First and foremost, we’d like to address a question we get from women all the time (and occasionally some men too). “Will CrossFit make me too muscular”? Personally, we think strong women are beautiful, but the issue of what women are “supposed” to look like is an entirely different argument. So back to it, “will CrossFit make me bulky?” The answer is simple, CrossFit, like any other training, will give you exactly what you put into it. More than likely, we’re asked this question because someone has seen an image of a CrossFit games female athlete, who has way more abs than I do. In Philly, I trained with a female games athlete at our gym. She ate roughly 6-8 eggs PER DAY, and drank about 2-3 GALLONS of whole milk a week. In addition to training TWICE DAILY at extremely high intensity, and eating copious amounts of meats, fish, veggies, fruit, nuts and seeds. And yes, she was jacked. She wanted to look like that, and she worked really hard to get there. Those results don’t just happen for women OR men, unless they try really, really hard to get there. However, if you do discover that after doing some light squats in your first week of weight training, all of a sudden you’re ready for your first body building competition, we (and a whole lot of other people) would love to know how you did it !
The question we ask back in return, is always “why are you afraid of muscles?”. The answer is invariably, I want to get toned, but I don’t want to get too muscly. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but tone, refers to muscle tone, “curves” are muscle! You can’t have “tone” without muscle. The reality is that those instagram fitness models you follow are doing weight training, and if they aren’t, then they are part of the extremely small percentage of us who are born with great muscle tone without having to work for it. If those “toned” men and women didn’t have any muscle, they wouldn’t be toned, they’d be skin and bones. That’s what happens when you have zero fat, AND zero muscle. If you want to lose fat and get toned, then you want strength training. I’m not sure how much more plainly we can say it.
What should I eat?
Upon starting, many people ask us what they should be eating. This is a difficult question, as we all have different body types, different goals, and different sensitivities to different foods. We are NOT dietitians. However, common sense can point us in the right direction and get you on the right track. Eat REAL food. When you shop, stay to the outside walls of the grocery store. Cook large meals, so that you have leftovers consistently, and don’t have the temptation to stop for fast food on your way home. Eat way more vegetables than you’re currently eating. Drink more water than you’re currently drinking (I just stopped typing to have a glass). You CANNOT outwork a bad diet. Try to limit your intake of starchy carbs, EXCEPT after workouts, to give you energy and help you recover. Don’t be afraid of good fats. Try to eliminate sugar in all forms from your diet. Avoid cleanses and detoxes like the plague. Those probably weren’t the answers you wanted to hear, but you can always go to free pizza night at Planet Fitness. Sorry, not sorry!
The key to any successful diet is consistency. Ask yourself if you honestly think you can give up bread, pasta, soda and cake all at once. Be realistic. You have to be able to stick to this plan. This is why so many new years resolutions fail miserably, because the person decided to change their diet, learn french, do their own brake job on their car and remodel the bathroom all at once. Set achievable goals.
The framing of your food choices is very important too. Instead of saying to yourself, “I’m going to cut soda out completely”, why not say; “I’m going to replace one of those sodas with a glass of water.” Then a few weeks later make it two sodas with two glasses of water. Framing your plans in a positive way is very important.
How often should I train?
New members always ask us how often they should train. We expect you to commit to at least three sessions per week. Expect to be sore, but do not use that as an excuse not to workout. The best way get rid of that soreness, is to keep working out. Your muscles are sore, because they are full of lactic acid. The best way to get rid of that is to keep using those very same muscles. Additionally, we will show you how to use foam rollers and lacrosse balls to work that soreness out. The reason we have an unlimited membership, is because we are interested in your results, not how many people we can cram into our gym. Commit to your health. Show up as much as you can and listen to your body.
What if my form isn’t perfect?
Tons of people always give us some variation of the following phrase, “I want to make sure that my form is perfect before we use more weight”. This is a totally understandable sentiment, albeit misguided in most cases. Many of the movements that we do, need to be done with a certain amount of weight in order to FORCE your body to use the appropriate muscles and movement patterns. Think about learning to pitch in baseball by throwing a marshmallow vs. throwing a baseball vs. throwing a bowling ball. Not too heavy, but also not too light. Perfect form is seldom, if ever achieved. Additionally, when doing a timed workout, you will fatigue, and a TOLERABLE (safe) amount of form breakdown is to be expected. As long as you are not doing something dangerous and building really bad movement patterns, we will ask you to keep going. We are professionals, and you need to trust us. If we say add weight, you should try some more weight. If we tell you less weight, you should try less weight. The only way to learn a movement is to do it. Over, and over, and over again. Continually fussing over perfection is great in theory, but can slow down your progress in the gym.
How do I lose my belly fat?
There is no such thing as “targeted fat loss”, besides liposuction. Anyone who tells you different, is selling snake oil. You body doesn’t eliminate fat from certain places depending on what exercises you’re doing. Think about it. While you read that sentence you probably realized how ridiculous that sounds. In fact, if you have a significant amount of belly fat, and you do tons of sit-ups, it will actually make it protrude EVEN further (because your stomach muscles are now getting larger, underneath the fat that is still there). The best thing you can do to reduce belly fat, is to eliminate sugar and processed food from you diet, and squat, squat, squat, squat. The muscles of the legs are the largest in the body, and require the most energy to repair themselves after workouts, that means more fat loss, in addition to the many beneficial hormones released by doing squats, lunges and other leg work, which will boost your metabolism and increase fat burning.