CrossFit Workouts for Beginners
CrossFit is one of the biggest new fitness trends out there. It’s hard to have a conversation about fitness today without talking about CrossFit. New CrossFit gyms are opening on every corner in major cities. It seems like everyone is doing it.
But, what exactly is CrossFit? If you are new to the fitness arena, you might not be familiar with the term. CrossFit is a high-intensity workout program that changes between functional movements in rapid sequence. It combines aerobic exercise, heavy lifting, and bodyweight exercises into a challenging yet rewarding program guaranteed to increase your overall fitness levels.
One of the best things about CrossFit is that it works for everyone, at any level of fitness. Professional athletes do CrossFit, but so do grandmothers and fitness newbies. Any workout can be tailored to a specific person’s workout ability and goals. You can reduce the time, the number of repetitions, or the amount of weight. You can even modify the exercises themselves to fit your fitness levels or the available equipment.
Most of CrossFit revolves around what are known as WODs, or Workout of the Day. These are daily workouts that last about 20 minutes or so. They can come from your coach, a workout video, or a website. Many WODs have names that can help you remember them, so you can repeat them over and over again without having to consult the website or video every time.
A CrossFit gym is known as a box. This is where a group of athletes get together to work out in the same space. However, you don’t have to have a box in order to start doing CrossFit workouts for beginners. You can start with the equipment available in any regular gym or even with things you keep in your own house.
Seven Example CrossFit Workouts Any Beginner Can Do
- The Half-Cindy
* 5 Pull-ups
* 10 Push-ups
* 15 Air Squats
Repeat as many times as you can until you run out the 10 minute clock.
This is called a half Cindy because it takes only 10 minutes, as opposed to 20 minutes for a full Cindy. While it doesn’t seem like 10 minutes is very long, you’ll be surprised how quickly you become exhausted. It doesn’t really give you any fitness gain if you can’t lift yourself off the ground during a set.
Form is important. If you start to become exhausted, it’s okay to modify the exercises until you build up more stamina and strength. You can switch to doing push-ups on your knees, and use a resistance band to assist with pull-ups.
Make sure to keep track of how many repetitions you complete and when you had to switch to a modified form. Keeping good records will help you track your progress and show you how far you’ve come. It will also show you when you are ready to switch from CrossFit workouts for beginners to CrossFit workouts for seasoned pros.
- The CrossFit Total
* 5 Back Squats
* 3 Overhead Presses
* 3 Deadlifts
Heavy lifting is a major part of CrossFit. This workout helps newbies get accustomed to the idea that heavy lifts will make them stronger. There’s no time limit to this workout, so you can focus on form and intensity.
Make sure you know how to perform these lifts correctly. You might need someone to show you the first time. If you work out at home, you can take a video of yourself performing the workout and send it to other CrossFitters online for critique and tips.
Most beginners should try to deadlift around 95 to 135 pounds to start. You aren’t going to be able to lift hundreds of pounds right from the beginning, and attempting something like that is a good way to get hurt. Track your progress by seeing how you can increase the weight over time.
- The Helen
* 400 m run
* 21 American kettlebell swings
* 12 pull-ups
Repeat the set three times. Keep track of how long it takes you to complete the set.
Don’t underestimate the difficulty of the Helen workout. It seems easy, but if you run full-out on the first round, you won’t be able to finish them all. CrossFit workouts for beginners like the Helen will help teach you about endurance and let you see how much your body can really take.
If the Helen is too difficult as is, you can modify it by substituting Russian kettlebell swings for the American-style ones. In Russian kettlebell swings the weight comes only to your shoulders, instead of up over your head. Like in the Cindy, you can use a resistance band to reduce the difficulty of doing pull-ups.
The 21-15-9 means you do 21 repetitions of both exercises, then 15, then 9, as quickly as you can. For beginners, deadlifts should be between 95 and 35 pounds. Record the time it takes to complete all of the repetitions.
A burpee is a common body weight exercise. You stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, then reach down and touch the floor. Jump your feet backward to a plank position. Perform a push-up and then jump back to a standing position.
The 21-15-9 repetition scheme can be broken up into multiples of three. This is good in case you need to slow down and take a break during a set. Breaking up the sets like this is absolutely an acceptable modification to this WOD.
- The Countdown
* Dumbbell Thrusters
* Kettlebell Swings
Similar to the 21-15-9, this workout has you perform 10 repetitions of a pair of exercises, then 9, then 8, all the way down to 1. Time how long it takes to complete the set.
A dumbbell thruster is performed by holding a dumbbell in front of your chest in both hands. Squat while keeping the dumbbell in the same position. Rise to a standing position while bringing the dumbbell up over your head. This should be done with a 15 to 25 pound dumbbell.
You can modify this workout by choosing a lighter kettlebell weight, such as a 35 pound kettlebell instead of a 53 pound one. You can also perform either the American swings, where the weight goes over your head, or the Russian-style swings, where you bring the weight only parallel to your shoulders.
- All Body Weight
* 15 air squats
* 15 sit-ups
* 10 push-ups
* 10 ring rows
* 5 burpees
Perform three rounds of all exercises as quickly as you can. Again, keep track of how long it takes you to complete the three sets.
This workout doesn’t require access to any weights. Except for the ring rows, it doesn’t even require access to any equipment. This makes it a perfect choice for CrossFit workouts for beginners, since you don’t need access to a CrossFit gym to do it.
A ring row is like an upside-down push-up. You lay on your back underneath a pair of rings, with your legs extended and your core tight. You pull yourself up in a plank position until your chest reaches the rings. If you don’t have access to rings, you can substitute assisted pull-ups or bent-over dumbbell rows.
You can also use a barbell rack to substitute for rings. Place a heavy barbell on the rack with large weights on each end, so it stays stable. Place your body underneath the rack and grasp the bar with your arms bent, then pull your chest up to the bar.
- 530 Meter Sandwich
* 530 meter run
* 40 air squats
* 30 sit-ups
* 20 burpees
* 10 pull-ups
* 530 meter run
This workout should be timed both for the full set and the individual runs.
This workout tests both your stamina and your strength. After your perform all of the the bodyweight exercises, you’ll have to push yourself to get through the run. It’s supposed to be hard! As always, you can modify the pull-ups using a resistance band or assisted pull-up machine until you are able to perform them on your own.
Wherever you are on your fitness journey, CrossFit can be a great way to reach your goals. It’s not an easy workout program. It’s definitely something you have to commit to if you want to get better. But once you do, you’ll never regret it.
Keep track of your progress by measuring the time it takes you to complete sets and how much weight you can lift during a set. You’ll be surprised at how quickly you an build muscle and improve. Most people see improvements in each WOD every time they do it.
Don’t be afraid to modify your workouts as you need to. But remember that as you get stronger, you can remove the modifications. You’ll notice a drop in your times if you do, but you’re actually getting better and stronger for doing this. Eventually you’ll be able to perform every WOD without modification, although they are designed to make you work hard.
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