The Beginner’s List of Crossfit Exercises

beginner list

The key to being comfortable in your first few classes is learning the difference between the various Crossfit movements. 

Push press or push jerk? Strict? Split? Squat?


Stop Feeling Like a Total Newbie

Even though she’d been to a few classes, Cayce still felt like a total beginner. Every time she looked at the workout written on the whiteboard, she immediately felt a little uneasy, like she’d just been given a pop quiz that she was zero percent prepared for.

“Front squat,” Cayce thought to herself. “I’m pretty sure I’ve done that one before…but which one is it?” She nervously started stretching, terrified that she wouldn’t remember what she was supposed to do before she had to do it. She also made a mental note to Google “Crossfit exercises” as soon as she got home.

When the instructor started warming the class up, she demonstrated front squats before asking people to try them.  “Thank God,” Cayce sighed to herself.

After class–after all of those front squats–Cayce walked over to the instructor and asked if she could get a quick rundown of the basic Crossfit exercises so she could stop having twice-weekly freakouts in front of the whiteboard.

Cayce isn’t the only one who feels overwhelmed by the seemingly endless list of movements that show up during the average week. So here are some resources that explain the basics. Save that stress for something else, like wondering what the hell AMRAP means. (We’re kidding! If you don’t understand something, just ask!)

Learn to Recognize the Core Crossfit Exercises

  • Squat (aka Air Squat) –  No weight.  Bend knees until hips are parallel to knees.
  • Front Squat – Squat with weight on front of shoulders
  • Back Squat – Squat with weight on back of shoulders
  • Overhead Squat – Squat with weight locked out overhead

  • Press (aka Strict Press aka Military Press) – Just the arms and shoulders
  • Push Press – Arms/shoulders + Hips
  • Push Jerk – Push Press then drop underneath bar into 1/4 squat
  • Split Jerk –  Push Jerk except you move into a 1/4 lunge

  • Thruster – Do a front squat and then go into a push press overhead
  • Deadlift – Pick up a weight from the ground
  • Kettlebell Swing – Swing kettlebell between legs and then power out in front

  • Snatch vs. Clean & Jerk – Snatch goes from floor to overhead in one motion.  Clean goes to shoulders first then you do a Push Press or Jerk to get it overhead.
  • Hang vs. Floor – Start above the knees or start from the floor
  • Squat vs. Power – When bar gets overhead you are either in a squat (parallel or below) or not in a squat (above parallel; this is the “power” version).

One Step at a Time

Don’t worry about getting it right all at once. We’ve all gone through this, getting acquainted with the movements, double-checking their definition and then starting to refine our techniques. You’ll get there. We promise. 🙂

Do you have a question about the basic movements?  Post your question in the comments.

Photo Credit:
demandaj / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

1 thought on “The Beginner’s List of Crossfit Exercises”

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