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Crossfit For Beginners | Performance Ground
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Crossfit For Beginners

Crossfit For Beginners

Crossfit For Beginners

How to INSTANTLY Get Better at Crossfit, Get Stronger and Avoid Injury.

In the last decade, the world of strength and conditioning has grown and the public’s approach to performance based training has become much more mainstream than anyone would have anticipated. Even commercial gyms are setting up with sprint tracks, weightlifting platforms, ropes and more functional goodies that you could shake a stick at. We truly believe this is down to the rise in Crossfit and the scale of the audience that it appeals to. In this article, we will talk about Crossfit for beginners.

The values of Crossfit are based on being as general as possible to be able to adapt and be good at everything rather than a single discipline as you would be in a traditional sport. Crossfit athletes are exposed to many types of training, Olympic weightlifting, track and field, gymnastics and endurance evets like running, swimming and rowing among many other aspects of the sport.

You are only as strong as your weakest link.

Crossfit is the self-proclaimed sport of fitness. The popular training methods of many other sports have been collected and turned into a competition of its own. As strength and conditioning coaches here at Performance Ground, we view Crossfit as a sport just like any other. Before we start training we perform a needs analysis of the sport, identify the movements and forces during the events, energy systems used during the events and common injury sites of CrossFit athletes. Once these steps have been addressed, we look at the individual and assess the components of fitness that are needed during the sport of Crossfit.

Train for Crossfit not the other way around.

One mistake that we see from beginner athletes is that they want to jump straight in at the deep end and perform WOD after WOD, a term Crossfit uses for its workouts, expecting to improve. It takes years of experience to build an engine that is generally big enough to meet the demands of CrossFit at the highest level.  If we view Crossfit as a sport, we need to view the training as something separate.  For example, to get better at rugby, you don’t just play more and more rugby, you break down the skills and systems required to play rugby well and work on them individually before piecing them back together for game day. Crossfit should be treated the same.

THE VIDEO: Crossfit For Beginners

If you are just starting out in Crossfit or even if you have been doing it for 5+ years, it is worth your time trying to build a foundation of two components of performance:

1) Your aerobic capacity

2) Your maximal strength

These two mechanisms will build a foundation for all your other work.

Aerobic capacity

The definition of aerobic is to perform an activity fuelled by oxygen, think of a Tour de France cyclist. The activity can be from low to moderate intensity for a prolonged period. If the glycogen of the athletes is sustained, the theory is that they could maintain this pace without fatigue forever. If the intensity increases, the activity becomes anaerobic. This means that the workload is too high for the body to cope with fuelled by only oxygen. This is when anaerobic glycolysis steps in and we begin to fatigue. Lactic acid fills in, glycogen is depleted and we feel the burn. This line between the two systems is called the Lactate threshold. The fitter you are, the higher intensity you can maintain aerobically.

For Crossfit, this is essential. Some events can last between 30-90 minutes so the work needs to be sustainable. If your aerobic work capacity is higher than that of your opponents, you will be able to maintain a higher level of intensity without fatigue, resulting in more rounds, faster reps and walking out on top.

To train your aerobic work capacity you can train in a cyclic fashion like running, cycling, rowing or swimming. The traditional method is to do long steady state bouts for 30+ minutes. Although, this method does work on increasing your oxygen consumption, you probably want to be more efficient with your time.  Aerobic intervals of 2 minutes + with a similar amount of rest will allow you to work at a slightly higher intensity, spend less time training and still reap the aerobic rewards of endurance training.  A good start with this would be to spend 2 minutes on the rower with 2 minutes rest and repeat 10 times.

Cyclic training will build your central fitness, your lungs and heart, but it won’t necessarily make you better at Crossfit. To transfer this central adaption, we must perform sustainable bouts of exercise with movements that are going to give us a more peripheral adaption, within the muscles. Choose three movements that don’t require a lot of strength or skill and repeat several circuits of the movements at a sustainable pace.  Bodyweight squats, push ups and TRX rows are a good one to start with. Perform 10 sets of 10 reps of each movement at a pace you can sustain. If you start to feel the burn, you are going too fast.

A combination of these training methods will improve your central and peripheral aerobic capacity resulting in your ability to work at a higher intensity without fatigue.

Maximal strength

Crossfit involves lots of strength events. It combines many weightlifting, powerlifting, and strongman movements, often combined with one another.  Athletes are made to squat, press, pull, lift, throw, carry many different heavy objects, ranging from barbells, dumbbells, atlas stones, tyres and cars. When in competition, these movements are often tallied for reps or performed under the clock.

In a sport with such a demand for strength in many ways, doesn’t it make sense to develop your overall general strength? There is no substitute for strength. Even in the “metcon” style workouts, when your maximal strength is improved, each rep is going to be at a lower percentage of your maximum meaning the intensity of the movements is decreased. Yet, we still see athletes that have been doing Crossfit for 5 years or more that can’t squat anywhere close to double bodyweight.

Get used to lifting heavy often. When we say this, we don’t mean a heavy deadlift for 10 reps. Train at your higher end percentages 85% + from 5-1 reps for 3-5 sets. Forget the clock, take the time you need to rest so you can lift as heavy as the day allows.  Spend at the least 12 weeks on a periodized strength training programme aiming to improve your maximal strength and test your one rep max at the end.

The three power lifts are a good place to start. Building a big squat, press and pull will build the foundation for all of your other movements whilst working with other accessory movements. You can never be too strong in a sport that requires you to move heavy objects. This improved strength will transfer into everything else, even the dreaded assault bike.

By dissecting the sport of Crossfit and working on these two foundations of fitness individually you will begin to see improvements in your training and competition. Your improved aerobic fitness will allow you to move faster for longer without getting fatigued and your improved strength will see you moving much heavier weights during these workouts. You will recover much faster, resulting in more reps and faster times. When you piece everything back together, you will soon realise that there is no substitute for general capacities like strength and aerobic fitness.

Ashley Capewell