It’s hard to believe that CrossFit has been around for over two decades. Once viewed as an extreme form of exercise, CrossFit is now very mainstream, and there are CrossFit gyms, called boxes, all around the world.
CrossFit is a training system that incorporates lots of different types of exercise. It borrows from gymnastics, Olympic weightlifting, powerlifting, kettlebell lifting, calisthenics, athletics, and strongman to develop a high level of all-around fitness. As such, CrossFit is popular with law enforcement, the emergency services, and members of the military, too.
CrossFit is also a competitive sport as well as being a great way to get fit and lose weight. Starting back in 2007, the CrossFit Games were introduced to find the fittest athletes on the planets, and there are now professional CrossFit competitors.
The cornerstone of CrossFit is the workout of the day or WOD for short. These are usually set against the clock and can take anywhere from a few minutes to an hour or more to complete. The WODs are varied, and each day brings new challenges.
Whether you work out for fun or want to test yourself in competition, this is how you get better at CrossFit.
Tips at Getting Better at CrossFit
Master the Exercises
CrossFit is as much about skill as it is strength, endurance, or fitness. You can end up wasting a lot of time and energy doing exercises inefficiently. So, don’t just do the workouts of the day. Also, spend time practicing each exercise until you are confident that you know how to do it properly. Remember, practice makes perfect!
A lot of neophyte CrossFitters are surprised at just how challenging CrossFit actually is. This is by design because the only way to develop such a high level of all-around fitness is to go beyond your comfort levels. This ain’t Zumba!
So, while your first few CrossFit workouts are going to be tough, they get easier with time, and you’ll be amazed at how quickly your fitness and strength increases.
However, to reap the benefits of CrossFit and start to get better at it, you need to be consistent.
One workout every few weeks won’t do it – you need to commit to doing 3-4 CrossFit workouts per week for the foreseeable future.
If you keep missing workouts, you can’t expect to get better at CrossFit. Stick with it, though, and your consistency will be rewarded.
Go Above and Beyond the WODs
If all you ever do is the prescribed WODs, you probably won’t get much better at them. If you REALLY want to improve your performance, it pays to go above and beyond the WOD to challenge your fitness and strength. For example, if a WOD calls for something like this:
One the minute, every minute, do 20 laps of the following…
- 5 pull-ups
- 10 push-ups
- 15 squats
Instead, do 25 laps on the minute, every minute, of…
- 6 pull-ups
- 12 push-ups
- 20 squats
Yes, this is harder than the original WOD, but that’s the point. When you go back to the standard version, it’ll feel a whole lot easier simply because you’ve done more in training.
Similarly, if a WOD prescribes a specific weight, e.g., 135lbs, try using 150lbs instead. The effect will be the same; when you do the original WOD, it’ll feel more manageable, and you’ll be able to complete it faster.
Respect Your Body’s Need for Rest
CrossFit is an intense workout that will take a lot out of you. To excel at CrossFit, you need to give your body time to recover between workouts. That doesn’t mean training every other day. However, you should alternate hard workouts with sessions where you take it a little easier.
For example, on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, do the prescribed WOD and give it your best effort. But, on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, don’t push yourself as hard and leave plenty of gas in the tank.
If you go full speed every day, it won’t be long before you start to feel overtrained, and your performance will decrease instead of improving.
Eat to Support Your Workouts
The food you eat provides your muscles with fuel for your workouts. If you don’t eat a balanced, healthy diet, you may lack the energy necessary to perform at your best.
Make sure you build your meals around vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, and lean protein, and avoid too much processed food and refined sugar. Hydration matters, too, so drink plenty of water.
As well as giving you all the energy you need for your workouts, a healthy diet will also help you shed fat, which is dead weight that could make bodyweight exercises like pull-ups, rope climbs, and handstand push-ups more challenging and more tiring than they need to be.
Consider Using Some Supplements
While you don’t have to use supplements to succeed at CrossFit, they can help. Supplements can help you train harder or longer or recover faster between workouts. Some enhance your sleep, and others are just good for your general health.
Useful supplements for CrossFitters include:
- Pre-workout drinks
- Electrolyte drinks
- Whey or plant-based protein powder
- Branched-chain amino acids
- Melatonin and serotonin
- Fish oils
- Multi-vitamins and minerals
Stretch and Mobilize
CrossFit has a reputation for hard, demanding workouts. The WODs are done against the clock, so every workout is like a race. While most CrossFit workouts are safe enough, there is still a risk of injury.
Avoid having to take time off, during which you’d lose at least some of your hard-won fitness, by doing plenty of muscle stretching and joint mobilizing exercises. You should do these things before and after every CrossFit workout and also on your rest days.
Think of stretching and mobility training as prehab – exercises designed to prevent injuries. After all, if you can’t train, you won’t get any better at CrossFit.
Hire a Coach
If you are serious about getting better at CrossFit, you may benefit from some one-to-one coaching.
A good coach will identify your weaknesses and provide ways to fix the things that might otherwise hold you back.
A CrossFit coach isn’t necessarily a personal trainer but should be someone who holds a level two or, preferably, level three CrossFit certification. Expert coaches are level four.
When asked what the best way to get better at cycling was, Tour de France racing legend Eddy Merckx replied, “ride a bike, ride a bike, ride a bike!” While this is an oversimplification of the training process that he used to win five Tours, it’s also the basis of any successful training program.
Because of the law of specificity, your body adapts to the workouts that you do. So, if you want to be a better runner, you need to spend plenty of time running. Similarly, if you want to become a better weightlifter, you need to get in the gym and lift some weights!
CrossFit is much the same. If you want to get better at CrossFit, you need to do more CrossFit workouts. But, using the additional strategies outlined in this article should mean that you make even faster progress.