For those of you competing in the CrossFit Open you have one more chance to be Great. Give this one all you’ve got!
For those of you competing in the CrossFit Open you have one more chance to be Great. Give this one all you’ve got!
CrossFit Competitions. Do you compete?
If your answer is no, but you’ve never tried, we encourage you to get out there and do it. Many athletes find that competing motivates them. Coming back from a competition, knowing where you excelled and where you didn’t can really fire you up to work weaknesses as well as be proud of your strengths. You will DEFINITELY push harder than you do on the daily in the gym, which might teach you a thing or two about what you are capable of.
The most important thing to remember, AGAIN, is that you need to enjoy the experience and compare yourself to YOU. Did YOU do your best, what could you have done better??
One of my favorite times in competition might be that minute just before 3-2-1 go. Next time you are in that situation, take a look around you. Whether you are at the CrossFit Games, or in a local competition at your home gym, you are surrounded by people who want to be their best. You are doing something that takes a lot of guts and hard work to do (regardless of your level). You should take a moment to smile and enjoy that. Most people will go their whole lives without ever experiencing that feeling.
When beginning crossfit, or throughout your training, it is important to have something to compare your progress to. I encourage each of you to find a starting point. Whether you want to use one of the girls (Fran, Nancy, Elizabeth, etc) or some for of baseline, it is important so you can monitor where you are at.
One very good baseline to use is the following:
500 M Row
No matter which WOD you use, make sure to know the size band, weight, or any other modification you use when performing the WOD!
Remember, how do you know where you are going if you don’t know where you’ve been.
ARE YOU NEW TO CROSSFIT AND DON’T KNOW
WHAT IS IS?
Well, if you are, here is a little write up from crossfit.com to let you know what it’s about.
CrossFit is the principal strength and conditioning program for many police academies and tactical operations teams, military special operations units, champion martial artists, and hundreds of other elite and professional athletes worldwide.
Our program delivers a fitness that is, by design, broad, general, and inclusive. Our specialty is not specializing. Combat, survival, many sports, and life reward this kind of fitness and, on average, punish the specialist.
The CrossFit program is designed for universal scalability making it the perfect application for any committed individual regardless of experience. We’ve used our same routines for elderly individuals with heart disease and cage fighters one month out from televised bouts. We scale load and intensity; we don’t change programs.
The needs of Olympic athletes and our grandparents differ by degree not kind. Our terrorist hunters, skiers, mountain bike riders and housewives have found their best fitness from the same regimen.
Thousands of athletes worldwide have followed our workouts posted daily on this site and distinguished themselves in combat, the streets, the ring, stadiums, gyms and homes.
We also publish the CrossFit Journal, designed to support the CrossFit community detailing the theory, techniques, and practice d by our coaches in our gym, in essence bringing your garage or gym into ours, making you a part of the CrossFit family.
Take out the grill, heat up the stove…whatever you must do, but get it done.
Today you should be cooking and packaging your meals for the week.
If you do this, your life will be so easy for the week and you will eat better.
If you read the post from yesterday, you know today you should be shopping.
1. Make a list of good, healthy food choices. Shop at fresh fruit and vegetable stands. If you have a Sam’s Club membership, they have great produce and great prices.
2. Prep meat for cooking for Sunday.
Paleo diet: pre-cooking a week’s worth of meals
Grilled strip steak by Mike on Flickr
Stephen wrote in to The Paleo Table website and said,
“I’m a police officer and have a hard time sticking to a paleo diet. Firstly, I’m really new to switching to it, which is a vulnerable, easy to cheat time. Secondly, due to my job, it’s hard to nail down chain times when I get to eat. I am thinking about cooking a week’s worth of food ahead of time and bringing it to work in a cooler. I’m not much of a cook, but I know preparing my own food is the best way to stick to the diet.”
You are so right about that, brother! Good thinkin. While I don’t have this same problem as far as shift work, I can definitely sympathize. My sister Heidi is an E.R. trauma nurse and her partner Mark is a police/canine trainer. Both their schedules can turn them into drive-thru-visiting, fast food-eating zombies if they don’t keep an eye on it. They’ve had a lot of success doing just what you describe (my sister has lost over 30 pounds in the past couple months too!), so I decided to have a chat with them and get some of their best tips for managing food when your schedule is all out of whack.
Every Saturday afternoon they hit up Sams Club (or CostCo or whatever wholesaler is nearby) and buy big amounts of protein. Usually at least 20 pounds of meat. They mix it up each week with steak, hamburger, chicken, pork or beef tenderloin, shrimp, fish. On Sunday, they fire up the grill and cook enough for the whole week.
Leftover salmon with Baby Spring Mix, Pine Nuts and a little Olive oil – by Boris Lau on Flickr
They’ll add in seasonings (Old Bay for the shrimp, taco seasoning for ground meat, salt & pepper for steak, paprika for chicken, etc) when they’re grilling everything. The trick is to cook everything just shy of being done (medium rare, even for the chicken & seafood). Then later when the food is reheated in the microwave, it still tastes good and doesn’t get dry and rubbery.
Then they portion out the food and put it in ziplocks or plastic containers. They will leave enough in the fridge for Monday and Tuesday, and throw the rest in the freezer. Each day, they pull a portion down into the fridge so it’s ready for the next day.
Follow the same procedure for veggies with a little variation. They buy bulk amounts of broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, brussels sprouts, asparagus, whatever veggies look good that week. Leave the veggies raw and portion out 2-3 cups or however much looks yummy. Then they use Ziplock steamer bags later in the day – 60 seconds and you have steamed veggies. Another option is to make a big chopped salad at the start of the week and keep it in the fridge. Each day just scoop out a portion. Slice up your meat and put on top, add some olive oil, and you’ve got a darn tasty lunch.
Warming up and stretching is a must before any forms of exercising. By doing so, you increase the speed of muscle contraction, blood and nutrient flow to the muscles, and decrease muscle resistance. In addition, higher temperatures cause hemoglobin to lose affinity for oxygen, leading to increased oxygen uptake by muscle. Always ensure to warm down after exercising too, it’s just as important as the warm up.
Warm up video below:
Courtesy of learncrossfit.com
The 2nd Annual Deep South Shootout is fast approaching. If you have already decided to compete or contemplating competing, make a decision and SIGN UP! Positions are filling fast.
Overhead Squats (95/65)
Hand Release Push Ups
Row (1k individual/2k team)
Box Jumps (24″/20″)
Single/Double Unders (your choice)
Wall balls (14/10)
Weighted Squat Jumps (45/35)
Once, we reach 800 likes, we will release the rest of the RX Movements and will make another post like this one that includes all movements together. Until then, happy training and go sign up!
You can sign up @ https://www.eventville.com/catalog/eventregistration1.asp?eventid=1010522.
5 Tips for Entering a Crossfit Competition
Now that you’ve been CrossFitting for awhile, you might consider entering your first CrossFit competition to test your newfound fitness and skills. Or, if you’ve already done your first competition, you might be looking for some advice on how to prepare better and increase your performance. Before doing anything, be sure to consult with Coach Ted on the best approach.
Here are 5 tips for for approaching a competition:
1. Work on your weaknesses leading up to the competition so you’re well rounded and prepared. If you’re weak on Olympic movements, get technical help from Ryan and practice as much as you can. Consider watching a few videos to get technical pointers.
2. Look at the movement and weight standards for upcoming competitions and see what categories you can reasonably be competitive in. It’s likely to be scaled, but be sure to challenge yourself. Every competition is different. Some competitions have “open” categories where anyone can enter and some even have divisions that are unjudged.
3. Speaking of judging, having a judge can be a real eye opener for new CrossFitters. If you’ve never had a judge, get one of the more experienced members to judge you closely on regular daily WODs. You’ll notice a big difference in your output and performance! Make sure to be critical (but positive) of your reps and take the no-reps in stride. This will get you ready for the stress of being judged on gameday.
4. Get plenty of rest, especially the week of a competition. Consider cutting down your WOD volume. Some competitors will do the regular WODs but cut the repetitions in half or loads down to a bare minimum. This minimizes the impact on your body while still keeping you sharp.
5. Practice the WODs! Most competitions will release the WODs the week before the actual competition. See if you can practice the movements or the entire WOD during the week to get a feel for it. Most competitions have oddball movements, stuff that you never practice, e.g. a stone lift or shotput. Try to find the equipment and get in a few practice reps.
Lastly, a lot of competitors have a tendency to overtrain leading up to a competition. This leads to injury. Avoid this rookie mistake and make sure you’re staying safe with your volume, loads, and complexity of movements. If you just learned muscle-ups, don’t blow out a shoulder practicing them to death.
PEOPLE WILL TELL YOU THAT YOU CAN’T OR YOU WON’T; THEY’LL EVEN TELL YOU THAT YOU’LL FAIL. THEY DON’T EVEN HAVE TO VERBALIZE IT. THEIR ACTIONS AND FACIAL EXPRESSIONS SPEAK FOR THEMSELF.
DON’T LISTEN AND DON’T LOOK AT THEM. IGNORE THEM BECAUSE
PROS OF CROSSFIT
So let’s talk Crossfit! As all of is know, not every program is for every person. Some of us are loners and others love group work. Below are several pros of doing Crossfit. Read through them… discover, or rediscover, why you’re here.
GREAT COMMUNITY ASPECT. Unlike a commercial gym, you actually get to know the people at your box. Most gyms will have outings that a LOT of people show up to. There’s always that feeling of team work and camarader
Constant coaching amd support – in a commercial gym you have no clue if you’re doing an exercise right or not. While it’s not 1:1 training, you have a coach with you during every workout to help out.
Accountability. If you don’t show up, not only do people notice, but they call you and ask where you’ve been. The only time that happens in a commercial gym is when you miss a session with your overpaid trainer.
Leveling up - Because you get to keep track of how much you’re lifting, and you know how many reps and sets you’re doing…you get to see constant improvement. You also get to advance at your own pace, slowly working your way up towards doing the workouts as prescribed.
Humblimg yet encouraging – yeah, you might end your workout lying on your back, but you have a sense of accomplishment when you finish a workout faster than last time.
Competition - it’s amazing how much further you’ll push yourself when surrounded by other people cheering you on and competing with them.
People. It introduces SO MANY people to weight lifting, especially women who would have never ever attempted to get off the treadmill and strength train. It’s like a gateway workout – you learn what you love and can specialize further from there.
Sense of belonging. It’s a good outlet for former athletes who like to compete. After playing competitive sports through high school and college, all of a sudden there’s nothing left to compete in…CrossFit gives people that outlet
Find your inner beast. You get to find out what you’re made of. CrossFit can be miserable, but it can also teach you how to push through mental barriers, build mental toughness and more.
Hot Bod. While every woman says they want that “toned” look and try to get it with hours of cardio, those bodies are being built every day in CrossFit gyms. Seriously, take a look at any serious CrossFit female and tell me she doesn’t have a rockin’ bod!
It builds good muscular endurance and all around fitness – your body is prepared for pretty much any athletic situation after a few months of CrossFit.
FOR ALL THE LADIES
1. Lift with other girls. Lifting with men is motivating; however, they just don’t understand certain things. Such as why we act crazy in the gym. Only girls can understand why you have to turn up Fergalicious or Beat It on Pandora to pump you up and/or have you break out in your PR dance. I think other girls, especially those who you have built a strong friendship with and have a sense of loyalty to, will keep you motivated even on the worst of days, and be smiling and cheering with you on the best of days. It’s like a secret club, but better.
2. Know that you will cry. Weightlifting digs down in to the deepest parts of your soul, and digs up some fierce emotions. You will cry because you made a lift you have been working so hard for; you will cry when you miss a lift. You will cry when your coach yells at you, and you will cry because your BFF training partner just had a break through. You will cry because you want to quit, and you will cry because you don’t. You will cry because you’re afraid. These crying episodes do not make you a cry-baby-titty-mouse; they make you passionate about what you care about: the barbell and being on the platform.
3. Your cute skinny jeans aren’t going to fit anymore. Your body is going to change. You are going to build muscles, develop traps and back muscles. Your legs are going to get big. This doesn’t mean you can’t be sexy and feminine. There is a big misconception that lifting will make girls manly. I don’t agree—many of our top weightlifters in this country are beautiful and sexy! You just have to know that you’re going to have to give up the Kate Moss look and recognize your ass is going to be like JLo’s and your quads are not going to squeeze into skinny jeans anymore. You’re going to start living in your Lulus and want to wear jeans less and less. You see, you’re going to have to move from a size 27 to a size 31, simply so your ass and legs can fit. Then you are going to have 4 extra inches of waist just hanging out all loose and poking out above your butt because your waist will likely still be pre-lifting small. You will have to wear long shirts; otherwise when you sit down everyone will see your butt crack as the jeans ride half way down your ass. This will happen. Just accept it now. But despite your problems with finding jeans, you can still wear high heels and dresses and look hot. You will have a nice ass and quads and a sexy back—flaunt that shit!
4. You will more than likely pee a little when you squat or clean heavy. Nearly every girl I have ever trained with has had a training session or competition where they have peed themselves a little during heavy cleans or heavy squats. It will happen eventually; don’t be embarrassed. You will likely squeeze out a fart at sometime. Hey! This stuff happens when you are squeezing and pushing. It happens to all of us.
5. You need to learn patience. Snatching and Clean & Jerking can be frustrating, painful, scary, rewarding, hard, easy, tiring, and exciting. If you go into weightlifting thinking you are going to be a world champion in 6 months, I hate to burst your bubble… I believe that for anyone, man or woman, weightlifting can be frustrating, particularly when you hit a wall. However, women seem to be more emotional than men, and because of that our emotions pour through our sport. You have to learn to be patient and not get frustrated every time something goes wrong. This is easier said than done, believe me, I know! But really try to go into the gym every day and set little daily goals for yourself. Remember the good things that happen in the gym, and hang in on those on days you are feeling broken. Always remember that setting yourself up with good technique and patience will get you a long way… don’t just stack the weight on and lift it with shitty form. Trust that all the time you spend working your technique, movement, and body awareness, will totally pay off.
6. Have a life and interest outside the gym. Whether it be cooking or baking, shopping, hanging out with friends, reading, serial dating, being a cat lady or watching Keeping up with the Kardashians, try to have interests outside the gym. This will help you stay sane. If your life is 100% weightlifting all the time, you will never stop thinking about your bad snatch practice or the fact that your jerk sucks right now. You have to have some time outside the gym so you can regroup and not dwell on your frustrations.
7. Shorts and tights. If you wear booty shorts to the gym, which I agree are uber comfortable, make sure there is not a boy sitting directly behind you (unless he is your husband or boyfriend) because as soon as you bend over to grab the bar to snatch or clean or pull, you are going to give them a show. The same goes for thin tights.
8. Nails. If you go get a manicure, know that once you chalk up your hands a couple times, snatch 5 sets of triples, and do some jerks, your manicure is going to be chipped and you are going to be pissed. If you go get a manicure, use Shellac or gel. It’s typically $5-$10 extra, but your nails will look freshly painted for 2 weeks, and they won’t chip or peel.
9. Knee sleeves. If you wear knee sleeves, they are going to stink badly. You will start to have stinky knees after training. My advice is to not put them in your gym bag straight away, and instead let them air out. I have 2 large mason jars that I put the knee sleeves over so that they dry without re-absorbing the sweat and stink. You can also put them in your trunk to let them dry outside your gym bag so they don’t taint all your other belongings. I also keep baby wipes handy to wipe off my knees after training so you don’t walk around with fresh knee sleeve stink.
10. Have fun. Have fun in the gym. Have fun feeling strong. Weightlifting will make you strong mentally and physically, and it will make you feel empowered. In the gym, or through the sport, you will meet some of the greatest people. My bestest friends in this world—girls who have become my sisters—and my family—who I will never give up in my life—I have met in the gym. That, along with all the snatches and clean & jerks I have done fabuolously, makes it all worth it.
GIVE IT ALL YOU’VE GOT
Are you giving your workouts all you have got? You should be. If you feel that you could have done more at the end of the workout then you didn’t give it all you’ve got. I felt like that on Friday’s workout during the 15 minute AMRAP and I had just finished a round and had 6 seconds left on the clock. I could have gotten another 2-3 ball slams in hindsight, but I decided that I had a good enough score so I just stopped. Later my score was beat by a couple of wall ball shots. Just keep that in mind for your next workouts.
NO SHAME IN YOUR GAME
Courtesy of JournalMENU’s Facebook page.
Next time you think you’re not a beast or you feel ashamed you Scaled a workout, come back to this post and READ THIS! No matter how many times it takes, always remember, EVERYONE SCALES!
…I hate hearing this – its usually at the end of a WOD, when someone just crumpled to the floor, dead last by minutes, breathing hard while classmates go up to congratulate.
“Dude, that was awesome, way to fight through”, “You did SO good!”, “That was amazing, great job today”, “Good job finishing, way to not give up!”
“Yeah, but I scaled”
As if scaling is something to be ashamed of, as if scaling is for the weak and the untrained.
As if scaling means you didn’t do the workout – or your workout was less worthy because you scaled.
We are all in a constant state of scaling – even the elite of the elite, even the few who make it to the finals at The CrossFit Games
Double unders are scaled triple unders, MU are scaled weighted MU, 15’ rope climbs are scaled 20’ climbs.
Sure, they aren’t called for in the WODs today, but what about tomorrow?
Scaling is how you get from where you are now to your future kickass self.
Scaling is how you stay safe and healthy.
Scaling is how you finish the workouts and feel obliterated after, using a band instead of just staring at the bar for 10 min willing yourself to get a pullup.
Scaling is how you improve your technique and learn to lift heavier.
Scaling, is not, however, something to be ashamed of or something that you can use to write off your WOD as a poor performance.
So next time you are crumpled on the floor gasping for air, be proud that you choose the right scale for you.
Be proud that you killed the WOD, and that the WOD killed you.
Sometimes you must get lost to truly find yourself;
trip and fall to rise above the challenge;
fail to succeed;
let go to gain control;
and break to grow stronger.
When performing the back squat there are a few rules you should always follow:
1. Lumbar stays straight
2. Abs in tight
3. Crease of the hip below the knee
4. On the way up, knees stay locked out (down fold them inward)
5. Squeeze the glutes
Back Squat Video:
Courtesy of Crossfit Eclipse.
FUEL FOR YOUR BODY
Many of us have a misconception on how to lose weight. We think we must cut calories, fat, and carbs in order to optimize fat loss. This is NOT true! Below is an article on how food fuels your body and how fat and carbs play an integral part in weight loss, maintenance, and performance in WODs!
This is only part of the article on eattoperform.com. Read the complete article by clicking this link: http://eattoperform.com/2013/03/08/carb-back-loading-paleo-women-of-crossfit-version/.
Sam Briggs, courtesy of Rogue.
Our book, “Metabolic Flexibility for Fat Loss” was written by Mike T Nelson, the man many consider the authority on the topic. When you buy Met Flex, not only do you get the book, as well as over 100+ pages of our “Foundations” series, but you get four weekly seminars and access to our private forum, the Eat to Perform Science Lab.
This is a big topic for the seminars: “How can a woman keep a healthy amount of carbs in her diet while also mobilizing fat?” I realize that it’s all very confusing at this point, because there’s been a lot of buzz over the past few years surrounding fat loss on a ketogenic diet. There are certainly a lot of women who’ve made dramatic transformations by cutting carbs, but the results may have come at a cost; for a small percentage of women, symptoms like irregular menstrual cycles and compromised fertility go hand in hand with calorie deprivation and maintaining a low body fat percentage.
If this doesn’t apply to you, you probably can’t relate, but for a few of the ladies out there, a bell just went off in their heads. Another group of relatively lean ladies have taken a less restrictive approach to eating, and most are quite happy with their body composition.
Every Girl Should Know How to CLEAN
Below is a video regarding how to execute the power clean. Notice the feet are about hip width apart, the arms just outside of the shoulders, and the shoulders extend past the bar while her butt is seated closer to the floor. The head and lumbar are in good alignment which allows for proper form. When she begins the movement, you can see she lifts just past the knees and then quickens her movement into full hip extension, shrug of the shoulders, and quickly bringing her elbows forward while driving the heels of her feet back into the ground.
Click the video below:
Courtesy of crossfit.com.
With so many new people coming to the gym, it’s important to turn our focus to instructing the new members on each movement. Yesterday, the kettlebell swing (KB) was demonstrated since there were KB’s in the WOD. Today, we’re going to be getting a 1RM Squat Snatch. In the video below, you will see the proper hand grip, form, and speed needed to get a good snatch.
Lets take a look at the video:
Courtesy of crossfit.com.
Thanks to crossfit.com, the below video will give you instruction on how a kettlebell swing should be performed. Check it out!
With so many movements in Crossfit, it can be difficult to remember which one is which. Nevertheless, take the initiative to Google or YouTube a movement prior to going into the gym. Being familiar with the movement and how it’s performed will help you. Ryan will then be able to tweek you a little when needed.
The full snatch is one of the most complicated movements in all of sports. An athlete has to pull a weight upward with force and speed, then completely reverse his mental keys to explode downward under the still-moving bar. To be able to perform a snatch with a maximum poundage is a feat of strength without peer.
Full snatches have value for all athletes because they involve so many of the larger muscle groups in a dynamic fashion. In fact, every muscle in the body is activated during the execution of a full snatch, including smaller groups such as the biceps and calves.
The snatch is a high-skill movement, so every rep requires absolute concentration on the part of the athlete, which means the nervous system receives much more stimulation than when a static exercise is done. Whenever an athlete masters the technique in the full snatch, he has learned to trigger the necessary form cues instantly, and this skill is transferred to all his other athletic endeavors.
In other words, learning how to do a full snatch benefits not only strength but many other athletic attributes, such as flexibility, coordination, foot speed, balance, timing, determination and mental acuity
Performing a full squat snatch precisely is certainly one of the most satisfying experiences in all of strength training. When everything hits just right, the bar seems to have a mind all its own and floats overhead smoothly, allowing plenty of time for the athlete to move under it and lock it out effortlessly as it falls right into the proper slot.
The full snatch is the ultimate high-skill movement. It requires a large dose of several athletic attributes—coordination, timing, balance, foot speed and concentration—in order to be successful with a maximum attempt. Full snatches are a great exercise for athletes in every sport imaginable. As the athlete becomes more adept in doing full snatches, the skills needed to do the lift correctly and with demanding poundages are instantly converted to every sport under the sun.
Courtesy of Crossfit Journal.
So you can’t make it in today, huh?
So, you can’t make in today because you have to pick the kids up early, or the house needs to be cleaned, or you have a dinner date, or your on vacation. Well, no worries. The great thing about crossfit is there is bound to be a WOD you can do anywhere, and I mean, ANYWHERE!
Whether at home, the office, or on vacation, here you’ll find a list of just some of the WOD’s you can do to get in your “work” for the day:
10 push-ups 10 sit ups 10 squats – 10 rounds.
200 air squats for time.
“Susan” Run 200m 10 squats 10 push ups 5 rounds.
Sprint 200m and do 25 push ups, 3 rounds.
10 Handstand push ups and a 200m run 3 rounds.
Tabata squats and tabata pushups.
5 push ups 5 squats 5 sit ups, 20 rounds.
Walk 100 meters on your hands, even if it is 2 meters at a time.
10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 sets of sit-ups and a 100 meter sprint between each set.
Invisible Fran…21-15-9 of air squats and push ups for time.
Spend a total of 5 minutes in a handstand, or headstand. If you are using the headstand do not stay over a minute at a time.
Run 1 mile for time.
10 push ups 10 air squats and 10 sit ups, 6 rounds for time.
Do one air squat and take one breath, ( you can breath all you want while you do the squat or squats) do 2 and take 2 breaths etc…up to 10, and then come back down to one.
3 vertical jumps 3 squats 3 long jumps – 5 rounds.
Handstand 30 seconds and 10 squats, 8 rounds.
10 push-ups 100M dash 10x.
5x 400M sprints.
10 X 100 m dash.
Run 1 mile, lunging 30 steps every 1 minute.
handstand 30 seconds and 20 air squats, 5 rounds.
10 handstand jackknife to vertical jump, 10 handstand jackknife to tuck jump, 10 handstand jackknife to straddle jump.
THERE ARE MANY MORE, BUT THESE SHOULD GIVE YOU A VARIETY TO CHOOSE FROM!
ARE YOU A FIREBREATHER?
The term “Firebreather” comes from Crossfit legend Greg Amundson, and he defines it as such:
Firebreather –Fie-r-bre’-th-er: (n) 1. One who faces the triumphs and tribulations of great physical opposition with an indomitable spirit. 2. An optimistic energy associated with the heart of an athlete.
You don’t have to be an “elite” Crossfitter to embody the essence of a true Firebreather. It’s not your Fran time, it’s the spirit you bring to Fran that makes you a Firebreather. Don’t forget that.
Courtesy of http://crossfitamundson.com/firebreather.
Scaling is a key component of CrossFit training, the means by which you and, say, Rich Froning can do the exact same workout and get equal results. But it’s also one of the most underused components of CrossFit, mainly because scaling often involves picking a lighter weight and not achieving the coveted “as prescribed” distinction.
But scaling is not only underused; it’s also misunderstood. The way Gelbrich sees it, just because you’re able to do a given WOD as prescribed doesn’t mean you should. Scaling doesn’t exist only to help you complete a workout; it’s also there to help you achieve the workout as it was intended. Take “Fran,” for example. Many would say that if you’re able to complete all reps (21-15-9) at the prescribed weights (95 pounds for thrusters, bodyweight/no assistance on pull-ups), then you should, even if it takes you 20 minutes. Gelbrich disagrees. “That would be inappropriate scaling,” he says. “Yes, the athlete achieved the Rx distinction, but that’s not the response that workout is looking for. Fran should be a really short, high-intensity workout intended to be just a few minutes long. The question is, Can you do all those pull-ups and all those thrusters in six minutes or less? If so, you’re feeling the same experience as the world-class CrossFit athlete who’s doing Fran in two minutes flat.”
Fix it: When deciding whether to scale down on a particular workout, determine what an appropriate time or work output should be. If you’re that guy who does Fran as prescribed in 20 minutes, drop the weight on the thrusters by 20 to 30 pounds, do the pull-ups with elastic bands and try to complete the workout in six minutes or less. Don’t just finish the workout — finish it while achieving “the type of response you’re supposed to get out of it,” Gelbrich says. “That’s where the training gains are made. As you build strength and power output, you can work your way up. It takes maturity to take a step back, but you really need to check your ego at the door.”
Accountability applies to many things, but in this case, we’re talking specifically about what you write on the whiteboard after a day’s workout. “Accountability is the biggest issue with range of motion on movements,” Hyland says. “If you’re putting big numbers up on the board but you’re not squatting to full depth and you’re not doing real push-ups, ultimately you’ll fail, you won’t stick to the program. And sooner or later, people are going to be like, ‘You’re kind of a D-bag.’ And not because your number’s bigger than mine but because you’re not really satisfying the requirement of the workout.”
On the competitive side of CrossFit, this often presents itself in the form of the athlete who apparently performs well in open competitions held at his or her affiliate gym but then goes to a regional competition and literally can’t complete a workout because of insufficient range of motion. At all levels, such training habits will diminish results and promote injury. “If you can’t squat at depth on an air squat, how are we ever going to get 300 pounds on your back — or whatever your goal may be?” Hyland says. “Bad repeated motor patterns equate to injury, muted hip function and poor posture. We don’t want to reinforce bad behavior.”
Fit it: Be a stickler on your form, evens if it means a slower workout time because you’re going down farther on squats — below parallel instead of just above it. Also, don’t be a prisoner to the whiteboard; understand its purpose. “You’re not putting your workout up on the board as a declaration of your fitness,” Hyland says. “It’s more about accountability, knowing what you’re lifting and knowing where you’re headed. As coaches, we look at the board and we look at your results, but step one is really just to get those numbers on the board.”
Competition is at the very core of CrossFit. Pushing yourself to beat a personal record on a benchmark WOD or simply wanting to “hold your own” with others training alongside you at your gym produces results that would be next to impossible to achieve in a noncompetitive environment. That said, when every workout is a competition in which the only goal is to do X amount of work in less time or more work in X minutes, you’re missing out on some key training adaptations.
“It’s important to differentiate between training and competition,” Gelbrich says. “There’s a time and a place for competition, and it’s very useful, but treating every workout session like a competition is a good way to lead to overtraining, injuries and poor technique.”
Fix it: Slow down a little. Sure, this might hurt some of your workout times, but it’s the only way to improve movements in terms of flexibility, skill level and mastering proper form, especially in areas of weakness.
“The better the movement, the more access you’ll have to increased fitness,” Gelbrich says. “We’ll use the squat as an example. If my hips are too immobile to achieve full squat depth, I’ll always be hindered because of that. If I can improve my hip mobility and maximize that movement, I’ve opened more doors that access more fitness. If I’m always competing and I’m not slowing down enough to learn and improve movements, that competition attitude will build a ceiling above me for my fitness gains. Training is important in terms of increasing ROM, nailing down skills and improving habits so that when I need to compete later on, I have more output and more ability.”
Obviously, this mistake isn’t limited to CrossFit. Overtraining occurs in every discipline, from powerlifting to bodybuilding, as well as training for sport or endurance. But the results are pretty much all the same: decreased performance and increased injury risk. “Your training is only as good as your recovery,” Gelbrich says. “A lot of people — especially endurance athletes — get into CrossFit and see that a Workout of the Day is only eight minutes long and say, ‘That’s it? What else do I do with the rest of the hour?’ Given that there’s generally a shorter, more intense time frame, it’s hard for people to wrap their mind around the fact that training this way is enough. So overtraining happens, and people train more days per week than maybe they’re ready for, and they’re not able to recover, which kind of negates the premise of training in the first place.”
So how much is too much? Unfortunately, there’s no black-and-white answer to that question; what constitutes overtraining varies from person to person. “People ask me, ‘Are two-a-days OK?’ Well, four-a-days are OK if you can recover from it,” Gelbrich says. “Very few people have a fitness level to do that, however. For some athletes, it’s perfectly appropriate to train three times a day, six days a week. If I did that, I’d be overtrained. So it really does depend on the athlete.”
Fix it: First, you need to recognize the signs of overtraining: inordinate levels of muscle soreness following a workout; a general feeling of extreme fatigue during the day; mood swings and irritability; not hitting your usual marks on WODs (decreased performance); and elevated resting heart rate first thing in the morning, which is an indicator typically monitored more by more experienced athletes.
To avoid overtraining altogether, Gelbrich advises CrossFit newbies to start out doing only two or three WODs per week and progressing from there. For those already in an overtrained state, he says to first look at your sleep and nutrition habits. “If you’re sleeping and eating well, the only other variable is to cut back on training,” Gelbrich says.
Cherry-picking WODs shows a lack of commitment to a CrossFit program in general, but not being fully engaged to each individual training session is equally problematic, if not more dangerous. If you’re just going through the motions, you’re not really doing CrossFit. “This isn’t a boot-camp class,” Hyland says. “We’re going to teach you how to move better, how to get stronger and how to be a more mobile human being so that you can do things outside of the gym for a long time. You need to be ready and prepared, bottom line. You can’t half-commit to this because it’ll just crush you.”
Fix it: For starters, show up to the gym on time. “The people who are casual and consistently late aren’t giving themselves the full deal,” Hyland says. “Being on time is going to allow you to warm up, work on the things you need to work on and be ready to do the workout correctly. If you’re rushing the workout and rushing to leave, you’re going to get hurt. You need to be ready and prepared, bottom line, or you’re never going to be successful.”