Seven Things to Remember Before Your First CrossFit or HIIT Class
CrossFit’s extraordinary increase in popularity in recent years has encouraged many individuals who have never before been physically active to begin taking care of their physical health. Whether in officially branded CrossFit classes or some other type of similar fitness bootcamp or High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) class, this approach to fitness appeals to those who prefer to invest a relatively short period of time in hard exercise rather than spending long, torturous hours on slow exercise that may not even help them achieve their desired results. Whether you are an experienced gym rat or a complete beginner when it comes to physical fitness, and whatever your motivation for trying CrossFit or fitness bootcamp training, keeping these simple principles in mind from day one will help increase your odds of an enjoyable, successful workout every time you train.
# 1: Warm Up Correctly
You likely will be excited to forge ahead on your new fitness regimen when you first begin CrossFit or HIIT training. That motivation is a good thing, but be careful not to allow it to tempt you to skimp on your warm-up in your eagerness to get to work. The instructor should put everyone through a solid warm-up at the beginning of each training session; avoid the temptation to show up a little late and jump right into the main workout. A thorough, careful warm-up will make a significant difference in your risk of accidental injury and in your recovery from each session. If your schedule allows it, you may even want to show up a few minutes early to do a little extra warming up on your own.
# 2: Hydrate Correctly
Staying properly hydrated will also decrease your risk of injury, and your soreness and stiffness after each workout. Some people find drinking enough water easy, but others must constantly remind themselves to do so. There is no exact amount of water that will ensure you are properly hydrated; the Mayo Clinic recommends that most men drink an average of about 13 cups per day, and most women drink about 9 cups per day, but ideal water consumption will vary from one person to another. Put as simply as possible, the more you sweat, the more water you will need to consume. Ideally, you should try to drink enough water that you rarely become thirsty and that your urine stays clear or very light yellow.
# 3: Eat Correctly
Much like hydration requirements, nutritional requirements can vary quite a bit from one person to another. In general, though, the healthier your diet, the faster you will heal after intense training and the less frequently you will get injured. Everyone should make sure that their diet includes plenty of lean protein, complex carbs and healthy fats, and that the majority of their meals are not heavily processed or pre-packaged “junk food,” which tends to be extremely high in excess sodium and unhealthy fat. Most people should get between 45 and 65 percent of their total caloric intake each day from carbohydrates, between 10 and 35 percent from protein and between 20 and 35 percent from fat. Again, these are only general principles; a trained nutritionist can help tailor the ideal plan for you and your lifestyle.
# 4: Sleep Correctly
Even many people who are ordinarily very health-conscious can find themselves getting too little sleep, at least much of the time. As with most other aspects of healthy living, everyone’s specific sleep requirements will vary substantially; however, most people need between seven and nine hours of restful sleep every night, according to the National Sleep Foundation. The more physically active you are, the more sleep you will tend to need. If you notice that you are having a harder time than usual recovering after a tough training session, even though you are being careful to warm up thoroughly, to stay hydrated and to eat a healthy diet, you may find that getting a little more sleep will solve the problem.
# 5: Train Correctly
As you begin to see results from your new CrossFit or HIIT workout routine, it can be easy to push yourself harder and harder every day, hoping to speed your progress even further. While it is true to some degree that pushing yourself harder will give you better results, there is a point after which this will no longer be true. Eventually, your body will need a break to heal and recuperate; continuing to work past this point will substantially increase your risk of injury. Since everyone is different, there is no set schedule that will be right for everyone; however, most people find that at least a day or two to rest per week is important. Of course, the better your diet, hydration, warm-ups, sleep schedule and genetics, the fewer rest days you will tend to need, but some rest will still be important. Over time, you will learn to “listen to your body,” and will be able to tell when you should simply push yourself through a plateau and when you genuinely need a break. A well-qualified coach or instructor will be able to help you find the ideal training schedule to help you safely meet your fitness goals.
# 6: Progress Correctly
On a similar note, be careful not to try to push yourself too hard too fast. Of course, CrossFit and HIIT workouts are designed for those seeking an intense, effective and challenging workout, but that does not mean that you should sacrifice form and safety to do more reps or lift more weight. Take the time to perfect your form on each new exercise you learn with very light weight before you try it for real, and work up to heavier loads gradually. Your instructor or coach will be able to help you determine how much weight you can handle, and can warn you when your form begins to suffer before you accidentally injure yourself. Never be afraid to ask for guidance if you are unsure of how to proceed; it is far better to scale a workout back a bit, and be able to continue training, than to use poor form, injure yourself and be unable to train for an extended period of time while you heal.
# 7: Challenge Yourself Correctly
Do not let this talk of caution and of progressing slowly distract from one thing: you can accomplish more than you think you can. Find a CrossFit or HIIT instructor that you can trust, then believe them when they tell you that you can keep pushing. No matter what your age, your fitness level or your exercise background, if you keep working, you will eventually achieve goals you might once have thought unreachable!
Do you feel official CrossFit classes are worth the cost?
Huffington Post: “What to Expect at Your First CrossFit Workout”
Mayo Clinic: “Water: How Much Should You Drink Every Day?”
National Sleep Foundation: “How Much Sleep Do We Really Need?”
Muncie CrossFit: “Top 10 Things No One Tells You Before Starting CrossFit”
Mayo Clinic: “Nutrition and Healthy Eating”
CrossFit Lafayette: “10 Tips for Starting CrossFit”
Tabata Times: “10 Things You Must Know Before You Try CrossFit”
Mayo Clinic: “Healthy Diet: Do You Follow Dietary Guidelines?”
PopSugar: “What to Expect at Your First CrossFit Workout”
FitBodyHQ: “7 Things to Expect Your First Time Trying Crossfit”
Tabata Times: “Top Tips for Your First Two Years of CrossFit”