CrossFit is a conditioning and core strength workout program, which teaches people how to perform various functional movements at high intensity. During a CrossFit session, all participants attempt to perform the same movements. The exercises are, however, adjusted according to each individuals’ capabilities and fitness levels. Unlike other fitness programs, CrossFit workouts are varied, which means that you will not perform the same exercise twice. Therefore, your body will never get used to a routine and the workouts will be fun and varied. Whether you want to become a professional CrossFit coach or you just want to improve your overall fitness levels, here are the key CrossFit foundations that you should master.
Before You Start: Gear Up
You can’t be starting a CrossFit regimen, unless you first have a solid pair of shoes on your feet, that will support you in every body-shattering exercise that you are about to make yourself suffer through. It doesn’t matter whether you are standing, jumping, or doing pushups… you need good, comfortable, supportive sneakers that can handle the pressure. Don’t even think about bringing your years old, worn sneakers to the gym. Once shoes are worn, their ability to support your arches and your feet is long gone.
If you just so happen to have a relatively new pair of Puma runners you bought for your hip hop class, then you can use those for cross training as well. But if you don’t, then it would be wise to invest in a decent, new, modern pair that will have you standing firmly and full of confidence. Once you’ve made that investment, you’re pretty much ready to hit the CrossFit.
The front squat is one of the most powerful CrossFit workouts. It helps to build robust core strength and promotes proper back squat technique. If you have bad knees or you are experiencing some lower back issues, the front squat will be your friend in the gym. According to a study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, the front squat is equally as effective as the back squat. The good news is that it places a lower amount of strain on your back, compared to the back squat. Therefore, if you have knee or back problems but you still want to enjoy the benefits of a squat, then you should grab a barbell and do some front squats.
The front squat will also expose your weaknesses in the gym and help you to improve. When you are performing the back squat, it’s easy to hide your weaknesses. However, that is not possible with the front squat. If you have any strength deficiencies, imbalances, or mobility issues, then they will be exposed. It’s also a great exercise to identify issues like:
- Hip mobility issues
- Weak core
- Lack of strength in the quads and glutes
- Issues with thoracic extension
Another benefit of the front squat is that it promotes body flexibility. To perform the front squat with proper technique and form, you must be flexible in almost all areas of your body, from the back, glutes, calves and upper body. If you are looking for a CrossFit workout that can help to improve your posture, correct imbalances, enhance your flexibility and build core strength, then you should go for the front squat.
Air squats are a popular exercise in many fitness studios. Most people opt for them because you can perform them anywhere, since you will only be performing them with your body, without any equipment. This workout helps to burn excess belly fat and tone your leg muscles. If you have just started CrossFit workouts, then air squats will be a great place to start. They will help you to build proper squat form and avoid injuries. As you advance, you can then transition to front and back squats. It’s important to note that you will only benefit from front squats if you do them properly. Whenever you are performing air squats, your knees should not go beyond your toes. Also, avoid dropping your shoulders forward as much as you can. Instead, you should only be moving your lower body. Another thing you should observe when doing air squats is that your chest should be lifted, with your eyes facing the wall.
If you experience joint pain in your knees, it’s highly likely that you are not using the proper form or your movements are too slow. If you feel back pain when doing front squats, then there is a high chance that you’ve pushed your shoulders forward too much, thus putting overexerting your lower back. As long as you are using proper form and technique, you should not experience any pain or discomfort when you are doing air squats.
The shoulder press is a highly challenging but a highly rewarding CrossFit workout. A single movement of the shoulder press requires numerous muscles of your upper body. You can perform it with dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells, a machine or even resistance bands. If you are a CrossFit athlete, then you need to incorporate some type of shoulder press into your workout. Incorporating this exercise into your routine comes with numerous benefits such as:
- Stronger upper body: As noted above, shoulder press movements use various muscles of the upper body such as the trapezius, deltoids, serratus anterior and deltoids, just to name a few. According to a study conducted by the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, the shoulder press is an effective exercise when it comes to building upper body strength. If you do this exercise regularly, you will find yourself pushing heavier weights on the bench while your lockout power will also increase.
- Improved stability: Doing the shoulder press regularly will also increase stability in your torso, shoulders, and arms. As much as this exercise doesn’t target the torso muscles directly, they will be recruited and used extensively to help you maintain proper posture. Eventually, the shoulder press will lead to enhanced balance, improved stability, as well as better core stabilization – especially if you perform this exercise when standing.
Doing the shoulder press regularly will also lead to increased bone strength while improving your performance in exercises that target your triceps. Also, building strong muscles with this exercise will also help to minimize the risk of injury during other sports or activities like swimming.
The push jerk is an important CrossFit movement, which requires coordination, strength as well as good overhead mobility. It works your shoulders, abdominals, hips, triceps, calves, quads and glutes. Similar to other CrossFit movements, you will be using your entire body to perform a single CrossFit movement. Apart from your arms and shoulders, you will also utilize your core muscles and lower body to move the bar overhead.
The push press is an explosive shoulder exercise, and arguably one of the best when it comes to building upper body and strength. It allows you to press more overhead than you would if you were performing other similar exercises. Also, if your shoulder training has hit a plateau, you can use this exercise to reinvigorate and muscle and strength gains. When performing the push press, the barbell you are using should in a straight line, up and down. Instead of moving the bar over your head, you should instead move your head out of the way, to ensure your shoulders and neck muscles are engaged. You should also ensure that your torso remains upright at all times, whenever you are performing the push press. Don’t push your chest forward or even bend the knees, as you might end up injuring yourself in the process. If you experience any pain in your shoulders when doing this exercise, you should reduce the weight or even stop it completely – until you’ve isolated the cause of the pain. The push press is highly recommended for advanced lifters and intermediates. If you are a beginner, you should wait until you’ve acquired ample lifting experience and technique, before attempting this exercise.
Sumo Deadlift High Pull
The sumo deadlift high pull is a vital CrossFit foundational movement, which targets the glutes and hamstrings, lower back as well as hips. Some of its benefits include increased body coordination, increased strength, and explosive power. Just like other forms of deadlifting, this movement will also promote posterior chain development. When it comes to increasing the athletic performance for activities like jumping, sprinting and running, you will need to enhance hamstring and hip strength.
Including this movement in your workout of the day will significantly boost hip and glute strength. The sumo deadlift high pull will also enhance your lifting capabilities while increasing your anaerobic and aerobic capacity. And if well programmed, it will enhance your endurance and stamina, especially when you are performing high-intensity workouts. As you can see, it’s quite a versatile movement, which can enhance your athletic performance in various ways.
Medicine Ball Clean
The medicine ball clean is a powerful compound exercise and an important CrossFit foundational movement. It mainly uses the core, lower back, upper traps, glutes, hamstrings, and shoulders. It’s a good exercise for developing explosive power, agility as well as full-body coordination. You first need to learn how to execute a proper squat before you attempt to do the medicine ball clean. Once you master the proper squat technique, you can then attempt this exercise.
It’s highly advisable to start with a lower weight that you are comfortable with. Since medicine ball workouts may involve throwing, jumping, rotation, and various other movements, learning how to execute these movements with a lower weight ball will help you to master the technique faster and minimize injuries. It’s also important to note that size is not directly proportional to weight when it comes to medicine balls. For instance, you might come across a small medicine ball that is quite heavy and a large one of a lower weight. Therefore, make sure you check the weight indicated on the ball.
Your CrossFit workout is not complete without some deadlifts. This compound exercise offers a wide range of incredible benefits such as increased body strength, a stronger core, improved athletic performance as well as powerful leg muscles. Weekend warriors and athletes can also reap incredible benefits from the deadlift. Since it strengthens your leg muscles, the deadlift can, therefore, improve your performance in both vertical and long jumps.
This workout can also expedite the rate at which your body burns calories, thus helping you to lose weight. You can either use a kettlebell, hex bar or a barbell when performing this exercise. If you will be using a barbell, then you can alternate between the wide stance and the narrow stance. Regardless of the variation you opt for, your movement should always start with the barbell on the floor.
Whether you are a gym owner, a trainer, a fitness enthusiast or just an average person who wants to get in shape, the above CrossFit foundations are highly recommended. Once you master how to execute the above movements, you will increase your body strength, overall conditioning, agility, as well as athletic performance.