You Absolutely Need These CrossFit Moves in Your Exercise Routine

CrossFit is booming these days, but you don’t have to have to be a constant presence at the box to reap the fitness benefits. Walking lunges, deadlifts, and other favorite moves can be used in any workout routine — not just CrossFit. These 10 exercises force you to combine strength work, cardio, and endurance. We guarantee you’ll get a good workout.

1. Box jumps

Fit young woman box jumping at a gym

Box jumps work your entire body. | iStock.com/Ammentorp Photography

Muscle & Fitness says it best: Box jumps aren’t just for the CrossFit crowd. “The biggest benefit of the box jump is that it improves the reaction of the fast-twitch muscle fibers throughout the body,” the article explains. “This exercise requires your leg and core muscles to contract very quickly so you can generate maximum force with each leap.” Basically, this is a great addition to any lower body workout regimen.

The story recommends using a plyometric box, which stands 12 to 36 inches tall. To achieve the jump, start with feet planted about should-width apart, and go down into a demi-squat to prepare your leg muscles for the jump. Swing your arms to help propel our body up onto the box.

2. Walking lunge

walking lunges

Take your standard lunges for a walk.| iStock.com

Although they concentrate on two sets of muscles — the hip extensors and the knee extensors — walking lunges work all the muscles in your lower body. The movement of the lunge is similar to squats, except that lunges use a wider range of motion.

Stationary and walking lunges are both great exercises, but the walking lunge does come with its own set of benefits. Walking lunges are a functional exercise and ensure you tone both legs equally. Walking lunges also help better your balance, strengthen your core, and increase hip flexibility. If you feel like they are too easy, try holding dumbbells overhead while performing this move.

3. Deadlifts

Deadlifts

Deadlifts are tough, but they work a ton of muscles at the same time. | iStock.com

The deadlift is a quintessential weight lifting exercise and an important part of CrossFit. Functionally, it’s picking something up off the ground and putting it back down. Deadlifts develop the muscles and the movements that are involved in many forms of physical labor.

When performed correctly, Lean It UP explains, they build your upper and lower body. The deadlift works more muscles than any other exercise, including the squat; it engages all of the major muscle groups. It’s even an effective exercise to develop your core strength, training the central muscles of your body. Muscles that make up the core are found in your upper and lower back, hips, buttocks, and abs. Just remember to warm up thoroughly before lifting heavier weights.

4. Ball slams

Two women with medicine balls

Ball slams work your whole body. | iStock.com/lolostock

Don’t be fooled by the coy name of this CrossFit staple. Ball slams are a full-body workout that target everything from your triceps down to your calves. It is also a great exercise for someone who doesn’t have time for a lengthy workout. “The medicine ball slam is done for developing power, strength, and speed,” StyleCraze explains. Plus, this exercise works every part of your body.

Start with a good base by planting your feet shoulder-width apart and our knees slightly bent. Lift your medicine ball over your head. Contract your abdominal muscles as you throw the ball down onto the ground. Keep those muscles engaged as you regain the ball to go back to your starting position.

Side note: There are different sizes of medicine balls that you can use for this exercise. They are both a beneficial and inexpensive purchase, although you should be familiar with what size you need before buying one.

5. Burpees

Man performing push ups

Burpees are a staple for CrossFitters. | iStock.com

CrossFit may have been king of burpees, but the exercise can now be found in HIIT workouts, boot camps, and the training programs of professional athletes. They’re the move we love to hate, but will do regardless — because they work. Adding them to a HIIT routine is especially smart because researchers from the International Journal of Obesity found that HIIT is one of the most effective ways to burn fat.

Instead of hitting one target area, burpees help you to improve the overall strength of your body. The move uses the upper body throughout the push-up element and hits the core and lower body during the up/down movement and jump. That means with every rep, you’ll work your arms, chest, quads, glutes, hamstrings, and abs.

6. Row machine

Man using row machine

You’d be surprised how challenging this exercise can be. | iStock.com

Rowing may be more famous for its appearance in House of Card’s, but it’s also a staple for cross fitters looking to get a mean cardio workout. It’s no coincidence that you’ll find rowing machines in every CrossFit box. There are several reasons CrossFit has chosen the rowing machine over other cardio options.

Rowing is a full-body workout. It uses almost every major muscle group in your body. Rowing hits the quads, hamstrings, glutes, abs, obliques, lower back, and shoulders. And Harper’s Bazaar says it’s a more efficient full-body workout than most other cardio exercises, which primarily use the lower body.

7. Kettlebell passes

man using a kettlebell weight at the gym

Think you can catch a kettle bell with one hand? | iStock.com

In need of a new workout to whittle your midsection? This kettlebell exercise is for you. Patrick Dale of Chron.com educates: “This good waist exercise is easy to learn. Its simplicity means it is an ideal exercise to use as a warmup before moving on to more demanding kettlebell exercises.” We think, however, this is a good warm-up for any exercise plan.
This exercise is as straight-forward as it sounds: Swing the kettlebell in-front of you with one hand and catch it with your other hand. Continue the rep by swinging the kettlebell behind your back, and catching with the opposite hand. For proper form, check out this video.

8. Bodyweight squats

close-up of a woman's upper body as she performs barbell squats

Squats are great for your legs and butt. | iStock.com

You already know squats are great for toning your backside. What you might not know is that they are a great workout tool for pretty much any exercise plan because they raise your core body temperature and count as cardiovascular activity despite being a low-impact exercise. And bodyweight squats don’t require a gym membership or fancy equipment, making them the perfect touch of CrossFit for your everyday workout routine.

The bodyweight squat is pretty self-explanatory. Just make sure you have your feet placed just ever-so-slightly wider than shoulder-width apart so you have the best base. You can use your arms to swing outward and stabilize yourself, or place them behind your head as demonstrated by Bodybuilding.com.

9. Mountain climbers

Woman Doing Mountain Climber Exercise

Mountain climbers are a must for anyone looking to get their heart rate up. | iStock.com/Aleksander Kaczmarek

Ever notice that mountain climbers are integrated into just about every fitness plan out there? That’s because this CrossFit favorite is a full-body exercise that tackles any and all problem areas. Want to work on your waist? Looking to change up your lower body workout? Need to switch up your cardio regimen? Mountain climbers can do all of the above.

The key to making this exercise the most effective is to keep a constant rhythm. Having a proper base is also good for getting the most work for your muscles. Check out this demo to get an idea of proper form.

10. Pull-ups

Pull-ups will give you a real challenge.

Pull-ups will give you a real challenge. | iStock.com

Yes, the pull-up is part of the CrossFit family. And yes, it should be part of your regular exercise plan whether you do CrossFit or not. “Pull-ups are infamous for building and strengthening your upper body, but that is only one of their claims to fame,” Peak Fitness says. “If you do pull-ups regularly, you may find that your posture begins to improve.”
Of course, pull-ups are also known as an incredibly difficult exercise. If you are just beginning to implement them into your workout, start with a low number of reps and work your way up. There are also key exercises that help improve your pull-ups, which Breaking Muscle explains in several easy-to-follow steps.

Laura Bauer also contributed to this story

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