How Do I start CrossFit? Part 3 | MuscleTech

4-Part Series

Mastering the Nine: The 9 Foundational CrossFit Exercises Every Beginner Needs to Learn

In the third of this four-part series, MuscleTech Ambassador John Porter Jr. gives you a crash course on CrossFit.

CrossFit is a fitness regimen that anyone can do.  It prides itself on its ability to morph around a person’s current fitness level and elevate them to heights they never thought possible. However, without proper understanding of how to do what is considered the nine foundational CrossFit exercises, you could be left in the dust, or possibly even injure yourself.  So, here are the nine foundational CrossFit exercises to master if you want to excel in the sport of CrossFit.

Air Squats

air-squat

Setup:

  • No bar
  • Stand with feet shoulder-width apart
  • Feet facing out at a 30-degree angle
  • Keep a good lumbar curve

Execution:

  • Bend at your hips and sit back into the squat.
  • Keep your knees out. Your knee joints should be pointing in the same direction as your feet all the way down.
  • Keep your weight sitting on your heels. Can you wiggle your toes?
  • You should always aim to squat to just below parallel, meaning your hip joint needs to come just below your knee.
  • Most of the power for the squat comes from opening the hips. Drive the hips in an upward motion as you stand.

Front Squats

front-squat

Setup:

  • Bar at shoulders/rack position
  • Stand with feet shoulder-width apart
  • Bar racked at the shoulders (create a shelf for the bar to sit on), hands outside the shoulders, elbows high, upper arms parallel to the ground

Execution:

  • Bend at your hips and sit back into the squat.
  • Keep a good lumbar curve.
  • Keep your elbows high.
  • Keep the chest lifted.
  • Knees track with the toes.
  • Weight in the heels.
  • You should always aim to squat to just below parallel, meaning your hip joint needs to come just below your knee.

Overhead Squats

overhead-squat

Setup:

  • Bar at shoulders/rack position
  • Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, bar overhead with a wide grip
  • Shoulders are active and elbows locked
  • Head is “through the window,” creating a straight line from bar to torso to heels

Execution:

  • Bend at your hips and sit back into the squat.
  • Activate shoulders with constant upward pressure on the bar.
  • Keep the chest lifted.
  • Knees track with the toes.
  • Weight in the heels, concentrating on keeping the bar balanced over the heels.
  • You should always aim to squat to just below parallel, meaning your hip joint needs to come just below your knee.

Shoulder Press

shoulder-press

Setup:

  • Bar at shoulders/rack position
  • Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, bar racked at the shoulders (create a shelf for the bar to sit on)
  • Grip is closed with thumbs around the bar
  • Hands slightly wider than shoulders
  • Midsection is tight and elbows are in front of the bar

Execution:

  • Drive the bar straight overhead.
  • Keep your head out of the way.
  • Finished position has active shoulders, elbows locked and ears in front of arms (head is “through the window”).

Push Press

push-press

Setup:

  • Bar at shoulders/rack position
  • Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, bar racked at the shoulders (create a shelf for the bar to sit on)
  • Grip is closed with thumbs around the bar
  • Hands slightly wider than shoulders
  • Midsection is tight and elbows are in front of the bar

Execution:

  • Perform a shallow dip, bending at the hip, butt is back, knees slightly forward, and chest is lifted.
  • Drive the hips forward rapidly and fully and extend the bar overhead.
  • The turnaround from dip to drive is swift, creating velocity to help lift the weight overhead.

Push Jerks

push-jerk

Setup:

  • Bar at shoulders/rack position
  • Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, bar racked at the shoulders (create a shelf for the bar to sit on)
  • Grip is closed with thumbs around the bar, hands slightly wider than shoulders
  • Midsection is tight and elbows are in front of the bar

Execution:

  • Perform a shallow dip, bending at the hip, butt is back, knees slightly forward, and chest is lifted.
  • Drive the hips forward rapidly.
  • Get under the bar and catch the weight with arms extended.
  • Stand to full extension with bar overhead. Shoulders are active.

Deadlifts

deadlift

Setup:

  • Bar on floor
  • Stand with feet between hip width and shoulder width with weight in the heels.
  • Address the bar with good lumbar curve, shins should touch the bar.
  • Arms are locked straight, hands gripping the bar just outside the knees.

Execution:

  • Drive through the heels.
  • Extend the legs while hips and shoulders rise at the same rate.
  • Hips should fully open once the bar is past the knees.
  • Bar should make contact with legs during the entire lift.
  • Once the “hang” position is reached, return the bar to the floor. Hips and shoulders move first, knees last.

Sumo Deadlift High Pulls

sumo-deadlift

Setup:

Bar on floor
Stand with feet slightly wider than shoulder width with weight in the heels
Address the bar with good lumbar curve, shins should touch the bar
Arms are locked straight, hands close together, gripping the bar between the knees

Execution:

Drive through the heels, opening the hips fully.
Shrug with straight arms.
Arms follow through by pulling the bar to the chin. Elbows are high and outside.
The bar is returned to the floor in reverse sequence – arms, traps, hips, than knees.

Medicine Ball Cleans

medicine-ball

Setup:

  • Ball on the floor
  • Stand with feet shoulder-width apart or slightly wider
  • Weight is in the heels, shoulders are over the ball
  • Ball is on the floor between the legs with clearance for the arms
  • Arms are straight with palms outside the ball and fingertips pointing down

Execution:

  • Drive through the heels, opening the hips fully.
  • Shrug with straight arms.
  • Hips close to land in a front squat, catching the ball with elbows beneath the ball.
  • Stand to full extension with the ball in the rack position.

Just a suggestion:  To get a better understanding on how to properly execute these movements, exercising with a qualified CrossFit Coach is strongly recommended.   In any fitness endeavor, ignorance breeds injury and meeting with a professional prevents that.

  • By John Porter Jr.
    By John Porter Jr. MuscleTech Ambassador
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