How to do CrossFit training in a conventional gym

How to do CrossFit training in a conventional gym

We’re going to set out a number of tips for you to be able to do CrossFit training in a conventional gym, with the obvious limitations

CrossFit isn’t a fashion

CrossFit is a sport (or the sum of various disciplines) that when it first came about many believed would be just a passing trend.

But nothing could be further from the reality, CrossFit has laid the foundations for what we could call the training method to improve performance, and it is more than likely that it will last along with another of the “big ones”, weight lifting.


In my opinion, combining both concepts is the best way to achieve this.

You can get the best of both worlds:
  • To achieve a safe and efficient technique,
  • To increase your physical condition,especially on a cardiovascular level,
  • To be stronger, and, of course,
  • To improve your body composition.


Respect the rules

Even if our intention is to do so, if the owner or the rules of the training centre don’t allow it, our limitations will increase with respect to being able to do a CrossFit workout in the gym.

If in many gyms even the use of magnesium is forbidden, how do you plan to lift a bar by performing a power move or “put on a show” by performing “muscle ups”?


This point is obvious. If the gym does not have specific CrossFit equipment, we can only perform a smaller number of exercises or movements.

The most current centres are incorporating many elements derived from the type of training known as “functional” and, from there, we can make use of them for our CrossFit sessions.


In general, gyms are structured by different zones: machines, cardio, stretching, “functional training” … This last area will be the most suitable for CrossFit training.

Obviously, we have to make sure that the floor allows us to drop a loaded bar from a certain height on it, or failing that, we can ask if adding a mat is allowed.

Some movements, such as those of weightlifting, are performed lifting considerable weights. If we do not have a well-defined site, there is a risk that someone could suffer a blow if the lift fails…

What equipment in a conventional gym can I use for CrossFit?

One of the most common “tools” that we can find in the gym and that can be used perfectly to perform a CrossFit workout:


Although not all bars will work. For strength training and to do exercises such as the squat, dead lift, press… they’ll be fine, but if we want to do loads or snatches, things change a bit.

Dead lift

However, if we are going to do dead lifts, it’s advisable to use discs with regulation diameter

Unless they are Olympic bars, we will not be able to perform these power moves correctly.  Straight or rigid bars, do not have bearings at the ends, and if we use high weights, we will not be able to perform the exercise correctly.

The olympic bars have characteristics determined for their task: measurements, weight, grip, flexibility…


They are our alternative for Olympic movements when we can’t use the bars. Generally, the best kind to use are hexagonal dumbbells. Here’s a video of the 4 times CrossFit Games champion, Rich Froning:


In my opinion, they are the “great forgotten” or undervalued, as they provide us with a different set of stimuli than those we are used to

Kettlebells are a relatively old but essential piece of equipment that seem to be having a resurgence of late.
We can use them with practically any exercise, both strength and olympic (clean & jerk, snatch), or use them to improve our metabolic capacity

Pull-Up Bar

An essential tool if we want to do the gymnastic parts of CrossFit

Bars are tools that allow us to perform patterns of pulling movements: pull-ups, chin-ups, front lever, muscle up…

One of the most controversial exercises is surely the “Butterfly Pull Up”, i.e. the pull-ups you see in the CrossFit boxes. In these, the premise of all normal pull-ups are fulfilled: elbow extended in the initial position + chin over the bar.

The nuance comes in the execution form. While a conventional pull-up is done in a strict way, in CrossFit you need to try and add inertia to increase the number of them inside a wod.

Explanation: a strict pull-up generates fatigue at a local level and will make us have to stop the exercise. On the other hand, with the “Butterfly”, although they also generate fatigue, they do it at metabolic level (let’s say that it would be like “doing cardio”).

In this way, we can complete the repetitions scheduled in the training without having to stop due to not being able to continue “pulling” repetitions. It’s “max power output” work.

By the way, a CrossFit athlete must be able to perform a large number of strict repetitions before starting the other technique


One of the most complete exercises that can be performed at all levels (strength, coordination, precision, resistance, mobility…) are those allowed by the rings. Basically, you would only need one set of these placed at a certain height.

They share some exercises with the bar, such as the muscle up exercises mentioned, although the form of execution differs and they also become one of the most striking exercises

Cardio Machines

Above all the rowing machine or ergonomic machine. Amongst other types of machine simulating sport are the skiing machine. Both the rowing and the latter are being seen more and more in gyms.

They allow us to do high intensity sessions while minimising joint impact


em>Another (of my favourites) is the airdyne-type bike, which has little to do with an exercise bike or an indoor bike

When you really want to test what it’s like to “suffer” though cardio, dare to do some “assaults” on the Assault Bike 😈

Medicine ball

It is a classic and also seems to be back in fashion. One of the exercises we can do with it are the famous “Wall Ball Shots”.

Box Jumps

These are the tools we’ll use to train doing plyometry. This quality is essential in CrossFit.


Jump ropes, combat ropes, Bulgarian bags… are part of the “standard” that most centres usually incorporate into their functional area.

Other accessories that are frequently used in CrossFit are less likely to be seen in a gym, such as the drag sled, yoke or slam balls.

These last ones belong to the strength work derived from the Strongman

Which CrossFit exercises and movements can we do in a gym?

Strength Training

Something that is common between weight lifting and CrossFit is “shifting kilos”

However, the latter tends to focus on strength routines, as it’s this quality that’s sought to be improved.

Any gym needs to (or should) have a power cage or rack, where you can perform the basic exercises

Olympic exercises

As we saw before, unless we have special bars, I don’t recommend doing these exercises. Instead, it’s possible that using dumbbells or kettlebells to perform the exercises.

Of course, these will be adapted variants. In this way, it’s also possible (and unlike with the bars) to do unilateral work

I’ll leave links to some of the best exercises below:

Body Weight exercises

In this article you have at your disposal the main exercises that can be done simply with our own body weight: squats, lunges, jumps, press-ups, dips, pull-ups…

The burpees are the most hated of this type of exercise…

In fact, these are the basic exercises that govern the most complex steps


We would mainly opt for rings: pull-ups, dips, press-ups…

Another exercise would be hand-stand press-ups (HSPU), where as long as we have a wall that “can stain” we’re good to go!

Mobility exercises

Among the ones I like the most: Animal Walking (duck, crab, bear…). These simulate the movement of each animal and allows us to improve our joint mobility.

Stabilisation exercise

At a mid-zone level

Making use of the availability of dumbbells: Waiter Walks and the Farmer Walk (using “fatter” dumbbells 😉 ).

Farmer walk

The farmer’s walk allows us to strengthen the forearm.

Metabolic conditioning

This part is the essence of CrossFit and the options to perform this type of exercise will depend on our material

We can simply include exercises with our own body weight, or add elements seen before and under the time window of the training strategy: EMOM, AMRAP, For Time, Tabata, Chipper.

CrossFit Benchmark

You can also do the so-called Benchmark’s, which are standard training sessions proposed by CrossFit and with which we can check our score on a scale to find out the level we’re at (our “fitness” as they would say).

Benchmark crossfit

Examples of CrossFit training in a gym

Below I propose a series of example CrossFit routines that you can try in any gym.


1)EMOM 30min

  • 5x pull-ups, 10x press-ups, 15x free squats

2)EMOM 16min

  • Minutes Odds: 10x dead lift + 5x burpees over the bar
  • Minutes Evens: 5x muscle up on the bar + 10x clean hang power with dumbbells


1)AMRAP 12min

  1. 15x Box jumps
  2. 15x Kettlebar swings
  3. 15x Hand-release press-ups

2)AMRAP 9min

  1. 6x KB Snatch (right hand)
  2. 6x KB Snatch (left hand)
  3. 9x Burpees
  4. 9x Ring Dips

For Time 

Complete 21 18 15 12 9 6

  1. Thrusters with dumbbells
  2. Pull-ups

Complete 5 rounds

  1. 20kcals of Rowing
  2. 15x Clean and Jerk with dumbbells
  3. 10x HSPU


1) Assault Bike

2) Slam Ball with medicine ball


  1. 50x Free Squat
  2. 40x KB swings
  3. 30x mountain climbers
  4. 20x Pull-ups
  5. 10x Burpee to target
  6. 20x Ring press-ups
  7. 30x Back lunges
  8. 40x Sit-ups
  9. 50x Thrusters with disc

Related Entries

Review of CrossFit training in a conventional gym

Olympic Exercises - 75%

Strength Exercises - 100%

Body Weight Exercises - 100%

Gymnastic Exercises - 85%

Stabilisation Exercises - 100%

Mobility Exercises - 100%

Metabolic Conditioning Exercises - 90%


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About Javier Colomer
Javier Colomer
"Knowledge Makes Stronger", Javier Colomer's motto, sets out his clearest statement of intentions expressing his knowledge and fitness experience.
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