CrossFit Workouts for Beginners - dummies

CrossFit Workouts for Beginners

By James T. Cains

You’ve probably heard of CrossFit and wondered what it is and how you can start doing CrossFit workouts. CrossFit is an intense, cross-training exercise program that combines different kinds of exercises into varied fitness routines called Workouts of the Day (WODs). CrossFit athletes rarely do the same routines in the same week. For example, in Monday’s WOD, you might do 15 sit-ups, 20 lunges, and run half a mile, completing as many repetitions as possible (abbreviated AMRAP) in a certain amount of time. In Tuesday’s WOD, you might do 5 pull-ups, 10 sit-ups, and swim 5 laps AMRAP. CrossFitters spend somewhere between 20 and 40 minutes per day on a WOD.

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

Getting started in CrossFit is easy. Don’t be intimidated by those seemingly superhuman CrossFitters who compete in the CrossFit Games. Anyone with the motivation and drive to improve his or her health and fitness can perform CrossFit training, beginning with light, simple WODs and progressing to harder ones.

CrossFit exercises

CrossFit training works the 10 fundamental physical qualities: Cardio/respiratory endurance, strength, stamina, power, flexibility, speed, agility, coordination, accuracy, and balance. That means you’re going to do a whole bunch of different exercises in various disciplines, working as many parts of your body as possible. The goal is make your body as fit as possible, so that you can be prepared for any kind of activity. In fact, if you participate in CrossFit classes or even in the CrossFit Games, you won’t necessarily know what the workouts are ahead of time. So you need train your body to be ready for anything.

Here are some of the disciplines CrossFitters work in and the principle exercises for each:

  • Aerobic (cardio/respiratory endurance, stamina): Walking, running, rowing, swimming, jumping rope, cycling.

  • Calisthenics (strength, flexibility, balance, coordination): Sit-ups, pull-ups, push-ups, lunges, knee bends, jumping jacks, crunches, squats.

  • Olympic weightlifting (strength): Snatch, clean and jerk.

  • Strongman events (strength): Farmer’s carry, yoke carry.

  • Powerlifting (power): Squats, deadlifts, bench press.

  • Gymnastics (strength, flexibility, agility, coordination, balance, accuracy): Handstands, rope climbing, still rings, trampoline, tumbling.

  • Plyometrics (speed, power): Squat jumps, lateral jumps, box jumps, burpees.

  • Miscellaneous: Wallball, kettlebell, medicine balls.

Some of these exercises require going to a gym or other specialized facility that has the necessary equipment. If you want to join a gym for CrossFit, you should find a CrossFit-affiliated gym, which shouldn’t be difficult because there are about 5,500 affiliates worldwide. CrossFit-affiliated gyms have CrossFit classes with CrossFit-certified instructors to guide you though the routines. Use the CrossFit Location Finder to find a location near you.

However, if you’re just beginning, you may not want to join a gym just yet — and you don’t have to. You can perform many of these exercises at home, either with no equipment or with a small investment in equipment.

Your first week of WODs

If you want to try CrossFit on your own at home, the table below shows exercises you can do each day of the week. This gives you an idea of how CrossFit works. Feel free to change out the exercises for similar activities or ramp up the reps if these workouts are too mild for you. And if you find these exercises a little too boring, get creative. CrossFitters pride themselves on their creativity in coming up with new WODs. Just be realistic about what you can do.

Don’t be discouraged if you can’t do all the exercises or very many reps initially. Remember that your body may not be used to some of these activities. The goal is to build yourself up!

Mon. Tues. Wed. Thurs. Fri. Sat. Sun.
AMRAP 20 minutes 3 rounds 5 rounds AMRAP 20 minutes Rest day! 4 rounds AMRAP 20 minutes
10 sit-ups Run 200 meters 20 lunges 15 sit-ups Walk for 5 minutes 20 air squats
10 push-ups 50 jumping jacks Jump rope for 3 minutes 10 burpees 10 jumping jacks 15 push-ups
15 air squats Run for 5 minutes 25 lunges