Crossfit has been a sport for over a decade, with it gaining massive popularity in only the last few years. As a relatively new sport, it still lacks some of the features of more mature sports, such as basketball, football, etc. One of these glaring deficiencies, is the lack of a valid ranking system. Keep reading to discover the five levels for crossfit athletes, that cover everyone from the newest beginner to the fittest on earth.
These levels are developed based off of my years of experience with crossfit athletes, and some statistical analysis of their strength, endurance, and skill levels. These levels are set for the same percentile across various domains. For example the intermediate standards are roughly 50th percentile, with higher levels at higher percentiles. I’ve also included a rough time frame to achieve these levels, but of course some will be faster, and others slower. Do not take these standards as limits, only as milestones along your path to fitness.
If you want to see exactly how to figure this for yourself, you can skip to the slides at the end.
Crossfit Beginner Standards
Beginners should strive for consistently in all things. They need to learn the basic movements, and be able to perform them safely every time. This phase will likely take up to 6 months, but of course, some will move through this phase very rapidly, depending on their previous experiences, both in and out of the gym.
Crossfit Intermediate Standards
These standards are where the vast majority of crossfitters will be at any given time. Some will stay here indefinitely, happy with this level of fitness, and others might be able to satisfy the majority of these fitness goals the first time they step foot into the gym. Either way, this level is much fitter than the average gym goer you’ll see at Gold’s or even worse Planet Fitness.
Crossfit Advanced Standards
The advanced standard will generally take 2+ years to accomplish. When I say two plus years, I don’t mean I did an intro class two years ago and worked out for a summer, then stopped during the winter. I mean two consistent years of day in and day out hard work
It will require significant strength levels and conditioning. Based on my previous experience, this is the level that most crossfitters start to participate in local competitions, at the non-scaled level, mainly in part because they can execute all common movements found at these competitions, including the dreaded muscle up.
Crossfit Elite Standards
This standard is probably not achievable by everyone. This will require a fair amount of natural ability, and dare I say a good draw in the genetic lottery. These are the folks that walk into the gym and can deadlift your PR on the first day. I know, I know, they should be shot, but don’t do it, lawyers are expensive.
The biggest difference between this level, and the advanced level is the strength standards. This increase in strength allows their WOD times to drop dramatically.
Generally speaking, until the weight in a WOD is 40% of your 1 rep max or under, it’s more beneficial to be stronger than better conditioned. If you then couple that increase in strength with continued improvement in stamina, well you’ve got an elite athlete. These are the folks that are winning local competitions, and have aspirations of going to regionals or the games.
Crossfit International Elite Standards
This is the highest level of achievement. This is for games and regional level athletes. Statistically speaking only the top fraction of the 99th percentile will reach this level of development, and this will take at least 3 + years of consistent work to get there.
These athletes will most likely have extensive training backgrounds in college or semi pro athletics, but even with this background it will probably take them several years of consistent crossfit work to reach this highest level in this crossfit ranking system.
A good example of this, is a female regionals athlete, Oxana Slivenko a silver medalist weight lifter, who has not yet made it to the Games. She is incredibly strong. There is a video of her in a Russian training hall, preparing for the olympics, where she squats 440lbs for a double. So we can see that years of hard work and incredible talent in other sports don’t mean your are going to be the next fittest person on earth, without tons of dedicated work on crossfit.
How to Calculate Your Crossfit Level
Now that we’ve seen examples for a 195 lb male from beginner to international elite, lets take a look at how to calculate your individual level for both males and females. The lift numbers are based off of multiples of your bodyweight, with the other standards set at certain percentiles. Check out the following to see how to calculate your level.
You’ll notice that I’ve included the female numbers for the lifts and the other standards. These standards are are not normed, they are based off of user reported data in each area. So I didn’t take male standards and just reduced them by some arbitrary number. They are calculated off of the same percentile levels as the men, only using a female data set.
I created this ranking system because I think crossfit needs this type of tool. It gives people concrete goals to shoot for, and it gives them a reasonable picture of where they currently stand. It also forces folks to be realistic with their strengths and weaknesses.
If you can hit all the strength numbers on a certain level, but not the wod numbers, well you now know where you should be putting the bulk of your effort, if being the best crossfitter you can be is your goal. Lastly, I’d like to emphasize that no one, including me, knows how far you can progress on this crossfit ranking system. So get out there and find out for yourself.
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