What is CrossFit?

CrossFit is a precise combination of exercise and nutrition that has been proven to increase fitness and health for people of all ages and abilities. CrossFit is founded on the first scientifically rigorous definition of fitness: The program produces observable results that can be measured and replicated. You can do CrossFit with a credentialed CrossFit trainer or in a supportive, motivating community at a licensed CrossFit affiliate, or you can do CrossFit in your garage or home gym by studying the resources found on this site. For more information about CrossFit, click here.

Is CrossFit for me?

Yes. Everyone can do CrossFit regardless of age, injuries and current fitness levels. The program is modified for each person to help him or her safely become healthier and fitter. Grandparents and Olympians can perform modified versions of the same general workout. Learn More About CrossFit.

Do I need to be in shape to start CrossFit?

No. CrossFit is the program that will get you in shape. No matter what your current fitness level is, you can start CrossFit. As you become fitter, workouts will become more challenging. Every workout is designed to help you succeed, improve fitness and move you toward your goals. People Who Started CrossFit.

Is CrossFit safe?

Yes. CrossFit training is very safe, and sitting on your couch is actually incredibly dangerous. In CrossFit boxes, credentialed trainers provide precise instructions and coaching to help people move safely and efficiently, helping people avoid all the diseases that come from inactivity, obesity and poor nutrition.

What about nutrition?

To accomplish your goals faster, we recommend you eat a variety of healthy foods in quantities that support fitness training but not body fat. By avoiding excessive amounts of refined carbohydrates and measuring your intake of protein, carbohydrates and fat, you will see dramatic, measurable increases in health. Learn More About Nutrition.

How will CrossFit affect my health?

CrossFit LLC holds a uniquely elegant solution to the greatest problem facing the world today: chronic disease. The CrossFit program—constantly varied high-intensity functional movement coupled with meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch, and no sugar—can give you a pass on chronic disease. If you are not sick, know that fitness provides a great margin of protection against the ravages of time and disease. Fitness is and should be “super-wellness.” To improve or preserve your health, do CrossFit.

How will I get fitter with CrossFit?

CrossFit improves general physical preparedness (GPP). We have designed our program to elicit as broad an adaptational response as possible. CrossFit is not a specialized fitness program but a deliberate attempt to optimize physical competence in each of 10 fitness domains: cardiovascular/respiratory endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, coordination, agility, balance and accuracy. CrossFit was developed to enhance an individual’s competency at all physical tasks. People who do CrossFit are prepared for all challenges, whether they come in the gym, on a playing field or as part of daily life.

What if I can’t use the recommended weight or perform the programmed movements in the WOD?

Use a weight that’s manageable for you or use a percentage of the weight prescribed. Replace movements you can’t do with those you can. For more information on scaling and modifying workouts, review the “CrossFit Level 1 Training Guide.” The CrossFit Journal also contains resources to help you scale the workout to your level.

Is the WOD enough? Should I do more?

The WOD is a starting point, and each person will need to experiment to determine what “enough” means. Experienced athletes with specific competition goals might need additional work to improve their fitness, while beginners might need to reduce the volume of the WOD to optimize results. The exact amount of work can be determined with the assistance of an expert coach at a Driving Force Crossfit or by carefully logging your workouts and evaluating the results. The demands of sport and active living will affect what you can do in each WOD, and you will need to balance your work/rest cycles to allow for recovery. In general, if you only do each day’s WOD, you will find yourself at an improved level of fitness.


Where can I find instructions for the exercises prescribed in the workout of the day (WOD)?

Visit the Exercises & Demos page for videos of common CrossFit exercises. Most WOD posts contain links to demonstrations of the movements programmed in the workout. Detailed instructions for the most fundamental CrossFit movements can be found in the “CrossFit Level 1 Training Guide.”

What if I can’t do something listed in the workout?

All CrossFit workouts can be modified for people of any age and ability. Adjusting a workout for a specific person is called “scaling,” and it allows very experienced athletes and beginners to train side by side. A skilled CrossFit Trainer can quickly adjust each workout to reflect your needs, goals and current abilities. If you are doing WODs on your own, review the “CrossFit Level 1 Training Guide” for scaling instructions. The CrossFit Journal also contains resources to help you scale the workout to your level. In general, choose a load that’s manageable for you or use a percentage of the weight prescribed. Replace movements you can’t do with similar movements that are available to you. For example, push-ups can become knee push-ups as you build the strength required for the full movement. In every workout, strive for consistent mechanics before adding weight or increasing the load.

When loads are listed, do they include the weight of the bar?

Yes. The weight of the bar is included. The prescribed weight always means total weight lifted.

How much weight for squats?

If a squat load is not specified, squats should be done unloaded. This is sometimes referred to as a body-weight or air squat. For back, front and overhead squats, use the weight indicated or scale as necessary, or work with the heaviest load you can manage for the prescribed number of reps in strength workouts.

How should I do pull-ups or chin-ups?

Use the grip that is strongest for you—palms facing toward you (supinated), palms facing away from you (pronated), palms parallel (neutral, on certain equipment), mixed grip, etc.

Do I have to touch my chest to the bar on pull-ups?

Not unless the workout calls for chest-to-bar pull-ups. If it does not, your chin must only break the horizontal plane of the bar for the rep to count.

Are kipping pull-ups cheating?

Courtesy of Jesse Woody: “Kipping allows more work to be done in less time, thus increasing power output. It is also a full-body coordination movement when performed correctly, which applies more functionally to real-life application of pulling skills. Last, but not least, the hip motion of an effective kip mirrors the motion of the olympic lifts/kettlebell swings, adding to its function as a posterior-chain developer.”

To view a demonstration of the kipping pull-up, click here.

How high should I swing my kettlebell?

Unless flexibility does not allow it or the workout asks for something else, swing your kettlebell until it is directly overhead. This is sometimes referred to as an “American kettlebell swing.” For demonstration and instructions, click here.

Do kettlebell snatches start on the ground? What about dumbbell snatches?

The first rep of a set of kettlebell snatches starts on the floor. All subsequent reps are done with a swing, and the kettlebell does not have to return to the floor unless the workout specifically calls for this. Each dumbbell snatch starts with the implement on the floor unless the workout calls for a hang variation.

Can I use a rack to start movements?

In general strength workouts, squat variations and press variations are usually taken from a rack unless the workout calls for the bar to be moved from the floor. Athletes who have the skill and strength may take the bar from the ground to start strength work if they like. In conditioning workouts, the barbell is almost always taken from the floor unless use of a rack is specifically mentioned.

What does “shoulders-to-overhead” mean?

This means you may use any movement to drive the bar from the shoulders to lockout overhead. The press, push press, and push or split jerk are all acceptable. Select the variation that will allow you to complete the reps as quickly as possible.

What kind of sit-up should I do?

If the WOD post provides no additional instructions, you can do any style of sit-up you like, though it’s recommended you note the style in your records so you can compare performances over time. To view a demonstration of the AbMat sit-up, click here. If a GHD sit-up is required, the workout will name this variation. A GHD sit-up requires a specific piece of equipment. New athletes should approach this very potent movement with caution and avoid sharp increases in range of motion and volume. The GHD sit-up can be seen here.

What kind of burpee should I do?

The standard CrossFit burpee looks like this. If a variation is required—bar-facing burpees, burpees to a target, burpees with a jump over the barbell, etc.—the workout post will call for it.

Do I have to use a squat when I do a snatch or clean?

If the workout does not specifically call for a squat variation of the movement, you may use power or muscle variations.

What kind of jerk should I use?

If the workout does not specifically call for a specific variation of the movement, you may use the split jerk or the push jerk.

How do I start a set of hang cleans or snatches?

In hang variations of snatches and cleans, the barbell is deadlifted and the athlete stands tall before bending at the hips to lower the bar and start the first rep of each set. Subsequent reps in the same set do not have to be lowered to the floor and deadlifted back up.

Ring or bar muscle-ups?

The ring muscle-up is the default movement on A workout requiring bar muscle-ups will specifically call for them. If you do not have rings, you may perform bar muscle-ups (or vice versa). However, recognize that the movements are not the same, and note the variation you used in your workout log.

Should I alternate legs with single-leg squats or split jerks? Should I alternate arms with dumbbell snatches or other movements? WODs will call for alternating legs or arms when the pattern is required. If a workout does not call for alternating legs or arms, choose a pattern that will allow you to complete the reps as quickly as possible.

When a workout calls for biking, running, rowing or skiing, do I have to use special equipment?

No. You can certainly use gym equipment to complete these workouts, but we encourage you to get outside the gym as well when possible.

Are all calories and distances the same on bikes, rowers, treadmills and ski machines?

No. Similar equipment from different manufacturers can produce slightly different results, and completely different types of equipment will affect workouts in various ways. For accuracy, note the equipment you used to complete each workout so you can compare your results over time. When substituting one type of equipment for another, remember that some movements produce calories more quickly. For example, 10 calories on the rower can usually be generated much faster than on a ski machine. Similarly, 500 m on the rower is not exactly equivalent to 500 m of running. If you do not have certain equipment and make a substitution, your time or score will reflect that change.

What does SLIPS stand for?

Scales, L-sits, inversion (handstands), planks, and stretching.

What does AFSAP/AFRAP stand for?

As few sets/reps as possible.


How do you choose modifications for a workout?

To start, review the “CrossFit Level 1 Training Guide” for scaling instructions. The CrossFit Journal also contains resources to help you adjust the workout to your level.

In general, choose a load that’s manageable for you or use a percentage of the weight prescribed. Reduce volume to something that reflects your recent activity level; the workout should be challenging but not excessive or overwhelming. Replace movements you can’t do with similar movements that are available to you. In every workout, strive for consistent mechanics before increasing intensity.

When in doubt, consult a credentialed CrossFit trainer.

What’s the best substitute for rope climbing?

Many movements can take the place of rope climbs. Towel pull-ups are one great option. For more realism, set one hand high and one hand low on the towel. “See-saw” towel pull-ups are also an option. If you have a rope but can’t pull your weight, tie a dumbell or kettlebell to one end and pull the rope toward you hand over hand. You can do this along the ground or you can throw the rope over a bar and hoist the weight to the top. Use the climbing arm motion as much as possible.

What if I can’t run, row, swim, ski or ride a bike?

When substituting aerobic exercises, use comparable time intervals. For example, if you run 400 m in 90 seconds, row, bike, jump rope, run stairs, etc. for 90 seconds. Box jumps, heavy-bag work, kettlebell or dumbbell swings, weighted stair climbing or box stepping can also be used if other options are not available. Sumo deadlift high pulls can take the place of a rowing machine. Use 45 lb. for men and 35 lb. for women, and count each rep as 10 m. Keep in mind that the effects of one movement are not exaactly the same as the effects of another. Log the modification you used so you can compare efforts.

What’s a good substitute for wall-ball shots?

Dumbbell or barbell thrusters often work well. Because you can’t throw dumbbells or a bar in the air, use about twice the specified ball weight and do the reps as explosively as possible. Medicine balls are now widely available, and creative athletes have made their own with relative ease.

What’s a good substitute for muscle-ups?

Pull-ups and dips. Common rep schemes often equate a certain number of pull-ups plus a certain number of dips with 1 muscle-up. The exact numbers will depend on the athlete. Again, the goal is to preserve the stimulus of the original movement.

What if I can’t do pull-ups?

A host of options exists, including assisted pull-ups, jumping pull-ups, negatives, ring rows, pull-downs or negatives. A word of caution: Controlling volume addresses the risk of rhabdomyolysis in less-experienced athletes or those returning after time off. Increased volume of eccentric movement (pull-up negatives, for example) correlates to risk of rhabdomyolysis.

What if I can’t do handstand push-ups?

Support all or most of your body weight while working with similar pressing movements, using assistance or shortening the range of motion. You can place your hands on the floor and your legs on a bench, ball or counter (bend at the waist), or you can hook your toes over a bar in a stable rack. You can do partial reps, building up to full range of motion; for example, stack a few books up under your head and lower to the books. Try to remove a book from the pile every workout or so until you are working from the floor. You can also substitute standing presses using absolutely no leg drive, but presses are not as good as working with a variation of the handstand push-up. Finally, if you are comfortable and stable upside down, kick up and practice lowering yourself to the floor slowly and under control to build strength. A coach/spotter can also help you work the eccentric in this manner, perhaps offering assistance on the concentric portion as well.

What if I can’t do L-sits?

Work on tuck sits (both legs tucked up to your chest), one-leg-extended L-sits (you can alternate legs) or use bands for support (set your parallettes under the pull-up bar and hang the bands from the bar, then put your legs or feet through the band). Work with a spotter or coach if available. To build strength, get into any L-sit position you can (tuck sit, L-hang, etc.) and slowly lower your knees or legs to the floor under control.

What if I don’t have rings or can’t do ring dips?

Do 3 regular parallel-bars dips for every ring dip prescribed.

What if I can’t do double-unders or don’t have a jump rope?

Do tuck jumps. Multiple single-unders in no way compensate for the exertion required for double-unders. Explode off the ground as quickly as possible and repeat for the required number of repetitions.

What can I sub for back extensions?

Good mornings (with or without weight) or prone back extensions (supermans). Many other movements will work, such as lying over an exercise ball with your feet hooked under a bench or bar.

What can I sub for glute-ham sit-ups?

As with back extensions, there are lots of ways to do glute-ham sit-ups. Try lying over an exercise ball with feet hooked under a bench or bar. You can also use a bench in place of a ball.