It might feel like Crossfit -- the workout craze that has swept the nation (maybe the world), has created raving fans and hard bodies.

But with so much controversy surrounding this popular fitness enigma, with intimidating movements and foreign words such as the snatch, the wall-ball, the kipping pullup, how are we to walk in and feel confident that we can know (or at least pretend!) like we know what we're doing?

We can break down most of the Crossfit movements into four categories: Squat, pull, push/press and hip hinge.

Squat - Often combined with overhead ball tosses or done with a loaded barbell, this movement is one you want to get down before you walk into a class. If you find you are having trouble getting deep into your squat try putting a small heel lift to help alleviate calf tightness that is likely stopping your full depth. Slowly work your way over a couple of months into doing the squats without needing the heel lifts, keeping your chest tall and weight in your heels to maintain good technique.

Pull - Chin ups and kipping pullups are core staples of many intermediate to advanced Crossfit workouts. While you don't need to be able to do a dozen pullups before you come to crossfit, doing some pulls using a TRX or other similar type of suspension trainer can be highly beneficial to activating the muscles you need to be able to perform a chinup. Be sure to do shoulderblade retractions as shown to give your shoulders the support they need to prevent injury.

Push/press - Used for pushups, handstand pushups and a multitude of Crossfit and Olympic lifting movements, you want to make sure you have this movement down cold. Use a pair of dumbbells to press overhead, using your legs to create power such that it transers into helping the arms rise up. Ideally you are loading into a squat, then popping up and then dropping back into a squat as the arms come back down.

Hip hinge - This is probably the trickiest to master but brings the biggest reward for time invested in the gym. Doing a series of one legged deadlifts combined with a powerful knee lift can help you learn what you should be feeling in terms of power and where the drive comes from. Be sure to practice on each leg and when doing the progression of kettlebell swings, keep your torso long and your lower back straight. This would be a relatively high risk movement, so be sure to find a mirror and watch your form as you do the movement.

Jamie Atlas specializes in clients that are just getting off the couch or out of the physical therapists office. His training integrates nutrition, mindset and movement training to help them to their dreams, both athletic and aesthetic. He owns a fitness studio in downtown Denver on 1800 Glenarm place. For questions on this segment or anything else, email or go to