7 Undeniable CrossFit Benefits (You Need to Know)
The most important benefits of CrossFit:
CrossFit has a strong sense of community, support and camaraderie
Good for beginners with scaling options for advanced exercises
CrossFit has an element of competition which is good for motivation and accountability
Qualified coaches lead each session for a structured workout regime guided by a professional
CrossFit combines the benefits of a wide variety of sports and training styles (gymnastics, weight lifting, rowing, sprinting etc.)
Every workout of the day (WOD) is different to keep your mind and body stimulated
CrossFit can build strength, muscle and burn fat for an improved leaner, stronger physique
Lets take a look at each benefit in more detail and see how they apply to you…
The CrossFit Community
One of the reasons why CrossFit has become such an international phenomenon since it rose to prominence in 2006 is the sense of community that is promoted throughout CrossFit gyms.
CrossFit classes consist of around 10-12 people, and everyone does the same workout of the day (WOD). The atmosphere is one of inclusiveness and camaraderie as everyone is doing the same exercises together with a real sense of collective accomplishment at the end of a challenging workout as you all support and encourage one another.
Working out along side other people in this way is a very powerful motivating factor. You are far less inclined to cruise through a half-hearted workout if you are surrounded by other people who are giving 100% effort with each exercise.
Working in a group format with a coach is a great way to hold yourself accountable so that you stick to your workout and achieve your goals whether its losing weight, increasing fitness or gaining strength and muscle.
There is a real sense of collective euphoria and accomplishment (as well as exhaustion!) at the end of each session as you have had to push through the same workout routine, which is why the atmosphere is so friendly and team orientated.
Compare this to going to the gym on your own and working out in isolation without that sense of team spirit and with no coach to hold you to account. The CrossFit community serves to inspire each other and push past your self imposed limitations.
Everyone is supportive of one another’s goals and welcoming to beginners and advanced gym goers.
Good for Beginners (and Advanced)
Initially CrossFit may seem intimidating with complicated routines and advanced level workouts with equipment you are not sure how to use.
However the CrossFit community is very diverse in terms of ability and backgrounds. If you think you are not strong or fit enough for CrossFit you are wrong. Most CrossFit boxes do specific beginners classes where the coach guides you through different exercises for any level of fitness.
So if you can’t yet do a pull up, push up or you think you lack the fitness to attend a class, then don’t worry. The beauty of CrossFit is that all the exercises and workouts are scalable from beginner to advanced.
Even though everyone is issued the same workout, the coaches are well versed in different variations of each exercise and show you exactly how to do them so that they are tailored to your ability and they show you how to progress through the variations in the correct sequence.
For example if you can’t do a pull up, no problem. Instead of a full pull up, you can do an inverted row where your feet support partial bodyweight which will decrease the difficulty of the exercise.
Also each CrossFit box is armed with an array of resistance bands that can be looped around the pull up bar for you to rest your knee or loop around your feet for added assistance when first attempting pull ups, to help you build the required strength.
There is nothing to fear if you are new to CrossFit as beginners start classes all the time and in CrossFit there is a culture of support and not judgement. The coaches will guide you through the workouts and answer any questions or alleviate any concerns you may have.
If you are still concerned I recommend you to google the phone number of your local CrossFit box and speak to a coach to ask questions and address any concerns you may have.
Equally CrossFit will cater to elite athletes, thanks to the workouts being very easy to scale in difficulty to meet your ability and serve your goals.
The high intensity training with exercises such as sprints, rowing and pull ups can take your cardio (both aerobic and anaerobic exercises feature heavily) and muscular endurance to the next level.
There is also an emphasis on very technical exercises at the higher end of the CrossFit difficulty scale.
For example, getting accustomed to gymnastic rings training is very humbling and exercises such as a rings muscle ups are particularly challenging and require a great amount of muscular coordination, proprioception and strength. If you would like to learn the ring muscle up please take a look at my tutorial, for a step by step guide to the technique.
CrossFit also prioritises very technical lifts such as the clean and jerk and the snatch (Olympic lifts) and power lifts such as deadlifts and squats. These exercises require a lot of technique, timing and explosive strength (for the Olympic lifts) to be carried out properly and with the correct form.
Fortunately at CrossFit you will have fully qualified coach looking over your technique as all these exercises require guidance to really get the most out of the exercise and make subtle adjustments to your form for you can reach your full potential safely.
If you have a competitive personality then CrossFit workouts will really appeal to you. Competition is a very powerful motivational factor and will help keep you challenged.
Personally, I have been to a CrossFit workout with friends and the drive to beat them for bragging rights served as huge motivation!
The high intensity part of the workout is timed at 20 minutes and you complete as many reps (with good form) or rounds of the workout as you can. So, if you wish to compare with other people or to compete against yourself, then you can which is a useful way to track your fitness gains as there are some specific workouts of the day that are repeated which can serve as a benchmark to measure your progress.
There is of course no perquisite to compete with one another, nor is there any pressure to at all. The atmosphere is one of friendliness as there are people of different abilities and a complete range of fitness. Like I said each workout is adjusted in terms of variations of each exercise, to your personal ability to serve your goals best.
However by tapping into your competitive instincts you are more likely to enjoy the process and if each week your sprints are a little but quicker or you can do more push ups, burn fat, or even you have learned a new skill (such as a gymnastic ring push ups) then you build real momentum and discipline to build on your progress and be that little bit more fit then you were each and every month.
The satisfaction of achieving and learning new skills is hugely rewarding.
Qualified Coaches lead each Workout
If you are new to the gym or perhaps are unfamiliar with the best way to get fit, burn fat and gain muscle then CrossFit is a great place to build the foundation of knowledge and skills to stay fit.
A CrossFit coach can only call him or herself a ‘coach’ or ‘certified’ trainer if they have completed the level 3 or 4 CrossFit Trainer exam.
This involves at least 750 hours of instructing CrossFit and features courses regarding the scaling of exercises, perfecting and demonstrating the perfect form for clients and the planning of workout programmes.
Certain exercises (ring push ups, box jumps, Olympic lifts) require a significant amount of technical knowledge to know howto do them correctly and safely.
Only approved CrossFit gyms (known as a CrossFit box) can use the phrase ‘CrossFit’ in the title so if you are looking for a new CrossFit gym always ensure its an official CrossFit affiliate so you can be assured of the standard of coaching.
This ensures that only experienced, qualified professionals who know what they are doing can refer to themselves as coaches or trainers so you can be confident that you are in safe hands.
Think of CrossFit as having a personal trainer who can teach you the correct way to perform exercises and put together a tailored workout programme for you but in a inclusive group environment of around 10-12 people who all support each other.
It also works out a lot cheaper then hiring a personal trainer for one on one coaching!
Cross Train with Different Sports and Skills
What sets CrossFit apart from other training systems is the emphasis on Cross training a wide variety of sports and skills rather then just sticking to one discipline. Including different styles of training into the workouts keeps each workout fresh, more challenging and interesting as you have the opportunity to try different skills that you may otherwise never try.
CrossFit workouts incorporate elements of:
Calisthenics (bodyweight exercises)
Powerlifting (deadlifts and squats etc.)
Olympic lifting (clean and jerk, snatch)
Gymnastics (gymnastic rings techniques)
HIIT training (high intensity interval training, for example, sprinting and rowing)
Explosive plyometric training (box jumps, medicine ball slams)
With such a diversity of exercises CrossFit will accentuate and improve different athletic attributes so you not only develop strength, but also speed, balance, proprioception, coordination and endurance.
All these are great qualities for making you a more well round athlete to improve your performance in both sports competition and everyday movements.
This variety prevents you from getting in a rut with a stale routine of just lifting weights or just doing cardio every workout without significant variation, not to mention you are combining the benefits of several different training styles whilst overseen by a qualified trainer.
Training at a CrossFit gym (box) can help you find the a style of training that is best for you to serve your goals.
It is a great way to sample different forms of exercise and seeing which one you enjoy the most. So even if you only do the occasional CrossFit class, you can develop a good base of knowledge about different movements and implement these ideas into your gym routine or home workout.
CrossFit for Strength and Muscle
CrossFit can build strength and muscle thanks to the fact that all the exercises are compound movements. Compound movements are exercises that engage multiple muscle groups to work together cohesively to contribute to the motion.
Olympic lifts (clean and jerk) and powerlifts such as the deadlifts, feature frequently in CrossFit workouts of the day (WODS). These exercises in particular require the recruitment of every major muscle groups to participate in the lift.
Placing tension of so many different muscle groups simultaneously is key to muscle growth and strength gain, and its far more effective then isolation exercise (such as the bicep curl) where you are only concentrating on one muscle as a time.
As your strength increases so should the weight on the barbell so that you can maintain a progressive overload. By increasing the weight as you get stronger you will stimulate an adaptive response from the body to increase in size and strength to cope with the increase in weighted resistance.
CrossFit also features many compound bodyweight exercises such as pull ups, push ups, box jumps and handstand push ups for the advanced practitioner. All these exercises form a great foundation of strength and muscle building whilst also developing other athletic attributes such as coordination, balance and proprioception.
This ensures that you not only develop power but also functional strength that crosses over to improving sports performance and into real life situation that require strength.
Whilst CrossFit will build muscle, the overall emphasis is on cross training with different styles of exercise so the focus isn’t exclusively on muscle gain but also endurance, fitness and, technique development and burning fat.
Every Workout of the day (WOD) is Different
With CrossFit almost every single workout is different each day. So if you someone who becomes bored with repetitive workouts or struggles to formulate a meaningful structure workout regime then CrossFit will appeal to you.
One session can emphasis more cardio based workouts with sprints and rows whilst the next can be more about developing explosive strength such as box jumps or slamming medicine balls.
This ensures that you stay mental and physically stimulate each and every workout. CrossFit prevents you from hitting plateaus or becoming stale in the gym because there is always s a different aspect or style of training that you can improve upon.
Learning how to use different equipment and master new skills is hugely rewarding.
Each individual CrossFit box posts their workout of the day online (WOD) either a week in advance or perhaps the day before the workout. Every workout combines different exercises from different aspects of training to be completed within a set amount of time.
How long is a CrossFit class?
The whole session lasts around 1 hour. CrossFit classes always start with some stretching to improve mobility and a warm up. The coach then explains each movement and the scaling options for each exercise. For example you may do bodyweight rows as a beginner and bar muscle ups if you are a CrossFit veteran.
Then comes the actual workout which consists of a series of exercises and often lasts for 20 minutes, for example:
Complete as many rounds as possible in 20 minutes of:
5 strict pull-ups
10 honest push-ups
Then comes a cool down period to lower you heart rate down to normal by doing variations of the exercises you were doing at a much slower pace, or perhaps a jog and then some stretching to maintain flexibility and to alleviate soreness.
How much does a CrossFit class cost?
There are a flexible range of options in terms of paying for CrossFit and the price does vary depending on location so it is hard to give any definitive figure but i researched some prices to give you can idea…
CrossFit classes in California you can expect to pay around $139 for three classes a week on a 6 month agreement.
CrossFit classes in the UK vary from around £55 per month to £185 per month (or more) in London.
Because each CrossFit affiliate gym is managed separately, each CrossFit box is priced differently. The best thing to do is to google your local CrossFit class and their website will state the monthly fee.
Any more questions please leave a comment below and I will be happy to get back to you. ↓ ↓ ↓