True, the seemingly endless pull-ups, burpees, and rope climbs can be intimidating. But anyone can benefit from trying CrossFit if they keep a few important pointers in mind, says Camille Leblanc-Bazinet, a certified trainer and professional athlete who earned the “Fittest Woman on Earth” title after winning the 2014 CrossFit Games. Follow her top tips and prepare to become more buff than ever before.
Don’t Be Intimidated
Seeing CrossFit veterans knock out handstand push-ups can make even fit girls quake in their sneaks. Still, your coach can—and should—be able to help you “scale” the workout so that it’s challenging on your level. “People who have a lot of room to grow benefit a lot more than people who are already athletes,” says Leblanc-Bazinet. Just check out this reader for proof. Your box (slang for CrossFit gym) should have a training course to teach you the lingo and how to perform lifts properly so you’ll feel well-versed in no time.
Don’t Try Too Much Too Soon
Busting open a shin on a 20-inch box jump doesn’t feel good. Leave your ego at the door and remember that your coach knows best, Leblanc-Bazinet says. Start small—like on a 12-inch box—and progress as you grow stronger and feel more comfortable.
Don’t Cheat Yourself
Performing a CrossFit push-up? Lower your chest all the way to the ground. Busting out a CrossFit squat? Get those hips below the knees.”Cutting it short is cheating,” says Leblanc-Bazinet. “Trainers set standards to ensure that everyone is completing the same amount of work per rep, and to help each athlete develop more strength and flexibility.” If it feels too tough, adjust your weight or ask the trainer for an acceptable modification. Either way, aim to complete the full range of motion using proper form.
Resist the Need for Speed
It’s true, many WODs are tracked by time. But that doesn’t mean you should rush. “Start with good mechanics before increasing your pace or weights,” says Leblanc-Bazinet. If you don’t, you’re putting together a recipe for injury. Ask your coach to monitor you during that move that feels almost too easy—they’ll be able to tell if you’re hitting the benchmarks and encourage you to attack the next level.
Don’t Arrive Unprepared
Loose, baggy clothes can get caught in your jump rope, sneakers with thick heels impede some lifts, and bare legs are easily burned by rope climbs. Look up the WOD (workout of the day) online before you pack your gym bag. When in doubt, pair fitted shorts with knee-high socks (or a pair of leggings) along with a sports bra, tank top, headband, and sturdy cross-trainers.
Don’t Lose Count
“It’s important to measure everything so you can follow your progress,” says Leblanc-Bazinet. And charting those PRs isn’t just good for social media bragging (although that’s certainly allowed): Many workouts call for lifting a certain percentage of your one rep max (the highest amount of weight you can lift while completing one rep with proper form). So keeping a good log one day can help you push yourself the next.