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Crossfit Programming


A girl friend of mine recently joined a gym and I'm trying to be a good friend here by steering her in the right direction. I assume crossfit would be best since she just wants to look better get fit etc. I've never been interested in crossfit and I've done Starting Strength and am currently on Madcows 5x5.

So I'm wondering where I can do some reading on crossfit programming. Thanks a bunch and I am trying to look for articles on this site or Elitefts it's just going a bit slow so I decided to make this post. Thanks for the help.


Crossfit and Programming are a paradox. Crossfit has no programming which is one of the big issues many people have with it. You're not going to find many people that are proponents of Crossfit on this site or on elitefts, these sites are dedicated to excelling at something, Crossfit is dedicated to being mediocre at a lot of things, good at nothing.


All you need to know about crossfit is that it makes you look like a lean Frank Zane




Crossfit and Programming are a paradox. Crossfit has no programming which is one of the big issues many people have with it. You're not going to find many people that are proponents of Crossfit on this site or on elitefts, these sites are dedicated to excelling at one thing, Crossfit is dedicated to being good at a lot of things, mediocre at nothing.


Hey! I'll teach you everything you need to know about crossfit programming.

  1. Write down every exercise/lift you can think of. Put them in each of 3 hats. 1. Lower body lifts. 2. Upper body lifts. 3. Core exercises.

  2. Pick 1 upper and 1 lower from the respective hats. Find a way of combining the two into a hybrid, and be sure to give it a really cool name like "thruster," or "twistor," or "anal blaster." This is exercise A1. (**note: when you have advanced past the beginner level you can do this with 3 or more exercises all combined into one.)

  3. Pick any exercise that is traditionally performed for 1-5 reps by powerlifters and olympic weightlifters. You will need to do sets of 20, because you're better than that. This is exercise A2.

  4. Superset A1 and A2 starting with only 30s rest between sets, dropping 5 seconds off your rest time after each superset until whichever comes first: 1. you hit the 0 mark 2. you vomit

  5. Now it's time to focus on strength. Perform 15 sets of 1 deadlift with as much weight as you can handle... from a platform...with a blindfold on. It makes it more functional, because sometimes we were faced with taxing situations in prehistoric times with limited visibility. Oh yea, you'll be supersetting these with clap pushups-to-box jump-to power clean-to-med ball slams. How many reps? Well, do as many as you can until you start to break form and get some serious lower back rounding going...then do 10 more...don't want to go overboard, cuz you will be doing heavy deads after each round. These are exercises B1 and B2.

  6. Time to build some muscle. Go back to your hat. Now pick one from each. These are exercises C1, C2, C3. Do them in any order you choose. What month is it? Take the last letter of it. Find out which letter it is in the alphabet. Example: february, means y, means 25. 25 reps...on your first circuit. What day of the week is it? That's how many rounds you'll do. Sunday=1. Mon=2, etc, etc...

  7. Jump rope for 1 min. Rest 2. Then for 2 min. Rest 2. Then 3. Rest 2. Then 4. Rest 2. Then 5. Rest 2. Then back down...4,3,2,1.

  8. Choose another exercise from any hat. Now you'll be doing a tabata with this one. That's 20 sec work, 10 sec rest for 8 rounds.

  9. Go for a 3 mile run in your vibram five fingers.

I've gotta be honest. This is a really great template here, because you can use it with anyone...whether it's a young NCAA D1 stud, or your sedentary grandma. Just adjust the intensity accordingly. And don't worry about technique so much in the beginning. That's what the high reps are for on the complicated/technical lifts. So it reallllly sinks in overtime.


Here's a serious response:

You should go and look at the Crossfit website. No one on T-Nation really knows anything about Crossfit. As far as I can tell, the Crossfit community has quite a few more exceptional athletes than this forum does. I don't Crossfit but I like to look at everything.

If someone is going to do Crossfit, a good idea is to start their training session with a skill practice or pure strength work. Crossfit workouts often have people doing movements that require a good amount of skill to be proficient in: Double Under Jump Rope, Handstand Push-ups, Muscle-Ups, Pistol Squats, etc. To be good at Crossfit you also need to have a level of max strength that cannot be achieved only through their conventional crossfit-style workouts. So you gotta start some of your sessions working on your olympic lifts, power lifts, weighted ring dips, weighted pull-ups, and strongman equipment if you have access to it.

Crossfit demands you be pretty good in a consistent list of disciplines, Olympic-Style Weightlifting arguably being the most fundamental one. So there is Weightlifting, Powerlifting, Indoor Rowing, Running, Novice Gymnastics, Calisthenics, and a mess of some other stuff. Your "programming" will depend on where your weaknesses are. The Crossfit programming of someone with a 8-minute mile and a 500 pound squat should be different than the programming of someone with a 5-minute mile and a 200 pound squat.

After you have done some strength work and/or skill work, you move onto your "Med/Con." This is your conditioning workout, your typical Crossfit workout. There are a ton of workouts to choose from. The "original" ones that people in the community do the most and care about their times the most in are Fran, Helen, Grace, Flithy 50, and Fight Gone Bad. People typically train by choosing random Med/Con workouts then they return to these workouts and track their times to gauge their progress.

If you're looking for Med/Con workouts to do then you can find Workouts of the Day or WODs at the Crossfit Main Site Crossfit.com. Workouts that are named after girls are accessible to most athletic people. Workouts named after fallen war heroes will be a lot tougher. You can also find versions of Crossfit geared towards particular goals. The CrossFit Football site is a solid resource for training anyone who is in a contact sport. Crossfit Gymnastics is a good site if you want to focus on gymnastics skills. CrossFit Endurance is a good site if you're an endurance sport type and may even be a good option if you're looking to outright replace your style of training for Endurance events.

So 3 days of training could look like this.

Day 1:
-Double Under Jump-Rope Practice
-Front Squat: Work Up to a New 5 Rep Max

Day 2:
-Pistol Squat Practice
-Push Press: 3 sets of 5 across

Day 3:
-Power Snatch: 7 Singles
-Tire Filips: Depends on your Tire

But if you're just telling somoene you know to get into Crossfit, it's unfair that you would expect them to learn everything about it on their own. Have them join a Crossfit Gym. There are thousands of them. There is probably one nearby.




LOL mediocre at nothing my ass. FightingScott, that was a great post.


Crossfit and programming aren't necessarily at odds, but it's important to understand that it's just conditioning. Crossfit on it's own are of no use to me but I have created some "wods" that support the things I need for heavy lifting and it helps to stay conditioned in the winter months when I can't push the prowler. I do a lot of kettlebell swings, sandbag stuff, pull ups (strict as they are more useful), calisthenics, etc...I play around with the time domains, <5min, 10min, 15 min, and 20 min. Crossfit gyms tend to make the mistake of trying to get too cute, stick to basic movements (push ups, sled drags, burpees etc) but all this is only to support lifting heavy not detract from it.


Alright Fighting Scott thanks a bunch. I was discussing with my friend and we were thinking it's probably a good idea to start her off on a mobility/strength phase. Some form of starting strength with mainly body weight and dumbbells for a month or or 2 with a cardio/crossfit type finisher twice a week. Then later on switch it to starting strength with crossfit assistance. I'll try to ask her to see if she's interested in yoga or pilates once a week since that'll definitely help her mobility as she isn't a very active person. Thanks again!


If she's been inactive, I'd think this is wise. Most women can start with body weight stuff like squat variations, lunges, elbow plank, pushups and some dumbbells for several months. If she's out of shape, I'd go that route to build a basic foundation before you jump into something grueling like Crossfit which might be intimidating or just turn her off because it's so intense.

I don't know her fitness level but Crossfit is an expensive route to go if someone is out of shape and can't even do 20 good push ups for example. If she more of a class/group motivated person, Crossfit is the only one I can think of that has women using some heavy weights.

I was a runner for many years so I started out with good cardio endurance. Then I started doing body weight stuff, jumping, chin ups the park, push ups. I started using a set of 20 pound dumbbells at home. I made progress with that for a few months before I felt the need to join a gym and have access to some heavier weights.

Since I already have a decent level of cardio fitness, I'm focused on learning technique in the basic lifts now and loving it, but I think up front I would have been intimidated by the 45 pound bar in the squat rack - that's 40% of my body weight!


No. Don't waste your time with dumbbells. Dumbbells are for the advanced. Barbell is the basic. If she's not ready for a 45lb barbell then get a broomstick. Doing Squats and Good-Mornings with just a broomstick is one of the best ways de-conditioned people can build up flexibility and strength. She should start learning how to Squat right away, even if that means using a broomstick.

"Some form of starting strength with mainly bodyweight" isn't starting strength at all. Starting strength is Squatting 3 times a week and doing some cleans, presses, and deadlfits. NO body-weight stuff. No cardio. No assistance.

You'll pretty much never see Crossfitters use Dumbbells these days. If you're going to Crossfit there's already so much to learn in the way of gymnastics, weightlifting, powerlifting, rowing, etc that you shouldn't waste your time tracking Dumbbell Curl PRs.

Yoga and Pilates suck. Pilates was made by the French to rehabilitate bedridden, injured soldiers. Check out the Mobility WOD for improving mobility. But mobility will largely be improved if she just starts squatting, picking stuff up, and putting it over her head.

Don't dip her toes into something that's maybe kinda getting her ready to start trying something like crossfit in a few weeks. Just pick something and dive in. I would recommend you send her to a Crossfit Gym. There are thousands all over the country so there is probably one near you. She doesn't need to be in fantastic shape to start going to classes at one.


Crossed Up By Crossfit:

The Truth About Crossfit:


Fucking son of a bitch. Thanks for making me laugh in class


Ummmm....contrary to what Fighting Scott says, actually, there are a few of us on here who know plenty about Crossfit. I'm Level One certified, and there are plenty of others around here who are, too.

Glassman himself taught the programming portion of the seminar I went to, and it really ain't all that complicated...

Exercises are divided into three categories:

  1. strength exercises (most of your barbell / dumbell / kettlebell exercises)
  2. gymnastic exercises (push ups, sit ups, burpees, etc)
  3. aerobic type exercises (running / sprinting / jumping rope, etc)

You then mix and match based on your desires. You can just pick one exercise from a group and focus on that (i.e. max out on back aquats), pick an exercise from two groups and blend them together (i.e. Fran), or all three groups. It's only limited by your imagination.

I would propose to you, however, that the randomness might be a little bit alien to your g/f. Most people like a little bit of order in their programming, at least to see how they're doing compared to when they started.

If she's gonna go the Crossfit route, best to have her just go to a Crossfit gym. Other locations may not approve of their methods.


At my gym, the weight floor is pretty much a bunch of guys. Some women on the Hoist machines but very few venture over to the benches and squat racks. That's awkward - Kinda how most of you men might feel in the Zumba class!

Crossfit does introduce women to weight lifting. I see that as a positive over the yoga - pilates - meet your friends for tennis and do lunch crowd.

The crazy grueling workouts don't appeal to me personally. I'm not a masochist. I'm focused on building a foundation and learning proper technique in all the fundamentals. The endurance/cardio part does have an appeal; but I already know how to do that. I don't need to attend an expensive class to get my heart rate up.


OP, my girlfriend and I seem like we are in a similar situation. I myself have dabbled in Crossfit, mainly because I love the challenges against the clock, and the heavy duty conditioning it provides. But alas, I will always be a man of the iron.

I had her start out by doing this 16 day beginner Crossfit program -->http://michaelashcroft.net/2009/04/19/16-days-of-beginner-crossfit-wokouts-you-can-do-from-home/

Very, very basic stuff. Little challenges each day, and introduces the beginner to Crossfit style timing, and a few easy exercises. All days can be done from home (no weights involved).

As its been said by FightingScott, start workouts working on the things you need work on, or something challenging. And some sort of heavy lifting. Most Crossfit workouts are actually 3 parts: Warm up, lifting something heavy (squats, bench, etc.) and then the WOD.

One of the best ways I introduce it to my clients (as well as my GF) is to have her do some of the Crossfit Kids workouts. They are right on the main page, and are much more basic. Every WOD has a video too, which helps. Some are geared towards the young (one foot hops, forward rolls) but some are geared towards the advanced (snatches/cleans with a light BB, Broad/Box jumps, burpees). The Crossfit Kids workouts are broken up into 4 categories based on a combination of age and level of experience for each kid. They are: Big Dawgs, Porch, Pack, and Puppies. Big Dawgs being the most advanced, look at each one's requirements for the WOD and try to pick one that works and go for it.

I think Crossfit is great, although I don't do it. I think it's even greater for females. Gives them a lean physique, with a nice back, glutes, legs and mid-section. Sounds pretty good to me. I think most on T-Nation would agree, a female of Crossfit has a damn nice bod.


Just for information here - The Crossfit gyms in my area costs about $165 per month. This is California so your mileage may vary.

If you want to see an impressive woman who does Crossfit, google Jaquelyn Kay. You can see pictures of her competing on her Bodyspace page. I do think she got her start doing traditional weight lifting and Olympic lifting.


To the OP:

A good CrossFit affiliate will offer some type of an on-ramp program to familiarize the average person with the fundamental lifts and require this course be completed if competency cannot be demonstrated in the fundamentals. This allows the trainee to both "jump right in" to the gym and, at the same time, ease their way into the CrossFit style of training. This would probably be ideal for your friend.

In my opinion, any solid CF affiliate should make strength and mobility (typically in that order) their priorities for their new athletes as these things tend to have the greatest carryover to all the uncommon exercises that CF uses.

For all the hate that CF gets, I'll go ahead and throw in that I've made the best strength and O-lift gains of my life since joining a CF affiliate 9 months ago. I atribute this to quality coaching and programming (not the CF main site programming) and a solid atmosphere in the gym (i.e. nobody doing curls in the squat rack with a popped collar while talking on their cellphone and no funny looks when you deadlift or put 200+ pounds overhead)