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Thread: Getting Started with CrossFit page

  1. #1
    OutdoorAmy's Avatar
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    Getting Started with CrossFit

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    Okay Crossfitters - need your advice, words of wisdom, etc.

    I've been doing some WODs at home, but nothing like the full Crossfit workouts they post on the website for my local box (mostly due to lack of equipment). My WODs tend to involve 10 lb. dumbells, a 20 lb. kettlebell, body weight and a small step up. (Sometimes I'll also do yoga, pilates or dance based workouts with DVDs).

    I had been waiting on getting my annual health benefit from work to be able to afford the dues at the local box for just a few months. I can only afford 4 months worth with the health benefit, so I probably won't continue my membership after that unless I can work some sort of sponsorship or barter out with the owners, still I have really wanted to try it all the same. Because of that I want to get the most out of my 4 months as possible. Now that I have my check, I have my assessment/intro session all signed up for the first weekend in February. So these are my questions for you -

    What should I expect?
    Any tips or tricks or advice for a newbie?
    What was your own experience as a newbie? (Esp. if you, like me, are going in not already in great shape)
    What, if anything, can I do at home over the next couple weeks to best prepare for getting started in a box?

    Thanks for the input!
    Healthy Bucket List:
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  2. #2
    heatseeker's Avatar
    heatseeker is offline Senior Member
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    Disclaimer: Everything is going to depend on the box you go to. Some Crossfit gyms have great coaches and great programming. Some have morons and bad programming. It just depends. If, during your Elements session, you feel like the coach can't answer your questions well, find a different box. Most boxes will post their WODs on their website; check these out for a week and see if the programming is sound (i.e., not too heavy in any one area, mindful of rest, etc.). If they've programmed heavy back squats on Tuesday and Karen (150 wall balls for time) on Wednesday, find a different box. The quality of the coaches and programming is going to make or break your experience, and will be the difference between loving it and seeing improvement, or feeling like shit all the time.

    What should I expect?
    1. You will be sore and tired like a motherf*$%er your first week. This should go away after 7-10 days as your body adjusts, and if it doesn't, talk to your coaches about scaling down. Eat 200-300 extra calories a day that first week, and don't skimp on carbs. (Unpopular opinion, I know. But I was VLC when I started and the simple addition of a sweet potato post-workout fixed me right up.)
    2. Camaraderie, encouragement, and people screaming at you to "pick it the f*%& back up" or "don't you dare put it down!" If you don't like group coaching and shared pain/effort, you will not like Crossfit.
    3. The coaches should recognize that you're new and take you through each move thoroughly before you attempt weight. If they don't, find another box. If you go in on your first day and they throw you into Grace with no instruction, find another box.
    4. The warmup will initially feel like a whole workout in and of itself. Don't worry, it'll get easier.
    5. You'll probably come in dead last for the first couple weeks. Don't worry, everyone has been there and no one is judging you.

    Any tips or tricks or advice for a newbie?
    1. Get your eating figured out before you launch into it. It took me months to figure out if I wanted to eat before, go in fasted, go in fasted with BCAAs, etc. (I eventually settled on fasted with BCAAs.) While I was figuring this out, I often had to white-knuckle it to not barf.
    2. Ask questions. If you don't understand a move, ask until you do understand. This is probably the most important thing.
    3. When doing longer sets (like anything above 15 reps), it helps me to mentally break it into smaller sets and count by them--so like, instead of counting individual reps, I count "one-two-three, two-two-three, three-two-three" etc. This helps it go by faster for me. It's also helpful to plan rest into the WOD, like, "I'll take two deep breaths at the top of each tenth air squat". And then go right back into it. The biggest mistake I made as a newbie, and that I see newbies doing now, is taking too much rest. It's much harder to get back into it if you stop and suck wind until you feel better--because you WON'T feel better, you're just wasting time. Plan your quick breaks, take your quick breaks, and get right back on it.
    4. Scale. For the love of god, scale. Scale a full 10lb lower than you think you can do.

    What was your own experience as a newbie? (Esp. if you, like me, are going in not already in great shape)
    I wasn't exactly coming in as a newbie, having done the WODs from the main site and my local box's site for more than a year before deciding I should quit fucking around and pay for the programming. So I was already in pretty good shape when I started. I definitely expected to be better at it than I was, though. I expected to go Rx, like, within a week. This didn't happen. Only now, five months later, am I consistently doing the WODs at Rx. Crossfit will humble you and then build you back up. I also didn't immediately expect to find it so valuable, either; I'm usually skeptical of things that are so expensive. But I knew after the first day that I would sleep in a box on the street if it meant I could afford to go. The coaching is just so invaluable to me.

    As a total newbie in only moderate shape, see #1 of "What should I expect?" above. It's going to hurt, you're going to be sore and bone tired, you're going to be sucking wind the whole WOD and collapse at the end. Just make peace with this and know that it will get better very quickly.

    What, if anything, can I do at home over the next couple weeks to best prepare for getting started in a box?
    Tabatas. Especially if you're like me, and conditioning is your weak point. Get yourself used to all-out effort, and try to raise your lactic threshold as much as possible, so you're not having to stop and collapse every 2 seconds in the WODs. Also, you'll probably do pushups, squats, and some form of pullup every day; start building your form and strength for these moves early. Start at five pushups today and add two every day. Try to build up how many you can do. The daily warmup at my box consists of 1min high knees, 1min jumping jacks, repeat both, then 2x10 of squats and pushups... and that's just the beginning, because then we do a dynamic warmup of sprints, bear crawls, squat jumps, stuff like that. My first day, I was totally gassed at the end, and we still had the whole class to do. Save yourself some pain and get used to pushups, squats, and plyometrics early.

    I also found it really helpful (and still find it helpful) to watch youtube videos of the WODs and of olympic lifting, so you have at least some grasp of all the moves and proper form before you go in. It sucks to not know what you're doing AND have no idea what this gibberish coming out of your coach's mouth means. Get the vocab down, watch people do some benchmark WODs, watch some Crossfit Games videos, etc. Search for Helen, Fran, Cindy, Jackie, Amanda, Isabel, Diane, Grace, Fight Gone Bad, Karen. There are videos of all of these on youtube and they cover a good range of movements.

    The biggest thing is to just enjoy yourself. Don't stress if you can't go as fast as the guy/girl next to you, or if you're lifting 50lb less than everyone else. They're there to encourage you, and everyone starts somewhere. Have fun, utilize the resource that is your coach to the fullest, and get ready to suffer... but be happy about it.

    Oh. And if they push supplements on you, ignore them. My box is pretty good about not doing this, but some of the other people in my class are Avocare reps and keep telling me I need like ten different supplements for every hour of the day. Ignore. Eat primal and up your carbs, the end.

  3. #3
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    What should I expect?

    To be afraid of the workouts for a couple of months until you get your bearing
    To be possibly intimidated by the people at your gym at first
    To feel terrible exhausted/sore for the first week or so

    Any tips or tricks or advice for a newbie?
    Go out of your way to introduce yourself to everyone and say "I'm just starting"; everyone was once just starting. Good conversation starter and a way to make fast friends.

    What was your own experience as a newbie? (Esp. if you, like me, are going in not already in great shape)
    Tough. I was unhappy with my performance and always wanted to improve fast; this led to a fast addiction.
    It was pretty stressful for me starting - putting everything I had into the workouts and then feeling still like I sucked. It was hard to have patience when I saw where I *wanted* to be compared to where I was.

    What, if anything, can I do at home over the next couple weeks to best prepare for getting started in a box?

    Mobility work: you want to increase your hamstring flexibility, shoulder flexibility and hip mobility as much as possible.
    Compromised mobility is the number one thing that inhibits newbs from progressing. With a compromised range of motion, over head squats, snatching, cleans, air squats, weighted squats, front squats can often be impossible.

    I cannot emphasize enough that even if perceive your mobility to be good, for many of the movements inhereant in crossfit, it isn't. Unless you do yoga

    to preemptively address this (because it otherwise takes weeks/months) - bookmark MobilityWOD
    here are a few I selected to get you started. You can use the search function to target specific areas you are challenged in.









    Which box are you at?
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  4. #4
    heatseeker's Avatar
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    It was pretty stressful for me starting - putting everything I had into the workouts and then feeling still like I sucked. It was hard to have patience when I saw where I *wanted* to be compared to where I was.
    This is so incredibly accurate. I remember asking a coach after about a month, "When am I gonna get good at this?" and she had to pat me on the shoulder and tell me that it takes years before you're "good". And I'm so impatient. It's tough. But if I've learned anything, it's that you just have to keep pushing and then suddenly one day you'll be able to do something you couldn't do before.

  5. #5
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    All am going to say is, I'd give my left arm to learn to do Olympic lifts. But the closest crossfit(Or Olympic lift coach) To me is about 25 mile away and I don't drive. So you best Enjoy!

  6. #6
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    What should I expect?
    Any tips or tricks or advice for a newbie?
    What was your own experience as a newbie? (Esp. if you, like me, are going in not already in great shape)
    What, if anything, can I do at home over the next couple weeks to best prepare for getting started in a box?

    The main thing is definitely the disclaimer that heatseeker threw out there. Everything will depend on the box. Also this: you will most definitely be extremely sore. For me, I am very delayed onset, and almost always feel the worst of it 48 hours later. I know some people that feel the worst 24 hours later. Most gyms (boxes, whatev... I know some that hate either/or term) have a type of foundations class where they guide you through all of the lifts that you will be doing. Be extremely attentive during this time and ask questions if you need too. This is where the coaches need to be talking a lot to you and helping you out.

    Tips/tricks/advice for everyone, not just newbies, check your ego at the door. If a movement is too hard, ask for scaling optionis. I hear so often, "Oh, but I've heard so many people get injured in Crossfit!" This is usually because people didn't ask questions, used bad form and didn't ask for help, or scaled. The coaches will push you when they think you need it; if something seems to hard for you, don't be afraid to scale.

    I went in having done a lot of primal blueprint fitness stuff. I was walking A LOT and pretty consistent with lifting heavy things, at body weight. Still, I never pushed myself the way you will be pushed with the intervals during a wod. It's easier on your own to take your time through a wod, but the atmosphere in the box will drive you to work harder. The other thing is there probably WILL be a lot of yelling and encouragement. I'm in the military and it can at times be close to a bootcamp atmosphere.

    I saw this in a couple other places, but the best things you can do are mobility and flexibility work. When I first started PBF I could not do an air squat and keep my heels on the ground. By the time I got to crossfit, I was starting to get better but hadn't gotten good. Now, almost a year later, I have slowly developed the flexibility to do a proper squat. It's been a long process.

    Most of all, don't get discouraged! People train for years at Crossfit to get to the level where they are doing prescribed and killing the workouts. Hopefully you find the means to stick with it past four months, because personally I have a hard time maintaining intensity on my own, but that may just be a personal thing. Good luck and let us know how it goes!
    ~All luck is earned in the end.~

  7. #7
    OutdoorAmy's Avatar
    OutdoorAmy is offline Senior Member
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    Thanks for all this awesome information guys!! Useful, if a bit intimidating, but also exciting.

    Follow up question - There's a LOT of lingo in Crossfit. Coming from a profession that's very jargon heavy, I know it can be intimidating to outsiders (OPACs, MARC, ALSC, etc. etc.) . . . So Rx, PR, etc.? What are the big Crossfit glossary terms I should know?
    Healthy Bucket List:
    • Summit all of Colorado's 14-ers
    • Hike the Appalachian Trail
    • Do a real pull-up
    • Run a 5k
    • Be "Hot For Training Camp"



    Check out my journey at Outdoor Amy's Blog.

  8. #8
    heatseeker's Avatar
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    Rx = Prescribed, aka the weight mandated for the workout. You scale down from Rx to a weight you can manage. Generally the rule is to go as close to Rx as you can while maintaining form and moving fast the whole time. So for example: Grace is 30 clean & jerk for time, Rx 135 for men and 95 for women. When I first started Crossfit, I could clean and jerk 95 pounds, but doing it 30 times would have taken me like ten minutes (a respectable Grace time is sub-5min) and I probably would have injured myself. I started with Grace at 65# and kept adding weight whenever we did it, and I just did Grace Rx for the first time two weeks ago. The point of the WOD is to 1. finish, and 2. keep moving the whole time.

    If you're anything like me, you'll go through a couple months where it seems like every workout is either an impossible-to-finish mess, where you picked a weight WAY too heavy, or something you can blaze through and finish five minutes before everyone else, which means you picked a weight too light. It takes experience to be able to judge what weight to use in the workout.

    PR = Personal record, aka when you beat your old one-rep max on a lift, or beat your old time on a WOD. When you first start Crossfitting you will go through a honeymoon period where every WOD and every lift is a PR. I'm actually still in that phase--haven't hit my plateau yet.

    DNF = Did not finish, aka you didn't finish the WOD in the allotted time. This will happen a lot. It sucks every time. Scale, scale, scale. Just don't scale so much that you finish a 15-minute WOD in 7 minutes.

    Your best bet to get the language of Crossfit down really quickly is to look up some WODs on youtube.

  9. #9
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    AMRAP = As Many Reps/Rounds as Possible. For example, if you have a 15 minute AMRAP, you do as many reps or rounds of the exercise in 15 minutes and that is usually your "score".

    SDHP = Sumo Deadlift High pull. An exercise your coaches will show you, at some point, I am sure.

    KB = Kettle bell

    Metcon = metabolic conditioning

    You will learn the terms the more you do it. Don't be intimidated! Those are the ones I can think of right now that I see all the time.
    ~All luck is earned in the end.~

  10. #10
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    HSPU - Hand Stand Push Ups

    PUs - pull ups

    EMOM - Every Minute On The Minute

    Death By [insert movement here] - Start first minute doing one rep then rest for the remaining duration of that minute, the next minute do two reps, the third do three, etc.

    ME - "Max Effort"

    AHAP - As Heavy as Possible. In weightlighting or strength lifts, each sets represents a maximum effort.

    Working Sets - As opposed to AHAP, each set increments up to a final, heaviest effort on the last one or two sets.
    Last edited by TheFastCat; 01-25-2013 at 09:27 AM.
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