Crossfit for Beginners

Proper Training Creates Sexy Bodies

Firstly, no one cares how good you look naked if you can't perform in the bedroom.

Secondly, ........................................................................................................

Jenni said that I have to use more full stops, so that should keep this blog pretty solid!

On with the topic at hand though, what do you think is going to happen when you reach your dream weight? Your target body? With your new flat stomach and chiseled cheekbones, anything in Victoria's Secret is no longer a secret to your sexy body... I'll tell you what happens, you still won't be happy and three months later you'll be back on track to having your normal chub chub.

When we sign someone up at Varangian it is for a change of overall lifestyle, not six week abs. Six week abs works, if done right, but it will be the most miserable six weeks of your life. And, because the change happens so fast, it is not sustainable.


It is shocking to me that even with all the really good information out there, there is still people that are just happy enough with hitting a Spin class a few times a week. Don't get me wrong there is nothing wrong with Spin, and some people that do it are in phenomenal shape with a good diet, but what's the long term? What can you tell people? What have you found out about yourself? And do you feel strong?

Your long term is:

  • You keep up with the classes and maintain your nice weight.
  • You can tell people you go to a spin class.
  • You have found out you can go like f**k on an exercise bike
  • Your legs probably feel quite strong but push ups are left to be desired...

Is that sustainable? Yes, maybe. But personally I think it takes a certain type of person to be happy with that and that alone. Most people though? They get bored, generally around... February.

What we love about the way we train is that FEELING strong, ACCOMPLISHING small goals and CHALLENGING yourself daily keeps you motivated for longer. What's the long term? Well, there really is no end game. You will constantly be learning new things. The stronger and more flexible you become the more choice you will have with skills you want to learn.

What can you tell people? You can tell them you lift heavy ass weights, practice Olympic lifting, do gymnastics exercises, and strive to have complete body dominance so that you are an unstoppable force that needs NO MAN!

What can you find out about yourself? You'll find out you have weak days, strong days, days that you perform well, days that you want to challenge people, days that you just want to be left alone to lift. You'll find out that you actually enjoy the feeling you get from overcoming a struggle from a something that many people would just see as a "workout". But we know it's more.

Will you feel strong? Yes.

Why is feeling strong so important? Well Timothy, it's as simple as this, going through life being a weak little bitch won't get you anywhere. Strength gives you confidence, not only in your abilities but in your mind. It's a lot easier to have an argument with someone when you feel like you could fling them over a rainbow at any point.

Back to performance in the bedroom, you want the exercises that you do to carry over to other things that you enjoy, even be it the simple pleasures of the flesh. Think about it.. you'll need:

  1. Strong, powerful hips (kettlebell swings, deadlifts, squats)
  2. Arms that can hold you up (push ups, handstands, overhead carries)
  3. Stable core (planks, farmer carries, trunk rotations)
  4. Good grip to hold your partner down (rope climbs and pull ups)
  5. Increased flexibility and ability to hold yourself upside down for extended periods of time (yoga, mobility work and rings)
  6. Endurance, no one likes a Sweaty Betty three minutes in....

As funny as it may be to read, you cannot help yourself thinking that I am right. Being focused on making yourself stronger and more flexible keeps things more interesting and increases your longevity.

The best part is, if you do all of those things regularly, you will have a sexy body, you just will. Your body has to adapt to be good at those things and the way it adapts is by giving you lovely muscles. Taking your time and learning things properly is the most beneficial way to train, and although it may seem like it takes longer to lose the weight, when you finally arrive at a place that you are happy with, you will be able to eat a donut and "get away" with it.

Life is about having fun and there is so much to experience, give yourself the physical tools to do more stuff.

- Tom

What is the CrossFit open and can I do it?

The CrossFit open is a test that happens every year to challenge the best athletes around the world through five gruelling workouts over five weeks to hopefully take the top spots to qualify to get to the regionals, to then be the small 1% of CrossFitters around the world that actually make it to the Crossfit Games in America! WOW!!

So, where do you fit in?

The original premise of CrossFit was to be scaleable to any level: ANYONE should be able to do any of the workouts available just by using scaling methods. Scaling regresses the exercises so that the adaptation is the same but just more relevant to the athlete and their current ability level. Are you going to the games? No, probably not, should that dishearten you? No, definitely not. The great thing about CrossFit is that in a controlled environment you can be subjected to that competitive edge and train with others doing the same thing as you with the same struggles, everyone has bonded over burpees: they always suck no matter how fit you are.

I have two missions this year, I want to get the world more flexible and get people to stop giving a crap. A lot of times when you ask someone if they're doing the open you see their face fill with fear and a statement like: "Oooh no, I'm not good enough" or "Awk, I've no interest in all that". NO. Lies. You should do anything that you want to do, if you're going to shy away from a fun fitness competition then you're going to find it carry over into your daily life! The open is the best chance for you to put yourself out there, have fun, learn more about yourself, increase your confidence and bond with many other people old and young, fat and thin, take part in a worldwide event and just HAVE FUN.

Always encourage others to try things, if you get bored halfway through or miss a workout, it doesn't matter! The key is just to have a stab at it and see what you can do! If you took part in last years open then this is your chance to hit back at all those things that robbed you of seconds last year (chest to bars for me). All of the movements will have scaling options and it's also a great way to find out how you move, as you're allocated a judge you can't get away with anything... yes sometimes you do bad reps sorry to inform you of that.

If you do enrol for the open I would also suggest doing the judges course, it's not very fair to expect other people to judge for you and not return the favour, plus it really does help you to understand the movements and also by watching how others move. You will notice things about yourself and how you move, and you get a clipboard! That's pretty cool! This is especially helpful for your Coaches. If your Coach is available to coach rather than judge it makes the whole session go smoother and gets through a lot of people in one go!

So there you have it, yes you can do it, no you won't get laughed at, sign up right now, do the judges course, have fun, laugh, and curse the day CrossFit was born for making you do rowing and burpees at the same time!


Varangian ONRAMP Training


The Onramp is the beginners course that you complete before joining full Varangian classes with the rest of us. The purpose is to give you a solid foundation, so you know what you're doing, what to expect, and be able to train safely and efficiently.

But most importantly it's to get to know us and for us to get to know you - see you there!

Starting MONDAY 4TH JANUARY If you've not signed up yet, do so here.


Onramp Week 1:



Warm ups
- In Front
- Twist
- Overhead
Kettle Bell Swing

Side plank/raises

Air squat
Medicine Ball Clean

Bracing Deadlift

Sit ups
Time cap: 8 mins


"What's for dinner!"



Warm up
Toe walks
Bear crawls
Crab walks
Scap push ups
Wrist mobility
Kettle bell Clean & Jerk

Pull ups and Progressions

Setting up from a rack
Front squat
Push press
Strict press
Back squat

Power Clean
Push Press

9 min AMRAP
10 Wall balls
10 Pull ups

Squat stretch



Warm up
Double unders
Wrist mobility

Handstands and progressions

Full clean
Push press
Push Jerk

10 box jumps
20 thrusters
30 push ups
40 burpees
Time cap: 11 minutes


Onramp Week 2:


How to roll
Deep lunge stretches
Wrist mobility
Wall squats
PVC dislocates

Overhead squat
Drop snatch
Power snatch

Setting up from a rack:
- Overhead squat
- Drop snatch

5min AMRAP
Double unders

6 min AMRAP
Deadlifts (60/40)
6 OB burpees

Partner stretches



Warm up
Toe walks
High knees
Ball pass game
Scary feet

Split Jerk

10 min ascending ladder 1,2,3,4,5,6......
Front squat




Multi lunges
Wrist mobility
Dead bug
Super man
Side planks

Full recap PVC, Empty bar

Fran 21,15,9
Pull ups




ONRAMP COMPLETE. Onto 2 weeks on unlimited training to test your new skills.

A beginners guide to what you should know and log to get the most out of your CrossFit training

As coaches we hark on and on at people to keep food diaries and training logs and it's not that we're being mean or think "grrr everyone should be an athlete" it's so that YOU can get the most out of YOUR training. Remember CrossFit isn't circuits, it's not spin classes, it's a combination of a lot of different strength and performance orientated sports and disciplines. With CrossFit you are on a constant journey of learning, if you think you're ever going to peak... You're an idiot.


Let's list this out using the CrossFit hierarchy of health!


1. Nutrition

Nutrition Your food diary should have everything in it, not only to count your macros but also as a diary to your overall health and mood, feeling really under the weather some week? Not feel as strong? Dodgy stomach? Consult your food diary, has something changed? You have a few social events? Booze takes a lot longer to recover from than your hangover. Maybe it's going the other way, your WOD times are through the roof and you're PR's are flowing freely!! What are you eating and keep eating it!

• What am I eating?
• When am I eating it?
• Am I hitting my calories?

Is my protein adequate?
• Is my fat intake enough?
• Is my carb intake correct?
• How is my mood?
• Do I feel sluggish?
• How is my body composition?
• How am I sleeping?


2. Metabolic Conditioning

Wods are your bread and butter when it comes to CrossFit, being able to perform as many reps as fast as possible without breaking down in technique, we may get made fun of for it but correct me if I'm wrong but I've never seen someone that's thirty stone living off box sets and fizzy drinks doing forty five thrusters and pull ups in under three minutes... Getting your WOD times down and using heavier weight gradually over time is your game plan here, if you can't be bothered writing down every WOD here is a few wods that you should definitely be tracking:

Annie: Double unders and sit ups, two simple exercises that EVERYONE should be able to do, can't do double unders? PRACTICE! Your goal is to complete this as fast as possible, if you can't do double unders yet then it's also a great way to practice them, give yourself a 15 minute time cap and whip yourself silly and see how far you get then repeat it again and again and again until you finish it, then try and beat yourself

• Grace: Clean & jerk 30 times as fast as possible, start off with a light weight, note your time, try it again another time, up the weight and try and keep the same time or beat it, congratulations! You're now stronger!

• Cindy: A beautiful full body workout, pull, push, squat, get as many rounds as you can in 20 minutes! This is a nice one for testing your endurance as the mental aspect really starts to kick in here as the make up of the workout is structured so that you can just keep going and going IF you have the willpower! Aim for constant movement!

Fran: Whether it be ring rows and wall balls the movement is still the same, to do Fran at RX you have to be able to do pull ups and do them FAST! So this is a long term goal and going from ring rows to assisted pull ups is still progress, higher level skills take time but it doesn't mean you shouldn't still be tracking your progress.

The same applies to Diane, Elizabeth, Amanda etc, they can all be scaled in many different ways! Always remember with wods it is INTENSITY you're after, don't be attempting an RX WOD if you can't do the movements well enough and have to take a minute break between each rep... You're wasting your time.


3. Gymnastics


Moving your own bodyweight through space and time is something that should be high on your list of things to develop. A main goal for ANYONE should be to be a better mover, having total body awareness is a massive part of injury prevention, working on not only flexibility but strength within that flexibility! Everything comes down to body movement from how strong you are to how good you are in bed!

I don't need a barbell to practice clean & jerk I can practice it anywhere, most failed lifts are nothing to do with the strength if you've trained correctly, it's because you PHYSICALLY messed the movement up! Practice perfect movement without load and you'll see your performance skyrocket in everything you do.

How do you track your gymnastic progress? Measurement!
• max handstand hold
• max time on rings
• max L-sit
• max dips
• max press ups
• max hang
• max vertical jump height
• max broad jump
• max pull ups
• max back lever hold
• max front lever hold
• max handstand walk
• max muscle ups

If you can repeat it, you can beat it, time, reps, length, whatever that's how you measure gymnastic skills, it's not as glamorous or cool as weightlifting but in my opinion it's more important. If you can't manoeuvre yourself what business have you got with a barbell?


4. Weightlifting And Powerlifting


Everyone's favourite! In your first few months your numbers will sky rocket and you'll feel like a beast every day! But if you're not tracking your initial progress you're gonna get stuck very quickly. Reoccurring formats in all CrossFit sessions strength elements reoccur because they work, simple as, you'll either see 5x5 or 5-5-5-5-5 which means five sets of five reps or 5x3 or 3-3-3-3-3 which means five sets of three reps. Then there's other variations on that like 5-4-3-2-1 etc. but they are more for testing and mixing it up.
• deadlift
• back squat
• front squat
• overhead squat
• strict press
• bench press
• push press

If you are constantly guessing and trying to remember what you did from week to week you're wasting your time If you come in to the gym during an open gym time and don't know what to do, but know those numbers, your coach can give you a program to follow in about three seconds - and the less you have to scratch your head about it the better it will be! Your goal is every time that you attempt those rep formats to increase on what you did before, the body only reacts to new stimulus, if you're still lifting the same weights you were a year ago you're not even maintaining you're going backwards.

One rep maxes are something you shouldn't really go near in those exercises for your first few months, play it safe and progressively load (add weight) week to week with something that is both challenging yet safe! When you are ready for one rep max efforts then you can maybe think about a percentages program that builds on 85% of your one rep maxes etc but always remember that when you see those types of programs they're probably designed specifically for a professional athlete and what they can do personally so always consult your coach first.

When you combine your strength work with your technique work on the lifts they are also a great way to track progress, even if the weight is the same but the technique is better that is still progress!

Always take videos of yourself when you can! You should know what you can do for each of these exercises:
• Clean
• Jerk
• Clean & Jerk
• Snatch
• Drop Snatch
• Power Snatch
• Power Clean
• Push Jerk

On top of those you should also know what weight that you can roughly do barbell complexes with and always try and beat it! If you can do it but it doesn't look pretty I wouldn't recommend counting it.

Tracking the weights you use in wods is important aswell, the weights you use for thrusters, push presses, cleans etc should also be gradually increasing over time but again DO NOT SACRIFICE INTENSITY!


5. Sport

A large majority of people that play sport do CrossFit just because of its general physical preparedness, it's a fantastic way to make you both strong and fast and helps with preventing injuries, but even if you don't have a sport that you take part in it's always a good idea to take a day off somewhere and go play football, tennis, rugby, swim, run, something! Be active!

Enjoy your fitness and have a laugh, even if it's just taking your kids to the park to throw a ball about it should still get your heart rate up and introduce you to throwing, kicking, swinging etc, be the person that will have a go at anything!

So there you have it, you should never be stuck for something to do and the more you can do the better you will become! Start working towards building a better you!

Want to try it? Sign up to our December Onramp course here and become a Varangian!

Any questions and feedback will be greatly appreciated!


Heard about CrossFit? Want to take your training to the next level? Start chasing numbers, goals, learn new skills and eating to perform to stay motivated, rather than just doing the same routine by yourself day in day out, without really being sure if what you're doing is right or not.

With our gym renovations almost complete we are starting our last beginners program before Christmas in two weeks!

Starting the 2nd of November, Onramp membership is £60 and here are just some of the things you will experience at CrossFit Varangian:

• Find out what your strengths are
• Find out what you need to improve
• Learn how nutrition actually works
• Be safe with experienced coaches
• Learn how to prevent injury
• Rehab from an old injury
• Learn about posture & how it affects you
• Be part of a thriving community
• Find confidence
• Lose bodyfat
• Gain strength
• Learn gymnastics and weightlifting
• Learn how to laugh
• Increase flexibility
• Perform better at your sport
• Meet encouraging positive people
• Meet trainers that genuinely care
• Become more than you can imagined you could be


For the first two weeks you can attend Onramp classes or if they do not suit Open Gym or RAW strength times then from the 16th of November you will be upgraded to Unlimited to attend any class at any time to see what times suit you best to train!

Onramp times:
Mondays 8.00-9.00pm
Tuesdays 8.00-9.00pm
Thursdays 7.00-8.00pm

Find out more about Getting Started here.