What Is CrossFit and How to Get Started

CrossFit is one of the hottest fitness trends around and probably the most misunderstood. If you've seen the rock-hard physiques of CrossFitters (if not, just Google CrossFit Games), you might be thinking about trying the "sport of fitness" or "training for the unknown and unknowable" to see if it's for you.

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What is CrossFit?

CrossFit began as a type of training used primarily by the military, law enforcement and emergency responders. In just over a decade, it's grown to thousands of affiliates (local box owners) and has its own world championships called the CrossFit Games—top men and woman compete for the title of Fittest on Earth and win a check for $250,000. It's attracted everyone from professional athletes and Olympians to busy professionals trying to tone up and slim down to the overweight-and-out-of-shape.

CrossFit is a strength and conditioning program that's designed to improve your power, strength, agility, accuracy, stamina, speed and endurance for anything physical—from digging a ditch, finishing a triathlon to throwing a football or running a 10K.

It combines aerobic conditioning (jumping rope, running, cycling, rowing, swimming) gymnastics (pull-ups, push-ups and other body-weight exercises) with weightlifting moves (snatch, clean, clean and jerk, push press) along with some other old-school training elements like kettlebell swings, rope climbs, sledgehammer and tractor tire flipping. The workouts of the day (WODs) are random and may include any one or more of the core exercise modalities in virtually endless combinations.

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What's a Typical WOD

A typical WOD may be a 800-meter run or row followed by 22 pull-ups, 22 deadlifts, 22 thrusters (repeated twice) then end with another 800-meter run or row. Another popular WOD, "Filthy Fifty" consists of 50 repetitions of 10 different exercises including box jumps, kettlebell swings, burpees, and push press.

Due to the constant variety of exercises done at high intensity, it improves both strength and endurance while enhancing accuracy, agility, flexibility and more. WODs are never boring and are quick, lasting anywhere from five minutes to 30 minutes. CrossFit WODs are all scored by either time or reps completed to add intensity and an element of competition.

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