CrossFit gyms, known as "boxes," have popped up everywhere due to surging popularity of the sport. CrossFit is a style of training that emphasizes intense, explosive movements, often performed for time. The goal of CrossFit is to develop a broad level of fitness that isn't limited to just one type of sport or training. Men and women are both drawn to CrossFit because of the camaraderie of a group atmosphere and the often quick results the training delivers. Once you have mastered the basic movements of CrossFit, like the air squat, box jump and deadlift, you may be ready to move onto more complex, intermediate exercises.
Tabata is interval-style training, in which you perform eight intervals composed of 20 seconds of work and 10 seconds of recovery. The entire workout is only four minutes long, but it is incredibly intense and effective. You don't need any weight to perform Tabata squats; when you're legs are burning after you've hit the fourth or fifth interval, you'll understand why. To perform an air squat, stand with your legs shoulder-width apart and arms at your sides. Lift your arms out in front of your body as you bend your knees and thrust your hips back, lowering your body toward the ground. At the top of the movement, your knees should be aligned with your toes. Quickly stand back up as you push your arms down to your side. Perform as many air squats as you can during the 20 seconds of work, rest for 10 seconds, then repeat.
The wall ball is a great way to work your entire body. Stand with a weighted medicine ball 5 to 6 feet away from a flat, vertical target. Keep your feet shoulder-width apart and hold the ball to your chest as you squat down. Quickly stand up as you thrust the ball up and forward in one fluid movement so it hits the wall a few feet above your head. Be careful not to lock your knees out as you stand. Catch the ball as it rebounds back to you, absorbing the momentum of the ball by dropping back into a squatting position.
Clean and Jerk
Stand in front of a barbell with your feet shoulder-width apart. Squat down and keep your back straight and head neutral as you grab the barbell with your palms facing your body and spaced slightly wider than your shoulders. For the first part of the movement, quickly stand with the bar, jerking it upward and flipping your arms under it in one explosive movement. Do not lock out your knees. You should now be standing with the bar resting at your collarbone. Powerfully thrust the barbell up over your head as you drop your body slightly by pushing one leg back behind you. To complete the movement, hold the bar overhead as you bring your legs back together.
Remember to always consult a physician before beginning a training program, and work with a fitness professional or CrossFit coach to make sure you are performing each exercise correctly. Because of the explosive nature of many CrossFit movements, it is very easy to injure yourself when using incorrect form.
Jessica Bell has been working in the health and fitness industry since 2002. She has served as a personal trainer and group fitness instructor. Bell holds an M.A. in communications and a B.A. in English.