Love it or loathe it, CrossFit (or the sport of fitness, as it's sometimes referred to), is having a massively positive impact on the health, fitness levels, and body shape of an enormous amount of people up and down the UK, and with roughly 14000 CrossFit boxes worldwide, it's a form of HIIT (high-intensity interval training) that's here to stay.
It's a form of intense exercise that will improve your everyday life that focuses on a series of exercises within a short period of time (normally).
And if you haven't yet tried it because your fitness training evolves around cardio or bodybuilding is your thing, I guarantee you one thing, a CrossFit program will revolutionise how you train, because if you embark on a consistent CrossFit routine, you're guaranteeing yourself full-body workouts every single week that'll change your body composition.
But first things first, the terminology! With everything from AMRAPs to EMOMs to WODs and RRT, there are a few things to get your head around because, within every CrossFit workout, there are these terms. So let's get the terminology straight.
AMRAP: This stands for "as many reps (or rounds) as possible", which is a workout structure that's frequently used in CrossFit to accompany conditioning workouts. It's designed to push your body to the max in a very short time frame. AMRAPs allow you to specify the amount of time that a training session will take. If you know that you'll be going for exactly 15 minutes, it's much easier to understand the pacing of the effort required over that 15 minutes.
EMOM: Stands for "Every minute, on the minute". You'll need a watch, stopwatch, or a clock for this one. Complete the prescribed number of repetitions within a minute's timeframe, resting for the remainder of the same minute. The EMOM format encourages you to work harder in order to earn more rest. Once a new minute starts, so do you.
WOD: Stands for "Workout of the day" — the prescribed workout from CrossFit Affiliate gyms to their members. Usually, under 20 minutes, some people question their efficacy. Each person will need to experiment to determine what "enough" means, says the official CrossFit website. "Experienced athletes with specific competition goals might need additional work to improve their fitness, while beginners might need to reduce the volume of the WOD to optimise results."
RFT: Stands for "Rounds for time" — this means that you have to go hell-for-leather to achieve the quickest time possible while maintaining good form. RFT workouts are particularly useful for measuring yourself against previous times and thereby testing your strength and your fitness.
The beautiful thing about CrossFit WODs is that they centre around 8 bits of equipment. For example, if you buy the following bits of kit, you'll be sorted for a very long time to come:
1. Pull-up bar
2. Weighted vest (10kg for men & 7kg for women)
3. Olympic barbell with 150kg Olympic weight plates
4. Jump rope for double-unders (30, 50 & 75 double-unders are common place)
5. A medicine ball for ball shots
6. Hex dumbbells
7. Gymnastic rings
8. Rowing machine
Before you introduce yourself to any of the 'more intense workouts' below, here are 5 workouts that are ideal for beginners, or an inexperienced athlete. This doesn't mean they're going to be easy, because all CrossFit workouts require hard work and effort, but by starting here you'll quickly see results in your size, strength, and stamina.
Workout number 1: 10 for 10
Set a timer for 10 minutes and do as many rounds as possible of the following: 10 kettlebell swings, 10 box jumps (jump up onto a 12 to 20-inch tall box or step), 10 ring dips.
Workout number 2: Squat routine
Start to squat with a barbell, but hold the down position for two minutes (or as long as you can). Next, do 3 rounds of 10 burpees, 15 sit-ups, and 20 air squats.
Workout number 3: Burpee box jumps
Set your timer for 8 minutes, then do as many rounds as you can of 8 burpee box jumps (perform a standard burpee, then jump up on a box; jump down) and 16 kettlebell swings.
Workout number 4: 10 to 1 countdown WOD
Do 10 each of kettlebell swings at a moderate weight, followed by 10 dumbbell thrusters (hold a light dumbbell in front of your chest with both hands then squat with the dumbbell in place, then stand straight while raising the dumbbell overhead). Then do 9 of each, then 8, and so on, down to 1 of each.
Workout number 5: Squats, pull-ups, presses, & a run
Do 3 rounds of the following as rapidly as possible: 12 front squats with a barbell, 10 pull-ups, and 8 push presses. Finish up with a quarter-mile run.
As you can see, these workouts are pretty basic in their nature but are excellent at getting your body and mindset ready for the more advanced workouts.
Onto some of the most challenging workouts that CrossFit has to offer. These aren't for the faint-hearted and will test every muscle from head to toe, but what each benchmark workout will do is promise to build a bulletproof body that changes the way you look at fitness. They're advanced bodyweight exercises set out by CrossFit Inc. that are designed to push the most experienced athletes to their limits.
A Hero workout or CrossFit Hero WODs are named after soldiers and first-responders that have died whilst fighting for their country. "Military, law enforcement, and first responder communities were among the earliest proponents of CrossFit. Their intensity matched with the fitness CrossFit provides is a match made in heaven," CrossFit.
Here are 3 of the best-known Hero WODs
Hero WOD number 1: Murph
Murph, previously known as 'Body Armour' for those who don't know, is a hero CrossFit WOD that honours fallen Navy Seal Lieutenant Michael Murphy. 'Murph' has quickly become a staple workout for Memorial Day, to honour Lt. Murphy and every fallen veteran.
In a 10-20kg weighted vest:
Hero WOD number 2: Gunny
Command Sgt. Maj. Martin "Gunny" Barreras died on May 13, 2014, of wounds he sustained during an attack on his unit on May 6, 2014. Barreras joined the Marine Corps in 1983 and the Army Rangers in 1988. He used CrossFit training to improve his fitness and the fitness of his unit. Murph and Griff were among his favourite workouts.
Hero WOD number 3: DT
In honour of U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Timothy P. Davis, 28, who was killed on Feb. 20, 2009, while he was supporting operations in OEF and his vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device.
Other every day WODs to try at home
Aside from the Hero WODs, there are countless others that can be done from either the gym or at home, so here is a mixture of 10 for you to work through.
Workout number 1: Rankel (AMRAP in 20 minutes)
6 Deadlifts (115/70kg)
7 Burpee pull-ups
10 Kettlebell swings (32/24kg)
Workout number 2: Mind Easer (AMRAP in 20 minutes)
7 Power cleans (61/44kg)
200 Meter run
Workout number 3: Landon (AMRAP in 30 minutes)
800 Meter run
24 Box jumps (24/20 inches)
11 Front squats (70/48kg)
2 Bar muscle-ups
Workout number 4: Nookie (AMRAP in 20 minutes)
7 Squat cleans (40/30kg)
7 Push press (40/30kg)
7 Back squats (40/30kg)
200 Meter run (40/30kg)
Workout number 5: Manchester (AMRAP in 22 minutes)
22 Power cleans (60/40kg)
5 Burpee muscle-ups
17 Box jump overs (24/20 inches)
200 Meter run
Workout number 6: Elizabeth (21-15-9 RFT)
Workout number 7: Donny (21-15-9-9-15-21 RFT)
Workout number 8: JT (21-15-9 RFT)
Workout number 9: Morrison (50-40-30-20-10 RFT)
Wall ball shots (9/6kg)
Box jumps (24/20 inches)
Kettlebell swings (24/16kg)
Workout number 10: Wittman (7 RFT)
15 Kettlebell swings (24/16kg)
15 Power cleans (42/30kg)
15 Box jumps (24/20 inches)
There are simply too many WODs to list here, and I've left out many that include intense functional movements that include things like 50 double-unders or routines that have too much movement complexity because this article is for beginner athletes and the intermediate athlete alike.
And the beautiful thing about CrossFit is that you don't have to stick to the ready-made WODs, you can make up your own if you prefer. For example, you might set yourself a WOD for time that involves overhead squats, 100 push-ups, 20 pull-ups, one arm dumbbell overhead squats, 8 single-leg deadlifts, planks, and 100 sit-ups.
Most types of resistance exercise when done correctly are incredibly positive, and CrossFit is no exception. But make sure you give your body time to rest and above all, don't sacrifice your technique just to beat your best time.