The 9 Foundational CrossFit Movements Every Athlete Should Know

As varied as the sport of CrossFit is, did you know it was built around only 9 movements?

If you were to obtain your CrossFit-L1 certification, the focal point of your training would be around only 9 exercises.

Can you guess what they are?

The 9 foundational CrossFit exercises are as follows:

  • Air Squat
  • Front Squat
  • Overhead Squat
  • Shoulder Press
  • Push Press
  • Push Jerk
  • Deadlift
  • Sumo Deadlift High Pull
  • Medicine Ball Clean

These exercises were not chosen at random. In fact, they all work as a building block towards the majority of movements you’ll find in CrossFit.

For example, the wall ball shot is a combination of a front squat and a push press.

In this guide, you’ll learn why these 9 movements make up CrossFit and how to perform them properly, along with training tips and resources.

Why Are These 9 Exercises the Foundational Movements?


CrossFit chose these 9 movements as the building blocks for the sport because they transfer or compliment the majority of exercises found in workouts.

For example, at first glance, many people see the medicine ball clean as “useless” due to the low weight of the ball. Some argue that once you’ve mastered the technique, the utility of the exercise diminishes.

But if you break down the skill, you’ll see CrossFit didn’t choose the medicine ball clean so it could be a staple movement in WODs and metcons.

They use it the medicine ball clean as a vehicle to teach other movements.

The medicine ball clean breaks down the important technique components for the squat clean in a low risk for injury environment.

Skills like shrugging, catching, and dropping underneath then transfer to the snatch. Explosive hip drive makes it easier to learn the kettlebell swing or medicine ball slam.

Read Also: Best Slam Balls For CrossFit

The 9 Foundational Movements of CrossFit

Air Squat


Front Squat


Overhead Squat


Shoulder Press


Push Press

Push Jerk




Sumo Deadlift High Pull

Medicine Ball Clean



CrossFit uses 9 foundational movements to teach the majority of exercises found in workouts.

These movements are the air squat, front squat, overhead squat, overhead press, push press, push jerk, deadlift, sumo deadlift high pull, and medicine ball clean.

If you ever aspire to coach CrossFit, you will need to know these 9 movements like the back of your hand.

Like in every sport, fundamentals matter. Practice these 9 fundamental movements every day and you will quickly see how they transfer to other movements.