How to train CrossFit without actually doing CrossFit

4 min read

CrossFit is everywhere. If you’ve not tried it yourself, chances are you know someone who has.

Perhaps it’s someone in the office, a family member or a friend, you will have heard plenty about it no doubt!

Due to its increasing popularity and the fact that many people have achieved impressive results by doing CrossFit, you might be curious and thinking of giving it a go.

However, walking into a CrossFit session and training there can seem like quite a daunting prospect when you’re new to the concept.

With that in mind, we at musclefood have put together a number of tips which tap into the CrossFit methodology. These will help you to achieve your goals without stepping into a box or rubbing shoulders with a host of CrossFit veterans who make it seem like a breeze!

1. Keep your training varied

One of the main selling points of CrossFit is that it provides constantly varied exercise.

Our bodies are incredibly adaptive and respond well to new stimuli after it has become used to the same training over an extended period of time. In fitness terms, this can be both a positive and negative thing.

If challenged correctly, your muscles will adapt to the workouts you put them through by getting bigger and stronger, which is great.

However, if you don’t give your body a reason to overreach, it will simply excel at whatever you ask it to do. On the face of it, that sounds like a good thing, but if you repeat workouts with the same weights week after week, you’ll plateau and stall your progress.

CrossFit attempts to overcome adaptation, by using a range of different movements, different weights, different rep schemes and different time domains every time. This constantly challenges the body and avoids plateaus.

2. Avoid specialising

When training CrossFit, the main aim is to increase your work capacity across a number of different disciplines; you’re training to get better at more or less everything, not be the best at one thing.

In the eyes of CrossFit people, the person who is the “fittest” is someone who could compete in a 5k run, powerlifting, bench pressing and swimming and come fourth in each competition. They might not win any of them, but they’ll place consistently well in each one.

If you are training to be a distance runner or to take part in bodybuilding competitions, being the ‘jack of all trades’ isn’t right for you. However, if you’re at the gym to become generally fitter and healthier, while having some variety, you might want to base your training on the principles of Cross Fit.

To make this work away from the CrossFit arena, change up what it is you do every training session.

Go for a long run, the next time do a number of lifts, the day after do a tough circuit. There’s a wide variety of things you can do to not only train well, but keep your workouts varied enough to maintain your interest.

3. Work all of your joints

Getting the best out of CrossFit involves learning to move your body as an entire system. Traditional workout methods involve you training just one joint at a time, for example the staple chest/back/legs/shoulders/arms split.

Instead of working just the one body part at a time, use the whole of your body. Add push presses to your shoulder work, for example, or try adding power cleans or overhead squats to your weekly workout routine.

One you’ve taken the time to master the correct form and practice the movements, you’ll soon reap the benefits. Full body exercises load the skeletal muscle, which means your bones become stronger as you do them.

Multijoint exercises help your brain and body work together in new ways and, as getting your body to do what your brain wants is a skill to be learned, learn that and you’ll see advantages in your training and everyday life.

Whether you are working out to lose weight or to build muscle, these big full body lifts are great because they work almost your entire body at the same time. Put simply, you’re doing more work in fewer movements.

4. Increase your intensity

In CrossFit, most of the time, workouts are done for time, with the aim of doing as much work as possible within a set time frame.

Keeping yourself on a clock can help to make your workouts more difficult, which in turn helps you to achieve muscular endurance, increase your workout capacity, increase fat loss and even strength.

You might go to the gym, but think whether you use your time as effectively as you possibly can.

Socialising more than you move, constantly checking your phone and going through the same motions session after session are all good signs that you need to ramp things up.

Make sure you are working hard enough, with heavier breathing, sweating and a constant challenging of yourself every time you head to the gym.

5. Use more equipment


CrossFitters use a variety of different equipment, from barbells, kettlebells, rings, medicine balls, axel bars to exercise balls. If this appeals to you, give it a go.

If you’re a regular machine user, head to the free weight section instead. Machines can be very helpful when it comes to keeping your body from using the incorrect form but they can also be quite limiting if they’re the only way you are working your muscles.

You should be aiming to make your body as strong and as fit as it can be in its entirety.

Each new piece of equipment will challenge your body and mind in new ways and increase your body’s capabilities.

By exposing it to new stimuli and allowing it the ability to train free in space, you provide yourself with the opportunity to learn how to stabilise yourself, move properly by yourself and be strong enough through all planes of motion, whether that’s front, back or side to side.