In recent years, CrossFit has taken off in popularity. Unlike other forms of fitness, CrossFit is relatively young as it was only created in 2000 by Greg Glassman in California as a smart way to combine strength and cardiovascular training. Fast forward to 2021, and there are now over 14,000 CrossFit- affiliated locations worldwide.
Just what made it so popular in such a short amount of time? With many not knowing what CrossFit is or what it entails we decided to put together this handy guide (as well as a mini buying guide!), so you never have to wonder again!
What is CrossFit?
According to CrossFit HQ, they define CrossFit as constantly varied functional movements performed at high intensity. All CrossFit workouts use functional movements, and these movements reflect the best aspects of gymnastics, weightlifting, running, rowing, and more.
CrossFit isn’t just for the elite athletes you see competing in the documentaries on Netflix, though, it is for everyone! CrossFit employs the principle of universal scalability, meaning they scale the load and intensity of the prescribed workout rather than changing the programme. It is the perfect workout for anyone, regardless of their experience or fitness levels.
What’s all this CrossFit lingo about?
You hear many different terms going around when people are talking about CrossFit, and it may seem confusing at first, so here is a breakdown to get you ahead of the game before your first CrossFit class. Most of these are acronyms of words you already know or use, meaning it won’t be too difficult to remember.
Box – This is what CrossFit gyms call themselves; often referred to as CrossFit Boxes, they are usually in warehouse-style gyms.
WOD– Workout of the Day, this is what is on the agenda for the class that day.
AMRAP– As Many Reps/Rounds as Possible. You will often see workouts with a time of AMRAP 10 or 20 or something similar, and that means that you complete the list of prescribed exercises as many times as you can in the time allotted.
DL– An acronym for Dead Lift.
C&J– Acronym for Clean and Jerk. This is an Olympic weightlifting movement common in CrossFit workouts. To describe it simply, it is getting the bar from the floor to over your head in the most efficient way possible.
EMOM– Every Minute on the Minute. These are another common occurrence in CrossFit workouts, and it means you do the set number of reps Every Minute on the Minute, using a running clock on the wall. You do the reps at the beginning of every minute, so depending on how quickly you complete the reps, you could have more rest time.
What are the workouts like?
The workouts themselves vary but use the basic principles of metabolic conditioning, gymnastics, and weightlifting. CrossFit has a range of Benchmark WODs that are all named using women’s names. They are named after women because the founder compared the workouts to feeling like a storm hitting you once it was done (Storms, for the record, are also named after women. The more you know!). The most well-known workout is 'Fran', which consists of 21-15-9 reps of Thrusters and Pull-Ups done for time.
What equipment do they use?
CrossFit is known for using a few core pieces of equipment and machines. We’ve put together a mini-guide, so you know all your options for the next time you want to do a CrossFit workout.
A common misconception about barbells and plates is that they are only useful for strength training. While people focusing on strength training do favour it, it is a lot more versatile than that. Using a barbell and plates to get a full-body workout is relatively easy once you know the exercises. As CrossFit is a combination of strength and cardio, having a barbell and plates will make that easier, not more difficult.
Dumbbells and Kettlebells
Like the barbells and plates, dumbbells and kettlebells are a great allrounder if you are looking to get some CrossFit training in. Check out our 10 Dumbbell workouts for beginners to get an idea of the different types of full-body exercises you can do.
This Air Bike combines cardio and strength flawlessly by working your legs and arms simultaneously, guaranteeing to work up a massive sweat in no time! It even comes with a user-friendly LCD screen that can track your workouts or change them depending on your mood. Why not try and beat your last rep time? With the Air Bike, you'll be able to do just that!
Rowing machines makes use of your legs and arms simultaneously to give you a full-body workout. What makes them so good for CrossFit is that they typically come with a sophisticated monitor that provides accurate and comparable data for every stroke. You will be able to up your fitness and strength levels in no time by using a rowing machine.
You've probably seen one of these at the gym multiple times and wondered just what they were about? Well, the SkiErg is a machine that replicates Nordic skiing. It's recognised as giving one of the most challenging CrossFit workouts as it puts your strength and endurance to the test. If you think of it like a rowing machine but standing, it will give you a clearer picture on how to use it. What makes this so challenging is that you must constantly engage your core to get the pulling power needed, unlike with the rower, where your legs and arms do most of the work. If you are looking for an intense CrossFit workout, this is the way to go.
What is the Community Like?
This is a big reason CrossFit has become so big worldwide; it is a real community. No one gets left behind; everyone can participate in some way. There are CrossFit Affiliates dotted all over the world, with the community growing every day. The best thing about being a member of the CrossFit community is the support. It is like having a second family to talk to, relate to, and seek advice from that will help you along the way. Often gyms will have a policy that you can’t start putting your equipment away from the WOD until everyone in the class has completed their workouts. This means when you finish; instead of focusing on leaving to get home, you are present to cheer on your teammates until they are done!
What is the CrossFit Open and the CrossFit Games?
While CrossFit is a competitive sport, not everyone has to compete; it is totally optional! The main event for CrossFit is the CrossFit Games which is held in the US every Summer with athletes qualifying from all over the world in regional qualifiers. The first competition of the CrossFit season is the CrossFit Open, a worldwide competition that anyone can sign up for and is suitable for all levels, including beginners.
If you want to know more about the CrossFit Games, then head over to Netflix and give "The Fittest on Earth" and "The Fittest on Earth – A Decade of Fitness" a watch. They follow some of CrossFit's top athletes leading up to the Games and throughout the competition.