CrossFit is a form of high-intensity interval training. As a strength and conditioning workout, CrossFit is a great way to lose weight and build strength, agility, and flexibility.
However, starting CrossFit as a beginner can feel daunting, especially if you’ve never been to a workout class before. That being said, CrossFit gyms, known as ‘boxes’ are growing in popularity with their classes focusing on creating a sense of community, so you’re likely to make a few friends along the way!
In this article, I cover some key CrossFit tips for beginners, from the dos and don’ts you should take into consideration when you’re first starting out to aid you on your CrossFit journey.
So, let’s get started.
When it comes to starting CrossFit, you will need to look for an affiliate box in your area. Similar to gym inductions, the majority of CrossFit centers require beginners to sign up for a couple of private or semi-private training sessions beforehand to prepare you for the classes and to introduce you to the equipment. These can cost anywhere between $150 and $300 to attend depending on where you live.
Starting CrossFit can be intimidating, but the good news is that you don’t have to be extremely fit to begin at your box. CrossFit exercises can be modified to accommodate beginners or individuals who are new to fitness altogether.
In these classes, the instructors can show you some of the exercises that you’ll be expected to do and observe your form to make sure that you’re doing it correctly and aren’t at risk of straining or injuring yourself. Keep in mind that you may want to work one-on-one with a trainer for longer until you feel comfortable and increase your fitness level.
While you are very likely to find fit individuals in your local box, CrossFit places a heavy emphasis on the sense of community it creates. It’s a safe space where everyone is welcome and cheered for during the workouts. That being said, it’s natural to feel overwhelmed in the beginning when you’re first starting out your classes.
Below are some key tips to consider when starting CrossFit.
Be patient and build up the number of classes gradually
When it comes to starting CrossFit, the key is to have patience and build up the number of classes gradually. While you might love it straight off the bat, it is incredibly important to ease your body into it slowly and allow it to adjust to this new type of training. Think of it as you would any other type of training.
For instance, when you begin running on a regular basis you wouldn’t immediately start going four times a week, would you? You’d allow your body the rest days that it needs so that you don’t overstrain or injure yourself. Like running, CrossFit is high-impact training, so the same approach applies to CrossFit.
By overdoing it in the beginning, you increase your risk of injury and will also maximize the chances of putting yourself off CrossFit if you go too hard!
Bearing this in mind, you will need to build it up like any other new sport. In the beginning, you should start with a low number, such as two times a week.
Once you’re in a routine of doing this for a couple of weeks, once your body has adjusted and gotten used to it you can build it up by incorporating more days until you find a good number for you.
Similar to other gyms, there are several types of subscription possibilities when it comes to starting CrossFit. Typically speaking, there are several options ranging from 10 classes paid upfront to subscriptions ranging from 2 classes a week up to unlimited classes.
Once you have established that you like CrossFit, you can find the perfect amount of classes that work for you and go from there.
Make sure you listen to your body
I cannot stress enough how much you need to listen to your body when it comes to starting CrossFit. CrossFit workouts can be intense by nature, which means that you need to allow yourself an appropriate amount of time to recover.
Bearing this in mind, then, you will need to be careful about when you plan your workouts. For instance, you shouldn’t plan two workouts in a row, particularly when you’re first starting out, and should allow yourself to rest for at least one or two days.
This is important because it will not only allow you to work harder and get more out of your training sessions when you do go, but it will also give your body the time that it needs to rest.
However, if you don’t give yourself an appropriate amount of rest days, you will increase the likelihood of straining or injuring yourself.
If you feel like you haven’t fully recovered from your last training session, then you will need to take it easy during the next workout. It is better to be safe than sorry, especially if it means sitting out on a single workout over sitting out on multiple because your muscles hadn’t recovered and it resulted in an injury.
Fuel your body with a focus on recovery
Fueling your body with the right kind of nutrients is just as important as the exercise that you do. When we exercise, our bodies are burning fuel, so it’s important that you’re providing your body with the right type of food.
When you increase how frequently you train, you may find that you become hungrier than usual as you’re burning more calories. You will need to adjust your nutrition in accordance with your fitness goals, as everyone is different.
That being said, a balanced and healthy diet contributes to better performance and is essential to ensure that you are fueling your body with the right foods.
After training, it is always important to focus on your recovery. It’s important to pay attention to your protein intake. Macros or macronutrients are the three categories of nutrients you eat the most and provide you with most of your energy: protein, carbohydrates, and fats.
Tracking your macros is an easy way of making sure that you’re getting enough protein and to ensure that you’re eating a balanced diet.
Protein is the building block of your muscles. That being said, eating adequate amounts of protein helps you maintain your muscle mass and promotes muscle growth when you do strength training.
Additionally, protein helps you stay fuller for longer and reduces your appetite, which is important when you’re training frequently. Make sure you consume around 20 grams of protein within an hour after training and also 20 grams of protein with each meal as this will aid your recovery.
Aside from getting enough protein through your normal diet through dairy products and meat, another easy way is to buy an organic protein powder.
This is a great option if you need a quick on the go protein shake after your training session, or you could alternatively incorporate it into your favorite breakfast recipes such as pancakes, waffles, or oatmeal for an added boost of protein.
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You will also need to be making sure that you are drinking enough water and getting enough sleep to aid your recovery. Aside from this, stretching out your sore muscles can significantly help, which is when a foam roller becomes incredibly useful.
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Keep a fitness log
When it comes to starting CrossFit, keeping a fitness log can be incredibly useful. In CrossFit, there are many exercises and workouts that are repeated on a regular basis.
Bearing this in mind, it’s useful to know and be able to look back over what your time was, the weight that you used, and the number of reps you carried out in order to estimate what you should start with next time.
This will allow you to determine whether you can opt for a heavier weight if you’re feeling fit or help you decide if you should keep the same weight.
Additionally, it’s useful to know your 1RM (1 repetition maximum) because the recommended weights for the exercises are often indicated in a percentage of your 1RM. For instance, this might be 50% of your 1RM and indicates which weight you need to use.
Whether your CrossFit box uses an app to track your scores, or you prefer to keep it in the notes on your phone, keeping a note of this information will help you in the long run. It’s also interesting for you to look back over as you hit more of your fitness goals!
Create realistic goals for yourself
In the same breath as keeping a note of your progress in a fitness log, you should also create realistic goals for yourself.
Recognize your weaknesses and ask yourself: Which exercise would you like to get better at? Whether it’s pull ups or snatches, make a note of it and start making steps towards achieving your goal to improve.
Start small. It’s important to make these goals realistic in the beginning and work your way up, as you might find yourself becoming demotivated if the goal is unattainable for you as a beginner. Create a schedule for your goals and ask a coach for their advice and input.
When you’re at your box, challenge yourself during the workouts but also stay a bit longer to practice on achieving those goals.
Once you start noting down your goals and making progress, you won’t believe how much of a motivator it is! As you begin to tick off smaller goals, you can set your heights high on bigger ones!
Listen to the CrossFit coaches
As I mentioned at the start of this article, if you’re a beginner it’s important that you work with a trained professional at a CrossFit box first. They’re trained professionals, and it’s their job to ensure that you get the most out of your workout in the safest way possible.
The coaches are there to help you, and it’s important that you listen to the advice that they give you. CrossFit coaches will not only help you to develop the proper form and techniques but will also teach you how to modify certain exercises if you’re struggling.
It’s important to focus on the form and technique of every exercise before you think about increasing the weight. Increasing the weight before you’ve nailed the form significantly maximizes your chances of straining or injuring yourself, so practice makes perfect.
Bearing this in mind, if a coach tells you to take it easy, use less weight, or take an exercise more slowly to improve your form, it’s important to listen to them.
Make sure you’re comfortable by wearing the right clothes
When it comes to any high-intensity exercise, you want to ensure that you’re as comfortable as possible. Once you’ve found your rhythm you might have a few gym outfits that are dedicated to CrossFit, but it’s important that you choose appropriate clothing.
If you’re a woman, make sure that your leggings or shorts pass the squat-proof test. Cheaper quality leggings are prone to becoming transparent when you squat down and can reveal your underwear if you’re not mindful of this.
To ensure your leggings pass the test, make sure that you check in the mirror before heading out to your CrossFit class!
Additionally, you’ll want to avoid sportswear that is too tight and feels like it prohibits your movement.
If you become hot easily, I recommend that you wear a vest top and shorts. That being said, you’ll want to avoid running shorts that cut into your legs. Instead, opt for shorts that are made out of a stretchy material and allow you full movement as you work out.