The 9 Crossfit Basic Movements – all fundamentals needed to thrive with no injury

Crossfit.com organization publishes their LEVEL 1 TRAINER GUIDE, with special attention in the following movements (ordered by simplicity to execute, in our humble opinion)*:

  • Air Squat
  • Medicine-Ball Clean
  • Shoulder Press
  • Push Press
  • Deadlift
  • Sumo Deadlift High Pull.
  • Push Jerk
  • Overhead Squat
  • Glute-Ham Developer (GHD)

This is a ongoing, on monthly basis to be updated post, so bookmark it and check it again next month, when we will add another movement to the guidelines below with proper exercise execution guide and few WOD ‘s we suggest to use them in.


Air Squat

Airs quats are done with your own bodyweight (and only), it differs from other techniques exactly on the natural and accessory-less way to execute it.

A few conditions must be met for correct execution (don’t forget to warm up first, and stretch after!):

  • Feet stay in shoulder width;
  • Feet point straight away, or slightly open – inclination 15 to 30 degrees \o/;
  • All body weight should be concentrated on the heels;
  • Hips should go BACK and DOWN;
  • Engage your abdominal muscles;
  • Lombar curve should be maintained, and protected! Back should NEVER round up;
  • Knees track (stay in line) with toes, knees should NEVER pass the toes;
  • Deep enough – hips will descend lower than knees; Lower body is really the only part of the body moving.
  • Chest ALWAYS UP – never let shoulders fall.
  • Eyes looking diagonally UP!
  • Breath in, as you go down, as you lower into the squat, and exhale as you press up (weight on heels) to standing position!
Image result for air squat
Josh Bridges, Crossfit professional athlete, teaches air squats in wodstar video: https://wodstar.com/uncategorized/air-squats-by-josh-bridges/

You will want to go as deep as you can safely perform, beginners can perform half of the movement, or simply not go deep, we advise to always be ON SAFE and COMFORTABLE limit!

The movement should be ALL THE TIME ON CONTROL! Don’t throw the bodyweight and do not promote IMPACT, focus on glutes, hamstring and erectors. If you have any pain on the knees, you are doing it wrong!

GREAT LINK TO LEARN MORE…

To learn from Crossfit.com, click here! Or, if you prefer to have your airsquat class directly with amazing Josh Bridges, click here! For bits more of information Healthline also has GREAT ARTICLES on squats!


Air squats are great technique for warm-up or cardio. It is the perfect exercise for beginners to start with and incorporate in your workout from home routines.


Air squats are more effective when executed as part of a workout routine. We hereby give you a few suggestions, and of course advise you to have a look in our WOD blog posts for more)

Suggested WOD ‘s with Air squats:

  • running 200 meters;
  • 20 push-ups;
  • 20 sit-ups;
  • 20 air squats.

NerdFitness suggests some pretty decent (also available on Youtube), fully bodyweight, perfect to do from home, or when traveling…

  • 20 jumping jacks (also called skibocks)
  • 1 pull-up (if you have a bar)
  • 20 air squats
  • 20 push-ups
  • 20 lunges (10 each leg)
  • 20 decline push-ups, where your legs are elevated

Benefits from squatting:

Learning proper squats technique that later will help you with many other heavier movements… like front squats and overhead squats. Also it will help you not injury yourself and load more weight in these movements.

Lose weight, more coordination and stronger legs (and glutes).

Easy exercise can be incorporated into many different workouts and done pretty much everywhere.

They target your thighs, hamstrings, quadriceps, and glutes in particular, helping you to add muscle mass in these areas. Because balance is necessary, air squats can also engage your core.

You can burn between 100 calories and 220 calories in a 25 minute air squat workout, depending on how vigorous is your rhythm.


Most common vicious air squat mistakes:

  • Weak lower body muscles (specifically glutes and hamstrings)
  • Bad coordination, bad movement,
  • No mobility
  • Squatting with quads, knee injury candidates
  • No lumbar + lower back protection = CURVE. Dropping shoulders,
  • Rolling IN knees
  • Looking down…
  • Heels elevated, off the ground.
  • Movement incomplete
  • Wrong breathing (upside down).

Recomendation: don’t try to check yourself on mirror, try to develop movement and body (auto) critics, perform and review the points above, practice until you are absolutely sure, that everything is correct! The practice will show the correct points and improve the strength, also link some mobility and strecthing sessions to your training routine.

Too easy? Try the following variations…

Dumbbell squat – easiest way to load and perform literally heavier.

Holding dumbbells (and here you can take as much as you feel safe, or as heavy as you would like your training to be), hold them parallel to each other, just in front of your shoulders.

The weight will for sure improve your muscle gain, but if you are new to this, start light.

Plié (like ballet) or Sumo squat.

Instead of the shoulder width stance, open more your feet (turned out 45 degrees), the bigger opening will slightly shift the tension to your inner thighs. You can perform either only with your body weight, or with dumbbells in order to load and make more work.

Split squat (pretty much like lunges).

Working unilaterally, one leg to the front, the knee under body can go as low as to touch the floor.

Don’t place both feet on the same line (or you will fall to the sides), place them as separated as the original squat – shoulder width, this will make the exercise much more confortable, you will be stable, equilibrated, and will be able to focus on the squat itself.

You can use kettebells to load weight, you can also set them to touch the ground.

You can either work one leg at a time (and perform for example 6 reps with right leg, then 6 repetitions with the left) or you can alternate after each squat.

Jump squat

We hereby reaffirm, Jump Squats are not for beginners! And for the advanced athletes, keep in mind, to add more power, always try plyometrics.

Keep in mind – Jump Squats involve force that may tax the lower joints. BUT also, they help develop explosive strength and speed that can help in different sports.

Starting position exactly as the air squat then squat down low and bring your arms behind you. Then swoop your arms forward and jump up off the ground. Your arms should be over your head and your legs extended out straight. Then simply land, and repeat!


*We are not affiliated to Crossfit.com and thereby do not represent anyhow the official authority of the brand. This guide gives only personal and professional advise sharing a bit of our experience within our gym. In other words, we are just big fans of Crossfit, sharing with our community, just because sharing is caring!


Next month (in March): Next Movement = Medicine-Ball Clean,

And later this year… Shoulder Press, Push Press, Deadlift, Sumo Deadlift High Pull, Push Jerk, Overhead Squat, Glute-Ham Developer (GHD)


14 comments on this post

    Nathaniel

    Thansk for the wonderful post, I really needed this. My body is so stiff the only thing I can do is a short press up, anything that involves bending the limbs I cannot, even basic squat is a problem for me, so am going to follow some of the instruction on this article to try and stretch myself out. 

    Reply

      admin

      Your are mostly welcome Nathaniel, acutally, we have to thank you for taking the time to read through the article, learn on the 9 fundamental movements from Crossfit (and also Calisthenics), and absolutely master (safely) them.

      If you body is very stiff, and specially if you are not used to exercise or go to gym, take a good time to PREPARE for your session. Don’t skip the warm-up and stretching, specially the hamstring muscles and lower body (that are mostly neglected!).

      If you face any difficulty with these movements,make some practice with slow and short movements, and if you feel any pain, please have an appointment with a doctor, a physicist or a physiotherapist (qualified supervision is always important!). 

      We will very soon start with some sequence of videos for warm up, stretching, and also the movements we are describing in the article (between others :D).

      Hope to hear from you again, Cheers! 

      Reply

    Dave

    I’m very interested in introducing myself to the Crossfit workout.  It’s been awhile since I’ve worked out so I need to start up again.  I’ve heard that Crossfit gives you an incredible workout.  

    I’ve done some research on Crossfit in the past, as I’ve been interested in it for awhile.  It was very hard to find any information on exactly “where to start”.  I didn’t want to overdo it as a beginner..  I couldn’t find much info so I gave up.

    The info that you provide is awesome!!  Now I know where to start.  Plus, fundamentals are everything!

    How long should be be working out as a beginner? 

    Reply

      admin

      Hey there Dave, thanks for the visit and comment!

      It is never late to go back for sports, and it is better to be informed, in order to not be afraid.

      We are not going to lie, Crossfit is AWESOME, but also a bit intimidating! Try to find a coach that is experienced with beginners and can scale down each exercise, to make sure you don’t get hurt, or so sore on the next day.

      Step by step you will see progression, and when you least expect, you will be doing burpees, muscle ups, pulls ups and push ups like there is no tomorrow!

      In Crossfit, we don’t follow a workout routine, there is always a different series of exercises to do, everyday different! 

      That’s why we call them WOD (Workout of the day). You can check some of our WODs with explanations from each exercise, scale down (simpler and easier exercises for beginners) and even hints on how to workout from home here: https://spartafitbulgaria.com/

      1 session in general is 45-60 minutes, including warm up (7-10 minutes), technique practice (5-7 minutes), pre-WOD (some specific series to get you read for the main challenge), main WOD (the real thing) and stretching (5-10 minutes)! The WODs can vary from very quick 3-5 minutes to up to 15-20 minutes (that we consider already LONG).

      Well, let us know if we can assist you, we will do our best!

      Cheers, 

      Reply

    Gracen

    Hello Sparta! The 9 Crossfit basic movements you reviewed is interesting. You gave a detailed analysis on how Air squat should be done correctly in order to avoid injury. Not only have you listed the benefits of squatting you also took your time to list common air squat mistakes one might run into. Thanks a lot for your topic of discussion, it is quite informative.

    Reply

      admin

      Hey there Gracen, 

      Thanks for your visit. We truly hope the article helps you achieve your fitness goals! Keep in touch and let us know!

      Reply

    Dammy

    Keeping Fit and Burning Calories is really important I personally prefer the deadlift and shoulder press the comfort is there which is ironic because working out is not supposed to be comfortable. Fitness is Key we all should learn to be in pitch perfect shape. Not just reading a Post we need to put all the information gotten into action . This Post is very informative and helpful have learnt new work out movements and will obviously put them into use very helpful nice writeup

    Reply

      admin

      Thanks Dammy for taking the time to read through and leaving us a comment, we really appreciate.

      The deadlift is well known for being a injury maker, for being wrongly executed, it is a quite complex exercise that needs to be very well studied and carefully executed (we will get into its explanations soon…). But the very first hint is, PROTECT your lower back, and knees, at all costs! 

      Technique is always more important than adding more weight, many athletes are anxious to load more and do exercises heavier but in this pathway they end up losing productivity and effectiveness for doing the exercise wrongly or shorter than it should.

      Shoulder press is a bit more comfortable exercise,  but still has its secrets (that we will share all about in this post later on).

      For now, we really advise you to SQUAT. It is a FUNCTIONAL movement training, essential for our body, mobility and health.

      Thanks again for the support and hope to be in touch 😀

      Cheers,

      Reply

    Matt M

    Hi there, 

    Thank you for the infomation on Squats. I like to perform daily home workouts and squats are perfect to add into that. It’s great you’ve given advice and helpful tips to make sure novices workout correctly without hurting themselves. 

    How often are you planning on posting new workouts? I’d love to learn some more exercises I can do at home, especially ones that are quick, as time is precious.

    Thanks 

    Matt

    Reply

      admin

      Hey there Matt, 

      Thanks for taking the time to visit and comment. We plan to add full workouts with explanations as oftern as possible. We actually manage to post everyday for 1 week, if you go for WOD category you will see them.

      We didn’t continue to add them for now, because we had some logistics issues and were not satisfy with the speed and format to add and post them. But we are working on that.

      Regarding the crossfit foundational movements, we plan to add 1 movement per month, the next movement is medicine ball clean and article is already 85% done… so very soon you will be able to see updates!

      Also regarding the workouts from home, we plan to make some videos and add good sequences in video to follow from home, as pretty mush we used to have in DVDs in the 90s-00s. We will place the sequence and videos on our Youtuve channel – Sparta Fit Bulgaria channel at Youtube

      Cheers!

      Reply

    Michel

    I love the way you give the exercises and then break them down and then also give the faults. Most people do squats incorrectly, and this can cause a lot of damage over time to your knees and back. Learning how to do a squat properly is well worth taking the time, as it is an extremely beneficial all over body exercise for strengthening.

    Reply

      admin

      Absolutely Michel, 

      Squats are so crucial functional movement, but besides all the benefits behind it it can seriously damage your health.

      Specially your lower back and knees.

      We really hope the article can bring enlightenment for better awareness and fitness experience worldwide! 

      Cheers! 

      Reply

    Paul

    This exercise is not for the faint-hearted. It demands good concentration and focus to be executed successfully. Great combination of exercises for either working on the whole body or for isolation of certain muscle groups. 

    This article outlines a clear path for achieving weight loss and well-being. Great informative articles and suggestions!

    Reply

      admin

      Thanks Paul for the compliments and for taking the time to read through and leaving us a comment.

      We hope that we manage to inform our online community and help others to achieve more and perform better and SAFE!

      Exercising is a science, it is totally serious matter and that’s why we commit to it, and love it!

      Keep in touch and you will see loads more of interesting and informative articles are coming! 

      Cheers, and thanks again!

      Reply

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