by Coach Tim
Are you the type of person that has been thinking about doing CrossFit for months or years, but just can’t seem to get over the “being the new guy” hurdle? One of the most frequent things we hear is, “I need to get in shape before I start CrossFit.” Well, that’s not actually the case. CrossFit is not just what you see on ESPN – that is an entirely different level of athleticism and competition that is not what you will find in most boxes you visit. CrossFit is intended to get you in better shape than you currently are. Most gyms also have an introductory program, ours is our Bootcamp, that teaches you how to move and proper form. That being said, here are some basic steps that will make you feel more comfortable and prepared the first time you walk in the door.
Practice Squats. Squats are pretty much a universal favorite at any CrossFit gym, so start yourself off right and start practicing squats. Set your feet at about the same width as your shoulders, pull your shoulder blades back and drop your butt slightly backwards and down while keeping your feet flat on the ground. Try to get your quads below parallel to the ground. If you find yourself falling or unable to get that low, find a chair or bench and practice sitting down and standing up without using your hands.
Your squats may not be perfect, but that’s what the gym’s trainers are there for. Even in the mildest of intro workouts, the top feedback we get is “my legs are so sore!”. So help yourself out and get a head start. Going from zero squats to fifty in your first session will be a much more dramatic shock on the system than if you started with ten today, fifteen tomorrow, twenty the next day and so on.
Practice Planks. There are a lot of muscles that go into a simple plank. Your shoulders, triceps, chest and shoulder blades must create stability. Your core must lock your torso to your hips. Your glutes lock your abdomen to your legs and your quads lock your knees. While we don’t do a lot of “hold a plank for time” movements, the strength and conditioning that can be acquired from holding a plank for just a few minutes a day will translate very well into a lot of movement you’ll be seeing.
Practice Burpees. You’re probably going to see them, so why not knock out a few to get used to them? Start by standing, reach down and place your palms on the ground near your feet, shoot or step your feet out into a plank position, lower the chest down to the ground as in a pushup, then back up to plank, jump or step the feet near the hands, return to standing with a vertical jump and throw in a clap overhead while you’re in the air. Again, it doesn’t have to be perfect – we seldom require a “strict” pushup in it, just get the chest to the ground and return to standing with that jump and clap.
Burpees are another one of those things that are pretty universally used in any CrossFit gym as both a fitness assessment and a way to bring any workout from “this isn’t too bad” to “wow this sucks”. So, just like squats, you might as well get a head start on them. Start with eight today, add in a few tomorrow and so on. Protip! When performing your first burpee, start with your initial movement to the ground. Nothing screams “newbie” like starting burpee number one with a jump then reaching for the ground.
Hydrate. Drink water. Your body is about to undergo some serious stress, so we want to be sure that it can wash away byproducts of the metabolic shock it’s going to see and has the delivery system in place to replenish. Aim for a minimum of ½ oz per pound of bodyweight per day, and I’d recommend aiming for ¾ oz/lb bodyweight.
Relax. So you’re probably not going to get your first pullup between now and your first intro session and even if you do you won’t be able to do as many as any of our “regulars”. And that’s fine! Your gym and your instructors are here to show you how to get there and what to do while it’s still developing. As cliche as it sounds, we all started some time – most of any gym’s clients have joined within the past couple years – so people definitely understand and want to help, not criticize. It’s the beginning of the greatest journey of your life, so why sweat the small stuff?