CrossFit, whether you love it or hate it, there’s no denying the health benefits that come with this popular sporting activity. But as with most things in life, there are pros and cons we need to consider before committing our time and spending our hard-earned cash.
CrossFit has been shown to improve functional fitness, increase muscle strength, enhance range of motion and provide emotional benefits like a sense of community and a supportive community. However, CrossFit has also gained a reputation for being dangerous and causing injury, although that’s not entirely true.
Today we’re going to look at the pros and cons and the do’s and don’ts of CrossFit. If you’ve been thinking about giving CrossFit a go, this article is aimed at you. And hopefully, if I’ve done my job correctly, you should come away with a clearer idea of the positives and negatives of performing CrossFit.
Remember, there is no right or wrong when it comes to choosing the best exercise for you. It’s a matter of weighing up the pros and cons and taking into consideration your current fitness levels and your future fitness goals.
Top four CrossFit do’s
As with any sport, there are many nuances which most beginners to CrossFit may not be aware of. Some of these do’s and don’ts are common sense, while others may seem a tad quirky to CrossFit newcomers.
Most of these ‘unwritten rules’ are universal, meaning whether you’re in Sydney, London or Tokyo, the rules should apply. These tips target beginners, but even if you’re an experienced CrossFitter, it won’t hurt to brush up on the rules; who knows? Maybe you’re violating a few of them.
1Practice the correct technique
Taking the time to ensure your lifting technique is correct will pay big dividends in the long run and help to reduce your chance of developing bad habits leading to serious injury. You should NEVER ever sacrifice your form to lift bigger weights and try to impress others.
Start with lighter weights until you are confident in your technique. Ask your coach to continually monitor your form and have them point out areas that need improvement. Resist the urge to try and keep up with more experience CrossFitters in the WOD (Workout Of The Day). Be patient and go at your own pace.
2Ask questions – a lot of questions
A big element of achieving success is not being embarrassed to ask questions. There’s an old saying, ‘there are no silly questions,’ which certainly rings true if you’re new to CrossFit. Remember, coaches, are there to do exactly that, coach. If you’re unsure how to perform a specific movement, simply ask.
Examples of questions you might ask:
Can you show me how to perform this correctly?
Is my form looking good?
Can you show me that move one more time, please?
Am I going fast enough?
How can I modify this exercise?
Can you show me how to scale this exercise?
Also, don’t forget to let your coach know of any pain or discomfort you may feel or whether you’ve got low energy levels due to a cold or illness.
3Support your fellow CrossFitters
Make sure that even if you have finished your session that you stay around to support your fellow CrossFitters who are still going. A little bit of support goes a long way, and honestly, it’s the right thing to do. Crossfit is about respecting everyone in the WOD regardless of age, sex, race and fitness level.
4Sign up for your WOD – workout of the day
These days, most CrossFit gyms use some type of app to make it easy for you to sign up. Reserving your position is a great way to keep you accountable, but actually, it serves a bigger purpose than that.
When the coach knows exactly how many CrossFitters are in the WOD, it makes their job that much easier designing, preparing and delivering the session. Trust me; they’ll thank you for it.
Top four CrossFit don’ts
OK, so now it’s time for the “don’ts.” Remember, these tips are designed to help you integrate seamlessly into your new CrossFittng lifestyle. You’re bound to make a few mistakes, but luckily CrossFitters are some of the most kind, caring and supportive communities in the fitness niche.
1Forget comparing yourself to others
As a professional coach, I’ve seen this destructive habit nearly destroy the lives of some athletes. You should NEVER compare yourself to others, especially if you’re new to the sport. You cannot fairly compare yourself to a 10-year veteran if you’ve only been CrossFiting for two months.
As the adage goes, ‘you can’t compare apples to oranges.’ Keep track of your progress and make it a priority to set SMART goals along the way.
SMART goals are:
Whether it’s an extra rep, an additional WOD or a better job with your diet, be sure to pat yourself on your back each time you achieve small milestones.
2Don’t skip your rest days
When starting a new hobby such as CrossFit, it’s easy to get pumped up and over-excited. You’re ready to take on the world, and that’s a good thing, but just don’t forget to rest. Rest and recovery are absolutely critical to your fitness performance as well as your general health and well-being.
Aim for 7-8 hours of quality sleep each night and plan to take at least two days off from exercise per week. You can still perform light exercises called ‘active recovery’ on your rest days. This form of active recovery can quicken the recovery process, meaning you’ll be ready to go for your next WOD.
3Don’t be late
Unlike a regular training gym where you’re able to use the equipment at any time of the day, CrossFit gyms or ‘boxes’ are different as they have schedules that they post and adhere to. As a matter of fact, many CrossFit boxes will not allow you to use their equipment even when no classes are scheduled, so it’s best to check with management regarding the rules and etiquette.
4Don’t leave your equipment
Last but not least is more about manners than anything, and that’s making sure you pack your equipment away after use and wipe down your area. Hygiene is vital in any area of life, particularly in the gym, where people sweat.
Next time you finish your CrossFit WOD, look around, and if you see equipment lying on the floor, pick it up and pack it away. The last thing you want is someone injuring themselves on a barbell you didn’t put back.
Sum it up
As a professional coach who has worked with some of the world’s best athletes, I recommend CrossFit, but with a few caveats.
CrossFit takes advantage of high-intensity interval training, which has been shown to improve fitness levels in a short period. However, HIIT also places a heavy toll on the body, so you must ensure you have an adequate level of base fitness before scaling up; failing to do so will result in injury.
Scaling, while it has its pros, has its cons too. For instance, scaling is largely dependent on the coach knowing the strengths and weaknesses of their members. If the coach is inexperienced or unqualified, scaling could be problematic.
All in all, CrossFit is an excellent fitness modality that increases strength, improves functional fitness and is a heck of a lot of fun. The CrossFit community are passionate, motivating and supportive, making it the ideal training environment for beginners to fitness.
Hungry for knowledge? Here is more
Watch this honest video from Ben Dziwulski, the creator of WODprep YouTube Channel, in which he explains the 5 major mistakes to avoid for CrossFit beginners. Ben is a former CFL1 trainer and CrossFit Gym owner, so he knows what he is talking about and shares examples from his own experience.
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