Whether you are new to CrossFit or are an experienced veteran that has competed many times, there will be certain movements that appear more often than others in some way, shape or form.
They may crop up as part of an EMOM (every minute on the minute) workout, AMRAP (as many rounds as possible) or a longer Chipper style workout.
This means that it’s essential you’re familiar with, and able to perform a variation of, these movements, allowing you to get the most out of your workout.
It was popularised by the United States Armed Services as a way of testing the fitness levels of their recruits in the run up to World War II and still, to this day, is considered an effective method of testing fitness, strength and coordination.
Burpees will always rear their heads in CrossFit Affiliate boxes and competitions all across the world.
The burpee is a pretty good full-body movement which combines several different movements to make the ultimate bodyweight exercise, broken down into 4 parts:
- Squat with hands planted
- Kicking back into a plank (chest and thighs must touch the floor in CrossFit)
- Back into squat
- Standing up from squat and jump in air with hands raised
It sounds pretty straight forward, but when burpees are listed during a long, gassy “Chipper” workout, they’re guaranteed to cause a few stirs within the class!
There are also many variations of burpees as well, including Burpee Box Jumps – the fundamental part remains the same but rather than jumping in the air, you’ll be required to perform a box jump, which is even more gruelling on the legs.
My advice to you is to make sure that you are comfortable being uncomfortable and accept the fact that burpees need to be paced, otherwise you’ll burn out very quickly.
#2 Double Unders
The Double Under is a movement that every CrossFitter will be familiar with.
Using a jump rope, double unders require the rope to pass underneath your feet twice with a single jump.
This is not an easy task, however, and requires speed, coordination, rhythm, patience and consistency – all traits that, during a workout, tend to be difficult to hold onto!
Many novice athletes struggle with nailing their first double unders, especially stringing multiple together during a workout.
I, personally, frequently end up with whip marks on my arms and back of legs as a result of failed double under attempts!
In CrossFit boxes, the scaled version of the double under is to do twice as many repetitions of single jumps.
For example, if 25x Double Unders are programmed, the scaling option would be to perform 50x Singles.
If you are new to jumping rope, this is incredibly draining as well.
Success with double unders can even be determined by the type of rope you’re using and at which level.
While wire ropes are much thinner and can cut through the air thicker, this may not always be the best idea for beginners.
If you are a beginner, make sure that you are comfortable with performing many singles in one go before trying to throw some Double Unders into the equation.
A heavier rope can also help beginners as it will provide more feedback when it makes contact the ground.
Speak to the coaches at your box for help with learning effective double under technique.
One of the most regular compound movements that is so important in CrossFit is the squat.
There are many variations of the squat including barbell back squat, Bulgarian split squat and front squat to name but a few so it is important that you’re able to conduct this movement effectively, requiring good mobility.
The aim of CrossFit is to ensure that their athletes are able to move and function in a healthy, positive way which the squat can certainly help with.
Being able to carry out a squatting motion will even help in later life when it comes to ordinary, everyday tasks such as sitting down and getting up from the chair that you’re sitting in.
The squat is a compound movement, meaning that it uses multiple muscles in one go, which in the case of a squat is the glutes, hamstrings, quads, calves, abdominal muscles and the lower back muscles (if performed correctly).
Squatting strengthens ligaments and joints as well, so it really can be considered an all-round winner of compound movements.
There are also many ways in which the squat can be incorporated into everyday CrossFit classes and movements.
During strength cycles you may work up to a 1RM (one rep max) variation of either a back squat or a front squat, whereas in an AMRAP workout it may be a case of performing a number of air squats (e.g. just your bodyweight) during one round, alongside some other movements.
The final reason why the squat is important is because it also plays a very large part in some of the big, Olympic lifts as well, such as the Clean and Jerk and the Snatch respectively.
The full versions of these lifts require a squatting movement.
If your squat mobility isn’t as refined as you’d like, it’s important not to push yourself too far and instead should consider scaling the weight back (if appropriate) and, of course, seeking support and advice from professionals so as to avoid potential injury and damage.
Most people will be familiar with the push-up (alternatively named press-up) and the way that this movement is performed.
It’s a very common movement in any CrossFit gym as it is another bodyweight movement that works a number of muscles but is also scalable to all abilities.
When performed Rx (as prescribed) the exercise will work the shoulders, triceps chest and core.
To scale the movement, you’d drop to your knees from your toes, which will make things slightly easier.
It’s a very common movement in CrossFit as it can be used to serve a number of different purposes including conditioning and strength when working on handstand movements.
The push-up is also quite a good movement for highlighting issues with mobility in athlete’s shoulders and chests, so it’s important to ensure that you’re able to address these issues in order to perform the movement in a safe manner.
Another movement in the world of CrossFit that is very common and scalable and is one of ‘those’ movements which just feels good when you achieve it.
You’ll frequently find pull-ups as part of a WOD in your affiliate box, even if it’s one of the progressions that is listed, for example muscle ups or Chest to Bars.
There are a number of different ways that the pull-up can be performed: strict, kipping, butterfly; which one you choose would depend on your ability and where you are at with your pull-ups.
Strict pull-ups require strength and stamina to lift your body up (you can use a resistance band for assistance), whereas kipping will enable you to generate more momentum, which may make the pulling element of the movement slightly easier to attain.
Butterfly pull-ups require a lot more rhythm and mobility, especially with your shoulder joints, which makes it essential to use the correct form when attempting this.
One of the best things about the pull-up and its progressions is, as mentioned above, the scalability of it.
This means that CrossFitters of all levels will be able to perform some variation of the pull-up based on their own ability, allowing all athletes to work on building strong back muscles and turn their lats into “wings”!