Everyone knows that being “in shape” is a good thing. We all know that we are supposed to work out, to burn calories, to get our heart rate up.

What is the end goal though? How much work should you be able to do, how strong do you need to be, what skills are necessary, and how can you measure your progress? There are as many answers to these questions as there are people working out.

If you are training for a particular sport, or activity, it is fairly straightforward to define the desired outcomes. If your goal is simply being fit however, it can be much more difficult to set appropriate goals. What we need are some benchmarks that will help us train in the most effective way, and allow us to evaluate our progress as we go.

I first developed the Athletic Skill Levels in 2006 based on a simple idea; there are a set of skills which will predict success in a broad range of physical endeavors. Since posting the chart on our website in 2006, it was linked on (thanks Lynne), has become a fundamental concept in the CrossFit community, and can be found on the walls of gyms around the globe. These Skill Levels define a limited set of physical skills and set progressive benchmarks in these skills. Using these benchmarks, you can develop a personalized set of goals for improving your fitness.

Having defined goals is a good start, but over the years, I’ve realized that the Skill Levels needed to do more. They needed to provide more guidance on how to make progress toward these goals.

In the last 8 years, we have trained thousands of people, using the Athletic Skill Levels as a benchmark of our clients’ progress. We have seen how people progress toward their fitness goals, and where their progress stalls. That experience has guided the development of a new, updated version of the Skill Levels.


 Photo by klenova/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by klenova/iStock / Getty Images

When it comes to effective, efficient, calorie-torching, heart-pumping workouts, CrossFit tops our list for surefire paths to fitness prowess. And we’re not complaining about all the eye candy of chiseled abs we see at the gym, either. But a high-intensity gym regimen is only part of the equation when it comes to healthy, sustained weight loss and sculpting lean, toned muscle. 

“Given the intensity of CrossFit workouts, an essential component of a good CrossFit diet is protein. Protein stabilizes blood sugar, provides energy and the fuel for workouts. CrossFitters should aim for approximately one gram of protein per kilogram of weight, so an average 130-pound woman should have at least 65 grams of protein while a 200-pound man should have about 100 grams of protein,” explains Dr. Tasneem Bhatia, MD, also known as “Dr.Taz,” a weight loss expert and author of What Doctors Eat and The 21-Day Belly Fix. 

And beyond the protein rule, there are other important foods to load up on (and avoid!) when it comes to enhancing your CrossFit success. Read on for experts’ takes on the must-eat and must-avoid list for all you CrossFitters taking the nation by storm. CrossFit is often associated with Paleo; not everything on here is, so if you're curious about that diet plan, check out Your Complete Plan to Go Paleo for a Day!