I want to understand how to gradually build up my crossfit wod stamina and endurance. I am really new to crossfit and in okay shape, but I really want to improve. I am 40 years old, so I don't want to overdo it and get injured. I will start the regular crossfit classes next week and have that common fear of being the slowest person in the class. I can deal with being the slowest, but I am not sure just how hard to push myself to gradually improve. Any suggestions.

  • Fitness is just you vs you; don't worry about anyone else unless you want to use them as motivation for the next step up (ie: next week I'm going to beat Frank in the WOD, etc).
    – Eric
    Jul 5, 2015 at 16:39
  • @EricKaufman Thanks Eric. Yeah I totally agree with you, which is why I was asking the question. The competition part is something I am aware of, but can choose to set aside. But I did not want to competition part to cloud my judgement about just how intense I should workout in the beginning. I just want to make sure I push myself but not overdo it. Like perhaps 70% or so in the beginning and then alternating between like 90% and 70% days, depending on rest and stuff. But I was not sure this was a good way to go?
    – krishnab
    Jul 5, 2015 at 17:28

1 Answer 1


The workouts in Crossfit gyms tend to be rather generalized. They pride themselves on not being an ace in anyone thing, but being a jack in several. The reality is that some things, like a snatch, you really don't want to do unless you're an ace. To perform Olympic lifting, and even something as relatively straight forward as a deadlift requires technique that can only be acquired over time.

But I did not want to competition part to cloud my judgement about just how intense I should workout in the beginning. I just want to make sure I push myself but not overdo it.

If you were following a strength training program, or really anything that was more controlled (even a running schedule), you can talk about throttling up and down intensity, time, and speed. You can tweak rest periods, sets, and inclinations (with running).

With CrossFit, you show up and look at the whiteboard and that's what you're doing. They might have a couple modifications for different skill levels, but it's not customized per person in any meaningful way. So the controls you can play with is (a) how often you go in a week and, usually but not always, (b) the amount of circuits you do.

If I were in your shoes I would try to play with these variables:

  • The frequency per week that you go. Especially in the beginning, give yourself 2-3 days to recover as you'll probably be quite sore.
  • Find a class on their website schedule that is specifically for new people. Hopefully they're not expecting you to do snatches on day 1 (or even day 30, to be honest).
  • If something hurts, skip that part of the WOD. No one's handing out trophies because your name is on the whiteboard with a better time than some other guy.
  • Especially with the squat, deadlift, clean, snatch, and anything on the gymnast rings, be cautious. It takes a long time to get good at those and bad habits can be hard to shake at best and injure you at worst.

I am really new to crossfit and in okay shape

There will probably be people in your class that are seriously overweight or otherwise much weaker and slower than you. I hate to be so on the nose about it, but if that reality helps to paint a picture for you in which you can feel more confident knowing it won't be filled with yoked meatheads, then it's worth sharing.

  • Thanks Eric, that helps a lot. I feel a lot more comfortable now modulating my own pace as opposed to overdoing it. I do expect there to be others in the class who are above and below my own ability, so should be a good balance.
    – krishnab
    Jul 5, 2015 at 23:50

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