They’re at your office, they’re in your neighborhood and they’re always getting in your way at the produce aisle. That’s right, they’re CrossFitters — that weightlifting, handstand-walking, Paleo-dieting community of individuals.
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This total-body-conditioning workout uses a wide variety of training methods, including weightlifting, gymnastics, rowing, running, calisthenics and much more. While it’s a coed sport, men involved with CrossFit should focus on different movements, diet plans and rep schemes than their fairer counterparts.
Abs Are Made in the Kitchen
The goal for most guys doing CrossFit is to gain lean muscle and body mass. “To gain muscle you will want to be at about a 300- to 500-calorie surplus over TDEE (total daily energy expenditure),” says Forrest Jung, the owner of CrossFit South Bay in Hermosa Beach, California. If you want to lose fat, however, he recommends a 300- to 500-calorie deficit.
In terms of your meal structure, Jung suggests a good macro ratio of 40 percent carbohydrates, 40 percent protein and 20 percent fat for muscle gain; 20 percent carbohydrates, 40 percent protein and 40 percent fat for weight loss. While we all love a good burrito, Jung recommends restricting cheat meals to only one every 10 days.
Consistency Is Key
When starting any workout routine, consistency is key — but so is rest. Workouts create micro tears in your muscles, and it’s essential to take rest days in between CrossFit workouts to give your muscles a chance to fully repair themselves.
Jung recommends three intense days followed by a light day and a rest day every six days. And make sure you get your sleep. “[People] both gaining and losing weight should also focus on getting eight to nine hours of sleep,” Jung says.
So once you’re ready to hit that CrossFit box, what do you do when you get there? Try these 10 exercises, either as a complete workout or incorporated individually into your existing WOD (that’s what CrossFitters call their “workout of the day”).
1. Weighted Pull-Up
Take your pull-up to the next level! With the added weight on your body, it’s important to slowly lower down with control.
HOW TO DO IT: While holding either a dumbbell between your feet or with a weight belt around your waist, grab a pull-up bar with your hands facing away from you and a little wider than shoulder-width apart. Engage your core and pull your lats down and together as you pull your chin up and over the bar. Rep Scheme: five sets of five reps
2. Ring Dip
This gymnastics exercise is an advanced move that requires a ton of stability and core and upper-body strength.
HOW TO DO IT: Grab a gymnastics ring in each hand, then engage your core and push away from the rings, lifting your body off the ground. Bend your elbows, keeping your arms close to your sides as you lower your body down so that your biceps touch the rings. Push away from the rings as you extend your arms back up to the starting position. Rep Scheme: five sets of 10
3. Strict Press
A lot of guys focus on their arms and chest in their upper-body workouts, but then they completely skip their shoulders. But it’s important to keep your shoulder strong to prevent injuries.
HOW TO DO IT: Stand with your feet hip-width apart with a barbell across your chest. Engage your core and squeeze your glutes as you push the bar overhead. Keep your abs tight so your back doesn’t sway forward. Lower the bar back down with control and repeat. Rep Scheme: five sets of eight reps
The deadlift is an essential exercise for everyone to master because it’s a movement pattern you use in everyday life.
HOW TO DO IT: Stand with your feet hip-width apart and a slight bend in your knees. Grab a barbell in front of your feet and hug the barbell tightly into your shins by engaging your lats. Keep your back flat and take a big breath, exhaling as you stand up while keeping the bar as close to the legs as possible. Lower back down with control. Rep Scheme: five sets of five reps
5. Front Squat
Squats are a favorite lower-body exercise for many people. Try this variation to build even more lower-body strength.
HOW TO DO IT: Place the barbell across your chest with your feet shoulder-width apart. With a tall, proud chest and strong core, send your glutes back and down, lowering toward the ground and allowing your glutes to pass below parallel. Drive your elbows up as you push the ground away from you and return to standing. Rep Scheme: five sets of five reps
6. Power Clean
Take a page from the strongest Olympic weightlifters and give this one a shot.
HOW TO DO IT: Stand with your feet hip-width apart and a barbell at shin height. With your back flat, lift the barbell off the ground, keeping it close to the shins. As soon as the barbell begins to rise above your knees, shrug the bar up and straighten your arms. As the bar is in the air, quickly drop under it and receive the bar in a quarter-squat position. Then return to standing. Rep Scheme: five sets of five reps
7. Landmine Twist
For this exercise you can either start with a barbell in a landmine, secure one end of it in a corner or anchor it with another weight.
HOW TO DO IT: With your feet wider than shoulder-width apart, lift one end of the bar off the ground and raise it to shoulder height. Extend your arms out straight in front of you and rotate your hips and core to one side, bringing the bar over to the side toward which you are twisting. Repeat the move on the other side. Rep Scheme: five sets of eight reps on each side
8. Toes to Bar
This is another gymnastics-inspired move that will push your core strength to the limit.
HOW TO DO IT: Grab onto a pull-up bar with your hands facing away from you. While keeping a hollow core, swing your body backward. As you swing forward, engage your core and raise your toes up to the bar. Lower the legs down and swing backward. As you continue swinging, keep touching your toes to the bar. If you need a modification, bring your knees to your elbows. Rep Scheme: five sets of eight reps
9. Weighted GHD Sit-Up
The goal of the GHD (glute-hamstring developer) sit-up is to build midline stability.
HOW TO DO IT: Place your feet in a GHD machine with your glutes slightly hanging over the edge and your knees slightly bent. Hold a weight plate in your hands as you lower your body toward the ground. Squeeze your glutes to raise your body back up to the seated position. Rep Scheme: five sets of eight reps
10. Bar Muscle-Up
One final move borrowed from those incredibly strong gymnasts. (Think about it: Have you ever seen a professional gymnast who wasn’t ripped?)
HOW TO DO IT: Hold onto a pull-up bar with your hands facing away from you. With a hollow core, swing backward to gain momentum, and then thrust your hips up as you pull your hips to the bar. Bring the body over the bar and push the bar away from your body while you fully extend your arms. Lower down with control and repeat. Rep Scheme: five sets of five reps
What Do YOU Think?
Guys, have you ever done CrossFit? What did you think? What were your favorite exercises? What was your least favorite one? If you haven’t tried CrossFit, exactly what is stopping you? Share your stories, suggestions and questions in the comments below!