Monthly Archives: April 2017

20 Tips to Get Toned Arms Faster

Change Your Grip

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Your biceps are the strongest of all arm muscles and make a great curve just above the elbow. Make sure to perform bicep curls with three hand positions: palms up, palms down, and thumbs to the side. Perform 12 repetitions to the front and then 12 repetitions of each to the side.

Get on the Ball

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The stability ball will engage your core and amplify the results you get from chest exercises. It’s important to work the chest muscles when sculpting the arms to create stability for the shoulder joint. Try the single-arm chest fly on the ball: Start you’re your shoulders on the ball, hips lifted, and both hands over your chest holding light weights. Slowly lower one arm extended to the side, pause, and return to center. Perform 15 repetitions on each arm.

Park It

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Tone those arms while you’re sitting in traffic! Simply place your palms on the steering wheel at 3 and 9 and press them inward to strengthen the chest. Then, place your hands inside the wheel and press outward to tone your rear delts. Try to hold these squeezes for 10-20 seconds and repeat as often as you can. The person in the car next to you won’t even notice.

Channel Tarzan and Jane

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Swinging across the monkey bars isn’t just for kids. It’s a great way to shape up those arms. Try to climb across and back for 2-3 minutes. This works all the muscles around your shoulders. Pull-ups are always a no brainer at the park, and to really challenge yourself, try a wide grip hang for as long as you can.

Pool Press

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No one can argue Dara Torres has great arms. Swimming freestyle or butterfly are great exercises. But if you can’t swim (or don’t like the monotony of laps), try these exercises:

Deck press: Start in the shallow end of the pool (about 3-4′ depth) and place your hands on the side with arms bent. Press your arms straight and lift your body to hang along the edge then lower to return to the water. Try not to use your legs and jump but really focus on using your arm strength. Perform 15 repetitions.
Water fly: Standing in shoulder depth water, place your arms to side, thumbs up. Keep fingers closed together and arms straight as you push the water to bring arms closed in front of you. Turn your thumbs down and press your arms back to starting position. Perform 15 repetitions. This exercise works both chest and rear delts.

Cut the Delt

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Your deltoids surround your shoulder and have three specific muscles: anterior delt, medial, and rear. To really shape your shoulders, you must hit all three of these areas. Try your alphabet T, U, V’s to tone this area:

T raises (pictured here) hit your medial delt. Do 15 arm raises to the side and then hold the last one for 30 seconds. Lower and repeat the set.

U raises are a forward push extending the elbow overhead. Perform 40 overhead presses with light weights.

V raises are done on a bench lying face down. Start with hands together at the bottom in front of the bench and raise up to a wide position. Perform 15 repetitions and then hold the last one for 30 seconds. Lower then repeat the set.

Row, Tow, Tone Your Arms

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Rowing a boat can give you spectacular arms, but since most of us don’t have access to water (or a row boat), simulate this exercise in the gym with an Olympic bar (the long bar you use to bench press). Stand with the bar between your legs and pick up only one end. Walk backwards until your about in the middle of the bar. In a slightly bent forward position, bend your arms to bring the bar closer to your body and then extend it in a rowing motion. Perform 20 rows. For even more arm toning, start in the same position and circle the bar 10 times clockwise and then 10 times counter-clockwise as if you were stirring a big pot of soup from both an upright position and a bent over one.

Prep for Sleeveless Tops with Yoga

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Yoga is great for increasing flexibility but it also helps tone and shape your arms. The best postures: Downward dog (Adho Mukho Svanasan) and Side Plank (Vasisthasana).

Downward Dog: Start standing and bend over from the waist. Walk both hands forward until your hips are high. Press your heels into the floor and relax your shoulders. Hold for 3-5 breaths then walk hands forward to plank position.

Side Plank: From plank position, lift your right arm towards the sky, pressing into the edge of your left foot as you rotate hips and stack your feet. Hold for 3-5 breaths. Return to center plank and repeat on the other side.

Plank It on Paper

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Standard planks are a great way to strengthen your arms and core, but to really take your arm toning up a notch, place one hand on a paper plate. Keeping your arms straight (and both feet planted shoulder-width apart), circle the plate ten times clockwise and ten times counter-clockwise. Switch arms and repeat.

Say Good Bi -Cep

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Target your biceps to get sexy, sleek arms. Start sitting on a ball with hips low so that your back and the backs of your arms are supported by the ball. Perform bicep curls using a ten count up and ten count down timing. Perform as many repetitions as you can until fatigue sets in. Next, turn your arms out to the side and repeat the “targeted” slow curls.

Try New Triceps Toners

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Combine traditional triceps toners with long-extend moves like ball overhead reaches: Start with your shoulders and head on the ball, hips lifted, and hands over your chest. Bend at your elbows and slowly lower your hands back over your head (until your arms form a 90-degree angle). Pause and return to start. Beginners can push hands together while advanced may keep arms apart. Perform 15-20 repetitions, holding the last lift for 10 seconds at 45 degrees.

Part two: From the final 45-degree position, bend and extend your arms for a traditional triceps extension. Perform 15 repetitions and then bring hands back to chest. Repeat the set.

Sit Down to Tone Up

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Sitting on a Swiss ball strengthens your core and improves posture. Try these simple moves to tone your triceps and shoulders while you boost core strength and balance:

Seated ball triceps: Sit tall on the ball with your arms overhead. Beginners may place hands together, while advanced can keep arms apart. Bending at the elbows, reach behind your head and extend back to the top. Perform 20-30 repetitions with light weights.

Mini lift: Start sitting on the ball with your arms extending at chest height. Your hands should be together, back of wrists touching and thumbs pointing down. Lift arms from chest to eye height for 20-30 repetitions with light weights, keeping your shoulders relaxed and down the entire time.

Stay Lean with Cardio

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Burning calories is key to having a sleek, toned body. Walking on an incline of ten percent or more can be intense, but try leaning forward and holding on to the handrails to incorporate an arm workout in your 30-45 minute trek.

Remember the Small Stuff

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Your rotator cuff muscles may be small, but they’re still an important part of stabilizing and shaping your shoulders. Try seated external rotation with tubing or free weights twice a week to tone and prevent injuries. Start sitting with your arm bent in a 90-degree angle to the side, upper arm parallel to the ground. Without changing the bend in your arm, slowly lower the weight forward to 90 degrees and return to top. Perform 12-15 repetitions with light weights and repeat on the other side.

Don’t Forget to Stretch

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Resistance training is great for building strength, but stretching is essential for keeping your joints moving freely. Stretch your triceps by reaching one arm up and then behind your head, aiming for the middle of your back. Gently press on the elbow with the other hand and hold for 10-30 seconds and repeat on the other side. Another great stretch:

Side neck stretch: Lean your right ear to your right shoulder, pressing with the right hand on the top of your head. Keep left shoulder down by reaching toward the ground. Hold for 10-30 seconds and repeat on the other side.

Travel with the Band

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You can get an amazing workout with a resistance band, and it fits into any suitcase! Use this quick workout when you’re on the road to keep those arms tight and toned:

Side tricep press: Start with the band across your chest with arms bent. Squeeze your shoulder blades together to keep your arms in place and extend one arm out to the side. Return to center. Perform 15-20 repetitions on the right and then repeat on the left.

Wide Ts: Hold one end of the resistance band in each hand and extend your arms at shoulder height in front of you. Squeezing from the upper middle back open both arms out to the side, forming a T with your body. Hold for 10 seconds and slowly return to center. Perform 12-15 repetitions.

Arm raises: Start with tubing secured by your left hip with your right hand and slowly raise left hand forward to shoulder height.  Hold for 10 seconds and slowly return to center. Perform 12-15 repetitions.

Circle Up the Shoulder

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Release the muscles surrounding your shoulder to help relieve sore muscles and neck pain. Hold a medium weight in your right hand in a forward bend position supported by the left arm. Relax the shoulders and slowly circle the weight from big to smaller circles. Repeat in the opposite direction from small circles to bigger. Repeat on the other side.

Do Pilates for Perfect Posture

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Standing Pilates moves are great for your posture. They’re best done with resistance bands or tubing, but you’ll still benefit without equipment.

Pilates pulses: Start with tubing in front of chest and one arm stationary. Extend the other arm out to the side and do 20 pulses with each of the following hand positions. Palm down, palm up, and thumb up. Keeping your arms extended with tall Pilates posture the entire time.

Embrace Kettlebell Training

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Kettlebell training uses acceleration and deceleration to generate more muscle tone faster. The swinging motion should always be controlled for safety and better muscle building. Try this cross curtsy row, which works the arms and lower body in one smooth step: Holding the kettlebell in your left hand, step back into a curtsy with your left leg and reach across and down with left hand. Stand back up with left foot to side and pull the kettlebell up and across the body. Perform 20 repetitions on each side.

Sit Fit

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Sitting at your desk all day can be an opportunity to tone those arms. Keeping your legs lifted, roll your chair towards and away from your desk. This helps tone the lats and biceps, which surround the shoulder. Or pick up your laptop and raise it up and to the side. This targets the delts and obliques-a two-for-one exercise. Perform 20 lifts to each corner.


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Regular workout clothes and some athletic shoes are all you need to get started. Essentially anything you’re comfortable moving in. I typically wear workout shorts or tights and a tighter-fitting tank top or t-shirt. Most days, I don’t use any extra gear except maybe my lifting shoes.

I like my workout clothes to be tight enough that they stay in place while I’m training but not so tight that I don’t feel comfortable. When you arrive to your first class you might see women wearing minimal clothing, guys with their shirts off and a myriad of knee socks, wrist wraps and weight belts. Don’t worry about that. Wear whatever you feel like. Anything works.

As for gear, there really isn’t anything you need to do CrossFit. There is absolutely no special clothing you need to get an awesome workout and start seeing improvements. Your box will have the equipment needed to complete the workouts and from there, it’s all just extras and accessories you can discover as you progress in your CrossFit journey.


When I first started CrossFit, even though I loved it right off the bat, I didn’t feel comfortable enough to call myself a “CrossFitter.” But wait, why not? I was there day after day, doing the WODs just like everyone else. If you’re there and you’re loving it, don’t be afraid to show it, talk the talk and be proud of your accomplishments, no matter how large or small! You’re a “CrossFitter” as soon as you start.


Don’t know what an AMRAP is? A 1 RM? How about an EMOM or T2B? Don’t worry about it! CrossFit has weird terminology. Whether it’s about the use of acronyms, the upcoming workout or foot placement during a squat, ask your coach or a more experience athlete for clarification, they’ll be happy to answer your questions.


Don’t rush adding weights to your lifts before you’ve really got your form down pat. It’s better to form good habits and get your technique down at a lower weight before you start piling plates on the bar. If you start increasing weights before your form has had a chance to improve you could start developing habits that will be harder to change later on. And as tempting as adding a few more plates to the bar can be, I don’t typically go beyond what I can perform with decent form, but that’s just a personal preference. As always, listen to your body and do what you feel comfortable with.



Just keep going. If you’re enjoying it, give yourself at least 3 months before you decide if it’s for you or not. Be patient. Results take time but if you’re consistent, they absolutely will come. The exciting thing as a beginner is that results come fairly quickly, even in 30 days you can really see a difference in your strength and overall fitness.

If you commit to a year of consistent training, it’s amazing what you can achieve. I think 2-4 classes a week is a realistic for beginners, depending on your level of fitness when you start. It may take a while for your body to get used to training at that intensity, so at the beginning you might need more recovery time between training days.

Depending on your athletic ability when you start it can take years to acheive quality RX movements and weights across the board. Like I said, be patient and just keep going.


What is a double under you may ask? A double under is skipping while swinging the rope under your feet twice with each skip.

In my very first official CrossFit class, the WOD was made up of a ton of double unders, of which I couldn’t do a single one. Oh, the frustration, the whip marks. Ughhhh. I tried with all my might to get that skipping rope under my feet twice with each skip but it just wasn’t happening. All the while I was tensing up what seemed to be every single muscle in my body, trying way to hard and completely exhausting myself.

I couldn’t progress in the workout because I couldn’t get past the double unders. So I started practicing. I practiced until I could do 10, then 20, then 50 and now, I can do over 100 unbroken. For the first little while, they killed me. I’d have to rest after 10 or 20 because I found them to be so physically exhausting. I kept practicing. Now I can fly though them and move on without rest. My body adapted, my technique improved and now I actually get excited when I seem them in a WOD! Practice them, you’ll improve and it will make for a much better experience when double unders pop up in a WOD.

I’d recommend purchasing your own speed rope that’s properly sized for your height, that way you can practice anytime and not have to scramble to find a suitable loaner rope pre-WOD. You don’t have to shell out for a fancy one either. You can get a decent double under rope for around $15, while if you want to doll out a little more, you can spend as much as $50.


The “RX” used in CrossFit WODs is simply the “prescribed,” or recommend weights or standards for any particular workout. If you’re just starting out, simply use it as a point of reference for choosing your weights. Do what is best for you, on any given day. You’ll get the most out of the WODs if you can move through them quickly and efficiently with proper form.

Even the more experienced CrossFitters will sometimes scale workouts. Things change day to day and there are a lot of factors than can affect your abilities on a daily basis. Know that you don’t always have to lift the heaviest weights to get a great workout.

If you have a good coach, they’ll want you to choose the appropriate weight for you on any given day and should help you determine where you should work if you’re unsure. As for exercise standards, those are always scalable too. Pull-ups, push-ups, box jumps – they all have modifications for beginners. Choose what you know will be challenge but is also realistic and safe.


The Olympic lifts are the snatch and the clean and jerk, which are two different methods of moving a barbell from the ground to overhead. If you’ve never done them before they can be awkward and a honestly, a little scary.

I don’t think the time you spend on them in class is quite enough to get it down if you’re new to it. If you want to progress faster and make your WODs safer and more effective when Olympic lifts are included, I’d recommend working with a coach 1-on-1 or taking an Olympic lifting-specific course or seminar to get some extra help.

I’ve found lifting shoes to really help too, I’d recommend Nike Romaleos or Reebok Lifters.


This is particularly true if you’re newer working out all together. You’re probably going to be crazy sore, some workouts still leave me sore for days on end. Sometimes you will curse the day you ever stepped into your box. Sometimes it’s really hard but you start to love that about it and you always feel awesome after you’re done.

I’ve noticed that my mental toughness has improved leaps and bounds since starting CrossFit. Where I used to give up, I’m more often able to ignore my screaming body and push through when I want to stop. You get stronger, both mentally and physically, you get better at things you used to suck at and you actually start to enjoy it even on the days you know it’s gonna be brutal.


One of the hardest things for me at the beginning was simply just hanging off a bar. This made pull-ups and toes to bar really difficult because my grip was so weak and I could only hold on for a few seconds. It takes a bit of work to build those muscles up if you haven’t done it much before. Depending on your level of fitness, start practicing a dead hang off the bar for about 10 seconds and then build up from there. Try building up to a few sets of 30-60 seconds before or after classes.

Practice often and you’ll be surprised how quickly your grip strength, shoulders and lats will adapt to supporting your bodyweight. It will make a huge difference as you begin to progress into pull-ups and other gymnastic-based movements, as well as gripping the bar during Olympic lifts.


There’s no getting around the fact that burpees suck, for everyone. But if you do them more often, they’ll suck a little less and eventually you won’t want to cry when you 60 burpees in your next WOD.

Burpees require strength and conditioning and are one of the best exercises out there for improving both those of these elements. Practice. Do more of them, even if you despise them to the core of your being, just keep at it. We’ll suffer together.

17 Bits of Advice for CrossFit Beginners - Don't put if off any longer and don't be scared! Get started today.Save

12. Ego a no-no.

There just isn’t room for an ego at CrossFit, if there was, there would be a whole lot more injuries going around. Do your best. Listen to your body and don’t compare yourself to someone that’s been training for years. Instead, let them be your inspiration!

Guys, there are going to be women who are stronger and faster than you. Get over it. In your 20’s? Guaranteed there will be a 40 or 50 year old who can kick your butt. Deal. This is one of the reasons why CrossFit is so motivating, and humbling. Work hard and push yourself but always leave your ego at the door.


This pretty much goes for anything in life, doesn’t it though? You want something, you work for it. There isn’t really any way around that, but it is possible. You can achieve anything you want at CrossFit, if you work hard, be consistent and put in the work. Work on your weaknesses before and after class and just keep at it. You will get there.

If there is one particular area where you want to see improvement, work with a coach or even just look online to develop a plan. There are many online resources for improving your handstands, pull-ups, ring dips, or whatever it may be. A little extra work will go a long way.


Your box will have evil mobility and stretching devices like foam rollers, bands and balls. Use them. Work on your tight spots. It will make a world of difference your training and recovery. See a RMT or physio if you’re unsure of where to start or check out MobilityWOD for some programs and exercises.

New (and some seasoned!) CrossFitters typically have limited mobility in the ankles, hips and shoulders. A quick Google of shoulder mobility or hip mobility exercises will point you in the right direction. It doesn’t take much to improve your mobility either, 5-10 minutes a day should do the trick. I’d recommend picking up a foam roller and a few tennis or lacrosse balls for home and using them while watching TV.


I’m not sure how things will be at your box, but coming into mine can be definitely be intimidating at times. Especially if you’re new to that type of gym and style of working out. You won’t know anybody, people will be crashing and banging on the platforms, women and men doing muscle-ups, there may be 6-packs all over the place. Good lord. Haha.

Yes, it can be a little intense sometimes. But there will be other beginners, you’ll get to know people and make friends, the coaches and other members will help you out if you need it. Before you know it you’ll be part of a positive, inspiring community that will help you grow as an athlete. Because yes, you are an athlete. We all are.


Realistically, you’re probably not going to be the next Games competitor so don’t beat yourself up if you have a bad day or week, that happens. No worries, always keep persecutive and just move on. It’s supposed to make you happy! Spend as much or as little time with as you want too and refer back to tip #12. The most important thing is to have fun and enjoy what you’re doing, otherwise there isn’t really much point, is there?


I put off joining for so long (as in 5 years!!) and I only wish I’d started early. I thought it was too expensive, I was a little scared, I didn’t know if I could do it….excuses, excuses…If you’ve been humming and hawing for longer than you like, just take take the first step and do it already! Your gym should offer some sort of program for beginners that will prep you to join the regular classes. Start with that and go from there. Chances are you’re absolutely going to love it.

12 Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting CrossFit

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Walk into any box (that’s CrossFit speak for the gym itself) and you’ll be greeted by clanging weights, clouds of chalk and whiteboards scribbled with acronyms like “AMRAP” and “EMOM.” With insider speak that almost qualifies as its own language and raw, rough-around-the-edges spaces, CrossFit can definitely be intimidating to try. And even though many of the 10,000 affiliate gyms offer your first workout free, beginners may still feel overwhelmed by the culture of the popular strength and conditioning program.

So what should you really expect if and when you dive into the world of CrossFit? We turned to five athletes who’ve sweated through years of WODs (aka workouts of the day) for the advice they wish they’d gotten when they first started.

12 CrossFit Tips Top Athletes Wish They Knew Before Starting

1. No two boxes are alike.
“Each culture, coach and [workout] space is very different,” says Anna Willard, a CrossFit athlete at CrossFit Merrimack in Lowell, MA, as well as a former professional middle-distance runner. (She snagged a world record in the steeplechase in 2008, but no longer competes.) She recommends trying out a couple of different boxes before committing yourself — and your credit card — to one. “Don’t necessarily go to the place that is the most ‘convenient,’” Willard says. Look for that one gym that’ll keep you coming back — so take note of each box’s programming (aka the structure of workouts) and study the overall vibe of the community before ponying up for a package.

2. Don’t believe the stereotypes.
Tina Haupert, a CrossFit Level 1 trainer, thought all boxes were dark, dingy rooms with super-chiseled athletes grunting and yelling. However, she was pleased to realize just how wrong all of her assumptions were: “My first class was full of women just like me,” she says. They weren’t all crazy-ripped — just casual exercisers looking for a challenge. So don’t let that gritty rep get to you.

“No matter your past athletic achievements, you’ve got to have a beginner mindset.”

3. Confidence is key.
Real talk: Even professional CrossFitters weren’t snatching tons of weight during their first WODs. Christmas Abbott, a CrossFit pro herself and author of The Badass Body Diet, wishes she was more self-assured when she first started out. “The intensity can shock you and make you believe that you can’t do it, or that it’s too hard,” says Abbott, so she took on the mindset of faking it ‘til you make it. “Hush that self-doubt in the back of your head,” she advises. “Know that you’ve accomplished so much already from just your willingness to do the workout.”

4. But make sure to keep your ego in check.
Leave any previous athletic accomplishments at the door: No matter your past athletic achievements, you’ve got to have a beginner mindset. Even though Willard was a professional runner, she wasn’t ready to bust out thrusters and squats like a CrossFit vet when she first stepped in a box. “I was decently strong and very aerobically fit,” she says, “but I was a very specialized athlete.” And since CrossFit requires all kind of athleticism, Willard had to swallow her pride, have patience and put in a lot of hard work. “There were (and are!) a lot of gaps in my abilities and it took me nearly six months before I could complete a workout as prescribed,” she says. So if a former Olympic runner can check herself, you should, too.

5. The day’s Rx isn’t a must-follow prescription.
“The Rx, or prescribed weights, reps and time for a workout, are very challenging and should not be attempted until you’ve been CrossFitting for a while,” says Brett Hoebel, celebrity trainer and author of The 20-Minute Body. It’s OK to go slow to really focus on the quality of your movements, notes Abbott. “Everyone is different; take what you need out of the workout for yourself,” she says. Prefer to modify push-ups or burpees? Do it. ‘Cause you do you.

6. In fact, the whole experience is customizable.
Haupert swears you don’t need to be elite status to jump right in once you’ve completed your foundation coursework. “All of the movements are scalable, so even someone just starting out can work out alongside someone who has done it for years…and both people will get an awesome workout,” she says. Just like the day’s Rx, your entire CrossFit experience can be adjusted to whatever fitness level you’re currently at — no judgments.

7. Prioritize mobility before every WOD.
Don’t shirk the dynamic mobility warm-up at the top of each workout. In fact, your performance depends on it: Many of the foundational movements in CrossFit, like squats and pull-ups, require good form, which in turn requires superior ankle, hips and shoulder mobility. “I grew up competing and playing a variety of sports, but still never gave mobility the respect it deserved until I started CrossFit,” says Shane Winsor, an athlete at CrossFit Cadence in Los Gatos, CA and the current world record holder for the most double unders performed in 60 seconds. “The ‘stretchier’ I become, the better my form gets, and the more I can lift.” If that’s not a win-win-win, we don’t know what is.

“Sometimes when I get into a rut, I will pull out my training log from years ago to see how far I’ve come.”

8. Write everything down.
“I didn’t initially keep a [training] log because I didn’t want to show how slow or weak I was,” admits Abbott. But as a newbie, “it’s the best time to log, since it’ll show your true growth,” she says. If you’re still reluctant to put your record for pull-ups on the gym whiteboard, input into a tracking app like Wodify instead. Because when you’re tracking, you can reflect on your accomplishments — giving you that extra oomph if you’re feeling discouraged. “Sometimes when I get into a rut, I will pull out my training log from years ago to see how far I’ve come,” says Abbott.

 9. Your pants might get tighter — but that’s because baby, you’ll have back.
“During my first year of doing CrossFit, I ripped through four or five pairs of jeans because my legs and butt wouldn’t stop growing!” says Winsor. No stranger to glute work either (check our his eight-minute booty workout), Hoebel also admits that CrossFit has done a number on his butt. “My skinny jeans are getting a little tight,” he confesses. Point being: All those back squats — definitely not for squat. (Sorry, we had to.) 

10. Bonus: There will be major running gainz.
If you’re a casual (or more serious) runner who’s looking to run your first or fastest half-marathon, CrossFit could help you get there — fewer tedious long runs necessary. Willard says WODs have helped her maintain endurance and speed even though she’s not hitting the track nearly as much as she used to. “Doing CrossFit actually benefits my running more than ramping up mileage does,” she says.

11. But your appetite will spike, too.
Good news for food lovers: Take up CrossFit and you’ll need more fuel in the tank to power through the high-intensity workouts. “I get to indulge my food junkie tendencies more frequently than I did when I was just a bicep curler at Gold’s Gym,” jokes Winsor. Plus, more muscle, greater calorie burn, right? Just remember: Indulge in moderation.

12. Most importantly, never say never.
“Rope climbs, pull-ups and handstand push-ups all seemed so out of reach,” says Haupert of first starting. But after nine months of training, plus a solid dose of grit and determination, she can now do all of those movements with ease. Lofty goals might be more achievable than you expect — just keep working at it!

6 Practical Tips For CrossFit

So you have been doing CrossFit for some time now, and you have made noticeable gains in your fitness. That is great! Now, you should take some time to stop what you are doing and reflect on how incredible it is that you are improving your body’s health and capabilities. Getting your first chin up, muscle up, or handstand push up is an accomplishment worth celebrating.
But as you continue to progress in CrossFit, you might reach a point where you find yourself pushing harder and harder to get extra reps and rounds to the detriment of your form and technique. This is not the way to go. If the quantity of reps you perform only increases by sacrificing the quality of said reps, then your body is likely to reach a plateau, or worse, incur an injury.
Rather, you should prioritize quality over quantity so that in the future you may continue to make gains in strength, work capacity, mobility, and overall fitness. Here are some practical tips for how to do that in a CrossFit setting.
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1. Breathe

What a simple thing that we all do everyday. However, mid-WOD, it suddenly becomes apparent that you have not been breathing adequately. How about this: focus on inhaling. Long, slow, controlled, and in through the nose.
If you are doing a twenty-minute AMRAP, then I want you exclusively breathing through the nose for at least the first ten minutes. Heavy mouth breathing should be reserved for sprints, short efforts, and the ends of workouts. While you initially might need to slow down in order to breathe through your nose, in the long run your body will experience positive aerobic adaptations.

2. Break Up Sets

Have you ever stopped and thought about why 21-15-9 is such an effective rep scheme? One reason is because each set can be broken up into three distinct sub-sets: 3 sets of 7, 3 sets of 5, and 3 sets of 3. Another great way to break up this rep scheme is: 11 and 10, 8 and 7, then 5 and 4. So the next time you do “Fran,” “Diane,” or “Elizabeth,” strategize a bit beforehand and see if that helps you set a new personal record.
Another way to state this is that you should not push yourself to failure every round of every workout. Rather, choose a sub-maximal number of reps that you are confident you can complete, and aim to keep yourself just shy of the danger zone for the majority of your workouts.
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3. Rest Between Sets

Rest?! Are you not supposed to go all out as fast as you can? Okay, yes, I get it – the workouts are done for time. But you might end up with an overall faster time (and thus greater work capacity) if you actually plan to rest between sets from the get-go. 
For instance, next time you do “Cindy” (AMRAP in 20 minutes of 5 pull ups, 10 push ups, and 15 squats), try to do one round at the top of every minute. If you succeed, you will have accumulated twenty rounds. It will feel very easy in the beginning and very not-so-easy at the end. 
If twenty rounds of Cindy is out of your reach, then try one round every ninety seconds. Or, vice-versa, if your old personal record is higher than twenty trounds, try one round every 45 seconds or so.

4. Prioritize Mobility

You know you are supposed to do it, but somehow you only manage to hit the foam roller or grab that stretch band once or twice a week. How about this: you are not allowed to do a WOD unless you have first done your mobility work for the day. 
Have you ever set a timer for five minutes and then rolled out your thoracic spine? Or what about grabbing a lacrosse ball and hitting your entire shoulder girdle? Check out Kelly Starrett’s awesome MobilityWOD for more ideas.
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5. Scale Movements and Weights Efectively

If you only take one principle away from this post, please pay attention here. You want to make optimal choices in your life, correct? If you could take two routes to your destination, but one of them was longer and riskier, what would you decide? You would take the optimal route. Duh!
Similarly, learning to scale movements and weights effectively is how you optimize CrossFit workouts to fit your individual fitness level and needs. Refer to Prilepin’s Chart (a guideline for what percentage of your 1RM to lift for each given rep range) when choosing what weights to do for WODs. Hint: it might be lighter than you think!
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6. Take Individual Accountability

How can you reach your own goals when someone else is planning the workouts for you? This is when you need to take individual accountability for your own CrossFit practice. If the WOD has back squats for strength, but your goal is a double-bodyweight deadlift, then explain to your trainer that you are focusing on the deadlift that cycle.
Similarly, if you want to get your first strict chin up, then reduce the reps of banded chin ups, kipping pull ups, or ring rows in the WOD and do a few super-slow negatives each round instead. It might be different than what is written on the whiteboard, but I am willing to bet that you (and your goals) might be a little different than everyone else in the class around you, as well.