CrossFit at Home: No Equipment Needed!

By James T. Cains

CrossFit is an intense, multi-discipline exercise program that combines all different kinds of exercises into varied fitness routines called Workouts of the Day (WODs). Usually, CrossFitters will not do the same routines in the same week. For example, in Monday’s WOD, you might do 10 push-ups, 10 squats, and 5 burpees, completing as many repetitions as possible (often abbreviated AMRAP) in a given amount of time. In Tuesday’s WOD, you might do 15 sit-ups, 20 lunges, and run half a mile. This variety works to improve all the physical fundamentals, such as endurance, strength, and flexibility.

You don’t have to go to a gym or use specialized equipment to do CrossFit routines — though the types of exercises you can do are somewhat limited. Here are some of the exercises you can do at home or on the road, and how to do them properly.

For an introduction to CrossFit, check out this CrossFit For Dummies video.

Sit-ups

Here is the most standard way to do sit-ups:

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and the balls of your feet flat on the floor.

  2. Cross your hands over your chest. You can also lock your fingers behind your head.

  3. Sit up with your back in a slight arch and touch your elbows to your knees. Don’t overarch your back.

  4. Reverse to where you lie flat on the floor.

There are several variations to sit-ups, but the key is to do them correctly to really work your abdominals.

Air squats

Here’s how to do a simple air squat:

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.

  2. Extend your arms straight out in front of you.

  3. Bend your knees and push your butt and hips out, squatting as deep as possible. Try to go below where your thighs are parallel to the floor.

  4. Reverse to the standing position.

You can add other bits to it, such as jumps and push-ups, to make the exercise more demanding.

Push-ups

You probably learned how to do push-ups in elementary school. Here’s the right way to do them:

  1. Lie face down and push yourself up so that your hands are slightly wider than your shoulders.

  2. Place your feet shoulder-width apart, and keep you body straight, like a board.

  3. Lower yourself until your elbows are at 90 degrees or less, keeping them close to your body, and touch your chest to the floor.

  4. Pause slightly, and then push back up quickly.

Don’t arch your back or stick your butt up in the air!

Jumping jacks

If you’ve never done a jumping jack in your life, here’s how:

  1. Stand straight with your arms at your side.

  2. Bend you knees and elbows slightly, and then jump.

  3. While in the air, spread your legs so that your feet land slightly wider than your shoulders.

  4. At the same time, bring your arms up over your head, keeping your elbows slightly bent, to where your hands touch.

  5. Jump again, bringing your legs back together and your hands back to your sides.

Walks, runs, and sprints

Yes, everybody knows how to run and walk, but here are a few things to keep in mind when striving for the right form:

  • Keep your spine straight.

  • Look ahead instead of down at your feet.

  • Keep your elbows at 90-degree angles.

  • Keep your shoulders loose and don’t scrunch them up.

  • Point your hips forward.

  • Lift your knees slightly.

  • When you land on your feet, come down lightly between your heel and the middle of your foot, and then roll to your toes.

Bring a bottle of water with you to stay well hydrated, and don’t forget your music player!

Burpees

You may remember burpees as squat-thrusts in high school. Here’s a refresher on doing them correctly:

  1. Stand straight with your arms at your side.

  2. Squat down and place your hands on the floor in front of you, a little more than shoulder-width apart.

  3. Kick both feet back behind you so that you’re in the starting position for a push-up.

  4. Do a push-up, as detailed above. Remember to keep your body straight. Down, and then up.

  5. Bring your feet quickly back under you into the squatting position.

  6. Jump quickly from the squatting position into the air, raising your hands over your head.

  7. Flow into your next repetition by landing and immediately going into your squat.

The keys to burpee repetition are rhythm and breathing. Get into a rhythm and don’t slow down, pause, or stop until you have to, and find the appropriate time to breathe during the exercise and always breathe at that point.

Lunges

A lunge is kind of a stepping squat. Here’s how to do a forward lunge:

  1. Stand straight with your legs hip-width apart and place your hands on your hips.

  2. Step forward with one foot about two to three feet, keeping your back straight and perpendicular to the floor.

  3. Bend both knees, lowering your back knee toward the floor. Your knees should be at 90-degree angles. Your back knee should not touch the floor.

  4. Hold that position for five seconds.

  5. Push off your forward heel to rise back up and return to the starting position.

  6. Repeat — this time, stepping forward with the other foot.

Hollow rocks

The hollow rock is harder than it looks and is an important exercise to work the lower abs.

  1. Lie on the floor face up with your legs straight and your arms stretched overhead.

  2. Raise both your feet and your arms about one foot off the floor. You should look like the rocker on a rocking chair.

  3. Slowly rock back and forth for two minutes.

Hollow rocks can be difficult to master, because the lower abs are not usually in the kind of shape as other muscle groups. Avoid raising your arms and feet more to maintain the rocking motion; let your abs do the work.