9 Essential CrossFit Movements You Need To Know

New to CrossFit? Have CrossFit experience and want to fine tune your form? Here’s a brief overview of 9 essential movements to help you get you started. Each movement explanation listed below has a video demonstration of how the movement should be performed.

Air Squat: Stand with your feet hip-width apart with your toes pointed slightly outward. Your arms should be hanging loose by your side. Then engage your core muscles and push out your chest slightly by pulling your shoulder blades towards each other. Bend your knees and squat down as if you were sitting into a chair. Keep your weight on your heels and keep your core tight. Your eventual goal will be to touch your glutes to the back of your calves but if you can only get to parallel right now, that’s fine. Make an effort to keep your knees externally rotated (don’t let them collapse inward). As you lower down, you can either raise your arms straight in front of you or keep them bent in front of your chest. Focus on keeping your torso upright and core tight. Straighten your legs and squeeze your butt to come back up, lowering your arms back to your side.

Front Squat: The front squat strengthens the glutes, quads, hamstrings, calves and core. This exercise is similar to the back squat; however, the bar sits in the front rack position across the collarbones and shoulders of the athlete. As you drive back up, it is essential that you raise your elbows upward to keep the bar in the correct position. The core should be tight to prevent the back from rounding. If you have mobility issues in the front rack position, you can cross your forearms in front of your body, parallel to the ground.

Snatch: The snatch strengthens the glutes, quads, hamstrings, calves, traps, core, shoulders and back. This is an extremely high-skill movement and is one of two Olympic Weightlifting events. It is quite common in CrossFit workouts, which is why it is also considered an essential movement to learn. Start with the bar on the ground with your feet hip-width apart. With your hands wide on the bar, keep a big chest as you deadlift the weight off the ground (similar to the beginning of the clean). Pull from the floor with your arms in a locked position. Then, drive your hips and pull the bar as high as possible. As you receive the bar overhead, drop down as quickly as possible and lock your arms into place in a squat position with the bar overhead.

Shoulder Press: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart (or slightly narrower), and grab the bar with a grip that is slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Make sure to wrap your thumbs around the bar. To get the bar into position, you can either explosively heave it up off the floor and up to your shoulders—a motion called a clean—or simply set the bar at shoulder-level on the rack. Once you have the bar in your hands, make sure to squeeze your shoulder blades together, fire your abs to stabilize your core, and push your chest out—it’s important that you do not bend your knees during this movement or it becomes a push press—begin pressing the bar overhead, making sure to move your head back slightly as you lift the bar in front of your face. When the bar passes your head, press it up and slightly backward so that it is vertically aligned with the back of your head. Hold at the top for a moment, then lower the bar back to your shoulders.

Push Press: The Push Press is a move that incorporates your entire body. While the strict press focuses only on the upper body, the push press incorporates the lower body to drive the bar up overhead. This synchronic movement is great for building power and pure strength. Start with the bar across your shoulders. Your hands position on the bar should be just slightly outside of your shoulders, and your feet should be shoulder-width apart. Brace your core, dip slightly into a quarter squat and squeeze your glutes while driving the bar up overhead. Complete the movement with your arms in the lockout position overhead. There is only one dip in the push press, and that is when you push the bar overhead. There should not be a second dip at the top of the bar path or that movement would be called a "jerk."

Deadlift: The deadlift is one of the foundational strength movements in any exercise program. It strengthens your glutes, quads, hamstrings, calves, back and core. The deadlift begins with the bar on the ground. You can perform this with a regular grip or an alternating grip, which means one hand is facing towards your body and one hand is facing away. With a proud chest and locked core, along with your shoulders nice and tight, pull the bar up while keeping it as close to your body as possible. Use your hip hinge and push your knees back to keep your body over the bar. Then extend your hips and squeeze the glutes while keeping your core and shoulders tight to complete the movement.

Pull-up: This workout strengthens your back, core, shoulders, and chest. Pull-ups have become one of the most basic movements in CrossFit and is used in several WODs (workout of the days). To complete a pull up, start by hanging from a secured bar with your hand in an overhand grip (palm pointing outward, away from your body) and slightly wider than shoulder width apart. While squeezing your traps together and engaging your abs, pull yourself up to the bar until your chin passes over the bar.

Clean : This movement strengthens the following muscles: glutes, quads, hamstring, calves, shoulders, core and traps .This is a lift that builds full-body power and tests the athlete’s ability to move quickly. Start with the bar on the ground. Place your hands on the bar— a little outside of your shins— with the bar touching your mid-shin. You should keep your weight on your heels with your chest big and pull the bar up like a deadlift, while driving the knees back so that the bar path stays perpendicular to the floor and you stay over the bar. This utilizes your hip hinge and activates your posterior chain. Once the bar passes the knees, you jump up (you may not actually leave the ground, but you should feel like you're trying to) and shrug so that the bar comes as high as possible. The next step is for you to get under the bar or "catch" it as quickly as possible by squatting under the bar and changing the hand position underneath the bar, which puts the body into a front squat position with the bar resting on the shoulders. You then stand the bar up.

To learn out more about these moves and to get started on your CrossFit journey, join us in our classes. See the class schedule to find which times work best for you.

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Jessie SmithComment