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How It Works

If you're up for a very tough workout that takes everything you've got, this high-intensity program may be right for you.

Started by a former gymnast and gymnastics coach, CrossFit lets you pick from different “workouts of the day,” or WOD. You might run, row, or climb ropes and do lunges, squats, and other moves.

These workouts push you to the max, so you’ll burn a lot of calories.

You'll do a different workout each day, and do each exercise as many times as you can in a certain amount of time.

Intensity Level: Very High

Expect to be pushed to your limits. This is one tough workout, even if you’re in great shape.

Areas It Targets

Core: Yes. You’ll do moves that work your core, like squats, dead lifts, pushups, and pull-ups.

Arms: Yes. Plan on doing pushups and pull-ups, which are great for your arms.

Legs: Yes. Lots of exercises work your legs, like squats and running.

Glutes: Yes. You’ll do different types of glute-firing squats, like air squats, back squats, and front squats.

Back: Yes. You’ll do back extensions or similar exercises that are good for your lower back.


Flexibility: Yes. This workout will improve your flexibility.

Aerobic: Yes. You’ll work hard during workouts. Your heart will get a great workout, and your endurance and stamina will go up.

Strength: Yes. You’ll use a lot of weights and your own body weight during these workouts. Expect to get stronger.

Sport: No.

Low-Impact: No.

What Else You Should Know

Cost: Membership costs vary between gyms. $200 per month is typical. Or you can pay a drop-in rate of about $25 per class. If you prepay for a year, you may get a lower rate. Or, you could do the Workout of the Day, posted online, for free.

Good for Beginners: No. It’s easy to get hurt if you don’t know the right form for each exercise. You may also end up quitting because it’s so tough.

Outdoors: Yes. You can do CrossFit outside, and they have outdoor workouts specifically for this. You’d either do this on your own or join a group that does outdoor CrossFit.

At Home: Yes, but it can be tricky if you’re new to it. If you do it at home, you’ll need an equipped gym.

Equipment Required: Yes. You can use the equipment at any of the company’s 7,000 licensed CrossFit gyms, which they call “boxes.” If you plan to do it somewhere else, whether it's at home or at another gym, you'll need a weight set and a place to do pull-ups and dips, at least.

What Dr. Michael Smith Says:

If you’re looking for a challenging workout to take your fitness and body to the next level, CrossFit will do just that. It’s a very well-rounded program, providing vigorous aerobic exercise along with muscle strengthening and even flexibility. But it’s also very intense, so it’s not for everyone.

If you’re a beginner, you’ll want to start with something else to get your body used to exercise before taking on CrossFit. The intensity makes it better suited to people who are used to regular activity. Even then, take it slow and pace yourself. This workout will kick your butt even if you’re in great shape.

Given the intensity, one of the main disadvantages to CrossFit is the risk of injury. It’s easy to push yourself beyond your body’s abilities, so be extra careful.

Because it’s so intense, CrossFit isn’t something you want to do every day. But it’s an excellent way to mix up your workouts to help prevent exercise boredom.

Is It Good for Me if I Have a Health Condition?

Getting fit is a vital step to successfully treating diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. CrossFit can certainly help you do that and lose any extra weight, too.

But it’s intense. Get your doctor’s OK. If you’re not already active, do other exercise programs first to get your body used to moving. When you’re ready, give CrossFit a try.

If you have heart disease, CrossFit will likely be too much for your heart. Less intense workouts will probably be a better fit; and always check with your doctor before jumping into any new exercise.

CrossFit isn’t for you if you’re dealing with a knee or back injury. Recover first. Then get your body back in shape. After that point, you can give CrossFit a try.

Remember, exercise shouldn’t hurt. If you feel pain, the workout may be too much for your body. You can get in excellent shape with other exercise routines that don’t tax your body so much.

If you have a physical limitation, CrossFit may be possible depending on your challenge. For instance, you could work with a trainer to create a CrossFit routine that’s purely upper body if needed.

Don't push it. If the workout just doesn’t seem to fit your need, do something else. There are plenty of other options that can get you fit and may be better suited to your body.

Are you pregnant? It's not the time to start CrossFit. If you did it before getting pregnant, ask your doctor if you can keep doing it. Of course, as you progress along in your pregnancy, you’ll need to make some changes. Don't do anything that may put you off balance. And don't do anything that's too intense or that dehydrates you.

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