The best part about CrossFit is the community and camaraderie that can be seen between members. I think this is especially present in our gym over others. The excitement of the Games and the chance to compete in the Open adds to the motivation. If we could all compete in the Games, I think 95% of us would. The remaining 5% would be those who “don’t care about competition,” but I believe there is a competitive spirit in all of us even if it is just against ourselves daily in and out of the gym.
The great thing about CrossFit is the ability to do workouts that are made for the fittest athlete in the gym, but scale it for someone brand new. Your 75 year-old cohort can get the same workout stimulus as the 25 year-old Games athlete, side-by-side When I think about this, a few points come to mind I think we could all use as reminders:
- Accept where you are: It’s in our blood to want to do better than those around us. When you see the person dying next to you put 10 more pounds on their barbell, it is difficult not to do the same. When you see Fitness vs Performance on the workout board, it is hard not to go after the hardest progressions even though we are new to this. Personally, I have been strength training for 18 years. I started with a PVC pipe and graduated to a 45lb bar (we didn’t have ladies’ bars) after a few months of learning technical olympic lifts. What I am saying is I am still learning and growing and it doesn’t happen overnight. Until you learn how to recruit the right muscles and gain enough strength to withstand external weight loads, you may be setting yourself up for failure. Embrace where you are at and stick to Fitness until you talk to a coach about progressing or they recommend you try the next progression.
- Be more mindful of your movement: I’m not talking about yoga and meditation. Yoga and meditation are great too and I think we need to give more of our time to recovery as this helps with avoiding injuries caused by overtraining and poor or restricted movement patterns, but the point of this post is being mindful as we perform movements and lifts. Most of us think of the gym as our “outlet.” It’s a break from everyday life and the problems, failures, and addictions that come with it, and instead is a time where we don’t have to think…we can let the coach do that for us and just kick our butt. This is true to some extent. However, this doesn’t mean all thinking should go out the window. The overhead squats in last weeks squat, lateral burpee, and wall ball triplet were a reminder for me. Most days, once we get to the WOD, we think it is about going all out. We’ve done most of these movements before, so we don’t have to connect the neurological component with the physical when it comes to performing squats and picking a bar up from the floor, snatching it overhead and telling our body to perform the squat….or do we? For me, the weight got heavy. I had to carefully make sure I kept the barbell overhead in the frontal plane — making sure the bar traveled straight up and down as much as the heavy weight load wanted to rock me back and forth. I had to focus on controlling my descent while maintaining position of the thoracic spine and tightness in the posterior chain throughout the movement. Lastly, maintaining stability and lockout in the shoulder and arms, and controlling my breathing while engaging my core throughout were some of the most important items to focus on. I had to focus on the mechanics and could not allow myself to mindlessly count my reps or think about nothing. Because of the mechanics of this movement, I wasn’t able to just move quickly through the reps without thinking about them like some of the less technical movements. It reminded me that going through the motions is when we get hurt and we’re all guilty of it because we want to go fast – we want to compete. It doesn’t matter how fast you perform; if you are doing so without proper technique, there will eventually be a breakdown in your mechanics under intensity. I’m not telling you to move like a turtle and not push yourself to compete against you and the clock, but it should be done more mindful. We can still think about what we are doing and move with intent.
- Listen to your body: As a coach, nothing makes me cringe more than when an athlete has a nagging or new injury, yet they continue to do a movement that bothers them. I’ve heard “it only hurts a little,” or “it is not that bad, I can work through it” or those that just accept something is off and rather than working on it through active rest or repair, flexibility of the tissue around it and strengthening the position. They just skip the movements altogether or keep hurting themselves. Knock on wood, but overall I have been healthy throughout my training. The reason is because I listen to my body. If I start to get a nagging issue, I will take care of it — stretch, foam roll, strengthen the surrounding muscles, see Dr. Mike Roberts, etc, — and will avoid whatever is bothering it. We only have one body, and sacrificing it to get that PR, fast time or because of our egos isn’t worth it. A Ferrari needs premium gas for fuel, so would it be smart to put unleaded in the tank? Same goes for your body. What you fuel your workouts with and how you take care of your body is so important.
We, as coaches, care about you and want to see you succeed as you work through your fitness journey. As we prepare for the new year’s health & fitness goals, upcoming CrossFit Open, and ability to watch the CrossFit Games in our backyard, we want to make sure you stay safe and healthy!