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CrossFit® / August 2016
Natalie Chladek, Global Newsroom

Learning the Language of CrossFit

Interested in trying CrossFit but intimidated by not knowing the lingo? Katrin Davidsdottir, the reigning Fittest Woman on Earth after winning both the 2015 and 2016 Reebok CrossFit Games, knows the feeling.

“I remember when I walked into my first CrossFit class and the workout had already been written on the whiteboard,” she said.  “It was just all these abbreviations and words I had never seen before!”

With the help of coaching and a lot of practice, what was once a foreign language to Davidsdottir is now second nature.  “I think learning the terminology definitely gives you confidence!” she said.  “Slowly but surely you start recognizing and remembering all those words!”

Use this guide to learn the language of CrossFit and work out like a seasoned expert on your first day. Now not knowing the vocabulary is no longer an excuse for not looking up your nearest box.    


Where the CrossFit magic happens. While it is possible to train individually or in generic gyms, boxes are equipped with a wide range of equipment to complete every WOD your coach can dream up, and most have a killer playlist to help you through it.


In these workouts, CrossFitters complete a list of movements, performing each round once rather than doing multiple rounds of the same movement.  The goal is to finish the list of various exercises as fast as possible.  


Named for one of the most grueling CrossFit workouts, some CrossFitters come down with Fran cough after an especially exhausting workout.  The Fran workout consists of a punishing combination of thrusters and pull-ups, and while an elite CrossFitter can complete it in under three minutes, it takes a lot of time at the box to get there. 


Coined by CrossFit athlete and coach Spencer Hendel and inspired by the Jay-Z and Kanye West song, “H.A.M.,” this refrain can be heard throughout the box to provide extra boost of motivation to power through those last few reps. 


Also known as one of the best ways to pack on arm muscle.  Unlike regular push ups, HPSUs require the arms to hold almost all of the body’s weight, so there are a few modification options for beginners who need a little extra help.


This quad-burning, grimace-inducing single leg squat looks easy until you try one.  The athlete stretches his or her arms to the toes of one foot and the other remains planted on the ground while performing the squat.  This pistol builds both strength and balance and can also help you navigate uneven surfaces in activities like trail running. 


Part of what makes CrossFit special is the community, so when you achieve a PR and ring the box bell, everyone in the box will cheer your newest accomplishment. 


Not a note from your doctor but the list of prescribed weights and reps for a particular WOD.  All workouts can be scaled from beginner to expert and your CrossFit coach can help you modify movements to match your ability level.  Because CrossFit is based on functional movements, it is designed to be suitable for every type of athlete and expertise. 


Theoretically any CrossFit movement can be used in a Tabata workout, but since the goal is to maximize the number of reps, they usually consist of light and quick movements like kettlebell swings rather than slower, more technical exercises like Olympic lifts.  Tabata workouts are among the most efficient workouts, as just four minutes will raise your metabolism, increase your heart rate and leave you gasping for breath. 


This daily workout is the foundation of CrossFit.  Because WODs change every day, this format adds muscle confusion to your workout routine and wards off the motony of the daily gym grind.  WODs usually consist of completing circuits or as many reps as possible in a certain amount of time.   

CrossFit® / August 2016
Natalie Chladek, Global Newsroom