The Match 5: Sensible CrossFit coaching

For all of our fans who send us questions on our Twitter and Facebook page, this one is for you. Each week we draw on our pool of editors and experts to help you with any questions or challenges you have with your fitness regimen. This week, Nathan Forster, CrossFit coach/competitor and owner of Reebok CrossFit 5th Ave. and Reebok CrossFit Miami Beach Your questions about getting started with CrossFit training.

1) CrossFit Dangerous - asked by Steve Louie: CrossFit looks awesome and I want to try it, but I've heard a lot of people get hurt? Is that true?

“This is the most frequently asked question in CrossFit. "Are people getting hurt and is it dangerous?" My answer to that is, just like any other sport or fitness move you're going to do, if you get it wrong...bad things can happen.

I own two CrossFit gyms (boxing), two of the largest in the world, and we rarely have injuries. So what I'm affirming is if your coaches are good, you're good. That means you need to find the right people who are absolute experts in their field. You need to know exactly what they're doing so you're working at the right level. On the other hand, you (the trainee) need to go through the basics and learn how to properly perform all Olympic lifts before trying to go "crazy." You must crawl before you can walk and you must walk before you can run. Too many people think they can just jump into CrossFit's early classes and become monsters -- you can't. You learn the basics, you learn slowly, and you work your way up to become an expert in those disciplines.”

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2) Coaching Recommendation - Asked by Logan Neven: I'm trying to learn power cleans, but my coach recommended that I start with hang cleans first? Why this?

“The reason trainers want you to start the hang clean before the power clean is because the key to Olympic lifting, especially the clean, is using your hips and body to move the weight Power clean position (floor) is bringing your hips up and pulling very hard with your arms, which is basically a reverse curl of the weight. This happens 99% of the time.

Performing a clean hang requires you to fully extend and engage your hips and really "pop" your hips to get the weight high enough to get your elbows under the bar. So starting from the hanging position will force you to use your hips. Reason number one."

3) Mobility and Flexibility - Asked by Brett Hughes: What are the best exercises to improve my shoulder mobility?

"That's good. First thing I recommend is to go online and search Kelly Starrett - YouTube, - check out everything Kelly Starlett is doing. He's the mobility master, he's amazing and he has tons of videos. The best way to improve shoulder mobility is to work with a lacrosse ball. You take the lacrosse ball, place it against the wall, roll your shoulder and back over it. Try to get into all the really tight spots. Do the same on the floor.

I also recommend using a mobility band, placing the band in different positions, holding it with your wrists, wrapping it around your elbow, and really stretching areas of your shoulders and arms. Hold your position for about a minute, rest a little, then go back and repeat. But back to my first point, Kelly Starrett, incredible resource."

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4) CrossFit Programming - Question from Devin Richie: Are CrossFit workouts always completely random or are there actual programs for strength, endurance, etc.?

"CrossFit workouts aren't random, CrossFit workouts are always varied, so they always have some kind of meaning behind the workout. The programming we do for our boxes is set up so that our members can come 5-6 days a week or train every single day. CrossFit is full body, so we include every part of the body so you can do it consistently. The whole "old school" of "back and hips" or "push and pull" doesn't exist anymore - it is CrossFit. This is functional fitness, it affects the whole body. But there's science behind programming — you get better at rowing, you get better at running, you get better at gymnastics, all at the same time, and there are ways to do this. Good programming will do that, and you'll get better at everything rather than one thing at a time.

5) CrossFit at Home - Asked by Blake Scalzo: If I wanted to practice CrossFit at home, what are the basic essentials of equipment I would need?

“CrossFit at home is very basic, and the bare minimum, to be honest, is nothing. You can really do it by practicing your air squats, push-ups, and sit-ups without any equipment. But if you bought a few things to help you with that, you could buy a pull-up bar, which would be great because you can do toe-to-bar, knee-to-elbow, muscle-ups, and of course pull-ups. And then you might want something to help you with cardio, so let's say running, rowing, biking. Aside from those things, get yourself a jump rope, do some single unders, double unders and you're good to go."

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