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CrossFit Alternatives: Get Ripped Without the Pricey Membership and Injury Risks!

By: Holly Smith, D.O. - Osteopathic Medicine, B.S. - Dietetics, NASM-PES Certified Trainer,

Writer, The Fit Father Project & Fit Mother Project

CrossFit Alternatives

CrossFit has numerous benefits, but it can be pricey and comes with injury risks, which is why many men look for CrossFit alternatives.

Fortunately, there are great CrossFit alternatives that will get you the same great strength-building alternatives while minimizing your risk for injury.

CrossFit rose quickly to popularity and continues to gain followers.

In fact, many other types of workouts, such as high-intensity intervals and metabolic resistance training use many of the CrossFit principles.

Many people have achieved great results with CrossFit workouts, and with the right training and technique, this is still an excellent option.

However, CrossFit workouts also have their downside, namely injuries.

High-velocity power lifts and kipping pull-ups can put undue stress on your joints and connective tissue.

Luckily, there are similar workouts that offer the same fitness benefits while decreasing your risk for injury.

Keep reading to learn more about CrossFit alternatives and get that body you've always wanted!

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Get Ripped with CrossFit Alternatives

If you are looking to get a serious CrossFit-like workout without the need to join a gym or risk injury try out some of these CrossFit alternatives.

Box Squats

Squats are the ultimate lower body exercise. Unfortunately, this can lead to low back and knee injuries or pain for a lot of guys.

While studies have shown that exercise and strength training are great ways to prevent or treat back pain, it's important to choose exercises that aren’t going to worsen any pre-existing issues.

Using a box to perform squats will still build strength and lower body power, especially in the quads, glutes, and hamstrings.

Plus, the box squat is a great way to learn the correct form and technique to ensure you are getting a good range of motion when performing a squat.

To perform a box squat, you use the same technique as a regular back squat.

However, instead of squatting all the way down, start by squatting to a seated position on top of a seat, or box.

This will ensure that your knees stay in proper alignment and that you don’t put too much pressure or strain on your joints or low back.

Box squats force you to lead with your hips and keep your knees exactly where they should be during the entire movement.

Sumo Deadlift

The traditional deadlift is a great full-body exercise.

Unfortunately, it is also a move that tends to cause a number of back injuries in men.

On the other hand, with the sumo deadlift, you can use a bar or dumbbells that are kept closer to the body.

This decreases the risk of a lower-back injury while still getting a great lower body, back, and core workout.

This exercise is similar to a traditional deadlift, except you will stand with your legs wider than shoulder-width distance with your feet turned out slightly.

You may also need to use a lighter weight than with a traditional deadlift.

  • Hinge at your hips and push your butt back as you lower your torso and the weight toward the ground.
  • Keep your back flat and shoulders back.
  • Your torso should be almost parallel to the floor at the bottom of the movement.
  • Keeping your core tight, push through your heels to stand up straight.
  • Keep arms straight as you lift the weight back to start.
  • Pause at the top and squeeze your butt.

best exercise for men 40+

What Are The 5 Best Muscle Building Exercises For Men 40+?

best exercise for men 40+
The secret to building age-defying muscle in your in 40s, 50s, & 60s is to modify the best muscle building exercises (bench, squats, rows) to make them safe on your joints…

Strict Pull-Ups Instead of Kipping Pull-Ups

While kipping may give you the ability to knock out an obscene number of pull-up reps, this movement puts undue stress on your shoulder joints and is a recipe for injury, especially if you have poor form.

Pull-ups are the ultimate upper body exercise that targets the larger and smaller muscles in the back.

Performing pull-ups trains you to use these muscles synergistically so that you build strength and get a toned and ripped back.

If you are just starting out and can't do an unassisted pull up that’s OK!

There are modifications that you can start out with as you build up your upper body strength.

In no time you will be able to work up to perform pull-ups on your own.

Pull up modifications include:

Pull-Up Machine

Many gyms have a machine with a platform to rest your legs on.

The heavier weight you choose to assist you, the easier the pull-up will be.

Try using this machine at first, gradually decreasing the assistance until you are able to do a pull-up without any assistance.

You can also use assistance bands that hang from the pull-up bar that assist you as you pull up.

Pull-Ups With a Spotter

Have a spotter hold your legs to assist you as you pull yourself up towards the bar.

Negative Pull-Ups

Start by standing under a pull-up bar.

Jump up and grasp the bar with a  shoulder-width or slightly wider grip.

Using the momentum from your jump, pull yourself upwards until your chin is above the bar.

Instead of lowering down immediately, slowly lower yourself for a 5-count.

Slowly extend your arms as you inch closer to the ground.

Let go of the bar at the end, then jump back up to repeat.

Dumbbell Snatches

You can’t watch a CrossFit competition without seeing the competitors performing barbell snatches.

However, you can modify this move slightly and still get a killer workout by doing dumbbell snatches instead.

With the traditional barbell snatch done in CrossFit, they will start from the floor.

However, with the dumbbell snatch, hold the dumbbell and begin the movement as it is hanging in your hand in front of you.

Start with your feet about hip-width apart.

Hinge forward at the hips and in an explosive movement snatch the dumbbell above your head as you jump slightly up onto your feet.

Complete 6-8 reps with the right hand, then switch to the left hand and complete 6-8 reps.

This dumbbell version of the hang snatch has less chance of injury as compared to the barbell variety.

Plus, it’s much easier to learn and perform with the proper technique, while providing all of the benefits of explosive strength work.

Step Down Box Jumps

Plyometric moves are a staple of CrossFit workouts and for good reason!

These exercises build strength while also boosting your heart rate and adding a cardio component to your workout.

However, box jumps where you quickly jump onto a box, jump back down, and rebound back up can lead to knee and soft tissue injuries.

Instead of jumping backward off of a box after your box jumps, step back down, and then repeat the jumps.

This will still give you a great aerobic power workout without risking injury.

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Muscle-Ups

Muscle-ups are another popular CrossFit move where you do a pull-up and at the top, you press yourself over the bar as you extend your arms to push your body over the pull-up bar.

This is a complex move that can be difficult to master and may lead to shoulder injuries.

Instead of muscle-ups, you can get similar benefits by combining pull-ups and dips.

This basically splits up the movement into its two components of pulling and pressing.

For example, instead of doing 10 muscle-ups, you could alternate pull-ups and dips for a total of 10 altogether.

Perform the pull-ups with the same technique as described above.

For the dips, stand over the dip bars and hold yourself over the bars with your arms fully extended.

Lower your body until your upper arms are parallel to the floor.

Extend your elbows to push back up.

Similar to pull-ups, if you cannot do a dip unassisted you can modify the move.

For instance, you can use a dip machine or a spotter to hold your feet until you gain enough strength to do these unassisted.

Holly Smith D.O. - Osteopathic Medicine, B.S. - Dietetics, NASM-PES Certified Trainer

Writer, The Fit Father Project & Fit Mother Project

Holly is board-certified in nephrology and internal medicine, has a bachelor’s degree in dietetics, and is a certified personal trainer with NASM-PES certification.

Holly is a keen runner, triathlete, and fitness and nutrition enthusiast. She has completed four full ironmans, twelve marathons, countless half ironmans, Olympic distance triathlons, half marathons, and numerous other road races.

Holly joined the Fit Father Project in May 2019 as a regular writer, contributing articles on health, wellness, exercise, and nutrition.

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*Please know that weight loss results & health changes/improvements vary from individual to individual; you may not achieve similar results. Always consult with your doctor before making health decisions. This is not medical advice – simply very well-researched info on CrossFit alternatives.

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