This question comes up a lot from adults, seniors and children of various ages. So what’s the answer?
You can start CrossFit at any age you like as an adult. Because every movement is ‘infinitely scaleable’, this means you can substitute or tailor movements to suit your personal age, circumstance and physiology. Many CrossFit gyms offer separate seniors, postpartum or mother and baby classes, but in general, a CrossFit class is populated with adults aged 17 – 75+. As for children, they can start CrossFit Kids from age 3. The first cohort is aged 3-5.
If you’re interested in knowing more about CrossFit Kids, this detailed Best Gym Hacks post here breaks it down for you.
To learn more about what ‘infinitely scalable’ entails, this post is for you.
What is a CrossFit ‘Master’?
Like in other sports, anyone who competes or even participates over the age of 35 is known as a ‘master’. A CrossFit Master, therefore, is anyone over the age of 35. If partaking in The CrossFit Games or The CrossFit Open, your Masters category is further broken down into cohorts. This can be seen in the table below.
In 2015, CrossFit Teens were also added to the CrossFit Games rostrum.
Here’s a breakdown of the age categories at the CrossFit Games, Regionals (semi-finals) and Open for Masters and Teens categories.
|Men||Women||Teens – Male & Female|
|45–49||45–49||NA – 18+ considered adult Elite (non-Master)|
At the 2010 CrossFit Games, CrossFit Inc introduced a Masters category as the sport was growing with a noticeable amount of older generations moving in to enjoy the sport.
So the market was hugely increasing in its age range since the sports take-off in the early 2000’s.
In 2015, CrossFit Teens were also added to the Crossfit Games rostrum. Here’s a breakdown of the age categories at the CrossFit Games, Regionals (semi-finals) and Open.
Am I too old to start CrossFit?
As was noted above, the age range is not a barrier to entry if you want to start CrossFit. In fact, on the contrary, you will oftentimes find yourself working out and making friends with those in their 20’s, 30’s, 40’s 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and sometimes beyond that in a CrossFit gym. This is not an uncommon sight because the sport, hobby, and methodology are so inclusive that it suits such a broad range of people who just want to exercise.
One objection you may hear from prospectors is that “I’m too unfit” or “I’m too old”. This misconception is understandable but completely incorrect.
Purpose programmed classes
At one of the affiliates which I co-own, we have just recently launched a new seniors/lifestyle class.
This was a response stimulated by a member in his 60’s stating that we were missing a trick, given his love for CrossFit, and how accessible it was for him.
We carried out an anonymous survey, and on the back of that, this particular member provided some further feedback:
“Initially I was looking to find a way to get, and keep, fit and I thought the only way to get personalised attention was through a personal trainer. I went to a few but disliked them standing over me and couldn’t maintain a way of consistently going to the gym on my own. I also disliked the fact that PT’s were bored“.
The answer to a problem
It turned out CrossFit was the perfect solution for him, as it is for many – not just the older members, but younger members too.
They like that it’s already pre-programmed and all conveniently on the board, with a coach making sure they’re working out safely and correctly, without too much interrogation as a PT might do.
People like having it all laid out. It’s so convenient and it gets results.
What’s the best age to start CrossFit?
There’s right or wrong answer.
We’ve already established age is not a barrier to entry, so you can start anytime.
However, if you feel you’re genetically wired to win the Crossfit Games – or just compete at a high level – logic dictates you should be starting in your teenage years.
This would give you a longer run-in to refine technique and ascertain your strength threshold.
Likewise, if you want to compete in CrossFit Teens events and do well, starting at CrossFit Kids makes sense.
The Open is for all ages and abilities
Overall, 99.9% of us are not going to compete at The CrossFit Games or Regionals, but all of us can compete in The CrossFit Open.
The Open is highly inclusive, also having a large array of categories for the adaptive athletes. Our article on this further explains the Adaptive Division.
So depending on what you want to get out of CrossFit partially dictates what age you should start.
The overarching view is if you’re looking for a healthy hobby and you don’t already do CrossFit, just start today – if you’re aged 3 or 93.
What are the CrossFit Kids age categories?
There are 4 cohorts for CrossFit Kids, as noted below.
Classes are tailored to suit the children, their attention levels and movements and the resistance training they should actually be doing.
|Cohort / Ages||Category|
|5-8||Kids Band 1|
|9-11||Kids Band 2|
Read this post for more on CrossFit Kids and the appropriateness of classes per age.
How old are elite CrossFit athletes?
CrossFit athletes typically peak in their 20’s, or very early 30’s as an Elite, non-Masters athlete. Below is a list of the winners – male and female – over the last 12 years (since 2010) who won The CrossFit Games and their age when doing so.
|Year||Men / Age||Female / Age|
|2010||Graham Holmberg / 25||Kristen Clever / 28|
|2011||Rich Froning / 24||Annie Thorisdottir / 21|
|2012||Rich Froning / 25||Annie Thorisdottir / 22|
|2013||Rich Froning / 26||Samantha Briggs / 31|
|2014||Rich Froning / 27||Camille Leblanc-Bazinet / 25|
|2015||Ben Smith / 25||Katrin Davisdottir / 22|
|2016||Mat Fraser / 26||Katrin Davidsdottir/ 23|
|2017||Mat Fraser / 27||Tia-Clair Toomey / 23|
|2018||Mat Fraser / 28||Tia-Clair Toomey / 24|
|2019||Mat Fraser / 29||Tia-Clair Toomey / 25|
|2020||Mat Fraser / 30||Tia-Clair Toomey / 26|
|2021||Justin Medeiros / 22||Tia-Clair Toomey / 27|
The results are quite clear in that athletes appear to be in their prime from early in their twenties, all the way through and up into the 30’s.
The exception to the rule is Sam Briggs, who won the Games when she was 31, but fell down the pack leaderboard in subsequent years.
This was followed by her moving into the Masters category of which she still dominated.
Retirement after domination
Mat Fraser announced retirement after his 5th individual win, at the age of 30.
Rich Froning Jr stands out (G.O.A.T), as although retiring from individual competition after his 4th win in 2014, his team CrossFit Mayhem Freedom has won the Team category 5 times, with him at the helm.
Having just won the Syndicate Crown, they followed up by a 6th win at the 2022 CrossFit Games!
In a recent interview, he mused that he might retire after the Team Games this year, but come back and do 1 year of each Masters cohort.
The new GOAT!
Tia Claire-Toomey who won the female 2022 CrossFit Games is the most dominant. On paper she is the GOAT of GOAT’s, improving on Frasers wins by 1 more.
It is unclear whether she’s hanging up her individual competitive shoes or not. TBC!
Summary of the age and CrossFit
You can start CrossFit at any age from 3 and up. It’s never too late.
If you believe you will be competing at The CrossFit Games, the best thing you can do is start CrossFit Teens. The data shows that the twenties were peak for athletes.
The trend is now shifting towards younger athletes, as people like Mal O’Brien and Emma Lawson are scoring extremely high at The Games, with their age still in the late teens!