Pumping Up with Sai An introduction to CrossFit

Article by Sai Gopalan

Do you do CrossFit? Do you even know what CrossFit is? I’m here to set the record straight and open the door to not only a new way to think about working out, but, hopefully, the beginning of a whole new you.

Since I know all of you have been reading my columns religiously, you might remember I shared some exercises focused on high intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts that target multiple muscle groups. This is basically what CrossFit is based on. In simple terms, you perform various types of compound exercises (exercises that work more than one muscle) in a given circuit. For example, in one cycle you may perform five different exercises, one after the other, with no break in between. It’s one of the most popular exercise fads going around at the moment and with good reason. Firstly, anybody can do it; whether you’re an athlete, retired or just starting out, CrossFit can work for you. It’s great for building up stamina, increasing your metabolism so you burn fat outside the gym as well, building strength, injury proofing your body, muscle building and the list goes on and on…

There are many different types of CrossFit programmes, exercises and methods. I chose these cycles because they target the entire body and focus on some of the best compound exercises that will make you stronger, burn fat, and, if you want, build muscle. Plus it’s easy to scale to your own fitness needs. I want you to do between 10-15 reps for each exercise (pull-ups, until failure). Have only a minute break at the end of a cycle and then repeat. Remember no rest between exercises unless you absolutely need it!

Cycle A

Focused on lifts and weights, targeting each major muscle group that will help boost your strength, increase muscle tone, burn fat and boost your metabolism. I remember feeling bloated at the gym, did this routine and immediately felt it go away. An amazing routine. If you are new to the gym go light on the weights.

  • SQUATS (10- 15 reps) If you have access to a gym, use a barbell and some weights depending on your fitness and goals. Remember this round is tough so don’t go too heavy! Works the legs, core, back and shoulders.
  • Bench Press (10- 15 reps) The holy grail for most men. You can decide to use dumbbells or barbells here. Main focus here is the chest but also works the shoulders, chest, triceps and core.
  • Deadlift (10- 15 reps) To finish the holy trinity of gyming. Nothing better than the classic dead lift. It helps develop that core strength, back, shoulders and chest.
  • Leg raises (20 reps) This can be brutal at the end of the cycle but push yourself even if you need a couple of seconds break. Great core and ab workout

Repeat Cycle 2 – 3 times.

Cycle B

If you can continue, rest for a few minutes and then complete Cycle B. Cycle B is focused on body weight exercises that are fast and intense to boost your metabolism, burn fat, and injury proof your body. You can also choose to complete each cycle on different days or do one ahead of the other depending on your needs.

  • Clean press (10 reps) One of the best if not the best full body exercises out there. It works every muscle, the heavier the weight, the more power and strength, the more reps, the faster your metabolism.
  • Burpees (10 reps) Another killer full body metabolism booster. It works the whole body
  • Jumping lunges (10 reps on each leg)  This is excellent for cardio, building your core, legs and butt and of course burning fat.
  • Pull ups (10 reps) If you need an assist or the machine, go for it! This can be really tough especially at the end of the cycle. This targets the back, shoulders, biceps and lats.

Saien Gopalan is a South African English teacher currently teaching at EF. He has been living in Xi’an for 2 years and enjoys his off days exploring the Xi’an nightlife and of course, going to the gym.