What do you get when you combine weight lifting, functional body-weight exercises and gymnastics into a single workout? CrossFit! Created in 2000, CrossFit is best known for its intense and varied workouts that aim to improve your overall fitness level rather than focusing on sports-specific training.
Each workout is different and often written on a big whiteboard you're bound to notice the second you walk into your local box (aka gym). On Monday, your workout of the day (or WOD in CrossFit lingo) might test how fast you can finish 30 deadlifts and on Wednesday you might bust out as many pull-ups, push-ups and squats as you can — with good form, of course.
If you enjoy a challenging workout and are looking for a supportive (but competitive) community, CrossFit might be your ideal form of fitness. Here's how to get started and what to expect.
CrossFit Newbies, Start Here
Though CrossFit has a reputation for being a brutal, unforgiving workout meant for those who are already fit, it's actually a fairly scalable exercise that even beginners can enjoy. No, you won't be doing HSPUs (CrossFit shorthand for handstand push-ups) on the first day, but all good boxes have a beginner program where you learn the basics of good form before you jump in with more established athletes.
It can be intimidating to walk into a box for the first time knowing nothing about the sport other than what your friend, coworker or sister told you. Brush up on some essential lingo, common exercises and safety tips and always make sure that the coaches and trainers are certified by reputable training programs (just ask!) before you try CrossFit for the first time.
Reasons CrossFit Rocks
Like most structured exercise programs, CrossFit offers many benefits: improved cardiovascular fitness, muscular strength, confidence and mental wellbeing. And you'll also meet like-minded people who'll be your friendly competition as well as your biggest cheerleaders.
If you're just starting out (or restarting), you can scale the workout to meet your fitness level. And if you've been doing CrossFit for years, you can try out new WODs and set personal records on workouts you've completed before.
CrossFit Gear for Your Best WOD
When you join a CrossFit gym, you'll have access to all the equipment you'll need for every visit. But if you plan on making it your go-to workout, you might want to consider buying a few pieces of gear to help you crush your next WOD.
Wrist wraps can offer support during all the lifting you'll be doing, while a good pair of weight-lifting gloves can protect your hands from developing too many calluses. And of course, you'll want to find a good pair of cross-training shoes that are flexible enough to move with you through various exercises but stable enough to keep your joints safe. Both the Nike Metcon 5 and Reebok CrossFit Nano are good options.
Benchmark Workouts to Test Your Strength
There's a set of benchmark workouts every CrossFitter knows well. Collectively, they're called "The Girls," because each individual routine has a female name: Fran, Grace, Cindy and Diane.
The purpose of these WODs is to do them once (either for reps or time), then come back to them several months later and see how you stack up against your previous finish. The goal is that you get stronger, faster, better.
Bring CrossFit Home
With more than 15,000 CrossFit affiliates in the U.S., chances are you live or work close to one. But there are days when, for whatever reason, you can't or don't want to drive to your local box. That doesn't mean you have to abandon your workout, though.
Because so much of CrossFit is based on body-weight exercises like burpees, lunges and sit-ups, as well as exercises you can easily modify to do with dumbbells or resistance bands, it's easy to adapt CrossFit for your living room or wherever else you want to get your sweat on.