A Beginner’s Guide To Becoming A CrossFit Expert

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So you want to learn about CrossFit? Well you have come to the right place.

CrossFit is more than a workout, it’s the ultimate workout. It trains every conceivable part of human athleticism. CrossFit founder Greg Glassman listed ten “domains” of physical competence that CrossFit workouts aim to train:

  1. cardio/respiratory endurance
  2. strength
  3. stamina
  4. power
  5. flexibility
  6. speed
  7. agility
  8. coordination
  9. accuracy and
  10. balance

An average day of CrossFit training can and will focus on many of these domains. Your “Workout of the Day” may not necessarily cover all ten, but if you keep up with CrossFit for any length of time you will see your abilities in each domain start to improve.

Perhaps the best way to introduce you to the type of exercises you will do in CrossFit is to look at the athletes at the very apex of the sport. And yes, CrossFit has become a sport.

The CrossFit Games are an annual competition that crown “The Fittest Man and Woman” on the planet. And it just so happens that the 2019 edition takes place this weekend (Aug. 1-4 in Madison, WI), where three-time reigning CrossFit champion Mat Fraser will try to defend his title.

The competitors in the games don’t learn about the workouts they’ll be performing until days, sometimes hours before the competition starts. So let’s look back at (most of) the 14 different events that Mat Fraser and company competed in last year.

Event 1: Criterium road bike race

This isn’t a standard CrossFit activity. Every year, the organizers include unexpected events, unknown by the competitors before the start. In 2018, it was a 10-lap Individual Crit bike race on a 1.2-km course, and the year before, a 500 m swim between two 1.5-mile runs.

To prove you’re the fittest, you have to be ready for anything!

Event 2: 30 Muscle-ups on gymnastics rings

Holding onto two gymnastics rings, get your body above them with your arms locked. Do it 30 times as fast as possible.

Event 3: CrossFit Total

Three traditional strength tests: a squat, a shoulder press, and a deadlift, all with as much weight as you can possibly manage. Not recommended for beginners or without expert supervision. The men’s winner combined to lift 1,255 pounds!

Event 4: 42,000-Meter Marathon Row

Row 42,195 meters on a rowing machine as fast as possible. The men’s winner did it in 2:43:50. The women’s winner did it in 3:00:42.

Event 5: “Battleground” Obstacle Course

A five-stage course, involving running, rope climbing, and dummy dragging, all with a weighted vest.

Event 6: Clean and Jerk Speed Ladder

Three sets of five clean and jerks, with each set heavier than the last.

Event 7: Fibonacci

Varying sets of handstand pushups, kettlebell deadlifts, and overhead lunges

Event 8: Madison Triplus

Swim 500 meters, paddleboard 1,000 meters, run 2,000 meters, all as fast as possible.

Event 9: Chaos

A little bit of everything! Competitors did 35 calories of work on a SkiErg, 30 burpees, 45 squats with a dumbbell, 40 single-leg squats, 25 box jumps, and a 34-meter pull of a 400-pound barrel.

Events 10 & 11: Bicouplet 1 & 2

The first was three alternating sets of snatches and muscle-ups on a bar. The second was the same, but with the muscle-ups replaced by chest-to-bar pull ups.

Event 12: Two-Stroke Pull

Not what the name makes it sound like. Five rounds of the following: a 300-meter run, followed by riding an Assault Bike for 20 calories, followed by a 13-meter sled pull with a 183-pound sled. All as fast as possible.

Event 13: Handstand Walk

Partially what the name makes it sound like. It’s a handstand, but not a walk. It’s basically going through an obstacle course while doing a handstand. Oh, also, do 20 double-under skips with a weighted skipping rope before you start.

Event 14: Aeneas

Another event with a lot of variety. Five ascents up a peg board, 40 thrusting barbell shoulder presses with 85 pounds, followed by a yoke carry with more weight added every 10 meters. All as fast as possible.

Go ahead and try a few of the exercises listed above, but don’t be discouraged if you find them incredibly difficult. As you can see in the videos, even people at the peak of CrossFit struggle with these. But they certainly give you a good idea of the types of movements and exercises you will be doing if you take up CrossFit for yourself.

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