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CrossFit Basics for Beginners – Everything You Need to Know

If you’ve stumbled upon this guide, chances are you’re looking to spice up your fitness routine or start one. And for some godforsaken reason, you thought CrossFit might be the way to go. Well, you’re in the right place.

I’ve been doing it for 5 years now, so I’ll walk you through the basics of CrossFit (minus the sugarcoating and industry jargon that makes you want to roll your eyes to the back of your head).

I even prepared a FREE BEGINNER WORKOUT PLAN for all of you, my loves, check it out: Free CrossFit Beginner’s Workout Plan (4 weeks)

Infographic About Cross Fit Basics for Beginners

Key Takeaways

  • CrossFit emphasizes exercises that involve multiple joints and muscle groups, simulating real-life activities to improve overall physical capability.
  • The program is known for its variety, ensuring that participants rarely repeat the same routine.
  • Intensity is crucial, pushing participants to their limits while maintaining proper form to achieve maximum effectiveness without injury.
  • CrossFit advocates for a diet of whole, unprocessed foods and portion control, stressing the importance of consistent, healthy eating habits in conjunction with regular workouts for best results.

What on Earth is CrossFit?

What on Earth is CrossFit?

First off, CrossFit is a strength and conditioning program that’s about as broad and inclusive as your grandma’s definition of “healthy snacks.” It’s designed to boost your physical capacity in a way that’s supposed to be applicable to real-life movements.

Whether you’re deadlifting twice your body weight or perfecting your overhead squat form, each exercise serves a purpose in building the strength necessary for CrossFit’s diverse challenges.

According to NCBI studythis type of training involves a combination of weightlifting, gymnastics, and metabolic conditioning. Here are its key principles:

Functional Movements

These exercises, which involve multiple joints and muscle groups, are the bread and butter of the program. Think of squatting not just as an exercise but as a rehearsal for picking up literally anything off the ground without throwing your back out. Deadlifting your groceries might sound over the top until you’re carrying a month’s worth of food in one trip.

And pulling yourself up? That’s not just for show. It’s for those moments when climbing a tree to escape a horde of angry geese in the park becomes necessary. The idea is to prepare your body for real-life scenarios, but with the added twist of making these movements more challenging because apparently, normal life isn’t hard enough.

Incorporating mobility and flexibility exercises ensures your body moves with ease and grace, reducing the risk of injury in everyday activities.

Variety Is the Spice of Life

CrossFit Workout

The constantly varied workouts of CrossFit are a double-edged sword. On one hand, you’ll never find yourself stuck in the monotony of repetition, wondering if purgatory is actually just an endless cycle of the same old exercises. On the other hand, just when you think you’ve mastered a routine, it’s out the window, and you’re back to square one, learning something new.

This approach keeps your muscles guessing and your mind engaged, ensuring that boredom is one less excuse to skip a workout.

Intensity, Because Why Not

The intensity level in CrossFit is not for the faint of heart. It’s about pushing your limits, but not recklessly so. The aim is to go hard but maintain a form that would make a ballet instructor nod in approval.

If you’re gasping for air, drenched in sweat, but still keeping your elbows high in a front squat, you’re probably doing it right. It’s this blend of pushing yourself to the edge while maintaining the impeccable form that makes each workout feel like a personal victory—or a question of your life choices, depending on the day.

What’s up With the CrossFit Coaches?

CrossFit coaches are not really like traditional gym instructors, they’re tougher. They obsess over technique and skill mastery because they know that’s what keeps you safe and improves your performance. They’re not interested in watching you do a sloppy job just to hit a new personal best.

Instead, they make sure you lift, jump, and pull correctly, guiding your every move to perfection. Whether it’s executing a flawless snatch or mastering the intricacies of kipping pull-ups, their dedication ensures you conquer each advanced technique with precision and confidence

 Fun fact: According to NCBI study, CrossFit coaches are mainly male, with the majority having exercise-related degrees and strength and conditioning certifications.

The Holy Trinity of CrossFit Nutrition

CrossFit’s approach to nutrition is as hardcore as its workouts. The focus on whole, unprocessed foods and portion control isn’t just a suggestion; it’s practically a commandment.

Eat Real Food!

Fresh Vegetables, Lean Proteins, and Whole Grains
This Image Is Generated by Midjourney

This mantra is about keeping it simple and clean. If your food has more chemicals than your high school science lab, it’s probably not CrossFit-approved. Fresh vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains are the staples here. It’s about fueling your body with what it was designed to eat, not what’s been designed in a lab.

Based on an NCBI study, most participants (60.1%) reported practicing a particular diet. Macro Counting, Intermittent Fasting, and Paleo were the most reported diets.

Portion Control

Here’s where things get real. CrossFit acknowledges that you can have too much of a good thing. It’s not about eating until you’re stuffed; it’s about eating what your body needs to perform at its best.

That might mean less on your plate than you’re used to, but it’s all in the service of keeping you agile, fast, and ready for whatever the WOD (Workout of the Day) throws at you.

Consistency Is Key

Consistency in Nutrition

This is where the rubber meets the road. You can’t eat like a champion one day and like a college freshman during finals week the next.

Consistency in nutrition ensures that your body has the fuel it needs to recover, rebuild, and get stronger with every workout, whether it’s providing the right nutrients before hitting the gym or replenishing afterward. It’s about making a commitment to your health, every single day.

Consistency – Your New Best Friend or Worst Enemy?

The theme of consistency doesn’t stop with nutrition; it’s actually the core of CrossFit. You can’t half-ass your way to greatness. Showing up sporadically and going through the motions won’t cut it. You need to be present, both physically and mentally, ready to give your all.

And yes, there will be days when you question your sanity for choosing this path. But it’s the consistent effort, the showing up even when it’s the last thing you want to do, that leads to real, lasting change.


Do I Need to Be in Good Shape to Start CrossFit?
Absolutely not. CrossFit is designed for individuals at any fitness level. Coaches can modify workouts (or “scale” them) to match your current ability.
How Often Should I Attend CrossFit Classes as A Beginner?
Start with 2-3 classes per week to allow your body to adjust to the new movements and intensity levels. As you become more comfortable and your fitness improves, you can increase the frequency to 4-5 times a week, depending on your goals and recovery ability.
Is CrossFit Safe? I've Heard It's Easy to Get Injured
Like any sport or fitness regimen, there’s always a risk of injury. However, CrossFit emphasizes proper technique and scaling workouts to your current fitness level to minimize risks. Listening to your body and working closely with your coaches can help keep you safe.
How Long Does a Typical CrossFit Class Last?
Most classes last around an hour. This typically includes a warm-up, a skill development segment, the high-intensity “Workout of the Day” (WOD), and a cool-down period. It’s a full package designed to improve your fitness efficiently.
Will CrossFit Help Me Lose Weight?
Yes, it can. CrossFit combines strength training with high-intensity cardio, which is effective for burning calories and improving your metabolism. Combined with a healthy diet, it can be a powerful way to lose weight and improve body composition.

So, You Want to Start CrossFit?

CrossFit Training

If after all this, you’re still keen on giving CrossFit a try, then hats off to you. You’re braver than most. Always keep in mind that it’s not about being the best right out of the gate. It’s about progress, not perfection. And for the love of all that is holy, listen to your body. If it’s screaming at you to stop, maybe take a breather. There’s no shame in living to lift another day.

In conclusion, CrossFit is more like a lifestyle. One that involves a lot of sweat, occasional tears, and an inexplicable amount of box jumps. But if you stick with it, you’ll find a community of like-minded masochists, I mean, fitness enthusiasts, who are all on the same journey to better themselves. Welcome to CrossFit, you brave, brave soul.

Alesha Thornton

Hi, I'm Alesha, a CrossFit fitness trainer. My journey began 5 years ago when I decided to try CrossFit for the first time. It was challenging, exciting, and unlike anything I had ever done before. I remember how intimidating it can be to start, but I'm here to tell you that anyone can do it. It doesn't matter where you're starting from; what matters is where you want to go