Many people are drawn to CrossFit due to a desire to improve functional fitness and push their personal limits. These motivating factors can be key to your CrossFit success, but they can also lead to inadvertently making common beginner mistakes. We’ve compiled a list of 5 common mistakes beginning CrossFitters make, so you can avoid them.

Run Before You Can Walk

CrossFit bases your overall fitness on your proficiency in ten physical skills. These skills are stamina, cardiovascular/respiratory endurance, flexibility, strength, speed, power, balance, coordination, agility, and accuracy. Successful CrossFit Training occurs when you do not ignore or focus too heavily on any one of these skills. Build a foundation of strength and endurance first. Without it, you may see short-term results, but the long-term goals of lifelong functional fitness will elude you. Even if you have been an athlete or proficient in other fitness regimes in the past, allow yourself to be a CrossFit beginner and build a foundation for success.

Performing Complex Moves without Mastering the Moves

This is a surefire recipe for injury. Proper form is essential to make sure you do not injure yourself and that you get the intended benefits. Ensure you can achieve full range of motion on the basics first, such as squats and push-ups. Proper form on air squats will translate to proper form when you add weight to your squats, which protects your back. Improper form on basic moves may not seem to have much consequence at first, but the consequences can be swift and painful as you advance to more complex moves. CrossFit workouts for beginners should focus on perfecting form for basic moves before advancing to more complex moves.

Not Scaling

Scaling workouts is why CrossFit can work for nearly anybody with practically any body. The programs and workouts don’t change. Instead, the CrossFit workouts for beginners are scaled, or adjusted in terms of weight load and intensity. That said, when you show up at a CrossFit gym, you will see the Workout of the Day (WOD) is the same for everybody. Most beginners will not be able to do the WOD as prescribed, yet it is a very common mistake to try anyway instead of ding the WOD at your ability level. Scaling your workouts not only helps to prevent injury, it ensures you get the same level of intensity in your workout as everyone else.

Forgoing Nutritional Change

CrossFit focuses on functional fitness, helping your body work better not for a specific sport or event but for an overall active, healthy lifestyle. Bad habits and a poor diet are going to detract from your ability to be functionally fit. For example, if you smoke, you will struggle with respiratory endurance. If you eat highly processed food, you will feel tired and sluggish more easily. Beginners all too often think that CrossFit alone is enough to be healthy, or even worse fall into the trap of believing that the workout of the day will offset the extra serving or empty calorie snack. Think of CrossFit as one piece in your healthy lifestyle puzzle. Look at the other pieces, such as your diet, sleep patterns, bad habits. If these pieces don’t support your overall health goals, commit to changing them.

Competing Too Much

Healthy competition is motivating and encouraging. It pushes you to train harder and exceed self-imposed limitations. Which is fantastic, to a point. Unhealthy competition looks a lot like healthy competition with one clear distinction – you’ve lost sight of the overall goal. The overall goal of CrossFit is functional fitness, which requires a foundation of strength and endurance built through basic movements. If you focus too much on competing, you are more likely to fall into mistakes mentioned above like performing complex moves with out mastering the basics or maxing out outside of your fitness capacity.

As a beginning CrossFitter, the keys to your success lie in learning as much as you can, focusing on your mobility, and scaling your workouts. A CrossFit journey is a commitment to lifelong function fitness. You will likely reap many other rewards along the way, but staying focused on the long-term goal can help you avoid these common beginner mistakes.