Before taking your first CrossFit class, it’s crucial to know what you’re getting yourself. This is because unlike other workout routines, CrossFit is different.
CrossFit consists of several functional movements that will engage muscles you might have never used before, therefore making you vulnerable to injuries.
Also, CrossFit exercises are performed quickly and at high intensity. Depending on your cardiovascular or respiratory endurance, this could cause you problems.
But the good news is that the many variations also present a great opportunity to tailor the workouts to what you’re capable of. This means not only can you start at your pace, but also you will find CrossFit fun and challenging at the same time.
Let’s look at a few things you can consider before taking your first CrossFit class.
1. Prioritize warmups
You’ve probably heard it’s important to warm up before workouts. In CrossFit, this is an absolute requirement. A warm-up prepares your body for the stretch, pull, push and intensity of a CrossFit workout.
When you warm up before a workout, blood in your muscles flow and produce a series of chemical reactions. This leads to the slow burn of fats and carbohydrates. This slow-burn increases your muscle temperature.
Besides that physical preparation, warming up before CrossFit class can also prepare you psychologically. Chances will be that you will injure yourself if you fail to warm up before the CrossFit or any other workout routine.
Simple warm-ups like arm circles or sustained lunges can improve the circulation of blood and increase your body’s range of motion for the complex movements in a CrossFit.
2. Find a trainer
It’s tempting to watch a few videos on YouTube and consider yourself ready for CrossFit. But that’s the highway to injuries. Let me explain.
A key part of CrossFit is the proper technique and form. Because you’ll be doing a lot of reps in short bursts of energy, good form for each is paramount. For example, if you have a poor form for burpees or rowing, it can pose a major danger to your fitness going forward.
Newbies to CrossFit must always consider starting with a trainer who will go through the basic functional movements of CrossFit. The trainer will also be able to advise on variations of the movement you can use based on your past injuries so you don’t worsen your state.
3. Tailor the workouts to your level
Think of the variations, movements, and timing in CrossFit as a scale of difficulty. The range on the scale is from 0 to 10, 0 being not complex and 10 being complex. You will need to take baby steps, starting from less complex.
For example, a CrossFit workout circuit could have a 20 minutes circuit of barbell snatch, dumbbell lunges and machine rowing with only 30 seconds rest. If you’re starting, you can reduce the circuit to only two exercises and rest for 60 or 90 seconds.
The bottom line: don’t try to do too much right from the start. If you feel tired, rest longer. If you feel a routine is making a muscle or joint uncomfortable, substitute it with an easier version. Do not compare yourself to other people who have been doing CrossFit for years.
The goal is for you to improve over time as your joints, muscles, and body, in general, adjust to the new level of intensity.
4. Hydrate before, during and after
CrossFit requires energy and more fluid in your muscles to do what it needs to do. The muscles are made up of between 70 to 75 percent of water.
The fluid presence ensures that the performance of the muscles is at their peak at all times. Drinking water during high-intensity exercises like CrossFit is vital.
If you’re not drinking enough water, your muscles are going to work less than they are supposed to and your CrossFit workouts going to end up ineffective. Take 8 to ten ounces of water when necessary, every 20 minutes while you’re jumping, planking, crunching—whatever the session be.
5. Join a support network
If you’ve heard that CrossFit is like a cult, you’re probably right. Most of the people who CrossFit are obsessed with becoming better, beating their workout completion times and often want to share their enthusiasm.
This can be a great support for you when starting. You’ll be able to learn from the common mistakes others made when they started, learn more about their eating habits.
Most of all, if this support network is local to you, you can get a team to work out with and cheer you onward especially on those days that you don’t feel like working out.
You can check Facebook Groups or your local gyms to find if they have a group of enthusiastic CrossFitters to introduce yourself to.