Looking to ramp your fat loss? Before you do an hour of steady-state cardio or bookend your workouts with burpees and mountain climbers, consider how CrossFit can help you burn fat. In fact, whether you're a hardcore lifter who does nothing but push iron or a runner who logs miles, adding aspects of CrossFit to your training routine could boost your training and results.
Take one look at the best of the best CrossFit athletes, and it's clear just how muscular and fit—not to mention ripped—these individuals are. You don't have to quit your gym, join a box, or "drink the Kool-Aid" to benefit from the wisdom of CrossFit.
1. Check Your Goals
When it comes to maximizing your fat loss, having clearly defined goals is key. There's a reason specific CrossFit WODs (workouts of the day) are posted before training starts; they instantly give you a sense of purpose.
"Setting goals will keep you motivated," Hannah says. The key? Make your goals realistic and attainable. If you set a goal that is out of reach from the start, it's only a matter of time before you grow discouraged. It's human nature.
Before you even begin your journey, take some time to write down 4-5 specific goals you hope to achieve. They should concern "show" and "go"—your body composition and your fitness performance. Write these goals down and place them where you'll see them daily. You want that constant reminder. "The more consistent you are, the more results you'll see," Hannah says.
2. Give Benchmark Workouts a Try
"One great idea is to learn all the CrossFit bodyweight benchmark workouts and do them regularly," Hannah says. These workouts will put you to the test while giving you a good sense of your base fitness level. "These are all primarily bodyweight workouts that focus more on cardio and less on strength," she explains.
Names like "Helen," "Kelly," and "Barbara" may not sound intimating, but don't be fooled. Helen, for example, challenges you to complete three rounds of a 400-meter run, 21 kettlebell swings, and 12 pull-ups as quickly as possible.
Hannah recommends beginners start out with 2-3 CrossFit-style workouts a week. Advanced lifters can challenge themselves with 4-5 weekly workouts.
"Since many workouts are bodyweight focused, you can do them at a higher frequency," she notes. "Still, always listen to your body, and rest if you need to."
3. Approach Fitness as a Lifestyle
Hannah firmly believes CrossFit is a lifestyle. It isn't something that occupies only 30-60 minutes per day. "It's not a sport to dabble in; it's an intense way of working out that demands you take into account your recovery and nutrition," she says.
Even if you're not ready to become a CrossFit star, approaching your training as an integral part of a bigger picture can help turn your habit into a lifestyle. Tightening up your diet, for example, can both aid recovery and fuel your workouts.
"I recommend that you make some serious changes to your nutrition routine, starting with baby steps, to gradually improving your diet," says Hannah. "You might start with removing your worst cheat meal, and once that's gone, eliminate the next worst. Sugary drinks should be one thing to go right away, along with any deep-fried foods or candy."
Hannah also recommends using a food-tracking system to account for every single thing you put into your mouth or drink for the next seven days.
"Sometimes we get carried away with the day, causing us to forget what we were eating and when," she says. By tracking, you'll become more conscious of what you're putting into your mouth and make better decisions because of it.
This doesn't mean sweets are completely off the table.
"Don't deprive yourself of things you crave, or it will only be a matter of time before you crash and burn," she says. "One cheat meal a week so you have a bit to taste is okay; just don't finish the entire plate."
4. Try Tabata
"Tabata has proven to be an effective way to shed fat and keep lean muscle mass," Hannah says. It's basically your standard high-intensity interval training (HIIT) taken to a whole new level: 20 seconds of all-out work followed by 10 seconds of rest.
"Combine an intense cardio exercise with a resistance movement, and the 20 seconds you are working for will feel like a lifetime once the 4-minute workout is up," Hannah says.
She recommends that you keep the pace going for the full 40 minutes, switching couplets every 4 minutes and taking one breather in between. "Some of my favorite Tabata fat-blasting exercises are kettlebell swings, jumping rope (double unders), barbell or two-dumbbell push presses, handstand push-ups, barbell thrusters, box jumps, and burpees," she says.
Choose your favorites from her list, and you'll have an intense workout on your hands.
5. Build a Community and Get Support
If there's one thing anyone who's ever done CrossFit knows, it's that once you join a CrossFit gym, you become part of a new family.
"CrossFit is all about community and building relationships that will last a lifetime," Hannah explains. "It's a group of people all in the same environment to better themselves."
She recommends that you create this same type of support system in your journey as well.
"Surround yourself with like-minded people who will push you to support your efforts—and text you when you don't show up at the gym!" Hannah says.