If you’re new to CrossFit, the last workout you want to be faced with is a suffer-fest of Pull-ups and Thrusters! I’ve picked out some beginner-friendly exercises and programmed them in such a way that you’ll be eased in gently, at your own pace. I’ve included a ton of scaling options to meet you where you’re at, and give you an idea of just how scalable the sport of fitness is.
Most of them can also be completed at home, so if you want an intro to CrossFit before you actually step into a Box, I recommend working your way through a few of these first to familiarize yourself with some common movements.
The Workouts, Briefings, Demos and Scaling Options
1. 10 Minutes of Burpees. Complete 8 Air Squats at the beginning of each minute.
Workout Brief: Try to complete this workout at a sustained pace, i.e. go at a pace you know you can maintain for 10 minutes. A good way to do this is complete the first set of burpees at a comfortable pace, stopping short of failure, then repeating that same number each minute.
Scaling Options: If you struggle with the Air Squats, you can make them less challenging by squatting to a target like a chair or box. For burpees, choose a variation which is achievable for you - either by removing the chest to floor component (just jump your feet out and in without bringing your chest down to floor) or alternatively stepping out and in will also make it less challenging.
Level Up: Grab a weight - kettlebell or heavy household object and complete the squats with the weight in front of your chest (Goblet Squat).
2. 8 Push Ups, 8 Lunges (each leg), 8 Ring Rows. Rest 1:00. 5 Rounds.
Workout Brief: This is a strength workout, using different muscle groups, so you’ll get a chance to recover between sets. This one is not ‘For Time’ so no need to rush it, but choose a variation you can complete unbroken sets of, if possible.
Scaling Options: Push ups can be completed on your knees to make them easier. Struggling with lunges? Try subbing them out for box step ups. And if you don’t happen to have a set of rings, swap out those ring rows for a reverse plank hold of 30s.
Level Up: Add weight to the lunges and perform pull-ups instead of ring rows!
3. 3 Rounds for Total Reps:
> 1 minute of Wall Ball Shots
> 1 minute of Sumo Deadlift High Pulls
> 1 minute of Box Jumps
> 1 minute of Push Press
> 1 minute of Row (calories)
> 1 minute Rest
Workout Brief: This is a classic CrossFit Benchmark workout, but I’m going to give you some options for completing it at home, with little equipment. So if you have a barbell, a wall ball, a box and a rower, crack on. If not, here are some substitutions you can make;
Wall Ball Shots - Thrusters (KB) or Air Squats
Sumo Deadlift High Pulls - Same movement but with kettlebell or weighted backpack
Box Jumps - Jump Overs (something around mid-shin to knee height is perfect)
Push Press - Use a kettlebell and switch sides half way through or complete Push-ups instead
Row - Shuttle runs! (sorry)
4. Death by… Burpees
This one is simple (but not easy!). Minute 1, complete 1 Burpee and rest for the remainder of that minute. Minute 2, 2 Burpees. And so on, until you can’t complete the required number of Burpees in a given minute. This is a great workout to repeat in several months time to gauge improvement in fitness - so keep a note of your score!
Scaling Options: Use any variation of Burpee you want (step out/in, no push up etc)
Level Up: Trust me, you won’t need to!
5. 30 Minutes at a Sustained Pace:
> 5 Push Ups
> 10 Sit Ups
> 15 Alt. Lunges
> 30s Side Plank (each side)
400m Run (or around 2:00 of running)
Workout Brief: This is a longer workout and so we’re looking for a more sustained pace; aim to finish each round in roughly the same amount of time so no going out too hot!
Scaling Options: Push Ups can be completed from your knees or elevating your hands. If Sit Ups are problematic you can reduce the range of motion to complete a crunch. Lunges can be swapped out for step ups and drop to your knees for the side plank if it’s too challenging. Take the run as easy as you need to; for some a brisk walk will be enough.
6. Tabata Hollow Rocks
Workout Brief: This one is quick but spicy! Tabata workouts in fitness typically consist of 20s work followed by 10s rest for 8 rounds (4 Minutes total).
Scaling Options: You can modify the Hollow Rock to a Deadbug (below).
Level Up: Try adding a second Tabata and alternate each round with Push Ups!
> Double Unders
> Sit Ups
Workout Brief: Based on another CrossFit benchmark workout but with the reps scaled back slightly. Complete 30 Double Unders before moving on to 30 Sit Ups, then 25 of each and so on.
Scaling Options: If you’re new to CrossFit, chances are you don’t even know what a Double Under is (jumping rope with the rope going under your feet twice for every one jump)! Worry not, I have a couple options for you. You can either pick up your jump rope and go for regular skipping to get used to the movement, or you can work on coordination with a drill I coined ‘Penguin Clap’. No need for ropes either; simply tap your sides twice on every jump, being mindful to tap while your feet are off the ground to simulate the rope going round twice.
Level Up: If you're feeling confident about this one, go for full ‘Annie’; rep scheme is 50-40-30-20-10
8. Chipper: (For Time)
> 50 Calorie Bike
> 40 Kettlebell Swings
> 30 Alternating Lunges
> 20 Push Ups
> 10 Single Arm Thrusters (each side)
Workout Brief: A chipper is a workout in which each movement is performed once (as opposed to rounds) and usually for time. You can break up your sets if need be, but try to keep rest periods short and consistent.
Scaling Options: If you don’t have a bike, you can use any erg or alternatively you can run for around 4 minutes. Lunges and Push Ups can be scaled as before. Reps can also be reduced if a particular movement is causing you to break sets too much.
Level Up: Not hard enough? Add your kettlebell to the Lunges, in an overhead position, remembering to swap arms halfway through the set.
9. 3 Rounds:
> 400m Run
> 21 Deadlifts
> 12 Ring Rows
Workout Brief: Try to use a weight/modification that allows you to complete the reps unbroken.
Scaling Options: If you're not confident with Deadlifts, swap this movement out for a Kettlebell Swing. The difficulty of Ring Rows can be reduced by walking your feet further back in your starting position. If it's the running that will cause you problems, just reduce the distance by up to half.
Level Up: If you can do Kipping Pull-ups already, do those instead of Ring Rows!
10. 10min AMRAP of Your Favorite Movement from the Workouts Above
EMOM 5 Reps of Your least Favorite Movement from the Workouts Above
Workout Brief: By now you should have a fair idea of the functional fitness movements you enjoy - and which you don't! Spend 10 minutes on your favourites, racking up as many reps as you can manage, with the caveat that you complete 5 reps of your least favorite at the start of every minute 😉
Next Steps - Once you've completed our 10 Best Workouts for Beginners...
If you aren’t already a member of a CrossFit Box, it's never too late to work on your fitness! Most good CrossFit gyms offer a course or service to ease you in gently to classes so that you’re totally comfortable with the movements and get used to all the acronyms we tend to throw around!
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