Beginners' Workout

By Greg Glassman

In Basics

May 01, 2003

PDF Article

We are routinely challenged to provide workouts for individuals with little workout experience and very limited resources. That’s not our first choice of circumstances, but the exercise seems worthy. The challenge then is to see how much fitness we could motivate around the following parameters:

• Require a minimal amount of equipment
• Doesn’t necessitate gym membership
• Requires minimal coaching
• Low technical requirements for movements
• Fixed, easy to follow regimen
• Accessible to nearly every fitness level
• Unlimited in potential for development

We realize that to go at once from limited resources and experience to building a home gym with a rower, rings,
Olympic weight set, kettlebells, medicine balls, pull-up bar, mats, and to start out on a course of self instruction
requires undaunted courage and a considerable leap of faith. Our hope is that a graduated regimen involving
a few simple exercises would provide sufficiently dramatic gains in fitness as to inspire greater interest and participation in more advanced programming.

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26 Comments on “Beginners' Workout”


Tom R wrote …

quick question on the workout sheet.. it tells you how much weight to increase/when for the deadlift and push press but it doesnt say anything for the squat, how much weight to increase by and how often? also, i'm just starting to lift (guess thats obvious being that this is the "beginners crossfit". i'm about 170lb, pretty athletic, and in decent shape already. i was wondering what good weights would be to start out at for deadlift, push press, and squat. hope those arent dumb questions. thanks in advance for any help.


Coach wrote …

Tom R,

This squat is a body-weight squat, and that will always be the case unless otherwise stated.

By your self-description of body-weight and fitness, I'd suggest that for the push-press you start with 45 pounds and 95 pounds for the deadlift ASSUMING that your execution is perfect.

I believe the article suggests a load progression for the two laden movements.


Tom R wrote …

sorry to keep bothering you, just a bit confused on the squat still. am i using a bar then, and squating 170lbs? or am i following the link in the article and doing the "tabata squat" with no weight?


wrote …

Tom, unless a load is specified and a front squat, back squat or overhead squat is prescribed, squat in CF parlance means an air squat (no added load). These are often used with the Tabata protocol but are also woven in to many other CF WOD's

Cheers, kempie


wrote …

Hey Coach,
I am new to crossfit and have been doing the beginner workout for about 2 weeks now. Wow! What an improvement! I was in pretty good shape before, but now I can see and feel a marked improvement. This beats those stupid workout mag workouts anyday.


wrote …

Excellent to hear, Carl. Keep up the good work!


John wrote …

i've been following this workout for my fourth week now, but i added in biceps/triceps to mon,weds,fri. and abs/back to tues,thurs hoping for a little more dramatic results. i know i should have asked this before i started, but could someone tell me if this is a bad move? or if it is okay to stick with this routine? i've been doing some reading and hearing a lot of talk about the proper rest of muscles/avoiding overtraining, and i just wanted to be sure that with that modified weekly workout i wouldnt be over-working any muscles.


wrote …

I will be starting the beginner's Crossfit workout when I receive my bar and bumper plates.

I am 38 years old, 5'11" and weigh about 305 lbs (down from 378 and falling..). In addition, I have been having significant problems with plantar fascitis which I am seeking medical attention for.

What is an appropriate Scwinn Airdyne protocol to sub for the 400M walk/run?



wrote …

Best strategy when substituting protocols is to aim for a similar time period, instead of comparing distances. So if a 400M run takes 2 minutes, then plan on biking for 2 minutes.


wrote …

Question about starting this workout. I teach a spin/abs class on MWF. I want to start the weight training in this workout on those days, but am wondering if my 30 min. of spinning counts for the running those days, or if I should still try to do the 400m runs in between sets. I don't mind doing the running, I just don't want to over do it! Thanks!


wrote …


Is ok to warm up with the CrossFit warmup? Or is that too much excercise for beginners?


wrote …


I think you'll be fine doing the cross-fit warm-up. I've been following the workout for a while and I do 3 rounds of the warm-up every day. You can always scale it down to 1 or 2 rounds if you need to.


wrote …


Thank you for your reply. Turns out I was being a little ambitious, neither my wife nor I are able to do the entire warm-up...

It's good to know we can start working on it without fear of doing too much.

How long have you been doing the beginners workout? We are considering continuing with this workout until we are able to complete the warm-up plus the workout, then hopefully transition to the WOD's.


wrote …


I haven't been doing this for long at all, I'm now only into my second week. I have a good background of fitness though, having been a trainer for a couple of years, and been working out myself for the last four years.

Your intentions are good and your plan of progression seems achieveable. Stay committed to your targets and be consistent with your training and your goals will become a reality!


wrote …

I am in the Marine Corps and I am looking for a workout that will best suit me for combat. I have already been once (OIF 1 March-July 2003) and remember the guys who could not pull their weight in an intense firefight. I will be back in Iraq in about 8 months and don't want to be that guy. I am currently a Drill Instructor and I am in a billet that will allow me to do any workout I want to do without having to worry about being tired later on. I am in the kind of shape that I can run 4 or 5 miles doing 7 minute miles the whole way but I am weak anaerobically. I already did one workout (with 115 lbs. on an Olympic bar) of 12 push presses, run 400M, 12 push presses, 400M, 12 dead lifts, 400M, 12 dead lifts, 400M, 12 squats, 400M, 12 squats, 400M. I did this rotation twice and completed it in about 35 minutes. I don't have the muscle control to do some of the exercises but would like to build for them. Would the WOD be a good workout to start with or should I go with the beginner workout and alter like the one above? Thank you.


wrote …

Is there a recommended rest period between sets on days 1, 3 and 5 during the first few weeks? I assume that once the running is incorporated in week four, one is to move directly from one to the other.


Allen wrote …


How long should one rest when doing the deadlifts, squats and push presses during the first few weeks? Is there a rest period between rounds of running and the weight bearing excercises in later weeks?


wrote …

I have a question about exhaustion and strength. I am a 46 year old female-and I have to say I am new to fitness-because I never really worked out at all in my life. But, three years ago I began working out and actually now work as a fitness instructor. I have gotten my pt cert and other certifications to teach. Here is my question. Very quickly I developed a strong and fit body-I spin once a week, and work out with weights and now strength train using Olympic lifting. But after the past summer I actually began to lose strength. I spent much of the summer trying to build cardio-and yes I am sure that took some strength as I lost 10 pounds. But, now three months later the strength still is not what is was over a year ago. What is going on-I do get plenty of rest, probably too much.


Colm O'Reilly wrote …


I'll make the assumption here that by "cardio" you meant long extended periods of steady state monostructural work (just running, rowing, biking, swimming, etc.)

The body adapts to the specific demands placed upon it, and has a limited ability to adapt. Lon Kilgore has suggested that from an evolutionary perspective, the body is better off providing resources to cardio as it is perceived as an immediate survival need. The Jan 07 issue of the CrossFit Journal details this.

Now, the real kicker is we've found endurance style training leads to pretty poor overall work capacity (which we define as fitness). CrossFit blurs the lines between strength and cardio training, putting together workouts that test both strength and endurance at the same time. These are generally referred to as "metcon" workouts.

Hope this helps,


wrote …

hello there this is my first time working out any one have ideas what to do thanks iam17 years old and i have a home gym in my garage. plz email with tips thanks.


wrote …

Payback is an awesome experience! My wife and i learned of CrossFit from our three sons, ( Fighter Pilot, Special Ops and Medical student) and consider it a gift. We have been following your beginners workout for two weeks (modified with a couple of WODs) and find the results exhilarating. The Journal and WODs/ demo videos are excellent. We are 65 going on 35. Will let you know when we reach the 300 lb jerk. Our most enthusiastic endorsement for CrossFit.


wrote …

I have been doing your wod and am continually humbled. I played college volleyball and my knees are garbage. I am able to substitute as you direct, but am concerned that how do I develop true core stability without the overhead squat. Also, can you give me a quick 101 of difference between stamina and endurance?


wrote …


From 'What is Fitness', stamina is the ability to deliver/sustain energy to the muscles, endurance is the ability to deliver/sustain oxygen to the muscles. I think then that endurance will apply to LSD and other oxidative energy pathway dependent work, whereas stamina is a term to apply to work in glycolitic/phosphagen energy pathway dependent work.

Junk knees not always a reason not to squat - but cleans, deads, squats (air or weighted), front squats, GHD work - all place a high demand on your ability to stabilize your core (as do derivatives such as hang cleans, thrusters, wall ball shots, L-sits, the hollow rock, and handstand pushups/holds).



wrote …

How can I get more info on this program.I am always into doing new things and I have a squadron that I work with to help keep in shape for fitness requirements in the military. Can someone send me info on this program, my email is listed above.


wrote …

How can I get more info on this program.I am always into doing new things and I have a squadron that I work with to help keep in shape for fitness requirements in the military. Can someone send me info on this program, my email is listed above.


wrote …

just wondering, should i do the beginners workout and the wod or pick one?

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