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What is Crossfit anyway?

Crossfit isn’t just a type of training - it’s a lifestyle. Well, really it’s just a brand of fitness program based around some key training principles and values all carried out in a group setting. ‘Boxes’ are the gyms where Crossfit goes down, and with over 15,000 locations worldwide, it’s become a fitness phenomenon. Such a phenomenon that people are now crafting their own CrossFit type workouts from home.

So to give you the lowdown on Crossfit, we’re going to take you through some of its key features, how it could benefit you and things to know before getting started.

What to expect from a Crossfit workout

Crossfit does live up to its name. It combines functional movement with weight-bearing exercises and skills. This means you could be working on anything from burpees to pull-ups, squats to handstands press-ups or rope climbs to double unders (a type of skipping).
Your workout will start with a warm-up focusing on bodyweight exercises and dynamic stretching. Essentially getting your blood pumping and your muscles ready for the rest of the workout.

This will be followed by the core WOD (Workout Of the Day) which changes every day in every single box. You can expect a 10-20 minute non-stop onslaught of interval training. That means bursts of high-intensity movement followed by rest. This section will either track how many rounds you complete in one minute, put you through repeated exercises every minute on the minute or complete a certain number of reps and exercises as quickly as possible. While this sounds like hell, this is arguably the most challenging part and can be scaled depending on your experience or ability.

You’ll then move onto skill-focused training for another 15-20 minutes. This might focus on a compound lift such as deadlifts or squats. Or, your box could focus on a core skill such as muscle-ups or handstands.
Finally, you’ll cool down and stretch. Much needed after the intensity of the workout.

Will Crossfit work for you?

In terms of hitting your goals, Crossfit is a great way to increase overall fitness, cardio ability, endurance and muscle gain. That’s when it’s paired with appropriate nutrition and recovery.

It’s also great if you’re motivated by working around other people or being pushed by trained professionals. The atmosphere in Crossfit boxes is awesome - a whole team of people cheering you on and pushing you towards your goals. Paired with frequent competitions and the Crossfit games (an inspiring annual competition of the world’s best Crossfitters), there is a great culture surrounding the sport. That being said, there is a plethora of amazing tips and advice available for you to build you own home regime if the idea of the box does not appeal to you.

Finally, if you’re looking to build on your skills such as muscle-ups, pull-ups and other cool stuff like rope climbing, Crossfit is a great place to get to grips with these skills in a supportive environment.
However, it does have its drawbacks.

First off is the Crossfit culture. Some ex-Crossfitters have emphasized the cliquey nature of Crossfit. As we said before, Crossfit is a culture and some boxes take this very seriously.

In addition to this is the cost - joining a box can be substantially more pricey than joining a gym. Granted, you do have professionals around you that help with form and motivate you. But, if you’re looking for professional guidance on how to improve on specific areas such as your lifting abilities, you may be better off investing in a PT rather than Crossfit. Although, there is nothing stopping you from introducing Crossfit principles to your home workout programming, if training with others is not for you.

Finally, the training style and focus on speed mean that injury rates are somewhat higher than other forms of exercise. Whilst you can get injured doing almost any form of exercise, the compromise of form for speed can cause some bad habits.

What to know before you get started

If you’ve made it this far and want to give Crossfit a go here are a few tips on how to prep for your first session.

  1. Find your local box and sign up. Most boxes do a free session so get in touch with them.
  2. Get kitted out with some comfortable trainers, leggings or shorts you have total mobility in, a top you’ll feel comfortable working out in, long socks (if wearing shorts), a towel and a water bottle.
  3. If you want to polish up on some of the core lifts or learn more, you can enrol in a Crossfit course or lesson before taking the plunge into a full workout.
  4. An open mind and ‘yes’ attitude. You’ll likely find your first session challenging. There might be movements or skills you’ve never tried before. Go in with a can-do attitude and within a few months, you’ll be smashing it!
  5. Practice. Build up the equipment you need at home and practice the principles and techniques that are required to take you to the next level on your fitness journey
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