Want to try CrossFit for over 50?
The following workout can burn a lot of calories from surplus fat while also sculpting muscle. Plus, it can be modified to match the fitness level of older athletes.
In the photos and video below, you’ll see I did this workout in my driveway.
Training in a driveway is a lot of fun, and more versatile than you might imagine.
In fact, you can have a better workout in a driveway than you can at the gym. But I’ve also done this type of training in my living room, at the park, on my rooftop patio, on my balcony, at the gym, in my backyard, and even in an empty parking lot. Crossfit for over 50 can be done anywhere!
How to Do CrossFit for Over 50
Perhaps the best way to do CrossFit is to drop into your neighborhood CrossFit studio – called a “box” – and try a class.
You don’t have to be among elite athletes or a CrossFit Games competitor to go to a box. In fact, many boxes offer CrossFit workouts for beginner-level older adults and masters athletes.
But you can also do a CrossFit-style workout on your own.
The principles of CrossFit are based on cross-training (hence the name “CrossFit”), which is a fitness program that includes both strength training and high-intensity cardiovascular intervals.
Strictly speaking, cross-training means doing another type of exercise other than the one you normally do:
- So if you mostly train indoors, then training outdoors is cross-training.
- If you mostly use dumbbells, then using kettlebells is cross-training.
- But CrossFit also emphasizes functional movements our ancestors did in everyday life – such as lifting, squatting, pulling, and pushing.
CrossFit often includes Olympic lifts and barbells, but as any good personal trainer will tell you, barbells can sometimes be hard on the joints of older people – so in this workout I opted mostly for dumbbells and TRX straps instead.
You don’t have to use the exact equipment I use here.
Use your creativity to create variations on the exercises, using whatever you have available – kettlebells, dumbbells, resistance bands, fitness vest, stability ball, suspension straps, medicine ball, or wrist and ankle weights.
If you have no equipment at all, you can still have an excellent workout. Make needed modifications, and do more repetitions of each exercise and do them faster.
You’ll sweat, believe me.
Try This CrossFit for Over 50 Workout
The following workout uses both weight training and bodyweight exercises to develop your overall strength.
Beginners can do their training in the traditional bodybuilding way – 3 sets of each exercise with a 2-minute rest in between.
However, true CrossFit for Over 50 exercise typically involves high-intensity workouts that move faster than vanilla bodybuilding. So be sure to use proper form – especially if you’re going to lift heavy weights – and get clearance from your doctor to participate in physical activity and to make sure you don’t have a health condition that would conflict with CrossFit for over 50 workouts.
If fat loss is a priority, it’s a good idea to use the timer on your phone to make sure your rest periods don’t run too long. This will keep your heart rate from plummeting and help you remain in a fat-burning zone:
- Intermediate and advanced-level athletes can instead do a circuit training variation, in which you do 3 or 4 exercises back-to-back with no rest period, and then take a 3-minute break before repeating.
- Each circuit is repeated 3 times, before moving on to an entirely new circuit.
Driveway Warm-Ups Emphasizing Abdominals
Put all your fitness tools – including water, and a mat and/or towel – in your driveway (or wherever you’re exercising) before beginning, so that you don’t have to take unnecessary breaks looking for equipment.
If you’re training outdoors, I encourage you to wear sunscreen (including on your scalp and inside your ears) – and if you have light-colored eyes you might want to wear sunglasses and a cap as well.
Refer to the video near the bottom of this article to see each exercise in action.
Training Warm-Up with the Toe-Point Plank
Form the perfect plank pose – with abdominal muscles pulled up and in – and keep your glutes activated.
Your arms are bent so that elbows are braced on the mat.
Point your toes (causing your body to slide forward slightly) and then flex your heels (causing your body to slide back and create a stretch in the calves).
CrossFit for Over 50: Driveway Hip Swivel
Still holding the perfect plank, with your shoulders positioned directly above your elbows, swivel to each side – gently touching the edge of your hip to the ground. This exercise engages the obliques (sides of your waist).
14 reps (7 each side).
Hip Swivel with Leg Reach
Similar as above, only this time as you swivel the hip to each side, you also reach the top leg back to gently touch the ground behind you.
Suspension Training Superman
Face away from the straps. The is still a plank exercise, only this time you’re using TRX suspension straps to hold the plank midair – like superman flying up-and-away. Then you return to a starting toe-touch position.
This is still a warm-up, so keep your feet soft and your knees slightly bent as you jump rope. Your navel should be pulled in tightly and your pelvis should remain centered (resist the temptation to arch your lower back).
CrossFit for Over 50: The Second Training Circuit
At this point in this CrossFit for Over 50 Workout, you should be fully warmed up. That means that in this second circuit you can probably build the intensity and push yourself a little farther.
A healthy workout works on the edge of discomfort – you feel targeted muscles burning, but there should be no profound dizziness or joint pain.
TRX Squat and Row
Face the straps. With feet apart, squat low, then press back up to standing as your row your elbows back-and-in. You want to use your leg muscles and back muscles equally.
Suspension Training Rear Fly and Front Raise
Face the straps. Alternate rear delt fly (for your posterior deltoids – a real posture improver) with front arm raise for your shoulders.
The further away from you your feet are, the more challenging the movement. So you can adjust to your desired level of resistance simply by where you position your feet.
16 reps (8 fly and 8 raise, alternating).
Driveway TRX Front Fly
Face away from the straps and do the fly movement for your pectorals.
Placing your feet like your standing makes it easier, leaning farther forward with your feet behind you makes the exercise more challenging.
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Elevate your feet for push-ups. This exercise is highly effective for developing the all-important upper-chest area of your torso. Beginners can do the standard version (or even on their knees), while intermediate and advanced athletes can do single-leg reps (8 on each side).
Your starting position is bent forward – with hands on the ground.
Your feet start near your hands, then jump your feet back, so your legs come together into a plank position. Repeat.
It’s okay to keep your knees slightly soft. Also, if you have a pair of larger dumbbells, you might find it more comfortable to set those on the ground and use them as handles. That’s optional, however.
CrossFit for Over 50: The Third Training Circuit
As you undertake each exercise, ask yourself where in your body you’re most feeling it.
Ideally, you want to feel the targeted muscle contracting.
If you feel any pain in your spine or joints, then you need to reposition yourself. Often, changing the placement of your feet, or squeezing more tightly your core and glute muscles, will help take pressure off of your joints.
Try not to just collapse your bodyweight downward.
Instead, visualize directing your energy up toward the sky. This is how dancers and circus acrobats are able to perform uninjured – despite relentless hours of exercise. They keep their abdominals and buttocks muscles strong, and they lift up as they move.
CrossFit for Over 50: Suspension Training Sissy Squat for Quads
Face away from the straps, tucking the straps underneath your arms against the sides of your torso. Lean forward, then press up onto the balls of your feet and stay like that. Now, bend your knees and squat.
If your knees feel like they’re in good shape then you can even bring your knees in front of your toes a bit – you’ll feel it more in your quadriceps muscles that way.
12 reps. (Remember not to hold your breath.)
Suspended Heel Raise
Same starting position as the above exercise, only this time you keep your legs straight, allowing your heels to slowly stretch down to the ground. Then, pop those heels back up – as high as you absolutely can – as you intensely contract the calf muscles of your lower leg. Really exaggerate the range of motion. Keep the weight of your body centered in the ball of your feet (instead of rolling your foot slightly to one side).
Driveway Tricep Dips with Elevated Feet
With tricep dips, I find it helpful to keep my hips as close to the bench or chair as possible.
In this variation, feet are elevated. Try to rotate your elbows back, and put some torque in your grip – pressing down into the bench as you almost turn your hands out. Distribute weight evenly into the heel of your palms to protect your wrists (instead of rolling weight more onto one side).
Driveway Horizontal Pull-Ups
Pull-ups can be a bit tricky at home. You need a bar or something to which you can hang on while pulling.
At the gym, the smith machine makes for an easy way to do horizontal pull-ups because the bar is secure and you can easily adjust the height.
At home, you might have a pull-up bar in a doorway, or some people slide under a kitchen table and grab the edge with a reverse grip.
If you happen to have a truck or SUV in your driveway, you might be able to slide under and grab the bumper or tow pull handles (as I do in the photo above).
Whatever creative solution you find for pull-ups, be absolutely sure that it’s safe and secure.
CrossFit for Over 50: Training the Row-and-Press with a Resistance Band
Secure one end of a looped resistance band, then grab the other end and:
- Pull the band toward you in a rowing motion.
- Pause at the point of contraction, then slowly press your arms up.
- Lower back down to the row, then release to starting position.
This exercise hits the back and shoulder muscles together. See video for a demonstration.
Anytime you’re doing a shoulder press, proceed slowly. Make any slight modifications needed to the movement in order to accommodate your rotator cuffs.
Banded Back Pull-Over
For back pullovers using a resistance band, bend your knees and stick your chest out (but keep the top rib pressed in a bit – no need to over arch). The band should be positioned high above head level. With straight arms, pull the ends of a band down, using your back muscles (not your arms) to initiate the movement. See video.
Banded Hammer Curl
For banded hammer curls, you want the band positioned low – near foot level. Soften your knees, engage your core, bolt your elbows into the sides of your torso, then slowly curl the band up and down like you’re hammering.
Really try to pump blood into the biceps muscle at the top of each rep. See video.
Banded Overhead Tricep Extension
Face away from the band, raise your arms overhead gripping the ends of the band, then extend your arms overhead contracting the tricep muscles of your upper arm. Then slowly returning to starting position bending at the elbow. See video.
CrossFit for Over 50: Driveway Training Finishers
“Finishers” are those last couple of exercises at the end of a workout when you unleash yourself, working as intensely as you can (since you know it’s almost over). The idea is to work up a robust sweat.
The battle rope is ideal for finishers. You can secure the other end of the rope around a tree or pole, or place a heavy dumbbell on it, or do what I did for this video and simply park your car tire over the top of it!
Battle Rope Alternating Arm Pumps
CrossFit for over 50 means listening to your joints. If they feel pain, stop the exercise. This is especially true with battle rope movements.
If your shoulders and elbows are having a good day, then grab the ends of a battle rope and alternatively pump your arms, keeping your core and buttocks engaged to help protect your lower back.
Battle Rope Simultaneous Arm Pumps
Similar to the above exercise, except both arms together and you’re trying to create a snap sound when the rope strikes the ground. Imagine cracking a whip.