13 Tips For CrossFit Beginners

Coach Mike

Whether you are just starting out in CrossFit or have a done a few workouts, it’s always good to go back to the foundation. CrossFit is all about knowing your limits while pushing yourself to new heights. If you find that balance, nothing can stop you!

CrossFit is not for you, if you don’t want to:

  • Improve your life
  • Become healthier
  • Get stronger

On a side note, while most people want to train like the pro’s – lift super heavy from the beginning. At Waverly Gym, we believe everyone should go at their own pace hence our first point.

Is CrossFit harder than going to the gym? It can be a bit more challenging overall but you can start where you are and slowly push yourself more. Also, working out in a group often gives you much more motivation & positive energy to push yourself.

Why are CrossFit gyms more expensive? Most CrossFit gyms have to buy up front all the equipment, insurance, rent, coaching staff, advertising and maintenance. The result is an amazing atmosphere to take your health to the next level. Pick a local gym like Waverly to help the community thrive!

1. Go at your own pace

This one might seem obvious but they are so many reasons why you might want to go too fast. For instance, you might see stronger people than you and feel embarrassed to lift so little. The old saying is still true – don’t compare yourself to others.

Go at your own pace

Our answer is simple, it’s not about the weight & reps, it’s about progress. For instance, you did 15 reps, now do 16. We want you to see CrossFit as something you explore and gradually let yourself fall in love with. For almost every exercise, there’s a way to:

  • Reduce the weight
  • Do less reps

When you start, we highly recommend focusing on the form. If you have the right form your your CrossFit exercises then increasing your capacity will come naturally. Another important point to consider is that increasing the amount of reps & weight of your workout shouldn’t be done unless you can keep a high level of intensity throughout the workout.

If your goal is to get healthier & stronger then the most important thing is to find a sustainable way to do CrossFit without injuring yourself. The secret to doing that is knowing your limits.

2. Recover properly from CrossFit

What you do in the gym is as important as what you do outside. You should sleep well, improve your nutrition, relax (when possible) and improve your mobility.

It also goes without saying that drinking the night before is really not recommended, unless you want to run to the bathroom mid CrossFit workout.

We know, it’s not always easy to find the time to train. The good thing is that doing CrossFit should motivate you to take care of yourself otherwise your workouts will be quite painful.

We also recommend taking rest days during your week, especially at the beginning. You don’t have to go hard & train every day, you could start training 3 times a week allowing you for 4 days of rest in between.

Pro tip: invest in a blender bottle & high quality proteins. 20 minutes after your workout, your body goes from a carb depleted catabolic state to a protein rich anabolic state. Taking proteins will give you the proteins your body needs to build muscles & get stronger.

3. Push yourself (Don’t Ignore Pain)

You probably won’t enjoy CrossFit as much if you don’t try to push yourself a little bit more every workout. You’ll also most likely feel like quitting multiple times but you’ll realize quickly that the feeling of finishing your workout is amazing. In other words, the more you push yourself through the pain or fear, the easier it gets next time. It’s a question of habits!

Private Training Crossfit
Push Yourself

On the opposite side, don’t push yourself through actual pain such as injuries. If you feel your muscle fibers contracting with muscle overload, you are feeling the right pain, keep going. On the opposite spectrum, if you feel a sharp & stabbing feeling in your body, stop.

Getting injured could last a couple weeks if you don’t stop right away. If you compare a missed workout with a couple weeks of injury, the decision is simple.

4. Find the right CrossFit gym

There are a lot of CrossFit gyms in Montreal, we even wrote an honest review of most of them in one of our article. We say that because it’s very important you find a CrossFit gym that truly motivates you to train.

At Waverly, we train in small groups so that everyone can get the coaches attention. It helps our clients prevent injury and reach their goals faster. We believe CrossFit is for everyone and our mission is to make sure you enjoy every workout as much as we do!

5. Warm up your muscles

We know it’s tempting to just arrive and start working out but it’s highly risky. You might be coming back from work with lots of tension in your back and could risk a bad injury.

Start slowly, stretch yourself, do some mobility exercises and ease in to your exercises & workouts. You also want to mentally prepare yourself for what’s coming so you can stay focused during your workout. It will be tough, you will sweat but you will feel strong, healthy & amazing afterward.

6. Eat and drink well

When you start training, you will see quite quickly the impact of not eating right on your health. You don’t need to start tracking every single calorie you intake but being more considerate is a good first step.

For instance, you can try to eat less processed foods. Processed foods represent any packaged food you can find in the supermarket. You also want to start drinking more water, around 3-4 liters per day is ideal according to the Mayo Clinic.

Crossfit Water
Don’t forget to drink water!

We also recommend trying to stay balanced in your diet:

  • Get a variety of colors
  • Eat proteins and carbohydrates
  • Eat veggies and fruits

The reality is that you body needs different vitamins & minerals to properly function. Get your peanut butter, banana and bread sandwich and you’ll do just great! The best meal plan is one that is good for you but also that you can maintain. In other words, if you like fruit smoothies, go for it.

7. Embrace Crossfit

Changing exercises, high intensity, functional movements is what CrossFit is about. What we recommend is that you stick to the group class when getting started. CrossFit, among other disciplines, is a training regime where you get what you put in.

Go in your workout with the goal of pushing yourself, learning and improving. Your health will thank you. Don’t hesitate to do some research as well if you have time to improve your form by watching online videos!

There are tons of blogs & Youtube channels you can take a look at to understand the different techniques and workout routines. CrossFit is about your body, mind & heart!

8. Technique, not weights

Your progress in CrossFit shouldn’t be tracked only by the weight you lift but also by the technique you use. Why? Not having the right technique will probably lead to injuries that could take you back a couple steps in your progress.

Crossfit at Waverly
Teamwork makes the dream work!

We want you to push yourself but never sacrifice technique to lift heavier. It’s better to lift 100 pounds with the right technique than 250 pounds with poor form. Real progress should only count when you do it well without cutting corners.

Compete against yourself, every single workout but stick to the rules. CrossFit involves a lot of complex movements that require attention to detail such as the clean and jerk. In general, you shouldn’t add any weight to the bar when learning a new exercise. Just focus on the right muscles, keep a neutral posture and use momentum.

9. Listen to your Waverly coach

Everybody doing CrossFit has their opinion on what you are doing. It’s normal, we’re humans and we want to share. The problem is that when you’re a beginner, too much information can make you confused. It’s why we recommend that you listen strictly to your coach – at least when starting out.

It bears also mentioning that you shouldn’t try something if you are unsure of the proper method. It’s why at Waverly we work out in small groups to be able to truly help each member reach its goal. There are no dumb questions, the only goal is to progress: better form, better performance.

Simple acts such as unloading the barbell could lead to serious injuries. We usually recommend unloading barbells with someone else so that you can pull the weight and the other person hold the barbell. Also, for safety reasons, keep the collars at the end of the barbell so that the weights don’t fall abruptly. When in doubt, ask us.

It’s also worth mentioning that when it comes to barbell, there are multiple type of grips you can use:

CrossFit grips
Different CrossFit grips

No matter the grip you have to use, just make sure your thumb is outside your fingers like in the image above. This will allow you to make sure the barbell doesn’t roll out and you don’t dislocate your thumb by pressing too hard. The distance between your hands will depend on the exercise we do, but in general aim for a shoulder width grip.

10. Fast growth & plateau in CrossFit

When getting started, you’ll definitely crush a lot of personal records. Improving your form and gaining confidence will enable to lift more. The downside is that you will also reach your maximum strength level or as some call it your plateau. At that stage, your mind will want to lift more but your body won’t be able to.

True progress in CrossFit is about patience & discipline. You must keep pushing yourself just over the edge but not too far on the side of injuries. There are plenty of ways to improve your strength such as varying your exercises or training more often that are safer for you.

Now, it’s not to say you shouldn’t push hard. In fact, if you don’t push hard, you won’t grow at all. You just have to learn about your real limits and listen to your body when you’ve reached that stage. We also recommend you pace yourself: a 5-minute workout is much different than a 20-minute workout.

11. Keep a CrossFit log

It’s not an obligation but logging in your results can help you keep a positive view of things. You might see that even if you’re lifting less than last week, you are beating your lowest days from last month. Remember, your results will vary like a slope but your overall strength will grow over time. That’s why it’s nice to look at it from a 6-months to a year timeframe.

CrossFit Journal
CrossFit Journal

Keeping a training log will also allow you to focus on yourself rather than comparing yourself to others. You might be better than someone just starting yet feel discouraged by an experienced CrossFit person in the gym. There’s no winning in being better than others, you must conquer yourself.

It can be as little as having the discipline to train 3 times a week because you often find excuses and end up training only twice a week. Set your goals, stay realistic and be patient. Discipline always pays off in CrossFit.

12. Just Have Fun at CrossFit

This is pretty generic advice but a lot of people think working out has to be extremely serious. We recommend you find a way to enjoy it as much possible. Why? The goal is to find a sustainable way to train and using willpower every time won’t cut it.

In fact, don’t be too hard on yourself. You’re working hard, doing the best you can and progressing at your pace. If you start feeling stressed about CrossFit, you went too far! You should work hard and push your limits, but be careful to not forget yourself in the process.

You can learn to eat better, have better rest days and truly relax for instance instead of directly pushing yourself. Find ways to make it more enjoyable, willpower is not an infinite source of energy.

You can start your CrossFit journey by working out 2-3 times a week. You will be exhausted after workouts but soon enough you won’t feel as exhausted. This is where you might want to increase to 3-4 workouts a week.

As a rule of thumb, don’t increase your frequency as soon as you start thinking about it. Give yourself a few more weeks of training because ideally, once you increase, you don’t go back. It’s why patience is necessary in your CrossFit journey.

13. Get equipment you like

You don’t need much to get started in CrossFit. Just wear a sport t shirt, shorts and running shoes, we have the rest. While not necessary, it’s nice to get some high quality gear to make you feel better.

On top of the list are CrossFit shoes. Stay away from bare feet or thick cushioned shoes and aim for balance. You want your shoes have a raised heel but also flexibility on the sides for jumps. We recommend that you try doing jump squats with your new shoes to get a feeling. While there are some quite unique brands, you can be safe by choosing New Balance, Nike, Asics or Reebok.

CrossFit Shoes
CrossFit Shoes

The second one on the list is wrist wraps. When you start CrossFit, your wrists will start hurting. You’ll need to hold a heavy bar in a lot of positions you’ve never dealt with before. Having some good wrist wraps will make your life much easier. You’ll have to choose between light weight, heavy weight or ultra heavy weight. We suggest the second option for starters.

Finally, you can get yourself some CrossFit gloves to improve your grip and focus more on your muscles when working out. The main advantage is to reduce bar slips from sweating in your palms. They also work well with wrist wraps in case you were wondering!

Are you coming to Waverly?

Waverly is a CrossFit gym in the mile-ex with one of the best fitness facility in the city. Why? Our coaches care about each member and design programs unique to them. We love educating our clients about the variety of training programs and ways to reach their fitness goals!

We believe that the only way to reach a goal is to enjoy the process. It’s why we spend a lot of energy creating the best possible atmosphere in the gym. While we’re a CrossFit gym, we also explore other training methods to always improve what we do.

We will coach you and help you reach your goal in a sustainable way. What are you waiting for? Join the Waverly family today!