Step-by-Step Guide to Becoming A Better CrossFitter

From the moment I stepped on the floor of a CrossFit gym, I was hooked. Powerlifting, Olympic weightlifting, calisthenics, gymnastics….all rolled into one. One hell of a workout my friends.

It’s Bootcamp with a barbell and it’s a beautiful thing. High-intensity movements leave you gasping for air and wondering where this exercise program has been all your life.

Don’t believe me? Just ask the hundreds of thousands other CrossFitters around the world and I’m certain they’ll be ready to tell you too.

However, CrossFit is more than just an exercise program. It’s become a sport as well. Ever watch the CrossFit Games on ESPN? Well, what you’re watching is the Super Bowl of CrossFit. It’s the elite of the elite in fitness where strength, agility, and conditioning are all rolled into one.

A Brief History of CrossFit

CrossFit, the company, was started back in 2000 by the founder Greg Glassman. Now Glassman, a former teenage gymnast, wanted to get stronger and discovered he was able to get a lot stronger than other athletes through the use of dumbbells and a barbell.

With the goal of general physical preparedness, CrossFit was born emphasizing repeatable, measurable results. Simply put, CrossFit clearly measures performance through the use of specific weights, movements, distance, and time.

If you’re wanting to get better at something, it has to be measured. For instance, running a business and you measure profitability. Want to be more fit, track your workouts including strength numbers, skill, and conditioning.

Maybe this is why CrossFit is so popular. You can easily track and manage your success. Whatever the case, CrossFit isn’t going away and one of the reasons is because it has helped so many people live a better life, myself included.

I used to become very bored in the gym with the same monotonous workouts. CrossFit changed everything for me mixing movements up and giving me the capability to measure my results. This allowed me to see I was getting better and I was receiving the results I was looking for.

But there was a problem in the beginning. There was so much I sucked at and I was being exposed in every workout. How do you get better at something that requires you to learn so much? 

[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]The answer is simple.  One bite at a time.[/perfectpullquote]

Breaking Down Fitness

When you first start out in CrossFit, the biggest challenge you face is recovery. You’re going to be sore and that’s certain with any workout program. I remember my first few months in CrossFit vividly. Though I loved each and every session I was extremely sore for a couple months, mainly in the bicep area because of the constant pulling we were doing whether from the pull-up bar or pulling the barbell off the ground.

I would come home at night from a workout and would be worthless for a couple hours as I recovered. Looking back I can see I pushed myself really hard in the beginning but the tendonitis I received was short-lived and I soon began to recover much more quickly.

Pullups-CrossFit Jacked
Pictured Left to Right: Emily Hatcher, Slayton Rice, Tyler Rogers, Korbin Henderson   

Your Responsibility

You have 2 responsibilities when starting CrossFit.

  1. Consistency – Showing up to sessions a minimum of 3 days per week.
  2. Recovery – Voodoo Floss, Lacrosse Balls, Foam Rollers, and Epsom Salt just to name a few.

If you still need more, go see our friends at Mobile Cryotherapy. Massage therapists and chiropractors can also help you.

And again, these recovery methods aren’t exclusive to CrossFit. If you’re practicing fitness in one form or other then you need to take advantage of these recovery tools.

The Plan

Once you’re consistent in CrossFit for a few months, meaning showing up to sessions a minimum of 3 days per week and recovering well, it’s then time for the next steps.

As for the next steps, I wish I had someone tell me in the beginning what I needed to focus on exactly when I started out in CrossFit so that is what I aim to do for you in this article.

The following steps are in order of importance so that you begin seeing results much more quickly. Some of you may have one or more of these areas already down. If so, move on to the next. The key here is to get you to focus on one key area and improve upon it.

Step 1: Nutrition

This is Numero Uno. By no means is it the most glamorous but this is what gets the job done. Losing fat, building muscle. It all comes down to nutrition.

Pick A Nutrition Plan

Here’s the tricky part because everyone has different tastes. I could tell you exactly what to do but I’m no fool. You’ve got to figure this part out for yourself. Whether you use my “Six Weeks to Lean” method, Renaissance Periodization, Zone, Keto, etc. you’ve got to do the research and figure it out yourself.

If you’re carrying around a lot of unnecessary weight then it’s like wearing a weight vest in your workout. You’re now at a serious disadvantage with the time clock. Get your nutrition right and you’ve tackled the hardest step.

Unsure where to start. Check out “Six Weeks to Lean“. If that doesn’t sweeten your taste buds there’s plenty of diets out there to choose from. The important thing is to just get started.

Back Squat-Class

Step 2: Strength Programming

Outside of nutrition, this is very much important. If you’ve been doing CrossFit consistently for a couple months now and your recovery between workouts allow you then you need to focus on strength training.

Yes, the strength programming before a WOD helps but if you want to get serious about your training use open gym time as your chance to get stronger. Strength programs like 5/3/1 and Starting Strength will help take you to the next level.

We tend to focus on doing more WODs to get better at CrossFit which is great but you need to balance out your conditioning with strength. Conditioning won’t help you lift a heavy barbell.

The thing that benefited me most in the early stages of CrossFit was implementing a strength program into my routine twice per week. I hated not being strong enough to RX a workout so it was something I corrected early on. No one has ever complained about being too strong. Is there even such a thing?

Step 3: Mobility

I used to not be a big fan of mobility. Afterall, when you think of CrossFit you don’t think too much about stretching. Barbells, heavy weight, conditioning, yes. Stretching, not so much.

However, if you don’t pay attention to your mobility not only are you likely going to hurt yourself but you’re also at a severe disadvantage when it comes to lifting with the barbell.

Movements like front squats, thrusters, and presses will own you. Not only are you going to be fighting the weight of the bar but the restriction of your body as well.

One of the ways we confront mobility at CrossFit Jacked is through a service called ROMWOD. Anyone can go online and pay for this service and have it available 24/7 from their computer, phone, or tablet. However, at CrossFit Jacked we run one ROMWOD session per week on Saturday mornings.

If you have the funds available and are serious about your training, ROMWOD is the way to go. In 20 minutes a day, you can play the daily video and get some good stretching in without having to think about what you’re supposed to do.


Pictured Above: CF Jacked Athlete, Tyler Fillingim Demonstrating Bad Mobility in the Front Rack Position (left) and Good Front Rack Position Mobility (right)

Step 4: Skill Work

One reason CrossFit is so much fun is that there is so much to get better at. For instance, someone who is strong may have bad conditioning. Therefore, they crush workouts with a heavy barbell but are dominated when it comes to bodyweight movement.  

Someone who has great conditioning may be limited in their skills such as pull-ups, double unders, muscle-ups, handstand pushups, pistols, etc.

Pick a skill and decide today that you’re going to get better at it. Talk to your CrossFit Coach and ask them to put a plan together for you to help you succeed. 

If you’ve got a great coach, they’ll tell you exactly what to do. All you need to do then is put in the work.

Step 5: Study

If you are looking to get better at CrossFit, you need to study the film. There is good form and bad form in CrossFit and if you want to have good form it helps to watch the form of others doing movements correctly.

Whether you’re watching Olympic Weightlifting, double under tutorials, powerlifting, or gymnastics there is a skill to be learned.

I can’t tell you how many double under videos I’ve watched in my life as I was struggling to learn the movement, not to mention the whiplashing from the rope I received.

Step 6: No Cherry-Picking

Pictured Above: CF Jacked Athlete, Kasandra Byrd

I used to do this with double-unders when I first started CrossFit workouts. It took me 18 months before I could easily perform doubles in a WOD and up to that point, I dreaded every day they were on the board.

But something mysteriously happened over time. I got better at them. And you will too.

But, maybe your problem isn’t double-unders. Maybe, it’s pull-ups or a heavy barbell. Whatever it is, avoiding it won’t help you get better at it.  

I always tell our athletes that if they can string a few double-unders together then they should start with double-unders in the workout. Spend a couple minutes working them into the WOD and then move on to singles.

This allows you to put into play what you should be practicing. Same goes for pull-ups. If you can get a few pull-ups start with them in the workout and then move on to the scaled version.  

However, the last thing you should do is skip the workout entirely. Put your ego to the side and use this time to get better so you won’t think of avoiding the workout the next time a tough movement comes around.

Step 7: Invest In Yourself

No, I don’t mean education necessarily but I do mean equipment. Wrist wraps, gymnastic grips, jump rope, chalk, etc. These things make your gym experience more pleasant and you’ll know you’re serious at this point.

It’s easy to buy Christmas gifts for a CrossFitter. It usually involves gym clothes, shoes, accessories and equipment!

By investing in yourself, you’ll be proud of yourself and you’ll look forward to your next workout. Spend time and money on your health. You’ll reap the rewards when you look in the mirror at your transformation.

Step 8: Increase Your Mental Toughness

This could easily be the first step though it doesn’t sound as glamorous. Ben Bergeron even says in his book, “Chasing Excellence,” “Given the choice between coaching an athlete with above-average talent or one who is mentally tough, it might surprise you to hear I’d pick the former. Not because I believe talent is more important, but because I know I can teach someone to be mentally tough.

The mental game of exercise can be the toughest to overcome for many. Just think of all the New Years Resolutions that fail in the month of January alone. We get sore and sleep begins sounding like a better alternative.

But past that, workouts are tough and when our mind isn’t present in what we’re attempting to do, we fall short. We’ve all been there. 

You’re in the 3rd minute of a 20-minute AMRAP and you’re already tired. You have to change your focus to accomplish the task in front of you.

For instance, you have 20 burpees to complete, focus your attention on completing the 20 burpees. Don’t think about the clock or the next movement. Break the workout into chunks and get it done.  

I’ve yet to meet anyone who enjoys AMRAPs and the reason is that whether it’s 10 minutes or 30 minutes it can feel like there is no end. A clever way to approach an AMRAP is to have a goal in mind.

Think about the AMRAP in rounds and reps then strive to achieve a certain number before the time ends. When you give yourself a goal, you’ll work harder to achieve it.

And if you’re looking for a program to get you in great shape and feeling better, then give me a call. I’d love the opportunity to help you reach your fitness goals in 2018!

Until next time…Stay Jacked, Stay Strong!

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