If you have heard about CrossFit but you’re not sure exactly what it is, you’ve come to the right place! One of the most important things we do at our CrossFit location in Port Coquitlam is to help people new to CrossFit understand what it is, and what it isn’t!
The most important takeaway is that CrossFit is for anyone, at almost any age, no matter what your fitness level may be!
Originally created by Greg Glassman, CrossFit is as a type of training philosophy that implements multiple sorts of exercises, including high-intensity interval training (HIIT), Olympic weightlifting, plyometrics, and powerlifting.
Over the past few years, multiple new “boxes” (a “box” is what people in CrossFit use to describe their gyms!) started opening their doors for new comers around the globe. CrossFit has gained tremendously in popularity in the last decade, evidenced by a growing number of local, regional and global competitions, with major brand support.
While there have been some accusations that claim there are harmful effects of CrossFit, such as injuries and muscle damage, we have found those issues to be related to specific CrossFit boxes. Injuries and muscle damage can occur at any gym, or from any physical fitness when it’s not being taught well.
In this article, we will cover the basic principles of CrossFit and demystify some myths about what it means to be a CrossFitter!
What is CrossFit?
CrossFit incorporates a mixture of exercises, such as aerobic training, calisthenics, and Olympic weight lifting. It is described by the company that holds its copyrights as “constantly varied functional movements executed at high intensity across broad time and modal domains.”
This is actually a really great definition! But, in simpler terms, CrossFit is a type of training that consists of high-intensity exercises from various training programs to offer your body the best out of each workout session.
Due to the intensity of many of the early adopters of CrossFit, there is a belief in some circles that CrossFit is not suited for everyone and that only top-tier athletes are able to perform the type of exercises incorporated in the routines; however, this statement is completely false. Good CrossFit gyms and their coaches can adapt any workout routine to any fitness level.
If you have heard people say that CrossFit is too intense for them and that they cannot keep up with its exercises, imagine that this statement is similar to telling your friend that you cannot take Spanish language classes because you don’t speak Spanish! Getting into CrossFit will gradually improve your fitness and you will quickly become comfortable with the exercise routines and movements. Improvements come quickly in CrossFit!
What is a typical CrossFit workout like?
This part is what scares people the most. You are thinking about joining a CrossFit class; everything is ready, but you’re too nervous and/or scared about what to expect once you’re inside the gym.
What exercises are you going to perform? Should you know anything before you get there? What should expect from each training session?
All of these questions could be scary at first, and for some people, it is the reason they quit before they start! The good news is that a great CrossFit box will provide you with “foundations” classes or one on one coaching to give you all of the training you need to get started.
In this section, I will answer some of those questions to put your mind at ease before going to your first class.
Note that every box has its own policies and training program, so you should not expect to see the same routine in different gyms. In fact, the type of CrossFit workout will vary from one session to another even if it’s offered by the same coach.
Having said that, let’s talk about the basic knowledge of how a typical CrossFit Workout of the Day – or WOD – is performed.
As you may know, CrossFit workouts are performed in a group, and for some people, this may be the first time you’ve actually worked out in a group environment. Trust us – it’s fun, rewarding and motivating!
Before you start the actual workout, you will do some warmups, using a variety of equipment, anything from a stationary bike, rower to simple squats, or short shuttle runs.
This serves to raise your heart rate and pump some blood into your muscles to get you warmed up and avoid injury.
Do not worry though! Your coach will explain what warmup routine you’ll be doing for that session, and even if you get confused, just follow the lead of your classmates who have been doing this for longer periods of time. One of the great benefits of a group workout is that there are always people there willing to help you!
Stretching is super important as it prepares your body for the workout ahead. Stretching will increase your range of motion and ensure your joints are ready for the varied movements involved in most CrossFit workouts.
The WOD (Workout of the Day)
Often, a CrossFit workout is split into two parts; one that involves strength training and a second that focuses on metabolic conditioning (cardiovascular training). The second part is often called a “metcon”.
The first phase of the workout (strength training) is separated from the second phase by a few minutes of rest, and during this time you may be helping to set up equipment for the metcon portion.
Each phase of the metcon might contain around 3-5 exercises that you’ll do for a couple of rounds. Each exercise will be explained by your coach to show you the correct form and how to properly perform it. Sometimes the exercise routine is done “for time” (ie. complete it as quickly as you can), and sometimes you perform an “AMRAP” (ie. as many rounds as possible in the time specified). You will also see the suggested weights listed as Rx, meaning the prescribed weight for a challenging, but doable movement. The good news is that many CrossFit gyms also offer “scaled” weight options – alternative choices of weights and exercises to ensure that newer members can adjust the workout.
As you can see, the concept of CrossFit is quite simple; a group of people performing the same exercises that change from one session to another! It’s really that simple, and is why no one should be intimidated; CrossFit is for everyone!
What types of fitness goals can you achieve with CrossFit?
Improves physical strength
The high-intensity training will help build lean muscle mass and improve your strength. This effect is especially seen during the strength phase where your muscle fibers will go through microscopic tears that need to be repaired. After each session, your body will work hard to repair those tears and each time the process takes place, the muscles will grow bigger to be able to handle the next training session.
Enhances your endurance
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a cornerstone of CrossFit that is part of each training session. HIIT will increase your VO2 max, which will significantly improve your endurance during exercises.
The functional movements involved in CrossFit will improve your range of motion and flexibility. As a benefit, your risk of getting injured will dramatically decrease over time. If you have poor mobility or an existing injury, great CrossFit coaches will be watching out for you, and help you modify the movements to maximize your benefit and prevent injury.
CrossFit workouts are a calorie-burning furnace! You could burn up to 15-18 calories per minute during training. That’s nearly 180 calories every 10 minutes! Many of our members have FitBits and Apple Watches, and routinely report having burned 500 to 900 calories per class.
Along with a healthy diet, CrossFit is considered the best training routine to burn fat and lose weight.
Like every other physical activity routine, CrossFit can reduce your stress by secreting hormones, such as endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine, which all serve to reduce feelings of pain, stress, and anxiety.
Additionally, getting in shape will increase your self-confidence and self-esteem, further improving your mental health.
What are the main benefits of CrossFit?
Achieve your fitness goals
Staying consistent with your CrossFit routine will help you achieve all your fitness goals; whether it’s to lose weight, improve your endurance, or simply get those abs popping, you’ll be getting everything you want.
If you want to see the best results, you should consider choosing a diet that suits your fitness goals. For instance, if you want to lose weight, following a diet that allows you to be in a caloric deficit state, along with CrossFit will accelerate this process. Many CrossFit boxes have the ability to help you with nutrition programming.
Fun, fun, fun!
When you start CrossFit, you will meet a lot of great people with different fitness goals; however, one thing you all have in common is that you want to achieve something and you’re working hard to get it.
So, instead of doing all the workouts solo, you will be participating with many people who will definitely help you when you’re in need.
Improve your social life
Humans are naturally social creatures; we simply cannot live alone! CrossFit will help you make new friends, especially if you’re the timid type.
One great advantage of meeting people during CrossFit is that you already have something in common, which breaks the ice and ease up the process of getting to know someone new.
Be motivated by the group
Every time you don’t feel like completing a particular round, your group will help you get through it by motivating you.
Additionally, when seeing some individuals in your group getting some results from CrossFit, you will be motivated more than ever to work harder to see those results.
Get a sense of competition
Seeing everyone working as hard as they can to reach their goals will fire up those muscles of yours to keep up with your peers since we do not like to be the one that’s left behind.
Moreover, being supervised by your coach will create a sense of accountability that pushes you to your limits.
CrossFit is often viewed as an intense exercise dedicated to professional athletes that cannot be performed by regular people. However, I hope we managed to change your perspective about this fruitful exercise routine and what gains you can expect to reap.
The beauty of CrossFit is the fact that you can perform the exercises with a group of people, which allows you to improve your social life by making new friends and helping each other out.
Moreover, all the exercises are explained and monitored by a professional coach to make sure you are doing everything correctly.
Finally, if you have ever tried CrossFit before, we would be thrilled to read your experience in the comment section below.