What Is CrossFit? An Honest Breakdown…

Table of Contents


In conversations, people often ask me this question sooner or later: “You are working out, don´t you?”

My answer then usually is: “Yes, I do – I´m doing CrossFit…”

If people are not clearly interested in more information on that topic, then I won´t get into more details at this stage .

Although I am very passionate about my sport, I don´t point out right away that I´m a CrossFit Trainer and that I would need at least 10 minutes to fully explain what CrossFit really is.

From there, the conversation takes two possible routes most of the time:

Route 1

People have heard about CrossFit and maybe even considered joining a CrossFit gym at some point in time.

But then they bailed out because they decided that this is “way too hard” for them and “it can´t be healthy” to work out that hard!

They secretly admire the CrossFit program and the physical fitness of the people doing CrossFit but decided that for some reason it is just not for them.

They rather stick to riding their bikes once or twice a week and occasionally drop in at the local gym to soothe their subconscious mind that tells them to work out more.

Route 2

People have no idea what CrossFit is.

So you start to explain and you tell them about high-intensity interval training, functional movements and CrossFit exercises.

You try to explain the workout of the day, how proper nutrition should look like, how much CrossFit has helped you to evolve not only physically but also mentally.

Finally, they are sort of stuck somewhere between “Why would you do that?”, “You don´t enjoy life, do you?”, “sounds like a cult!?!” and “Are you in the military?”

a crossfit box

There is a third group of people, who exactly know what CrossFit is and who perform another kind of sport – mostly they go to a traditional gym and/or do bodybuilding.

They smile at us, because in their eyes we are the guys and girls who can´t do a single exercise right, but act as if we reinvented fitness.

So what is true? I am trying to shed some light into the darkness and I am trying to do this with as little bias as I can – keep in mind: in CrossFit, I have found MY SPORT! All this feels like it has been invented just for me and I love it!

Crossfit Coach at work

Crossfit For Beginners

Where To Start

Crossfit For Beginners

What is CrossFit?

CrossFit is a fitness program based on constantly varied functional movements executed at high intensity.

Additionally, CrossFit acknowledges the importance of healthy nutrition as a part of the overall concept of a healthy lifestyle.

CrossFit also lets you train for the “unknown and unknowable”.

These terms and definitions can all be found on the official CrossFit website which I highly recommend you visit sometime (as you seem interested in this topic) and for all those who are not actively following this training program, all this sounds very much like some advertising talk. But it is not…

a crossfit coach

My Way Towards CrossFit

At the time when I joined my local CrossFit box, I didn´t know anything about a “concept” that might be in place.

I had tried traditional gym memberships for years and I was disappointed by the results. The only reason why I went to the gym at all was the usual “I have to do something to get in shape” thinking.

But in fact, I didn´t get anywhere – I did the same workout over and over again. The same exercises kept repeating themselves. I didn´t do any proper warm-up at all and I always skipped all the stretching after a workout.

Seeing a known face was a welcome excuse to interrupt my workout and have a chat instead of seriously working out.

I didn´t have a goal to achieve. I didn´t have a plan and I had no clue about proper form.

Finally, I decided to quit my gym membership because it didn´t get me anywhere.

I decided to do Freeletics at home and I was hooked from the very beginning!

If you don´t know the concept, have a look at it – I still think the idea is awesome and it can really get you in great shape!

Based on an app on your phone, you follow a training plan that can even be tailored to your needs.

The workouts are quite similar to CrossFit workouts and you will push your physical and mental limits big time!

But I always had a close look at CrossFit, and met and talked to Crossfitters (who smiled at me just like bodybuilders smile at Crossfitters ;-)), but what kept me from really starting out with CrossFit was simply the pricing. It was about four times the monthly price that I had paid previously at the gym. And doing Freeletics at home cost me nearly nothing…

After a year of hesitation, I decided to try it out and tried my first CrossFit training.

what is crossfit - weightlifting

So - What is CrossFit - in my Words!

Now – six years later – I can say: this was the best decision in my fitness career that I have ever taken!

Let’s talk about the money issue right away: it is worth every dime! You think you would pay for a monthly membership. Based on this thinking the monthly rates sound horribly expensive.

But once you have joined your local CrossFit gym and once you got used to the tough training program in CrossFit classes you start to find out about all the other benefits that you have suddenly got access to:

Pro Equipment

First off you get access to much higher quality equipment than most normal gyms would offer. Higher quality in this context means higher quality in usability, functionality, and training outcomes.


You get access to a great community! I got to know lots and lots of extremely interesting and nice people and we all share the same interests and go through the same pain in our high-intensity workout classes. There is a huge spirit of comraderie between Crossfitters that applies to any part of the world.

Personal Coaching

You get access to personal training! Your coach is your personal trainer and each and every CrossFit class is a personal training session.

Your coach knows your history and also knows your limitations. He will have a very close look at your performance and he or she will correct your movements, give you advice, will cheer you up and keep you going, will tell you when it is time to step back, and will have the knowledge to alter your exercises if you have physical deficiencies.

New Skills

You constantly learn new skills like Olympic weightlifting for example. Or when was the last time when you did rope jumps? Or rope climbs? Or handstands? Or even handstand walks?

During CrossFit sessions, you keep extending your skillset all the time which results in 50-year-old athletes passing you while doing handstand walks! I have never seen that in a normal gym!


One of the benefits of CrossFit also is the holistic approach that also takes nutrition into account. When trying to achieve physical goals, working out alone can only do so much for you.

It keeps startling me just how little most people know about nutrition and how important nutrition really is if one really wants to change his or her physical appearance and performance.

Most CrossFit gyms offer regular events and courses to educate their athletes on that topic which I find extremely valuable.

what is crossfit - rope climbing

What is a CrossFit workout?

CrossFit is like a workout mixtape that’s been jam-packed with a whole bunch of different exercises – think weightlifting, gymnastics, running, rowing, and more.

And let me tell you, these workouts will put your muscles to the test and leave you feeling like a champion. Picture this: a WOD (Workout of the Day) that’s designed to push you both physically and mentally. You’ll be squatting, deadlifting, pullin’ up, pushin’ up, and doing burpees like there’s no tomorrow.

But what sets CrossFit apart is that it’s all about functional movements – exercises that mimic real-life activities and help you perform better in everyday life. Plus, it’s a community of fitness fanatics who like to compete and train together.

So in a CrossFit workout, you will find anything that other sports regularly do – but you will find all this combined in your workouts!

That is why Crossfitters are such versatile athletes.

As a CrossFit athlete, you can do everyday tasks like lifting suitcases overhead, carrying heavy bags of groceries, or moving furniture just like you can keep up with your friends doing specialized kinds of sports.

You might not be able to keep up with your mountain-running friend, but you will be just a few minutes behind. Will he deadlift the same weights you do? Will he row the same calories in the same time? Will he be able to do as many pull-ups as you do?

In those six years of doing CrossFit, I have only done very few workouts twice. The “constantly varied” concept really shows in the creation of the workout of the day. It never gets boring!

athletes rowing
fit guy doing elbow plank

55 Best Crossfit Bodyweight Workouts

55 Best Crossfit Bodyweight Workouts

What is the main purpose of CrossFit?

“CrossFit forging elite fitness” is one slogan that can be found written on the walls of a lot of CrossFit gyms.

Greg Glassman – the founder and inventor of CrossFit – is a man on a mission and I would not say that his mission was building a multi-million dollar brand! His ideas and concepts are completely targeted at improving fitness and health for an extremely wide range of people.

One great thing about CrossFit is the fact that everybody can do this sport!

A lot of people who want to start doing CrossFit are scared because they believe that they are not fit enough to survive the high-intensity workout of a CrossFit class.

But in fact, any particular workout can be “scaled” which means that it can be adjusted to the physical and skill level of any athlete.

You can´t do a lot of standard pull-ups in a row? Then do ring-rows.

You can´t do a lot of push-ups with proper form, but you have to do 100 of them in the upcoming workout? Then do knee-push-ups or elevated push-ups.

So the main purpose of CrossFit is to be a strength training and health knowledge program that greatly extends the physical abilities and also the health of any person who performs in this sport by exercising functional movements packed into high-intensity interval training sessions.

female athlete doing box jumps

Crossfit versus Bodybuilding

Oh boy – this is going to be walking on thin ice! Picking up on this topic, I feel like standing naked in front of a pack of bodybuilders all holding paintball guns ready to fire.

But this is a topic that needs to be talked about, so let´s do it. Personally, I don´t know where all the hate comes from. And I also didn´t know about it until I started to stumble over Youtube videos where fun was made about CrossFit and Crossfitters.

Granted – slogans like “the fittest on earth” and the likes that CrossFit has given to their athletes don´t sound very humble and one must accept that members of other sports might get triggered by such statements.

Working through the vast amount of hate videos and the comments below the videos, I tried to find out why people hate CrossFit so much and I came to the conclusion that it must be a mixture of ignorance and the observation that there is an extensive lack of proper form in the execution of exercises.

When it comes to the ignorance part of the mixture, I found out that a lot of people get triggered by “CrossFit pull-ups”, meaning the butterfly pull-up.

This one single completely misunderstood exercise seems to be enough for thousands of people to hate CrossFit. Well, education could help: butterfly pull-ups are just one variation of many for the pull-up as an exercise as such.

But if one only knows the standard pull-up, then a butterfly pull-up might look strange…

But the hate only rarely comes from real bodybuilders.

What bodybuilders really criticize about CrossFit is the vast mix of complex exercises that are performed with more or less proper form in CrossFit workouts.

Science behind CrossFit

The Science Behind CrossFit

Why It Works

The Science Behind CrossFit

And I openly admit to agreeing 100% with that perception!

CrossFit lives and dies by a good coach!!!

As said above, a good coach will know your restrictions, give advice, constantly check your performance, correct your form, push your limits, etc…

In the absence of a good coach, CrossFit might be even harmful to beginners and the unknowing!

Bodybuilding is a highly specialized sport performed at the highest levels to achieve one very specific goal: to shape the most balanced and sculpted physical appearance that can possibly be achieved.

The amount of training, the discipline that is needed, the effort to adjust the athletes’ diet, and the sacrifices that bodybuilders make are absolutely astonishing and one needs to pay utmost respect to such a level of dedication to a sport!

But that is not the goal that CrossFit wants to achieve! And that is why one can not compare bodybuilding to CrossFit! We need to compare apples to apples, but bodybuilding is a mango and CrossFit is a pineapple. Both taste great but they are completely different.

what is crossfit - being fit

Is CrossFit good for beginners?

We already talked about that topic just recently in this article here.

In this guide to CrossFit, we pointed out that one absolutely doesn´t necessarily need to be an absolute fitness beast in order to start doing CrossFit.

A lot of people tend to postpone their first real visit to their CrossFit gym just because they think that their level of fitness isn´t good enough to survive CrossFit training.

The absolute contrary is the case! CrossFit will get you in shape if you are untrained and unfit. You will be able to work out at your own pace with scaled versions of exercises to compensate for the lack of skills and fitness.

Your coach will have an eye on you and will guide you through your CrossFit classes.

For beginners, this is the perfect training environment – being motivated to push hard while under supervision by a professional.

Starting Crossfit out of shape header

Is Starting Crossfit Out Of Shape A Good Idea?

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CrossFit where to start?

If you are curious how a CrossFit workout might feel and if you have sound knowledge about some basic bodyweight exercises like the squat, situps, and push-ups then you could try high-intensity CrossFit training at home.

Try two or three rounds for time (as fast as possible) by doing 20 push-ups, 30 squats, and 20 sit-ups.

Find a good balance between speed and good form!

If you like this kind of working out then your next step might be to simply find the nearest CrossFit gyms, pick one of them and sign up for a test CrossFit class.

Most people are hooked right at the first experience with CrossFit, others will find out that this might not be for them.

Either way -both ways are ok!

But if you believe in hard work and the classic saying “hard work pays off” then I am absolutely sure that this is the right place for you.

crossfit - wallballs

What does CrossFit do to a woman's body?

This is one question that we get a lot and we also get a pre-fabricated answer delivered together with this question as well.

The question goes like this: “Will I start looking like these muscle monsters that compete at the CrossFit open? Because that is what I will look like if I do that kind of training…!”

See the pre-fabricated answer?

We also know where this comes from and we also fully understand the concerns that come with the common perception of women who want to implement some weight training into their workout routine.

The fact is, if you’re looking for a workout that’s gonna leave you feeling like a super strong version of yourself, then CrossFit is your game. Its high-intensity mix of weightlifting, gymnastics, and cardio will have you building muscle, burning fat, and getting your heart pumping faster than anything else. Not to mention, you’ll be as flexible as a gymnast.

There is a huge number of female CrossFit athletes worldwide who constantly go through Olympic lifting and metabolic conditioning exercises in their CrossFit sessions.

Only very few – those who perform this sport on a professional level – develop a very muscular body.

The huge majority develop a lean, toned, healthy, and strong body that boosts their confidence.

And the cherry on top? Your mental health will get a major upgrade, so you’ll feel like the boss lady you truly are.

Just remember, everyone’s progress is different, so don’t get discouraged if it takes you a little longer to get your gains on.

Keep at it, and you’ll be unstoppable in no time!

what is crossfit - a very fit lady

Will Crossfit get me in Shape?

Yes, absolutely! It will get you in shape much faster than most other fitness programs!

The CrossFit conditioning program is a perfect tool for anybody who wants to turn their life around and start working out for strength, flexibility, and health.

Just like it is the case in any other fitness program, nutrition is the main key to success. But even here CrossFit will lend you a helping hand and give you a guideline that you can follow.

Most people fail if the changes they need to make in life in order to lose weight and become strong and healthy are too big or have an overly heavy impact on their daily routine.

CrossFit will give you just the right push at the right time to let you take the turn at the right speed.

a crossfit box in action

A Beginner’s Guide To Crossfit Lingo

A Beginner’s Guide To Crossfit Lingo

Who should not do CrossFit?

Although CrossFit is such a versatile training program for any fitness level and with so many health benefits there are still restrictions for some people that need to be considered.

CrossFit participants constantly perform at high-intensity levels and a lot of times also at the maximum range of motion.

This means your cardiovascular system works at a very high level and your joints, muscles, tendons, and ligaments are subject to considerable stress.

It should be clear to anyone who has a previous history of any cardiovascular illness or deficiency that he or she should at least consult with their doctor to discuss any counterarguments to CrossFit.

The same applies to those who suffered injuries like dislocated shoulders or other issues with joints, tendons, or ligaments.

That said, a physical therapist might also work hand-in-hand with your CrossFit coach to find the right mix of exercises and intensity of exercises to make your CrossFit experience a part of your healing process.

what is crossfit - group workout

Are CrossFit Athletes on Steroids?

CrossFit Inc clearly promotes a healthy lifestyle and healthy nutrition next to its workout regime! The CrossFit concept and performance-enhancing substances do not go together at all!

It is unfair and incorrect to assume that all CrossFit athletes are on steroids. While there have been some instances of athletes using performance-enhancing drugs in the sport of CrossFit, the majority of athletes follow strict drug-testing protocols and compete without the use of any banned substances.

The CrossFit Games, the sport’s premier competition, has implemented strict drug-testing procedures to ensure a level playing field for all athletes. Additionally, the sport of CrossFit is rooted in the principles of functional fitness, nutrition, and healthy living, which emphasize natural and sustainable methods for improving athletic performance.

One must recognize that the use of steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs can have serious health consequences and is considered illegal in many sports.

Therefore, it is crucial to promote and support fair and drug-free competition in all athletic endeavors.

what is crossfit - the crossfit games

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