Whether you’re a veteran athlete or a total box newbie, anyone’s first trip to a CrossFit gym can be intimidating. Saunter inside, and you’re instantly surrounded by jacked guys doing things like heavy push jerks and walking across the floor on their hands almost as naturally as their feet.
Despite the wow-factor, CrossFit membership is still on the rise: Wodify reports a 12 percent increase in the average number of members for a gym over the course of a year for gyms in 2018. In short: CrossFit is kind of a big deal, and still getting bigger.
Interested in diving into the constantly varied workout style, but not quite ready to throw down your credit card to join a box? Good news: you can get a taste of CrossFit on your own time with this beginner-friendly workout from Reebok Athlete and 8-time CrossFit Games competitor Spencer Hendel.
Before you get started, remember: form is king. As with any workout routine, you want to make sure that you get the basics of big movements down and then take the time to warm them up before loading up a barbell or reaching for a prescribed weight to crush the actual workout.
“Whether it’s in this workout or another workout, remember that you can take things at your own pace,” he tells Men’s Health. “Everything can be scaled to your appropriate means. You’re not expected to come into the gym and be able to lift a lot of weight or be able to do crazy gymnastics moves or even have any fitness background whatsoever.”
If you really find yourself loving the workout, check out this guide to get prepped for your first visit to a real box.
Spencer Hendel’s Beginner WOD
Take on this workout by performing 3 rounds, with little to no rest in between.
What you need: Barbell, 70 pounds (~32.5kg) of plates
Coaching tip: “Run at a consistent pace. You want it to be something that you can maintain throughout the entire workout. That means don’t go out on the first round in a full-out sprint, and then fade out and fall off come the second and third.”
Instructions: Lie face-up on the floor with your legs and arms straight. Hold your arms straight above the top of your head. In one movement, simultaneously lift your torso and legs as if you’re trying to touch your toes. Your torso and thighs should form a letter “V.” Lower your body back to the starting position. That’s 1 rep. Do 30.
Coaching tip: “Balance is a huge factor with these. If you can start your hands a bit sooner than your legs, that’ll be a good strategy to help them meet in the middle. If your legs come up too fast, then you’ll rock yourself backward and get out of sync.”
30 reps (aim for 115 pounds [~52.5kg], don’t hesitate to rest and adjust weight as needed)
Instructions: Stand grasping a barbell just beyond your shoulders, using an overhand grip. Bend at your hips and knees, letting the bar hang above your knees. This is the starting position. Explode up, shrug your shoulders, and roll your wrists back to “catch” the bar at your shoulder girdle. Reverse the bar back down to the starting position. That’s 1 rep. Do 30.
Coaching tip: “Make sure to go into the jump with straight arms. You don’t want the arms to be doing all the work. Instead, let the hips and the legs do most of it, since they are the bigger, stronger muscles initiate the movement. The arms simply finish by driving the elbows through.”
By Emily Abbate