The first time you witness a CrossFit workout, you'd be forgiven for thinking it was a mishmash of Olympic weightlifting, jumping, gymnastics, body weight moves and traditional weightlifting exercises. CrossFit doesn't follow a set structure or just stick to one type of training. While both men and women can compete in CrossFit, the workouts prescribe different weights depending on gender. The weightlifting exercises used in CrossFit can help men increase strength, size and muscular endurance.
The Olympic lifts form a big part of CrossFit. Two Olympic moves -- the snatch and the clean and jerk -- are commonplace in CrossFit workouts such as Isabel, which involves 30 snatches with 135 lbs. in as quick a time as possible, or Linda, which includes 55 cleans using half your body weight. The Olympic lifts build strength and power. The derivatives of these moves are also CrossFit staples. Full cleans, power cleans, push jerks, power snatches and overhead squats all make their way into CrossFit workouts on a regular basis.
For Whom the Bell Tolls
You won't find a dumbbell at a CrossFit gym, no matter how hard you look, but you will find plenty of another type of bell -- kettlebells. Kettlebells are an effective tool for building speed, power and mobility within CrossFit workouts. You can perform variations of the snatch and clean and jerk with kettlebells, or use them for swings and Turkish get-ups. Kettlebell coach Mike Mahler recommends men start with a 35-lb. kettlebell, while experienced male trainers should opt for a 53-lb. bell.
Back to Basics
Before you worry that traditional lifting moves aren't part of CrossFit, fear not, for squats and deadlifts have their place too. CrossFitters don't bench press though -- they overhead press instead. Together these three moves make up CrossFit's version of powerlifting -- a workout known as the Total, which involves lifting your one rep max on each exercise.
Total Body Blitz
Concept training revolves around variety. This means you'll do something different nearly every day and almost always involving different forms of lifting. In an interview with the Men's Fitness website, strength coach and CrossFit instructor Will Huntington recommends getting started with a few basic workouts. Kick off with three rounds of 10 kettlebell swings, 10 ring pushups, 10 squat jumps and five burpees. Or for more of a strength-based circuit, combine clean and jerks with hanging leg raises, taking your toes up to the bar every rep. One word of warning -- weightlifting exercises as part of CrossFit aren't the best way for men to gain muscle, notes personal trainer Michael Matthews of Muscle for Life. If you want to get bigger and stronger, you're best off sticking to a traditional weight training routine instead.