Chances are, you know a member of a CrossFit gym. If they’ve been at it for a while, it shows. But what is CrossFit training, and how is it different from more traditional workouts? What are the benefits when compared to standard free weight training, traditional cardio exercises like running, cycling, and swimming, or other exercise disciplines?
The simple answer to those questions is simple: CrossFit training incorporates elements from those techniques into a single system that focuses on functional movement.
But there’s a lot more to CrossFit training than meets the eye. Here are the things we’ll look at more closely in this article:
- What is CrossFit training like in general?
- What is a CrossFit workout like?
- Is CrossFit Training safe?
- What are CrossFit gyms like?
- Is there a CrossFit diet?
- What are the Crossfit Games?
What is CrossFit Training: The Basics
To better address the question of “What is CrossFit training,” it’s important to understand that it’s more of a lifestyle than an exercise technique. Yes, it’s built on a platform of exercises emphasizing functional movement, but it goes deeper than that.
In spirit, CrossFit training feels more like a team sport that becomes part of your daily life. Driving that point home, CrossFit participants aren’t called “members” or “customers.” Instead, they’re referred to as “athletes.” Athletes are expected to encourage and motivate each other, track progress, and celebrate achievements together.
Classes are led by a certified coach, and athletes do the same exercises on a given day (workout of the day or WOD).
CrossFit training also encourages healthy life habits outside the gym (or box in CrossFit lingo), like optimal nutrition and proper exercise recovery.
Finally, athletes can participate in the annual CrossFit Games – an international competition that measures overall fitness and athleticism to crown the Fittest Man and Fittest Woman on Earth.
What Are CrossFit Workouts Like?
Also, it’s important to note that CrossFit workouts are varied and combine aerobic and anaerobic exercise. Athletes aren’t locked into a disciplined daily routine. Your workout of the day will look entirely different from tomorrow or the next day. And you won’t find yourself running on a hamster wheel. When engaging in cardiovascular exercise, you’ll actually run on dirt, pavement, or similar.
Let’s take a closer look at functional movement and some examples of exercises you might encounter during a workout.
If you ask 10 people what the term “functional movement” means, you might get 10 different answers. In the world of CrossFit training, the definition is pretty simple: natural, often essential movements you perform in everyday life. For instance, the movement you perform when you sit down and stand up from a low chair is very similar to a squat. Lifting a toolbox or a bag of groceries off the floor is a deadlift.
Functional movement is quite different from a lot of common gym exercises, especially those done on machines. For example, bicep curls isolate the work you’re doing to that specific muscle, but you’d rarely perform that motion in your day-to-day life. Instead, you’d likely engage several muscles to lift an object. A better example of how you might actually lift something at work or home is the medicine ball clean or the deadlift.
By using exercises that are based on functional movement, you’ll build useful muscle.
Workout of the Day
To answer “What is CrossFit training,” properly, we have to discuss the “workout of the day” concept. It’s a cornerstone of the lifestyle.
Each day, your local box (again, that’s a CrossFit gym) will set forth a workout of the day or WOD. These are the exercises and formats coaches will lead that day. Often, these will be posted on the gym’s website in advance.
The WOD may also provide “scaling” options for beginners. Either way, your coach will help you scale the exercises properly or lead specialty classes for new athletes. Coaches also provide substitute options if injuries or other health issues make it difficult for an athlete to perform a prescribed exercise safely.
The WOD works as the baseline exercise program for the day, but you can always do more. Performing exercises with the proper technique is a major part of getting the most out of CrossFit training. You can always take extra time with a coach to zero in on the right technique or work through difficulties you might have with a particular exercise.
You can see examples of CrossFit’s official WODs here.
Common CrossFit Exercises
To keep things fresh, CrossFit uses dozens of exercises or movements. As a result, you’ll probably never do the same routine twice.
Here’s an extensive list of movements, including video demonstrations.
But the movements are just part of the CrossFit training experience. To answer the question of “What is CrossFit training,” completely, we have to look at the duration of the exercises.
In WOD listings, you’ll often see abbreviations that describe how long you should do the exercises or how many repetitions you’re supposed to do. For instance, AMRAP stands for “as many reps/rounds as possible” in a given time frame. EMOM is short for “every minute, on the minute,” which dictates that you try to complete the required amount of repetitions within 60 seconds before moving on to the next EMOM exercise.
All these acronyms can seem a bit overwhelming to those new to CrossFit training, but you’ll quickly pick up all the lingo. Also, CrossFit coaches and fellow athletes are always there to help – one of the most important and appealing aspects of going to the box every day.
What Else Can You Expect from CrossFit Training?
So far, you’ve learned the following in your quest to answer the question, “What is CrossFit Training?”
- CrossFit is more of a lifestyle than a workout technique and often feels more like a team sport.
- CrossFit exercises are based on functional movement – motions you are likely to perform in everyday life.
- WODs are varied and form the backbone of CrossFit training. You’re unlikely to repeat the same workout.
- Duration of the exercises and repetitions also play a major role in how the exercises are done.
- Beginners and those with health issues can scale workouts or substitute exercises to make them more accessible.
So while we’ve covered the actual exercise side of CrossFit training, you may have other questions.
Is CrossFit Training Safe?
As in any sport or workout technique, injuries are possible. Even athletes in low-impact sports like golf experience minor pain associated with overworked joints and muscles. High-impact interval training techniques like CrossFit are no different.
But unlike many exercise methods, CrossFit training is usually done under the supervision of certified coaches. These instructors can help you master forms and techniques that minimize injury risks. CrossFit also encourages rest days to promote proper recovery.
Of course, sore muscles are part of the process. Pain-relief topicals with active ingredients like menthol, lidocaine, and histamine dihydrochloride can aid in the recovery process or at least provide comfort before, during, or after your workouts.
What are CrossFit Gyms Like?
Your local box won’t look like your stereotypical gym. You won’t see rows of machines, weight benches, or treadmills. Juice bars, saunas, tanning beds, and similar amenities aren’t usually in CrossFit gyms.
Instead, you’re more likely to see a barebones space with lots of open floor and essential equipment like kettlebells, traditional free weights, medicine balls, ropes, and pull-up bars.
CrossFit boxes are places to put in the work. Like the exercises themselves, they’re functional spaces with very few frills.
Is There a CrossFit Diet?
CrossFit training can only take you so far, and proper nutrition plays a major role in the lifestyle.
CrossFit doesn’t dictate a specific menu. Instead, it advises using the Zone Diet, which concentrates on macronutrients intake. Macronutrients such as proteins, healthy fats, and carbohydrates make up the essential compounds your body needs to function at peak levels. It also discourages sugar intake except for those found in raw fruits.
The Zone Diet also focuses on the weights and measures of meal components to keep servings, or “blocks” consistent and takes body size, sex, and fitness level into account.
You can find more information about the Zone Diet here.
What are the Crossfit Games?
Each year, CrossFit encourages athletes to participate in the CrossFit Games to crown Fittest Man and Fittest Woman on Earth. But “The Games” aren’t like other fitness competitions.
When most sporting events focus on specialties (e.g., specific distance running), the CrossFit Games focuses on overall fitness and athleticism. In fact, there are no set events. Instead, the challenges change each year and at each stage of the process.
Early-round results are self-reported by individual gyms before the top competitors move on to regional and national competitions. Winners then compete in the finals – a major event featuring competitors from all over the world.
But what does this mean for you – someone who’s just learning about CrossFit training?
All CrossFit athletes are encouraged to participate. And while newbies aren’t likely to advance in the competition, it provides a great way to track progress year over year and contributes to each box’s team atmosphere.
cbdMD + CrossFit
cbdMD is the Official CBD Partner of the 2021 NOBULL CrossFit Games in Madison, Wisconsin. But what exactly connects cbdMD, a leader in CBD wellness products, to CrossFit?
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A growing number of athletes have embraced CBD, and more specifically, cbdMD’s THC-free,* Superior Broad Spectrum hemp products. They range from pro golf’s most accomplished stars (Bubba Watson, Patrick Reed) to champion bodybuilders (Flex Lewis) and top mixed martial arts contenders (Juan Archuletta).
And now, those who engage in CrossFit training are learning about CBD benefits for their fitness goals.
It’s also worth mentioning that cbdMD offers dedicated pain-relief topicals like Freeze, Relieve, and Recover. Each contains FDA-approved ingredients for temporary relief from sore joints, muscles, and common backaches – all problems athletes at every level face regularly.