Basic CrossFit Exercises for Beginners

Basic CrossFit Exercises for Beginners - FITZABOUT

The basics of the CrossFit exercises program are the same for everyone, regardless of your sex or age. This is the way you do the program that changes.

CrossFit training is classified as functional training and is an excellent total body workout for anyone. While you may have seen many men taking part in this type of exercise, it really is a great workout for women!

For women or someone just starting with CrossFit you should take time to familiarize yourself with the basics. This includes learning to do the necessary exercises.

These exercises involve learning how to sit, push up and squat properly. You also need to learn how to do a dead lift, shoulder press and pull ups.

Of course it will take time to learn all these basic steps. By repeating these tricks daily you should be ready to take your first CrossFit class within a month. Take more time if necessary! There is no hurry and it is extremely important to learn tricks correctly, this way you will get more benefit from starting daily classes.

A CrossFit training program targets your entire body. You will develop more strength, power, agility and balance with an improved heart and respiratory system.

How to Basic CrossFit routine

Depending on your fitness level, you can start with a 3-day routine with a day’s rest. Your other option is to work for 5 days and then take 2 days off. Whatever you feel more comfortable with.

You can go to the CrossFit website and get a WODs i.e. Workout of the Day which lists the exercises you need to do. Each exercise will target a certain area and many people enjoy following this more structured routine.

If you wish, you can create your own CrossFit training program and incorporate exercises that you like. You must remember to include exercises that target all areas of your body. This should include some types of endurance and endurance building activities.

A basic routine should include the following:

  • 10 minutes warm-up
  • 20 – 25 minutes of CrossFit training. This should include sit ups, push ups, dumbbell raises or kettlebells and weight exercises such as bicep curls and chest presses.
  • 10 minutes cold with stretching

As you can see, this 40 minute routine can easily be set in your day. Just do each exercise to the best of your ability. If you decide to follow CrossFit WOD i.e. “Workout of the Day”, modify any exercise as required. As your fitness level improves, you will be able to do each exercise more intensely.

The whole object of CrossFit is to work fast and hard, you do sets of exercises and take as few breaks as possible.

Remember that CrossFit is used by members of the armed forces, police departments, and fire departments. So there must be something to this method of training. Women can easily participate in CrossFit by modifying exercise as necessary. Do not try to do too much as you do not want to injure yourself!

9 Basic CrossFit Exercises for Beginners

  • Air Squat
  • Front Squat
  • Overhead Squat
  • Deadlift
  • Sumo-Deadlift High Pull
  • Shoulder Press
  • Push Press
  • Push jerk
  • Medicine Ball Clean

Learning and correcting steps of CrossFit exercises

1. Air Squat

1 of 9 Basic CrossFit Exercises - Air Squat - FITZABOUT
1 of 9 Basic CrossFit Exercises – Air Squat

Air Squat is suitable for the front and the overhead squat.

  1. Learning Steps:
  • Stance = Shoulder Width
  • Full Extension at hips and knees
  • Weight on heels
  • Lumbar curve maintained
  • Chest up
  • Butt travels back and down
  • The bottom of Squat is below parallel
  • Knees track parallel to feet
  • Return to full extension on hips and knees to complete movement
  • Head position is neutral
  1. Correcting Steps
  • (1) FAULT: lazy lumbar curve, or losing it (ie “butt wink”). Fix – Lift your chest while engaging your hip flexors by anteriorly rotating the pelvis strongly. Fix – Raise your arms as you descend to the bottom of the squat.
  • (2) FAULT: Weight shifts forward to balls of your feet. Fix – Exaggerate weight in your heels by floating your toes slightly throughout the entire movement.
  • (3) FAULT: Not low enough. Fix – Squat to a 10 ” box or medicine ball to develop awareness of depth.
  • (4) FAULT: Your knees roll in. Fix – Push your knees out or “Spread the ground with your feet.” Fix – Push your knees out with elbows at bottom of squat to familiarize yourself with knee position.
  • (5) FAULT: Immature Squat: The lumbar curve is maintained, can be deep, and the heel is in contact with the ground, but the athlete has to exert excessive pressure on the quads to maintain balance. Fix – Squat Therapy: Set up facing a wall 10” box under your butt. Set in proper stance with your heels to the box, your chest close to the wall. Squat to the box while maintaining control and weight in your heels.
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2. Front Squat

Front Squat - FITZABOUT
2 of 9 Basic CrossFit Exercises – Front Squat

Setup, execution, performance points, and improvements carry over exactly from the Air Squat. Now we add the load to the FRONT RACK POSITION.

  1. Learning Steps:
  • Stance= Shoulder Width
  • Full extension of knees and hips
  • Bar “racked” on your shoulders (create a shelf for the bar to sit on with the shoulders), your hands outside shoulders, loose fingertip grip
  • Elbows high, upper arm parallel to ground
  • Weight on heels
  • Lumbar curve maintained
  • Chest up
  • Elbows high; Your arms stay parallel to the ground throughout the whole movement
  • Butt travels back and down
  • Bottom of squat is below parallel
  • Knees track parallel to the feet
  • Return to full extension at your hips and knees to complete movement
  • Head position in neutral
  1. Correcting Steps:
  • (1) FAULTS: Bar not in contact with your torso or holding bar out in front. Fix – Get your elbows high and allow bar to roll back onto fingertips.
  • (2) FAULTS: Your elbows drop and your chest comes forward. Fix – Pull your elbows up and aim your chest at ceiling. Stress a hard lumbar curve. Fix – Ask someone to place their hand or arm under elbows to help them maintain position.

3. Overhead Squat

3 of 9 Basic CrossFit Exercises - Overhead Squat - FITZABOUT
3 of 9 Basic CrossFit Exercises – Overhead Squat

Setup, Execution, Performance points, and Corrections carry over exactly from the Air Squat. You now add a load in the OVERHEAD POSITION.

  1. Learning Steps:
  • Stance = Your feet shoulder width apart
  • Full extension at your hips and knees
  • Your bar held overhead, in the frontal plane, with a wide grip
  • Active shoulders (Shoulders pushed up into your ears)
  • Elbows locked
  • Weight on your heels
  • Your lumbar curve maintained
  • Chest up
  • Maintain constant upward pressure on your bar, and active shoulders to support the load
  • Keep bar remains in the frontal plane or slightly behind
  • Your butt travels back and down
  • Bottom of squat is below parallel
  • Knees track parallel to your feet
  • Return to full extension at your hips and knees to complete movement
  • Head position is neutral
  1. Correcting Steps:

Apply all faults and fixes from the Air Squat to this movement step, plus the following:

  • (1) FAULT: Lazy elbows and shoulders. Fix – Actively press your bar up and press your shoulders into ears.
  • (2) FAULT: Your bar goes forward of the frontal plane. Fix – Press your bar up and pull it back to overhead or slightly behind.

4. Deadlift

Deadlift - FITZABOUT
4 of 9 Basic CrossFit Exercises – Deadlift

The deadlift is fundamental to the sumo deadlift high pull and the medicine ball clean.

Learning Steps:

How to setup:

  • Stance = between your hip width and shoulder width.
  • Weight in heels and your back arched/lumbar curve locked in.
  • Shoulders slightly in front of your bar, and bar in contact with shins.
  • Your arms locked out straight.
  • Symmetrical grip outside your knees, just wide enough not to interfere with your knees.
  • The back is slightly slanted up with your head and chest up.
  • Hamstrings are above parallel and stretched.

How to do:

  • Now, drive through your heels.
  • Extend your legs while hips and shoulders rise at the same rate.
  • Once the bar passes your knees, your hip opens all the way up.
  • Keep bar maintains contact with your legs the entire time, and your head neutral.
  • On return to the floor, push your hips back and your shoulders forward slightly; delay the knee bend.
  • Once the bar descends below your knees and the torso angle is set, return the bar down to the setup position by bending your knees slightly.
Correcting Steps:
  • FAULT: Loss of lumbar curve. Fix – Pull hips back and lift chest. Fix – Abort and decrease the load to where your lumbar arch can be maintained.
  • FAULT: Weight on or shifting on your toes. Fix – Settle into heels and pull your hips back, maintaining tension in the hamstrings at start of movements, and focus on driving through your heels. Fix – Check that the bar stays in contact with your legs throughout the movement.
  • FAULT: your shoulders behind bar on setup. Fix – Raise your hips to move shoulder over or slightly in front of bar.
  • FAULT: Hips rise before your chest (Stiff-Legged Deadlift). Fix – Allow your shoulders and chest to rise sooner. Lift your chest and hips at the same rate until the bar passes your knees.

5. Sumo-Deadlift High Pull

5 of 9 Basic CrossFit Exercises - Sumo-Deadlift High Pull - FITZABOUT
5 of 9 Basic CrossFit Exercises – Sumo-Deadlift High Pull

Sumo Deadlift High Pull builds on the Deadlift, widening the stance, bringing the grip inside the knees, adding a shrug, an upward pull with the arms, but, most importantly velocity.

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Learning Steps:

How to setup:

  • Stance = Wider than your shoulder width, but not so wide that the knees roll inside the feet.
  • Weight in heels.
  • Back arched/lumbar curve locked in.
  • Shoulders slightly in front of your bar.
  • Bar in contact with the shins and your arms locked straight.
  • Symmetrical grip inside your knees (about 4-6 inches apart).

How to do:

  • Accelerate through your heels from the ground to full extension of your hips and your legs.
  • Shrug, with your arms straight.
  • Arms follow through by pulling bar to your chin with elbows high and outside.
  • Return the bar back down fluidly in the reverse sequence: your arms, then traps, then hips, then knees, back to the setup position.

Primary points of perform:

  • Hips open before the shrug and your arm bend.
  • Bar is pulled up just to below your chin.
  • Fast and aggressive.
  • Elbow travel and finish high and outside; your elbows are higher than your hands at all times during the movement.
Correcting Steps:

All faults and fixes from the Deadlift apply to this steps, plus the following:

  • FAULTS: Pulling too early with your arms, hip not completely open before the shrug or arm pull. Fix – Go to step 3 in the progression. Emphasize that the hip needs to fire first, before your arms. Try 2 Sumo Deadlift Shrugs for every full Sumo Deadlift High Pull; do as many times as you needed.
  • FAULT: No shrug. Fix – Back to progression. Do 2 Sumo Deadlift Shrugs and one High Pull; do as many times as you needed.
  • FAULT: Incorrect descent (Hips before arms). Fix – Slow down the movement; return your arms then hips, then legs, then speed it up again.

6. Shoulder Press

Shoulder Press - FITZABOUT
6 of 9 Basic CrossFit Exercises – Shoulder Press

The key elements of the Shoulder Press, and all the overhead lifts, are setup position, overhead position, tight belly, and bar path. These are foundational to all the overhead lifts.

Learning Steps:

How to setup (This is exactly the same for all 3 overhead lifts):

  • Stance = Your Hip Width
  • Hands just outside the shoulders
  • Bar in front, resting on your “rack” or “shelf” created by your shoulders
  • Elbows down and in front of bar; your elbows are lower than in the front squat
  • Tight midsection
  • Closed grip, with your thumbs around the bar

How to perform:

  • Drive through your heels; keep your whole body rigid; tight belly.
  • Bar travels straight up to locked out, with your active shoulders, directly overhead.
  • Your head accommodates bar (bar path has a straight line).
  • To move head out of way of bar path, pull your head back – Do not look up.
Correcting Steps:
  • FAULTS: Bar forward of frontal plane. Fix – Press up and pull back on your bar as it travels to overhead.
  • FAULTS: Leaning back, ribs sticking out. Fix – Tighten your abs/suck ribs cage down.
  • FAULTS: Passive shoulders or bent elbows. Fix – Obtain active shoulders by pressing your shoulders into ears.
  • FAULTS: Bar arcs out around the face. Fix – Pull your head BACK out of the way of the bar. Fix – Check that your elbows are not too low in the set up.
  • FAULTS: Movement in feet, knees, and/or hips. Fix – Maintain no motion of your feet, knees, and/or hips during entire movement.

7. Push Press

Push Press FITZABOUT
7 of 9 Basic CrossFit Exercises – Push Press
(image: crossfit.com)

As like the Shoulder Press, the “Push Press” also builds on the same setup and overhead position. I combine velocity with “DIP” and DRIVE “of the hip. The focus here is on a “DIP “and “DRIVE” which is explosive and straight down and up.

Learning Steps:

How to setup:

  • Stance = your hip width
  • Your hands just outside the shoulders
  • Bar in front; resting on your “rack” or “shelf created by your shoulders
  • Elbows down and in front of the bar; your elbows are lower than in the front squat
  • Tight midsection
  • Closed grip, with the thumbs around bar

How to perform:

  • The cue for action is: “Dip”, “Drive”, “Press”.
  • Dip: Perform a shallow dip (flexion) of your hips, where your knees push forward slightly, your butt goes back, and your chest stays upright.
  • Drive: Extend your hip rapidly and fully.
  • Press: Press the bar to overhead with your locked arms.

Primary performance Points:

  • Torso drops straight down on your dip. There is no forward inclination of your chest and no
  • muting of your hip.
  • Aggressive turnaround from your dip to the drive.
Correcting Steps:

All faults and fixes from the Shoulder Press apply to this exercise, plus the following:

  • FAULTS: Out of sequence: Press begins before your hip opens up. Fix – Repeat the “Dip” and “Drive” with a fast tempo.
  • FAULTS: Cocking: Pausing at your dip. Fix – Repeat the “Dip” and “Drive” and more aggressive turnaround of your hip.
  • FAULTS: Forward inclination of your chest. Fix – Hold in your dip position and make adjustments to the true upright torso. Fix – If your dip is too deep, obtain a shallower dip. Dip Therapy: Stand with back against wall, with your heels, your butt, and your shoulder blades all touching the wall; then dip and drive, keeping everything in contact with the wall.
  • FAULTS: Muted hip. Fix – Turn your pelvis over (anterior rotation) strongly.
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8. Push jerk

Push Jerk FITZABOUT
8 of 9 Basic CrossFit Exercises – Push Jerk
(image: crossfit.com)

Push jerk builds by a good setup, a good overhead position and a solid “DIP” and “DRIVE”. We now focus on coordinating this movement so that your hips come in full extension before the catch, and the catch occurs with an overhead locked bar.

Learning Steps:

How to setup:

  • Stance = Your hip width
  • Your hands just outside the shoulders
  • Bar in front; resting on the “shelf” or “rack” created by your shoulders
  • Elbows down and in front of the bar; your elbows are lower than in the front squat
  • Tight midsection
  • Closed grip, with your thumbs around bar

How to perform:

  • Here the cue for the action is “Dip” – “Drive” – “Press and “Dip”.
  • Dip: Perform a shallow dip (flexion) of your hips, where your knees push forward slightly, your butt goes back, and your chest stays upright.
  • Drive: Extend your hip rapidly and fully.
  • Press and Dip: Move your hips downward and run your body under the bar, while pushing the overhead rapidly.
  • Now “Catch” the bar with your arms locked out overhead and in a partial squat position.
  • Stand to full extension with your bar overhead.
Correcting Steps:

All faults and fixes from the Push Press and the Shoulder Press apply to this exercise, plus the following:

  • FAULTS: The movement pattern out of sequence. Fix – Break it down through progress and build full movement. This is as simple as a jump and land in the partial squat.
  • FAULTS: Your hip never gets to full extension. Fix – Exaggerate fully extending your hip by making your body 1-2 inches taller than your standing height. If you are 5’10’’, Dip and Drive to 5’11’’.
  • FAULTS: Landing too wide with your feet. Fix – Execute the movement without your feet moving from under your hips. Fix – Therapy: Block your feel with plates or boxes or some object so you can’t jump too wide. Punch up and pull back on your bar. Active shoulders.

9. Medicine Ball Clean

9 of 9 Basic CrossFit Exercises - Medicine Ball Clean - FITZABOUT
9 of 9 Basic CrossFit Exercises – Medicine Ball Clean

Medicine ball cleans builds on the set up and exercise pattern of the SDHP (Sumo Deadlift High Pull) adding a pull under the object.

Learning Steps:

How to setup:

  • Stance = your shoulder width apart or slightly wider.
  • Weight in heels
  • Your back arched/lumbar curve locked in
  • Your shoulders are over the ball
  • Ball on the floor between your legs with clearance for the arms
  • Arms straight, your palms on outside of the ball; your fingertips pointing down

How to perform:

  • Accelerate through your heels from the ground to full extension of your hips and legs.
  • Shrug, with your arms straight.
  • Hip retreats; land in a full front squat with your elbows beneath the ball.
  • Stand to full extension with the ball in the rack position for complete the movement.
  • Return to the setup.

Primary Performance Points:

  • Hips reach full extension.
  • Hip is extended and shrug is initiated before your arms pull.
  • The ball is caught in a low (under parallel) and tight (not collapsed) front squat position.
  • Fast and aggressive throughout.
  • Athlete stands all the way up with the ball in the rack position to complete.
Correcting Steps:

All faults and fixes from the Deadlift apply to this exercise, plus the following:

  • FAULTS: Your hip does not open all the way. Fix – Go back to step 2 of Deadlift Shrug progression. Perform 2 Deadlift Shrugs for every Med Ball Clean. Fix – Tactile Cue: Get support, a partner place their hand 1-2 inches above your head while you are standing up straight. Then perform a Med Ball Clean being sure to hit your partners hand with the top of your head before dropping into the front squat position.
  • FAULTS: No shrug. Fix – Go back to step 2 of “Deadlift –Shrug” progression. Perform 2 Deadlift Shrugs for every Med Ball Clean.
Amit kumar - ceo & founder fitzabout

Written by Amit Kumar. He is a certified Yoga Instructor; Diploma in sports & exercise and nutrition; Diploma in fitness and weight loss; Diploma in Nutrition; Diploma in Nutrition, Food, Science and Menu Planning.

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