Progressing through CrossFit

In the beginning we all walk into this raw looking big semi-empty room with Barbells, Dumbbells, Med balls and Bumper Plates with a little if not a lot fear in heart. It is super intimidating at first, due to the loud and hectic nature of a CrossFit WOD and by the sight what seem like super humans throwing around some very heavy barbells.
How are you ever going to find your place in this chaos of gymnastic, cardiovascular and weightlifting exercises? Well that is what we are going to talk about in this post…

The Beginning:
90% of our new members are not used to working out regularly. By regularly I mean playing a sport, jogging or lifting weights 2-3 times per week. This means their tolerance to do so is very low and has to be build up slowly. We all remember the first few of sessions at the beginning of our CrossFit journey… the feeling of utter pain as we could hardly walk and it felt as though our arms were literally falling off! To build this tolerance up we need to start up slowly but the true key is to be consistent. I suggest all beginners approach CrossFit with a “one day on, one day off. One day on, one day off” mentality allowing them to rest up after each session but still putting in some hours at the gym.
Apart from building training tolerance, it is very important to build up a proper technical foundation. Aiming to learn simpler movements such as the fundamental squat, deadlift and press is of high priority. These will lay the way for more advanced movements in the future.

Getting into it:
After a few months you will start to feel your strength numbers increase and you will begin to feel more comfortable when it comes to truly pushing yourself and hitting harder and longer workouts. From a coaches’ perspective, this is the stage in which we would encourage you to consider increasing the amount of times you hit the gym each week. Going from the old one on, one off system to a “2 days on, 1 day off” or even up to “3 days on, 1 day off, 2 days on, 1 day off” cycle. We are ultimately aiming to hit 5 work days and 2 rest days within every week to maximize the progress of our training.
Your foundation in the basic movements have been build and it is time to slowly look at some more advanced movements such as Olympic weightlifting and advanced gymnastics. When approaching something like the Clean & Jerk, the pull-up or the Hand stand push-up it is super important to remember that these movements take time. Often, a lot of time! The biggest mistake at this stage is going too fast and attempting over complicated or heavy movements too soon, so be patient.

Advancing and Rx’ing classes:
You are now Rx’ing almost every class and rocking the leader board day after day. You should be more than capable of stepping up your training to 5 days per week and some days even do a double session.
At this level you have a choice to make – Where will CrossFit take you?

Some people really like the competitive aspect of CrossFit while others do not really care for the time that other people complete their WODs in.
If you wish to better your fitness and do not really care for competitions and such then keep on rocking the classes. Lift heavy and push yourself as much as you can in every class to maximize your muscle growth, strength and speed.

If you on the other hand wish to compete then there is a different road you need to take. Competitive CrossFit contains a lot of advanced gymnastics and heavy Olympic weightlifting. Therefor you should consider spending some extra time during your normal workout days perfecting your technique and strength… this stage can often take years! My suggestion to anyone who wishes to get into competitive shape is to do extra work before and/or after a class. Say a class looks like this:

A) Warm up
B) Bench press 5 x 5
C) 5 RFT
400m Run
30 Sit ups
10 Power Clean

This format easily allows for some gymnastics and some powerlifting before class. I would come 45 minutes before class and warm up with some Double Under practice followed by Hand Stand work such as:

8 Rounds of 30sec HS Hold / 30sec Rest

After my gymnastics I would hit some Back Squats seeing as there is no strength element in that day’s WOD:

Back squat 5 x 5

If you have any doubt about how many repetitions and sets you should do, 5 sets of 5 reps is always a good choice. Talk to your coach about further advise.

Make sure to have a conversation with your coach to make sure you are heading down the right path that suits your goals. We all want different things in our fitness journey and there are many ways to get there. Your coach is here to advise you as much as you need, so do not hesitate to ask for help!