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CrossFit Beginner's Guide: 8 Things to Know Before Starting! | Nerd Fitness

CrossFit Benefits

  1. GREAT community aspect. 
  2. Constant coaching and support
  3. If you don’t show up, not only do people notice, but they call you and ask where you’ve been. 
  4. Leveling up. You get to see constant improvement. 
  5. Humbling yet encouraging. You have a sense of accomplishment when you finish a workout faster than last time.
  6. Competition. You’ll push yourself when surrounded by other people cheering you on.
  7. It introduces SO MANY people to weight lifting.
  8. It’s a good outlet for former athletes who like to compete. 
  9. You get to find out what you’re made of. 
  10. It builds great physiques.
  11. It builds good muscular endurance and all-around fitness.

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CrossFit Beginner's Guide: 8 Things to Know Before Starting! | Nerd Fitness

CrossFit Beginner's Guide: 8 Things to Know Before Starting! | Nerd Fitness

https://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/a-beginners-guide-to-crossfit/

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Key Ideas

CrossFit definition

It's a training philosophy that coaches people of all shapes and sizes to improve their physical well-being and cardiovascular fitness through varied and challenging workouts.

Each day, the workout will test a different part of your functional strength or conditioning, not specializing in one particular thing, but rather with the goal of building a body that’s capable of practically anything and everything.

Scalable based on your skill

Every day there is a particular workout prescribed that is completely scalable based on your skill. For example, if the workout calls for barbell squats with 135 pounds but you can only do squats with the bar (45 pounds), then that’s where you’ll start.

CrossFit is perfect for...

  • Beginners to weight training: If you have never weight trained before, CrossFit is a great place for you to start, provided you have a great coach.
  • People looking for support and community: Every CrossFit gym has a really tight-knit community feel to it.
  • Fitness fanatics: The general protocol is 3 days on, 1 day off, but many CrossFitters end up at the gym more frequently. 
  • Masochists: You’ll often be in situations where you use all your effort to finish a workout and continue to push yourself beyond.
  • Former athletes: You get to compete with people in your class and go online to see how you did against the world’s elite CrossFit athletes.

Less beneficial for...

  • Specialists: CrossFit prides itself on not specializing.
  • Sport-specific athletes:  CrossFit won’t improve your specific sport skills unless you are training for those specific sport skills.
  • Solo trainers: CrossFit is group training, which means you won’t have that opportunity to get your stuff done on your own.

CrossFit can be dangerous

  • You’re often told to complete a number of strength training or endurance exercises as fast as possible. It’s really easy to sacrifice form in exchange for finishing the workout quicker if you don’t have somebody spotting you.
  • It attracts folks who push themselves so hard they actually do bodily harm.
  • A very small portion of CrossFitters can push themselves so hard, their muscle fibers break down and are released into the bloodstream, poisoning the kidneys. The medical condition is called rhabdomyolysis.

CrossFit Classes

The usual structure:

  • Introduction class: Usually there’s a quick overview, then a basic bodyweight movement workout, and then they talk to you about joining.
  • On Ramp/Elements: The purpose of these is to teach you the 9 foundational movements of CrossFit and all about proper form. 
  • Regular classes: It takes anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour. Everybody starts at the same time, there are instructors walking around helping out and keeping track.

Four sections:

Most CrossFit gyms will split their classes into 3-4 sections:

  • Dynamic warm-up: Functional movements, stretches, and mobility work that compliment the movements you’ll be doing in the workout that day.
  • Skill/Strength work. 
  • WOD – the workout of the day: you’ll be told to do a certain number of reps of particular exercises as quickly as possible, or you’ll have a set time limit to do as many of a certain exercise as possible.
  • Cool down and stretching.

Find a CrossFit Gym

Breakdown of what you may see from coaches:

  • CrossFit Level 1 – an ANSI-accredited certification. The person attended a weekend-long course and passed the exam.
  • CrossFit Level 2 – It involves far more in-depth training in coaching.
  • Certified CrossFit Level 3 Trainer – Coaches who have passed both the Level 1 & Level 2 certification courses as well as a CrossFit-specific exam.
  • Certified CrossFit Level 4 Coach – The highest certification level available.
  • Specialty Seminars – These are one- to two-day courses on specific topics.
  • Other non-CrossFit certifications.

CrossFit at Home

Every day, CrossFit.com posts the workout of the day (WOD) free of charge to anybody that is interested in doing them.

You can follow along at home or in your office gym, provided you have the right equipment.

CrossFit Benefits

  1. GREAT community aspect. 
  2. Constant coaching and support
  3. If you don’t show up, not only do people notice, but they call you and ask where you’ve been. 
  4. Leveling up. You get to see constant improvement. 
  5. Humbling yet encouraging. You have a sense of accomplishment when you finish a workout faster than last time.
  6. Competition. You’ll push yourself when surrounded by other people cheering you on.
  7. It introduces SO MANY people to weight lifting.
  8. It’s a good outlet for former athletes who like to compete. 
  9. You get to find out what you’re made of. 
  10. It builds great physiques.
  11. It builds good muscular endurance and all-around fitness.

Negatives of CrossFit

  • Not great for specialization.
  • Lack of consistency. You rarely do the same workout twice.
  • Odd programming.
  • Price. CrossFit boxes can be two or three times the monthly cost of a commercial gym.
  • A bad coach can REALLY cause problems.
  • Almost everything is for time or most reps possible.
  • You start to talk a language nobody understands.
  • You can get addicted.
  • Some CrossFitters think CrossFit is the be-all, end-all training solution, and anybody that doesn’t do CrossFit is a wuss.
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    Crossfit might as well have its own dictionary. 

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    • WOD: Stands for Workout Of the Day. This changes daily and is typically posted on a white board before class or on the Box's website.
    • AMRAP: As many rounds as possible in an allotted time that is given by the coach.
    • Various names of people you don't know: There are several benchmark WODs in Crossfit that are named after women (Helen, Fran, and Mary, for example).
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    Crossfit

    Crossfit’s workouts can include powerlifting; gymnastics and calisthenic type activities like ring pull-ups and rope climbing; and often cardio in the form of running, cycling, or rowing. You can a...

    A training session

    You can get a training session before starting classes. This will depend on your gym (your box) but some offer a free session to teach the techniques.

    Boxes also let you sign up for a series of beginner-specific classes before you jump in with everybody else.

    The barbells

    Bars come in a variety of weights, from 15 to 45 pounds, and those giant plates are available in sizes going down to 10 pounds. 

    That means the barbell has about the same shape and size no matter how heavy it is.

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    High-intensity interval training (HIIT)

    Any exercise can be a form of HIIT, if it follows a specific regimen where you vary your speeds and intensity when doing it.
    Example:

    • Jogging light...
    HIIT home workout

    HIIT workouts generally only last about 20 minutes, which makes them attractive for busy people (most of us).
    A 20-Min HIIT home workout:

    1. Dynamic Warm-up
    2. Bodyweight Squats
    3. Push-ups
    4. Star Jacks (or other dynamic exercises)
    5. Inverted Row (or other pull exercises)
    6. Plank (or other core exercises).
    7. A stretching to cool down.
    The real benefits

    Working out at home is a tricky concept and can be harder to execute when the couch is right there in your view.

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    Home exercises can help

    It's tough to build a lot of strength or otherwise make progress without the incremental weights you find at a gym, but a few inexpensive home tools and specific movements can go a long way.

    It is important to ensure that you prioritize compound movements that work muscle systems, not individual muscles. You'll get a lot more done in less time if you focus on bigger movements - squat, bench, deadlift, row, overhead press.

    Lower and upper body movements

    Goblet squats and squat jumps are great for your lower body when you only have dumbbells. You could also try lunge variations, split squats, step-ups, and deadlift variations.

    For your upper body, you could do some chest presses, pushups, row variations, curls, tricep extensions or pullups (if you have a pullup bar installed in a doorway.)

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    A running plan

    You can benefit from just 30 minutes of running, 3 times a week.

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    Running equipment

    Invest in a good pair of running shoes and a quality shirt made from wicking material to keep you drier.

    A sports watch and heart-rate monitor are nice to have.

    Pace of running

    Running will put you slightly out of breath when you start. It should eventually decrease. You should be able to hold a conversation when you're running a good pace.

    Once a week, run a faster speed to increase your fitness level.

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    Sticking to a healthy lifestyle

    Staying in shape is mostly about program compliance.

    It’s not about having the best fitness program, but about having one that’s good enough, eating less junk food and making sure you...

    Off limits foods

    Successful dieters usually declare certain foods to be completely out of bounds, or allowed only during occasional designated cheat meals, rather than expecting themselves to eat everything in moderation.

    Saying no to bad habits
    It might seem like a simple matter of self-control. But it turns out that people with high self-control may not necessarily be better at resisting temptation. They might just experience it less often in the first place.

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    Benefits

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    Running is a very effective...

    Types of running
    • Road Running: running on paved roads, paths, and sidewalks.
    • Treadmill Running: easier than outdoor running and can be gentler on your joints.
    • Racing. Road races can vary from 5Ks to half or full marathons or even ultramarathons. 
    • Trail Running: it takes place on hiking trails, from deserts to mountains.
    • Track Running. Track events include shorter distance races from the 50-yard dash to 400-meter sprints. 
    Getting Started
    • Invest in Shoes and Gear. Visit a specialty running store to get fitted for the best shoes for you and check out gear such as running shorts, tops, or tights made of wicking fibers.
    • Stay Safe. Do a warmup before you start, like a walk or an easy jog for 5 min.
    • Follow running safety advice, such as going against traffic when running on roads. Always carry some form of identification with you.
    • Use the Run/Walk Method. Start with running for one minute, then walk for one minute. Try to increase the running intervals over time.
    • Make It Manageable. Keep a conversational pace during each workout. If you can't speak in a full sentence, slow down. Breathe through your nose to get enough oxygen.

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    Mental Health on the Rise

    Mental health issues are on the rise globally, due to a complex life that has us pursue perfection in every aspect of our lives.

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    Exercise to treat Depression

    Regular exercise can treat mild to moderate depression, as good as the antidepressants.

    Exercise provides us with feel-good chemicals made naturally inside our body, as the brain releases endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin.

    Exercising for Self-Esteem

    Exercise also has a psychological benefit of making us feel great.

    Using exercise as a social activity, we improve our self-esteem and get to meet new people, forming healthy and positive connections

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    Chaining

    Connecting exercise to a solid event that you know will happen is a great way to stay consistent. I know that I will leave work at 5 every weekday – instead of going home, I bring my work...

    Precommitment

    Precommitments are actions that get you invested in going to the gym. If you’ve committed to going with a partner, you’re hardly going to leave them hanging.

    Similarly, bringing clothes with you to work, packing your gym bag in advance, or laying out your workout clothes before bed for a morning workout are tricks that make it easier to stay consistent.

    Rewards

    In order to be effective, a reward needs to occur frequently and immediately after a workout. 

    Plus, it needs to be associated with going to the gym – the reward doesn’t mean much if you can have it whenever you want.

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    Your goals with home exercising
    Your goals with home exercising

    Consider what you're trying to achieve.

    • If your goal is general health and well-being, a pleasant stroll is sufficient.
    • If you want to lift heavy weigh...
    Heavy kettlebells

    Two heavy kettlebells are the next best thing to a bar and plates. A weight of between 20 and 24 kilograms (45 to 52 pounds) is recommended.

    By using the kettlebells individually or together, you can focus on almost every muscle group by squatting, swinging, pressing, pulling, or pushing them.**

    Resistance bands and a stick

    Two kettlebells might not be enough resistance for movements like squats and deadlifts. Some resistance or pull-up bands can increase resistance when you do "sumo-style" squats and deadlifts by looping one band around your wide-spread feet and through the handles of the kettlebells.

    Add a wooden broom handle, and you have a wide range of new exercises. With a stick and a band, you can do many pulling exercises.

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