5 CrossFit Tips for Beginners

Mastermind Weekend 1/16

Hey there!

I'm Tina

I’m the owner of Carrots ‘N’ Cake as well as a Certified Nutrition Coach and Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner (FDN-P). I use macros and functional nutrition to help women find balance within their diets while achieving their body composition goals.


An in-depth, 4-week reverse dieting course for women who feel like their metabolism has slowed down, think they might have hormonal imbalance and can’t lose weight no matter what they do.

I’ve been meaning to write this post for ages since it’s one of the most common questions I receive about CrossFit. Are you thinking about trying CrossFit? If so, here are five tips that will help you get started!

Don’t be scared.

Seriously, don’t be scared. CrossFit is not a scary thing.

Ok, let me tell you a story that many of you might be able to relate to. When Mal and I decided to try CrossFit for the first time, I was a little nervous. I thought I’d walk into a dark, scary room, full of grunting, sweating meatheads, which, surprisingly, was not at all what I experienced. Instead, Mal and I walked into a welcoming space with motivational quotes on the walls, members of all shapes and sizes, and a warm, friendly coach who was excited to teach us all about CrossFit. I realize this is just one experience, but I’ve visited a number of CrossFit boxes all over the country and have had very much the same experience. In general, CrossFit is a very welcoming and friendly place. No need to be scared.

Know you can do it.

The most common comment I get from readers about CrossFit is “I don’t think I’m fit enough to do it,” which is one of the biggest misconceptions. Just about everyone can do CrossFit. For real. Take Anne Marie McKay for example. She’s 74 years old and works out at the same box as Austin Malleolo, who placed first at the Northeast CrossFit Regionals this year. Kids can even do CrossFit. Every CrossFit workout has modifications and can be scaled based on your current fitness level, so even if you’re just starting out with exercise, you can do CrossFit.

If you’re worried about not knowing how to do the movements, you will learn. Most CrossFit boxes require a series of intro classes where you learn all of the Foundational Movements and get a feel for what CrossFit is all about before you even take a class. Also, keep in mind, everyone was once a beginner at CrossFit. They, too, didn’t know the movements, but they put in the time and effort to learn and master them. Here’s a great example”¦

Check out Mal’s Overhead Squat (on the left) when he first started CrossFit. He was squatting to a med ball because he didn’t quite have his form down and his mobility was seriously lacking back then. But, with lots of hard work, his Overhead Squat has improved quite a bit (as seen in the photo on the right, which was taken about a month ago).

mal OH squat
[Image source: CrossFit 781]

Compete against yourself.

One of my favorite quotes when it comes to CrossFit is “stronger than yesterday,” which basically means you are competing against yourself to improve every day.

stronger than yesterday
[Image source]

If you’re a newbie CrossFitter, you’re probably not going to Rx your very first WOD and that’s okay. You will get there. (I’ve been doing CrossFit for 1.5 years now, and I still can’t do all of the workouts as prescribed.) Don’t worry about the person next you banging out heavy Cleans when you’re still working with the bar on your form. Start light, work at your own pace, and get your form down, so you can progress to more intense workouts.

Of course, having a competitive attitude at CrossFit is not a bad thing, but constantly comparing yourself to others is. Comparison is the thief of joy, so instead of getting discouraged by what other people can do, use them as motivation. You guys always read about my workouts with my friend Kerrie. We have a friendly competition and constantly push each other to get faster and stronger, which makes us both better athletes. She beats me about 90% of the time, but I never get mad at her. If anything, I thank her for pushing me harder!


Even though there’s some friendly competition at CrossFit, the goal is always to put forth your best effort to improve upon your own performance. Once you start worrying about what everyone else is doing, it stops being fun and you risk hindering your own progress. Focus on yourself and you WILL get better.

Listen to your body.

I guess this is the nice way of saying take it slow and don’t go all balls to the wall on your first WOD. You really need to perfect your form and technique before you ramp up the intensity/weight of your workout. I’ve been doing CrossFit for awhile now, and I still practice my form and double-check with my coaches that I’m not doing anything unsafe. Even though our coaches take on a big responsibility of training good form, I believe it’s even more important for me to listen to my own body to help prevent injury.

During one of my very first CrossFit workouts, another member said something to me that has stuck with me until today. We were working together and doing heavy Back Squats. I was a beginner and felt like I was a little in over my head with such a heavy load, so I told him I was nervous about putting more weight on the bar and hurting myself. He immediately stopped what he was doing and said: “It’s not the weight that hurts you, it’s YOU that hurts you.” As soon as he said that, something clicked for me and ever since, I’ve been vigilant about listening to my body at CrossFit. For instance, if I don’t know how to perform a move properly, I ask one of my coaches for clarification. If I’m doing deadlifts, and my lower back doesn’t feel quite right, I don’t push it and take off some weight. If my body is sore and tired, I scale the WOD. I’ve found that if I take a step back and focus on how my body feels, I tend to perform better and ultimately get further than I thought I could (and, of course, prevent injury). Be honest with yourself, be patient, and listen to your body.


Know that it will get easier”¦ sort of.

Ok, CrossFit never gets easier, but it will suck less when you are able to better perform the movements at a higher intensity. Be sure to keep records (in a journal or online) to track your progress because, before you know it, you’ll be smashing your PRs and doing things you never thought were possible. It’s incredible to see that transformation. My best advice: embrace the “suck” and know that your body is getting stronger.

Question of the Day

CrossFit friends: What are your tips for beginners?

This post is brought to you by Poland Spring® Brand 100% Natural Spring Water.



  1. I’ve been doing CrossFit for a few months now, so of course I’m still learning. If someone were thinking about CrossFit or maybe is just starting, I would advise them to ASK questions. Form is important. If you have any question about your form or how to perform a certain move, ASK ASK ASK. Another word of advise, make sure your honest about your rep counts or the amount of weight you used in a WOD. There are a number of reasons an athlete may do this including taking the Whiteboard too seriously, honestly forgetting what number they were on, and other lesser justifications. I think the number one reason people do this is insecurity. Sometimes you walk in the door and everybody just seems to be moving faster, lifting more, pushing harder than you. It can be overwhelming at times and none of us are perfect. Sometimes we let it get the best of us and we throw a number up there so we don’t stand out. Here is what you need to remember: The point of keeping track of your progress through times and rep counts is not to see how you stack up (there will always be somebody stronger or faster), but to see how you personally have improved over time. The first to finish or the dead last out of 55 people, there is something awesome about putting your time or score up on the board and saying, “I accomplished this today” because we all know there are literally millions who haven’t done anything as tough or draining. If you goal is to just beat everybody at the box, I promise you are not only holding yourself back from greater achievements, but you are also ruining those rare and great moments for somebody else who might have performed flawlessly and gotten a well deserved Rx next to their name.

  2. I’ve been doing CrossFit for a month or so and just love it to bits. I agree form is so important and listening to your body. When I first did dead lifts my lower back was aching and my form was terrible. I dropped to a lighter weight and performed them well and without lower back pain.
    I love your quote “stronger than yesterday”. Even in just a month I have improved. I love it!

  3. Great post! I’ve been crossfitting for almost a year and I’d recommend a few things:

    (1) Don’t be intimidated
    Everyone can do crossfit and there are an infinite number of ways to scale wods. The best time to start crossfit is RIGHT NOW. You will be surprised by what you can already do and you will instantly fall in love with certain movements.

    (2) Be patient
    Some of the movements–especially the oly lifts–may challenge you more than others. Things like the snatch just take time. Even experienced crossfitters are always working on technique. With time and consistency, you WILL improve in every movement. Period. It took me forever to just squat decently and I am constantly working on it. We are all works in progress.

    (3) Embrace the crossfit community and have fun
    I’ve met so many incredible people through crossfit and they are unlike others I know–intense, dedicated, immensely supportive and positive. These are people who really gut it out on a daily basis and will stand next to you and support you while you struggle your way through wods. When you walk into a box, you are all in it together and it’s a shared experience. After you crossfit for a while, these people will be like your second family.

    I’m not exaggerating when I say that crossfit has changed and improved my life in so many ways. If you’re even thinking about doing it, just TRY IT!!

  4. “It’s not the weight that hurts you, it’s YOU that hurts you.”

    That is sooooo true! The one time I got injured doing a snatch it was COMPLETELY my fault (because ever since I’ve been able to snatch that weight, no problem). I wasn’t confident. I second guessed myself and tried to catch a weight when I should have just dropped it.

    Which leads me to my big advice: don’t be scared to drop the weight! They’re made of rubber for a reason! I now know, it’s better to drop a weight on the floor than to try to catch it and hurt myself.

    Also, don’t psyche yourself out. I get scared loading on weight. My method is to add 5lbs at a time because it helps me stay confident.

  5. I’m so glad you wrote this post! I just started at a new box last week and was definitely intimidated going in for the first time. But you’re right, the people are SO nice and encouraging and there are people of all ages and fitness levels. I’m loving it!

  6. Love this post – it was so timely! My fiance and I are going to an intro to CrossFit next week and he was a little scared. But it sounds like a wonderful way to meet new people and aim for new exercise goals. Thanks for your tips, Tina!

  7. Wow this post was absolutely incredible to read, one of the best I’ve ever read on your blog. Personally, I’ve been doing Crossfit for a month now (due in a major way to your influence and example!) and I feel like this post is applicable to everyone doing Crossfit. My sister just started Crossfit today and I sent her this post and her nerves calmed down a lot!! I think the most incredible things about Crossfit are all highlighted in this post, Crossfit just doesn’t apply to Crossfit, it applies to LIFE. Thank you!!

  8. Thank you for posting this. I have definitely had doubts about starting for quite some time but this definitely gets rid the knots in my stomach I have had. Calling tomorrow!

  9. Being about 9 months deep myself I would say the only additional tip is to try and really focus on what your coaches are saying. Too often it is easier to just yes them to death while trying to catch your breath when they are really trying to improve your form.

  10. I’m mid forties, 85Kg used to do a lot of sport in my twenties but none since so want to get back in to some sort of shape. I discovered crossfit and having done 3 initiation sessions with the coach I did my first open class where we simply did back squats (20kg) and 400m runs for 20 mins. OMG next day I am so sore around my chest muscles and upper back. Any jolt is really painful so I can’t run at all. Never had a pain in my upper body before. What have I done to myself. I can’t do any exercise now at all. I spoke to my coach who said to keep moving, I did a 2000m erogometer and 15 min spin but even now 10 days later whilst it is less sore generally but I still can’t bear any jolts.. So excited by CrossFit but worried it’s all over already!? Anyone experienced anything similar?

  11. I tried crossfit. Felt very intimidated. Always felt I was failing around everybody else. Crossfit is intimidating to me

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