Master the squat: All of CrossFit’s cornerstone exercises are built on the basic body-weight squat— or “air squat.” “Too often, people jump into CrossFit and want to snatch their faces off,” says Jason Schroeder, co-owner of Brazen Athletics, a CrossFit gym in Passaic, NJ. “But if they CrossFit focus on getting the air squat perfected, it translates to success in every move.” Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, toes turned slightly out. Sit back until the crease of your hips is below your knees. Your knees should be aligned with your toes and your lower back in its natural arch. Schroeder recommends practicing these facing a wall so that you learn to sit back properly (if you don’t, your knees will bump the wall before you’re in the bottom position). Do 10 sets of five reps like this.
Lift like an Olympian: Schroeder prefers to use the Olympic lifts to build coordination, agility, and power in his clients. “Snatching and jerking your body weight will teach you to maneuver your feet.” Proper form will help you progress, so when you’re not doing them in your CrossFit WODs, practice the exercises at home with a five-foot PVC pipe. The pipe—or any light bar—simulates a bar- bell, so you can ingrain good technique.
Here’s a snatch-and-jerk mini WOD from Schroeder:
10 sets of 5 snatch drops; 60 seconds’ rest between sets
10 sets of 5 snatch bal- ances; 60 seconds’ rest
10 sets of split jerks; 60 seconds’ rest
If you do CrossFit regularly, we assume the split jerk is familiar to you. The snatch drop and snatch balance may not be. The snatch drop begins in a standing position with your feet about hip-width apart and the bar held behind your head, as in a squat, although with a wide snatch grip. Immediately jump your feet out to your squat stance and drop into a full squat while pressing the bar up explosively. You’ll finish in the bottom of a full snatch. The snatch balance works the same way but you’ll get momentum from the knees first. Dip your knees and explosively extend them to power the bar up.
Condition yourself: Athletes with backgrounds in aerobic exercise generally have trouble acclimating to the conditioning demands of WODs. That’s because the endurance component in CrossFit is more anaerobic in nature. Below is a stamina- building circuit that Schroeder created.
4 sets of 400-meter sprints; 60 seconds’ rest between sets
10 sets of 40-meter sprints; 10 seconds’ rest
4 sets of 250-meter rows; 60 seconds’ rest
10 sets of 30 jump- rope double unders; 30 seconds’ rest