The Fit 5: Smart CrossFit Training


For all of our fans who shoot us questions on our Twitter and Facebook Page, this one is for you. Each week, we will tap into our pool of editors and experts to help with any questions or challenges you are having with your fitness regimen. This week, Nathan Forster, CrossFit coach/competitor and owner of Reebok CrossFit 5th Ave. and Reebok CrossFit Miami Beach answer your questions about getting started with CrossFit workouts.

1) CrossFit Dangerous— asked by Steve Louie:

CrossFit looks amazing and I want to try it, but I heard a lot of people get hurt? Is that true?

“That’s the number one asked question in CrossFit. ‘Do people get hurt and is it dangerous?’ My response to that is, just like any other sport or fitness movement that you’re going to do, if done incorrectly… bad things can happen.

I own two CrossFit gyms (boxes), two of the biggest ones in the world, and we rarely have any injuries. So, what I attest to that is, when your trainers are good, you’re good. Which means, you gotta find the right guys that are absolute experts in their field. They need to know exactly what they’re doing to get you to perform at the right level. On the other hand,  you, (the trainee) have to go through the fundamentals, and learn how to do all the Olympic lifting movements correctly before you try and go ‘crazy.’ You’ve got to crawl before you walk and you have to walk before you can run. Too many people think they can just jump into the first classes at CrossFit and become monsters – it doesn’t work like that. You learn the fundamentals, you learn slowly and work your way up to becoming an expert in those disciplines.”

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2) Coaching Recommendation— asked by Logan Neven:

I’m trying to learn power cleans, but my coach recommended I start with hang cleans first? Why is that?


“The reason why coaches want you to start with the hang clean before the power clean is because the key to Olympic lifting, especially cleaning, is using your hips and your body to move the weight. A tendency that most people having when starting from the power clean position (the ground) is that they bring their hips up and to pull very hard with their arms which is basically reverse curling the weight. 99% of the time, that’s what happens.

When you do a hang clean, you’re forced to extend and use your hips fully and really ‘POP’ your hips in order to get the weight high enough to bring your elbows underneath the bar. So when you start from the hang position, it forces you to use your hips. Number one reason.”

3) Mobility and Flexibility— asked by Brett Hughes:

What are the best exercises to increase my shoulder mobility?

“That’s a good one. First thing I recommend is going online and searching Kelly Starrett – YouTube, – look up anything Kelly Starlett does. He’s the mobility master, he’s unbelievable, and he’s got tons of videos. Other than that, the best ways to improve shoulder mobility is to work with a lacrosse ball. You take the lacrosse ball, put it up against the wall, roll your shoulder and your back all over it. Try and get into all the spots that are really tight. Do the same thing on the floor.

I also recommend using a mobility band, put the band in different positions, hold it with your wrists, put it around your elbow, and really stretch out areas of your shoulders and arms. Hold yourself in position for about a minute, rest a little bit, then go back and do it again. But back to my first point, Kelly Starrett, unbelievable resource.”

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4) CrossFit Programming— asked by Devin Richie:

Are CrossFit workouts always completely random or are there actual programs for strength, endurance, etc.?

“CrossFit workouts are not random, CrossFit workouts are constantly varied, so they’re always some kind of meaning behind the workout. The programming that we do for our boxes are set up so our members can come in 5-6 days a week or workout every single day. CrossFit is full body so we incorporate every part of the body so you can continuously do it. The whole ‘old school’ way of ‘back and bi’s’ or ‘push and pull’ doesn’t exist anymore – it’s CrossFit. It’s functional fitness, it’s the whole body. But there’s science behind programming – you get better at your rowing, you get better at your running, you get better at your gymnastics, all at the same time, and there are ways to do that. Good programming will do that, and you’ll get better at everything rather than one thing at a time.”

5) At-Home CrossFit— asked by Blake Scalzo:

If I wanted to practice CrossFit at home, what pieces of equipment would I need as the bare essentials?

“CrossFit at home is very easy, and the bare essentials, to be honest, is nothing. You can really do it by practicing your air squats, push ups, sit ups without any equipment. But, if you were to purchase a few things to help you with it, you could purchase a pull up bar, which would be great because you can do toes to bar, knees to elbow, muscle ups, and of course, pull ups. And then, you’ll want something to help you with cardio so, we like to say running, rowing, biking. Other than those things, get yourself a jump rope, do some single unders, double unders and you’ll be good to go.”


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