What is the best age for CrossFit?

What is the best age for crossfit?

If your perception of CrossFit was anything like mine 6 months ago, you’re probably inclined to believe that all CrossFit gyms are full of incredibly young, incredibly beautiful and incredibly fit people. And that anyone over the age of 35 (at a push!), without a six pack, would virtually burst into flames if they stepped foot inside a gym without prior warning.

While beauty is in the eye of the beholder, one thing you can be certain of is that CrossFit is actually enjoyed by all different ages and fitness levels.

But what is the best age for crossfit?

I know from experience that while these incredibly young and fit people do exist, they don’t actually make up the majority of a CrossFit gym’s membership as you might suspect. The reality is much more palatable.

In any one class you might find a European standard athlete or two; a couple new mums coming back to exercise for the first time post-partum; a uni student; a few CrossFitters that are closer to retirement than they are from touching their toes and, mostly, a range of people from the ages of 20-70 just trying to fit exercise and a well-loved hobby in around work and kids and everything else life throws at them. So the best age of CrossFit, is your age.

Whilst of course they love their work a CrossFit gym will need to pay to keep the best talent on hand.

But all these forty-, fifty-, sixty-year olds and new mums must have surely been superhumanly fit at some point in order to be able to keep up in a CrossFit workout, I hear you say. Nope.

Their fitness levels vary just like they would at any other gym. So how are they able to participate – and even enjoy it? The simple answer: Scaling the workout.

CrossFit is designed to challenge you at the fitness, mobility and confidence level you have. Not the levels of fitness, mobility and confidence somebody in a HQ somewhere says we should all possess in order to call ourselves athletes. The best age for CrossFit? The age & fitness level you’re at now.

In CrossFit, scaling is done by adjusting the intensity of a workout to suit the participant. This can be done through modifying weight, reps, distance or type of movement. The scaling options will be clearly explained by the coach at the beginning of the work out and you, and your coach, will decide together which option would suit you best.

Does this mean you can choose the easiest scale for every single exercise, of every single work out?

Well no, not if your coach is worth their salt. They will push you to challenge yourself. And hopefully you will see the benefit in challenging yourself too. But will they ever ask you to do something you can’t or don’t feel comfortable doing? Never. And that is why a CrossFit class is an environment welcoming to all. No matter your age or fitness levels. Yep, your age is still the best age to start CrossFit.

So, what might a CrossFit work out and its potential scaling options look like?

A bit of nerdy terminology first: A CrossFit workout completed as it is originally written is referred to as RX.

Rx is commonly known to most as the shorthand for ‘as prescribed’ in the medical world, having been derived from the Latin word for recipe.

In CrossFit, however, it just means doing the workout exactly as the coach has programmed it (usually meant to challenge the fittest and the strongest.)

Any scaling options that adjust the weight, height, distance, reps etc. are not RX.

Therefore, an RX workout might look like:

  • 3 rounds of 20 45kg front squats, 20 chest-to-bar pull ups, and 20 24inch box jumps. (I might be scheduling a rest day that day.)

An inexhaustive list of potential scaling options for that work out might be:

  • A lighter front squat (anything less than 45kg) or no additional weight at all
  • Less front squats
  • Less chest-to-bar pull ups
  • Chin-to-bar pull ups
  • Banded pull-ups (with a range of different levels of resistant bands)
  • Jumping box pull ups
  • Less than 20 reps of any of the scaled pull-up options
  • Less box jumps
  • 20inch box jumps (or lower)
  • Box step ups

Your workout could look like any combination of any of those scaling options. Or more.

It’s not hard to see how you could make any workout work for pretty much anyone.

It is very common that in a class of 14, you might have 14 slightly different workouts taking place (as well as 14 different ages) But that’s the beauty of it.

Everyone is working on improving the same areas of their fitness, but everyone is doing what they can actually manage. The biggest thing that brings all 14 people together is their desire to get fitter and have fun while doing it.

But isn’t CrossFit a bit too intense for someone older to do without risking some kind of injury? Surely there is a best age for CrossFit? Well, no. It’s not what the research suggests.

With scaling options, no unnecessary risk needs to be undertaken to get the best out of a workout. CrossFit doesn’t need to be anymore ‘intense’ than any other sport or exercise. Is there a risk to getting out the house and moving your body? Yes. But is there a considerably greater risk that comes with not getting out the house and never moving your body? Very much so. Sure, our bodies become more fragile as we get older but that is only more reason to look after them.

According to research, CrossFit athletes aged 35 and above display “higher testosterone, lower blood pressure, and increased cardiovascular respiratory endurance” (Hayes et al., 2013)

when compared to their non-training peers. At the heart of CrossFit is the belief that our bodies are capable of so much more than we realise, and it is only in looking after them that we can get the most out of what our bodies are able to do.

In this way, CrossFit’s universal appeal really is the fitness industry’s best kept secret. For many, CrossFit is too daunting a pursuit to rock-up and just ‘give it a go.’

Those who have anxieties about not being the best age for CrossFit, fitness level or experience to take part are even less likely to take the chance on a class. But the reality is, there is no ‘right’ age. Or fitness level. Or experience.

They don’t even make you post about it on social media if you don’t want to. (The people that you know in your life that won’t stop posting videos about their ‘CrossFit journey’, are doing so entirely of their own free will.)

The best age to start CrossFit is as soon as you can. Future you will thank you for it.

Why not try out a CrossFit gym today and find out why so many people love it?

CrossFit ISCA in Exeter, we’d love to give you the chance to experience CrossFit and to understand why people value it so highly so drop us a message and we’ll be very happy to arrange for you to come and see what it’s all about.