10 Important Exercises for CrossFit Beginners to Learn
Not really sure what the key exercises are and how they work? Here are 10 important starting points for CrossFit beginners.
FRONT SQUAT AND BACK SQUAT
Theory says the front squat raises one’s center of mass from a seated to standing position with a load placed across the front of the torso. Quite obvious, right? But why is this obvious movement so beneficial?
- Posture: Front squatting recruits the muscles of the upper back and forces thoracic extension in order to hold the bar on the shoulder. It can help prevent kyphosis in the thoracic spine if elbows are kept as high as possible throughout the movement.
- Flexibility: In the bottom position of the front squat, the ankles, shoulders, wrists and hips will be pushed to their mobility limits. Front squat also helps to develop proper knee joint movement integrity, as lack of quadriceps strength and control can impede knee flexion and mobility, creating a cascade of countering movement imbalances throughout the hips, spine, and ankles.
- Safety: This upright torso places less of a shear force on the spine and therefore makes it a better option for those with back issues.
- Strength: Increased quadriceps engagement and development due to higher degrees of knee flexion reached at the bottom of the squat. This movement can add quality amounts of lean muscle mass to the quadriceps and enhance overall leg development and performance, especially if athletes find their hips become the primary mover in most squats, resulting in them losing the “chest up” positioning and/or rounding out in back squats (both high and low bar).
Step 1: Take a deep breath in, tighten your core and pull your shoulder blades down and back.
Step 2: Sit your hips back, bend your knees and push your knees out to lower into the Squat. Keep your chest and elbows up throughout the rep.
Step 3: Continue bending your hips and knees under your thighs are approximately parallel the ground.
Step 4: Drive through your midfoot to stand up out of the squat as if you are pushing the ground away from you. You should feel your quads and glutes doing most of the work. Squeeze your glutes to extend your hips at the top of the Squat.
The back squat is the most basic strength exercise in weightlifting, and one of the most commonly used exercises alongside the competition lifts. The beneficial of front and back squats are very similar. The correctly performed back squat will help you improve in the following areas:
- Strength: It is a full-body compound movement. The quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteus muscles, erector spinae, gastrocnemius, soleus, adductor and abdominal muscles all are trained with this one exercise. It is used for general leg strength development primarily.
- Flexibility: Achieve the full range of motion.
- Prevents injuries: Nearly 90% of athletic injuries involve the weaker stabilizer muscles, ligaments, and connective tissue. The squat helps to maintain good balance
Step 1: Place the barbell behind your neck—retract your shoulder blades tightly and rest the bar in the meat of your upper traps.
Step 2: Place your feet between hip and shoulder width with the toes turned out so that at full depth each thigh and the corresponding foot are in line with each other. Set your back in a complete arch, take in a large breath, and lock it in, forcefully tightening all trunk musculature.
Step 3: Bend at the knees and hips simultaneously to move down as directly as possible into the bottom of the squat with an upright posture, maintaining tension on the legs throughout the movement and controlling the speed of the descent. Full depth is achieved when the knees are closed as much as possible without losing the arch in the back (if you cannot sit into a full depth squat, you need to work on mobility).
Step 4: Upon reaching the bottom position, immediately transition and stand as aggressively as possible, again with the knees and hips together to maintain your upright posture—try to lead the movement with your head and shoulders.