If heading into the gym three days a week to lift weights and maybe throwing in a couple of jogging sessions sounds just a tad more exciting than waiting in line to watch paint dry, then maybe you need to shake up your workout a bit. Maybe you’re ready to give CrossFit a try.
CrossFit is a program designed to be “broad, general, and inclusive,” and that flexibility has turned it into a fitness phenomenon. The program’s popularity, though, has led to an avalanche of information that can make getting started a daunting task.
It you don’t have to be intimidated.
Here are a few simple steps you can take to get your CrossFit program for beginners started, the right way.
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See Your Doctor
This bit of advice applies to any fitness routine or nutrition program that you plan to adopt, but especially to CrossFit.
No matter which CrossFit workout you perform on any given day, you can be sure that it will stress your muscles, joints, cardiovascular system, and even your psyche!
Because of that intensity, it is imperative that you visit your doctor and get a complete physical exam before starting your CrossFit program. Have him run blood work and talk about what you’re planning to do.
If everything checks out and your doctor gives the thumbs-up, it’s time to get rolling.
Learn the Lingo
The CrossFit community uses a very specific set of terms that you may not hear elsewhere. When was the last time you “kipped” your way through one of “The Girls” workouts, for example?
If you plan to work out and speak with other lifters about CrossFit, those interactions will go much better if you know some of the terminology.
Learn Some of the Exercises (Correctly)
As with the words used in CrossFit, the exercises can seem a bit foreign or unusual. That’s part of the fun and challenge of CrossFit, but it can also be a formidable task.
The first time you pull up a Workout of the Day (WOD) and see “double-unders” listed, you may be tempted to go put on a second set of BVDs and call it a day.
However, if you take some time to familiarize yourself with the CrossFit exercises and even try a few of them, you shrink your learning curve when it’s time to perform them for real.
You can find a huge list of exercises, along with video demonstrations, at CrossFit.com.
When you DO try a new exercise — or an old one — keep your form clean and keep your ego in check.
Decide How Much Time You Can Commit
With all of the variety that CrossFit offers, it’s easy to get excited and want to train every day — at least until that initial soreness sets in!
But will you be able to maintain that pace?
Take a look at your life outside the gym and consider how much time you can realistically commit to CrossFit, then pick your program accordingly.
CrossFit Impulse has a great article about figuring out your frequency here.
Choose “Box” or Alone
In CrossFit vernacular, a “Box” is a gym where CrossFitters train, and where you can find specialized trainers.
While many beginners do opt to join a “Box,” there are also several ways to do CrossFit on your own or with a buddy. One of the most popular is to use a WOD generator to get a new workout every training day.
Whether you choose to join a box or go it alone is primarily a matter of preference and personality. If you have a long training history, solo CrossFit may be a good place to start experimenting.
Break In Slowly
Although many of the CrossFit routines appear to be simple and maybe even unbalanced, they can be brutally intense and can make you sore for days. You can also get injured if you don’t take time to find your groove.
If you’re an experienced lifter, you may be tempted to go full-tilt right off the bat, but that would be a mistake.
Instead, take a couple of weeks to work into the variety and intensity of CrossFit and you’ll be more likely to stick with it in the long run.
Once you get into the flow, you can ramp up your workout duration and potency, but don’t get impatient.
CrossFit can be intimidating, especially when you see some of the physical specimens who complete at the highest levels.
Don’t worry about duplicating anyone else’s performance or that you don’t know what you’re doing.
CrossFit is built to keep you engaged with your exercise program, and it takes time to find what works right for you, but that’s OK.
After all, you’re building your body for the long haul!
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