CrossFit is one of the best and most rewarding exercise programs right now. Newbies to this style of training quickly become hooked by this community based system. Starting CrossFit, however, can be a daunting task. Here are a few tips for beginning CrossFit and staying safe while starting.
Master the basics – squat and deadlift
Cleans, snatches, and thrusters are great but it’s best to focus first on mastering the squat and deadlift. Learning these two first will make progressing to more advanced exercises easier.
Start Slowly (no multi-workout days)
It’s easy to get hooked to CrossFit and want to workout more frequently to improve faster. Lots of new CrossFitters see others performing multiple workouts per day but they don’t understand that these people built their conditioning up over a long time to do this. Jumping into multiple workouts per day early may increase your risk of overuse injuries, which will bring your progress to a quick halt. Four workouts per week are enough for most CrossFitters.
Compete with yourself before worrying about competing with others
The competitive aspect of CrossFit can be great. But don’t get hung up initially on what others are doing. Work at your own pace, focusing on good technique and enjoying yourself. Get better each day regardless of your score compared to everyone else’s.
Find qualified coaches…and use them!
A great coach can mean a world of difference. Speak to people at the box you are thinking of joining. Ask about their coach’s programming and teaching style. Are they able to teach the exercises to people of all skill levels? Do they effectively scale the workouts?
Once you find a good coach, don’t be hesitant to ask them for help… that is why you are paying them. Get help with your technique and properly scaling the workout.
Address mobility and stability
Many injuries are the result of poor mobility. CrossFitters tend to work very hard on maintaining and improving mobility. But stability cannot be forgotten when performing injury prevention work. Focus on strengthening the glutes, abs, rotator cuff, and scapular muscles.
If your goal isn’t to compete – don’t let technique breakdown
A lot of times you will hear CrossFitters talk about an acceptable amount of form breakdown and encourage that as a form of increased intensity. My argument would be, why do this when it may increase the risk of injury if you goal isn’t to compete. Focus on proper form, a steady pace, and getting a great workout WITHOUT INCREASING INJURY RISK.
Constantly reassess your form (coach and videos and forums/online)
Once you’ve learned basic exercises such as air squats and are progressing to weighted versions, don’t think your form is always perfect. Constantly reassess your form by having your coach watch you or take videos to examine yourself (or upload to the CrossFit boards to get help from others).
If a movement doesn’t feel right…don’t do it (yet)
If you aren’t comfortable with a movement work on it outside of the metcons. Perfect your technique and build some confidence. When you feel good with it then add it in to your workout.
If a movement is painful, your body is telling you not to do it. Seek out the appropriate help to correct the potential problems instead of further damaging your body.
Don’t neglect the warm up
Warm ups are essential for injury prevention. Don’t ignore them or perform them lazily.
CrossFit strives to address all domains of fitness – the most important should be remaining injury free!
While CrossFit may be the best program for addressing all domains of fitness (strength, endurance, flexibility, etc) you can’t improve any of these if an injury keeps you from being able to work out. That is why remaining injury free is the most important aspect of fitness. Take care of yourself so you can continue to improve!