How to Stay Safe as a CrossFit Beginner

by Coach Chris

Yesterday was all the misinformation spread about CrossFit and how the NSCA has been ordered to pay $4 million in sanctions for making up data that suggests CrossFit is inherently dangerous.

Today, I’ll talk about some things to consider when starting CrossFit to stay safe and still get a good workout in.

The biggest mistake beginners can make when starting any workout routine is thinking that they need to be doing the same thing as more experienced people are doing. A newbie sees a fit individual deadlifting 300 lbs. and thinks that’s exactly what they should be doing to get fit. 

That’s like watching Nascar and thinking a new teenage driver should drive like that.

The best thing beginners should focus on is Mechanics – namely, how to do something. This goes for everything from lifting weights to running. We often see people coming in with very poor running technique and it’s no wonder that their knees are screaming after a simple warm-up jog.

Takeaway: As a beginner, the biggest thing to look for are coaches who take the time to teach movement in class.

The next thing someone should focus on is the Consistency – can you come in and show you know the Mechanics rep after rep? Can you do it with good form even while fatigued?

Takeaway: As a beginner, the biggest thing to look for is a coach encouraging you to use good form day to day and only progress when the form still looks good. You also want someone that will walk around during a workout and give you cues to fix your form.

The third step is Intensity and it’s the one where people try to skip to too soon. They put on too much weight or try to sprint too hard. Knowing the right intensity takes experience, so patience is key here.

Takeaway: Keep your eyes on your own paper and play the long game. Prioritize Mechanics and Consistency and remember that Intensity is relative.

At CrossFit Kanna, we use the Level Method system to make sure our members are doing the appropriate intensity no matter where they are in their fitness journey. We’re the only gym in Pennsylvania to use this color system for fitness much like how martial arts uses colors to determine who is a beginner vs. intermediate vs. advanced.

By using the Level Method, each of our members will be given a different version of the workout that corresponds to the appropriate intensity for them. So while squats might be the focus of a workout, a White belt would be given a 13# kettlebell to squat with while an Orange belt would be using a 65# barbell and a Brown belt would be using a 135# barbell.

We love this because it decreases intimidation for beginners, but also doesn’t put an upper limit on experienced members. It also gives members a roadmap in terms of how to progress and what to focus on next to get better.

By focusing on Mechanics, Consistency, and Intensity in that order, you’ll make better long-term progress and stay safe doing so.

P.S. I interviewed Nathan Holiday, founder of the Level Method, on our podcast. Here’s the link (we’re also on Spotify and iTunes)

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