follow their workouts.
The best news about this is the workouts are posted free of charge to anybody that is interested in doing them. There is even a site dedicated to scaling the workout posted on CrossFit.com to account for different abilities. Crossfit is often prohibitively expensive, so if you love Crossfit but are looking to save money, you can follow along at home or in your office gym provided they have the right equipment.
Many times, you’ll run into situations where you can’t complete a particular workout because you don’t have the right equipment – do the best you can with what’s available to you, and keep track of how you made your modification for tracking purposes.
Now, there are a few issues with following Crossfit at home or by yourself in a gym:
Nobody is checking your form
Nobody is cheering you on
You probably don’t have all of the equipment
You will want to buy all of the equipment
Even with all of these negatives, it could save you a few hundred bucks a month by not joining a gym, so I don’t blame you – just be smart about it.
One of my favorite “first time” Crossfit workouts is a benchmark workout named Cindy. It’s a simple bodyweight circuit and can be done practically anywhere – the only equipment you need is a pull-up bar. It’s a favorite for traveling, and shorter versions of it (3 rounds) is often used as a warm-up.
20-minute AMRAP (as many rounds as possible)
What this means is that you put 20 minutes on the clock and then, you do as many rounds as possible (AMRAP) of 5 pull-ups, 10 push-ups, and 15 squats before the time runs out. There is no rest in between rounds – so as soon as you finish your 15 squats you start on the pull-ups again.
Now, let’s look at each movement and how to scale it down if necessary.
5 Pull-ups – You’re allowed to kip these (which is a useful skill any time that your goal is not pure strength). If you can’t do regular pull-ups, you can do banded pull-ups, chair-assisted pull-ups or jumping pull-ups instead. Don’t have a pull-up bar? Do body-weight rows.
10 push-ups – The standard Crossfit push-up is chest to the deck, but if you can’t do that, you can substitute knee push-ups or wall push-ups.
15 squats – this is a basic air squat, with no weight.
There are also other variations of this workout for beginner athletes. Some examples are:
AMRAP 12 min
AMRAP 10 min
Sound too easy? Go faster. While you are getting strength benefits from this workout, the goal of this workout is more metabolic conditioning, so making the movements harder (like switching to dive-bomber push-ups) isn’t something you would want to do here.
Pros and Cons of Crossfit
GREAT community aspect.
Constant coaching and support.
If you don’t show up, not only do people notice, but they call you and ask where you’ve been.
Humbling yet encouraging.
It introduces SO MANY people to weight lifting, especially women.
It’s a good outlet for former athletes who like to compete.
You get to find out what you’re made of.
It builds hot bodies.
It builds good muscular endurance and all-round fitness.
Not great for specialization.
Lack of consistency.
A bad coach can REALLY cause problems.
Almost everything is for time or most reps possible.
You start to talk a language nobody understands.
You can get addicted!