Making Good Choices
How does one improve in CrossFit? What does it take to “get better?” If you have invested in CrossFit as your exercise program or sport, this is a great question to answer for yourself. There is not a one answer fits all on how to improve, without knowing ones strengths, weaknesses, sleep, diet, prior conditioning, x/week in class, how long crossfitting, stress levels, injuries, coordination, ect. There is one thing we cannot do without, and that is consistent class attendance over the course of weeks, months, and years.
Skill development takes a lot of practice. How many of us have been trying to get double unders, kipping pull ups, handstand walks, or muscle ups? How many of us get frustrated in class when we cannot get them? If we aren’t in class consistently we make go a few weeks without practicing a particular lift or skill. I have often heard that it has been a “long time” or weeks since we have done certain movements, when in reality they just happened days ago or last week, you just weren’t here. If you look around the room and see someone that has something you don’t, chances are they have been doing CrossFit longer than you have or they come 5 days a week and you make it twice. The more you come, the better you can and will get.
Strength gains can take several months or even years to develop. If you see someone really strong, that did not happen overnight. Years of squatting, deadlifting, or pressing has led to the overall strength this athlete has. The biggest mistake males make is coming into class and trying to lift beyond their capabilities. Why do guys do this? Ego mostly. Often times guys will see another guy lifting a particular weight and try to do it during the workout. Girls aren’t exempt, but girls seem to be smarter in this regard. Lifting beyond your capabilities doesn’t get you stronger, it wrecks your joints. You know, the deadlifts with rounded backs or the jerks where there is a 5 second struggle with a big arched back to push it overhead. Our tendons, ligaments, and muscles can only take so much stress and placing loads we aren’t ready to lift is counterproductive to our progress in CrossFit or any sport for that matter. A good rule of thumb is that you control the weight, the weight does not control you. Advanced athletes with developed musculature have more wiggle room to test heavier loads than newer athletes. Newer athletes or athletes that have mobility concerns will do best using lighter loads and moving faster to increase their capacity. Yes they still need to get stronger, but smart choices need to be made along the way. An athlete would better progress themselves by using 10-20lb less and being able to cycle the barbell, then doing Rx weight and getting crushed. Yes you lifted the weight, but it looked awful and my guess is it felt awful. I hear this a lot. “That felt really bad or man that was too much weight.” Why? For the sake of what do we make these decisions? Just to Rx? Our ego hinders our progress.
Progress won’t come overnight. “I just can’t get…._________ fill in the blank. I hear this from athletes that have been coming for just a few months. It took me over 6 months of practice to get muscle ups. Kipping pull ups took months of practice and double unders took me just as long, but I practiced a lot. Like everyday I did double unders. Taking 5 minutes a day on a skill for a month will pay dividends. What would happen to the athlete that did double unders for 5 minutes a day for a month? I bet they would make huge improvements. I had a guy years ago that did handstand walks everyday before class and within a month he was walking up stacks of plates. He went from barely being able to do one, to walking up an incline in a month. Be patient and practice. Skills take a long time to develop. Most athletes seem to practice a few times and stop because they aren’t getting it. This mentality has to stop.