Your Guide to Your First Crossfit Workout

By Danielle Lagow for

When the sport of Crossfit is mentioned, it’s easy for words to come to mind that are associated with intimidating, intense, painful or daunting. A lot of people who are new to the workout scene (or those who are trying to get back in it) may think of Crossfit as an advanced workout that may be too challenging for them. Though in some cases this may be true, it’s actually a misconception that only the advanced athlete can make it through a Crossfit workout.

Crossfit is short duration workout full of high intensity intervals. The goal is to give the workout everything you can physically (and mentally) for a short duration of maybe only 20 minutes…the hard part about it is the lack of resting. Not only has interval training proven to burn more calories, but you’ll also be spending less time in the gym!

If you’re a beginner and interested in giving this workout trend a go, here’s a Crossfit workout WOD, or Workout of the Day, for you to try. The five exercises below should be done immediately following the other without rest. For your first attempt, just get through one round as fast as you can and time yourself. Next time, see if you can beat your own time. Once you’ve gotten the hang of things, try adding multiple rounds and get as many in as you can within a 20-minute time frame.

• Lunges – First start with 20 walking lunges. Alternate legs with each step and walk until you’ve done 10 on each leg. Make sure to push off the heel of the front foot to get the full effect.

• Triceps Dips – May be done on a stair, bench or some sort of slightly raised surface. Perform 10-15 reps by bending at the elbow and keeping all weight on your hands/arms.

stair triceps dips
• Jump Squats (180) – Begin just like a regular squat with your feet out wide and sit your hips back until your quads are parallel with the ground. Once in this position explode off your feet and turn 180 degrees. Try to smoothly land back in the squatting position. Perform 10-15 jump squats.

jump squats
• Knee Tucks – Start in a standing position with your arms at your side. Explode through your feet and bring your knees to your chest, tucking them in by wrapping your arms around your knees when they reach your torso. Perform 10 knee tucks.

knee-tucks (1)
• Push-Ups – As a beginner, you might start with push-ups on your knees. Chose whichever style of pushup is most comfortable for you. Make sure to bend those elbows back and against your body, not out and away from your body. Use your chest muscles to push you up, not your arms. Perform 10 push-ups, while making sure the back is as flat as possible.

push-ups (1)

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  • Sarah Williams

    i wish i could. i have to keep things pretty low impact, all that jumping would not work for me. any suggestions on modification would be great!

    • Dillon Colbert

      Sarah the point of jump squats is cardio and explosive muscles so you could do some intensive cardio and explosive squat, even raising one leg onto a platform a little of the ground for an uneven squat is a good idea. Why can’t you do jump squats, is it a knee problem? if it is then most definitely do an intensive foot based cardio and favour an uneven squat to an explosive squat; in time your knees will get stronger, tendons, ligaments, and the cushy tissue will get stronger and thicker and you’ll get more lubricating fluid in your joints. just be wary and take it slower than your muscles progress. if it’s because you feel as if you can’t just power through until you drop, literally with the squats, and towards the end of the squats stop jumping. as for the knee tucks its the same thing just instead of tucking your knees at the top of a jump focus more on strength and instead of going only 90 degrees go until your butt touches your ankles wait and come exploding back up but don’t jump just go onto your toes.
      then do calve raises of the bottom step of some stairs. If you can’t do that much I’m going to give you the title and author of a book which takes you up step by step. Just learn what muscles each exercise works then do find a lower intensity one and if it doesn’t work all the muscles you have to start adding in different exercises.

      My sources aren’t just online material, I’ve leg pressed half a ton squatted 455 and I’ve helped a person who starting out couldn’t lift a hundred pounds who then had knee surgery max 150 in a month after he was “recovered” and and do 3 10s at 110. the book I said you should read is Convict Conditioning by Paul Wade. He despises weight training and takes you through each “level” in a step by step chart explaining each one that eventually leads up to the mother of all squats “la pistola” or the pistol squat.

      If your knees start hurting stop stretch them out then do a lower intensity workout with greater reps if they are still hurting you’re done for the day with legs, stretch them the next day do the lower intensity exercise and just do that every day for a week then rest a couple of days, stretching each day, and try doing a few of the harder ones the next week. another good thing to do is calf jumps; just explode with only your calves and keep your knees a little bent absorbing the impact on the down but not using your knees at all to jump. this creates a reverberating effect like hitting a punching bag and therefore strengthens all those parts you need for jumping. it is pretty low intensity but it is cardio and it is calf exercise with that little added bonus.

  • Kinley Croton

    Crossfit is much more than a workout, it’s an experience. The motivation you get when you have a gym full of people working hard next to you and cheering you on as you push through a workout together is incredible. It’s amazing how the support of others can bring out the best in you. Beginner or professional athlete, Crossfit WODs can be scaled to your level of fitness and will always be challenging. You’ll never have more fun working out so hard. Many CF gyms offer intro courses or trial memberships. Try it out in a Crossfit gym and you’ll understand why it’s such a popular way to get fit.

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