Think back to all the mistakes you made when starting CrossFit, and all the things you know now but wish you knew back then. Here are some of the best tips from the top coaches no matter what level of CrossFitter you are; we’d like to hear your tips in the comments as well.
Tips for Every CrossFitter
1. Breakfast is everything. If I can convince you to eat meat and eggs for breakfast, the other meals are usually OK. If you negotiate with me about having probiotic yogurt instead of meat and eggs, we’re in trouble.2. I can get someone 70% of the way there in the Olympic lifts in about 3 hours. At that point, the limiting factor for men is usually shoulder and hip mobility. For women, it’s front squat and overhead squat strength out of the bottom.
3. If you aren’t a total idiot with what you eat, you should set a PR pretty much every time you step in the gym for the first 2 years.
4. The shorter the workout, the longer the warmup should be. You need to warm up for 35 minutes for Fran. You need to warm up for 5 minutes for Murph.
5. Unweighed unmeasured Paleo eating works best if you’ve done “The Zone” first. Your Zone experience will give you a ballpark idea of how much you should be eating. If you don’t come from a “Zone” background, you’ll likely do things like sit down and eat 85 Macadamia nuts and wonder why you aren’t losing any weight.6. As you get better, you need to take a back off week about every fourth week (not because of injury). You can still come in and workout, but take some more rest days and just chill out.
See our article on “Overtraining & CNS Fatigue” here.
7. You don’t need to learn to butterfly kip. Seriously, stop it. You are going to hurt yourself and you’d be much better off working toward a bodyweight press.8. Dumbbells are the most under appreciated piece of equipment in the gym.
9. Prior runners do not need supplementary running to improve their run times. People without a running background do. I think this mostly has to do with learning to pace correctly.
10. You can’t just train weaknesses. It’s too depressing. Every now and then, pick something you are amazing at and crush it.
11. You can get away with a lot of inefficiencies if you’ve got a strong grip. Do more farmers’ carries.
See our article on “How to Develop Grip Strength” here.
For the Newbies (<2 years experience)
1.) You’re Competing Against Yourself, Not Others
Chase your own capacity before chasing the person next to you.
When it comes time to throw down in a wod, don’t feel like you have to do everything RX’d or be able to complete 20 rounds of Cindy right off the bat. Go at your own pace. Let the intensity find you. You need a solid foundation of strength and flexibility in order to progress into more demanding workouts. Start light, get your form down, and don’t worry about the mother of three who is deadlifting 250 as you struggle with the bar. Chase your own capacity before chasing the person next to you. Which brings me to my next point…2.) Don’t Be Too Proud To Scale
Tony Budding (of CrossFit HQ) describes scaling as another form of programming. Scaling is such an individualized topic that it’s hard to make sweeping generalized statements. You have to know your own body and its limits. But most importantly, there’s no substitute for common sense.
3.) What You Eat Is More Important Than What You LiftTo quote the late Jack Lalanne, “You put junk in, junk comes out. You put good in, good comes out.”
Nutrition is the key to every aspect of your life. It affects your energy levels, your recovery, and your overall defense against disease. To quote the late Jack Lalanne, “You put junk in, junk comes out. You put good in, good comes out.” When you’re first starting out, the quality of your food is far more important than the quantity. Call it whatever you want: Paleo, Primal, Hunter-Gatherer, Pretentious D-Bag Diet; just eat clean. If you’re eating as clean as possible, you don’t even need to worry about the quantity. You are a Ferrari. You wouldn’t put regular unleaded fuel in a Ferrari, would you?4.) Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Clarification, Over and Over and Over Again
It’s your time, money, and most importantly, health. If you don’t fully understand something, ask. If you still don’t get it, ask again. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification if you don’t fully grasp the concept, or you think others in the class will get frustrated with you for taking up too much time. We were all newbies at one point. We’ve all been there. Learning the mechanics of certain movements like the kip, squat, deadlift, or any of the Olympic lifts takes lots of practice and critique from a trained eye. If you need help, just ask.
5.) CrossFit Isn’t EverythingCrossFit is not my life. I CrossFit so that I can have a life…and be awesome at it.
CrossFit is a strength and conditioning program that focuses on building general physical preparedness (GPP). It is quickly evolving into a sport of its own, but that doesn’t mean that it has to be your sport or your lifeblood. I CrossFit so that I can do whatever I want: Go out, play sports, learn new things. Having that GPP allows me to take on new challenges. CrossFit is not my life. I CrossFit so that I can have a life…and be awesome at it.6.) It Doesn’t Get Easier, It Just Sucks Less
The longer you immerse yourself in the suck, the less it sucks. You get stronger, build a greater aerobic capacity, and become mentally tough. All of these aspects, combined with experience, allow you to know when to push yourself and when to back off, so that you can attack each workout to the best of your ability. Soon, you’ll come to love the beatdowns. Much like Kevin Bacon in Animal House, you’ll be screaming, “Thank you sir! May I have another?” Well, maybe not. But you get the point.
7.) You Won’t PR Every Day
Don’t mistake intensity for hard work. Even if you’re having a bad day and the intensity just isn’t there, you can still get a lot out of your time in the gym through hard work. Intensity and hard work are not the same thing. Don’t skip a planned session just because you don’t think you’re going to kill it and leave everything out on the table. Not feeling too strong that day? That’s fine; scale the weights and/or rounds or time domain back. Something is better than nothing.
Last But Not Least…
And finally, for a lighthearted take on a few more tips, Erika from Patriot CrossFit lists her own top tips she wished she knew before starting CrossFit:
1. Lululemon makes your ass look better. Lululemon + CrossFit makes your ass look fabulous. Fact.
2. Strong is good. Not only are “strong people harder to kill, and more useful in general” (thanks, Rip) but they are also often the hottest. Get strong so you can survive in the case of a zombie invasion, and look good doing it.
3. Food really does matter. Once you start to care about what you put into your body, you’ll be surprised at how long you walked around feeling like crap all the time and didn’t realize it.
4. You almost always have someone you chase and someone who chases you. Try not to lose sight of your rabbit – you’ll be better for it, and remember that there is someone else out there trying to keep up with you – make them work for it.