I’ve been involved in CrossFit for years as a participant and a coach. In that time, I have made some mistakes, some rookie, and some that I just should have known better. In my ever-expanding attempt to create a great community of fitness, I think it would benefit CrossFitters everywhere to hear some things to avoid from a wise voice.
1) Your background is not your destiny, (but it’s what you have today).
Unlike Coach Charles, I am not a former gymnast. I did a bunch of endurance sports like soccer, swimming, running, etc. This meant that I wasn’t all that strong. I could run for days, but having a 400lb dead-lift was not in my arsenal. It wasn’t until the beginning of my second year that I got a muscle-up, which made me realize that I could do things I thought were impossible (or didn’t like). But during that first year, I spent a lot of time secretly comparing myself to others and feeling like I wasn’t making enough progress. .. Mistake
Stop comparing yourself to other people. OK, you can do it a little tiny bit for inspiration, but not to run yourself down, and definitely not as an excuse to quit. If, like me, your background is in running, then you probably need to work on strength and comparing yourself to Donny Shankle., Olympic weightlifting beast, who has been diligently lifting for years is DUMB.
2)For the ladies, Don’t ever use the word “bulky”. Ever.
This is a special message for the women new to Crossfit. You will not get bulky. Just…you won’t. Cut it out. Stop using this as an excuse to not get in great shape. You have to lift like a bodybuilder (and juice like one too), to get bulky and that ain’t Crossfit. While I obviously dont fear bulking ( as I am right not to, because I wont bulk unless I eat a cow) I have been training female athletes and stay at home moms long enough to know that stigma is still very much alive .
“I was afraid of getting bulky, so lifting heavy weights wasn’t for me.”
Said no girl with the body you want….ever.
Look around. See that woman with the body you would love to have? She lifts weights. End of discussion.… so get off the elliptical, please.
Also: below I tell people not to act like Godzilla with every workout. That is for the men. Women, this is never your problem. Use more weight.
This is Christmas Abbott. She can be seen competing in the CrossFit Games on espn…and she lifts heavier than most men.
3) Get in the box
CrossFit once or twice a week is beneficial. Will it get you the results you want in a month? probably not, because nothing performed twice a week for a month will.
Get in the box doesn’t just mean come to workouts, it means get into the CF way of thinking. I have to put in hard work multiple times per week, I have to rest, I cannot eat crap, like bread and pasta or drink excessively.
We are about changing peoples lives, not making you lose 10 lbs by shear force and gaining it back again because it was done in an un-maintainable way.
Mediocre effort equals mediocre results. No ifs, or buts. Dont nit-pick workouts, dont eat a burger or snack on ice cream 3 times a week if you have 20 lbs to lose. Get dedicated.
4) Not every workout is a competition; embrace training to improve.
You should be pushing past your limits in your workouts when your brain is telling you to stop (and not because of pain, see #7). Why else would you be sick enough to do Crossfit?
However, improvement doesn’t occur just because you flail about with abandon and race to the finish every time we start a stopwatch. Whether you like it or not, at some point you have to start taking ownership of your workouts.
In order to improve and do WODs rx’d, I decided to do these things:
a) Get Stronger, by loading the bar when appropriate.
b) Scale as Needed to complete the movements with the best possible form and range of motion.
c) Show Up Consistently, even if I didn’t like the workout or was feeling a little tired or sore.
I improved, but like most of us, never felt satisfied with the gains I was making. They seemed soooo slow in comparison to everyone else around me and I had my weaknesses! See next point…
5) You will never be good at everything. Get over it.
My biggest problem has always been that I like to do everything – and I want to be a master at everything I ever tried. So I get it when you tell me how you are trying to improve your snatch, max back squat, muscle ups, and strict press all while trying to set a new PR on Fran. That’s how it works, right? Nope. Only patience will get you there, and respect for form and technique and consistency.
6) Listen to your coach.
Find a coach at WLRCF who can answer your questions and whose cues you can follow. The coaches want the best for you. We want to help you progress. So listen. Seriously, get your chin over the bar! Squat lower!
All skills are improved with persistent and regular work. If you get injured you have to lay off and your training suffers.
So stretch and work on your mobility. Today, not tomorrow. Coaches Josh Saavedra and Wes Wilson stretch religiously. Are they ever out for 4 weeks for an injury..no. I didn’t stretch religiously, and guess what? I would be down for 2 months out of the year due to injury, muscle strain, or overtraining. Now I do, and not only do I feel better, I break all of my old records because I can continue to train hard.
Scale. Challenge yourself, but don’t let anyone cajole you into weight that you’re not ready for or that might injure you. Crossfit isn’t (despite what some people think) about impressing other people. It’s about your progress to better fitness, and health, and being able to show up tomorrow is more important than those twenty extra pounds on the bar that send you to the couch for three weeks.
Get help. If your shoulder is still bothering you after 3 months, go get it checked out. Don’t be an idiot by ignoring it and doing a WOD with 200 kipping pull ups. Pain is different than discomfort during a workout; make sure you learn the difference and pay close attention if you are bordering on pain.
Vance Cornelison is the WLRCF Chiropractor. His doors are always open to us and is a stones throw form the box, there is no excuse to skip getting your bum knee or shoulder looked at.
8) Be humble.
Hey, there is a lot to learn in Crossfit. Some of it you can learn fast, some of it takes years to master. Take your time, and be respectful of those who have been at it longer, and especially of those who are newer than you. Be careful in the advice you give and always remember that you are a student no matter what level you’re at.
9) More is not always better. Also, Rest.
Two-a-days before and after work. Marathon sessions of lifting, with several met-cons. Always heavy and always hard. Rarely a day off. Is this you? And exactly when are you going to squeeze in that “recovery” stuff where all gains are made? Learning more about the term “Mimimum Effective Dose” as applied to workouts really stopped me in my tracks a year ago. Really, you should be doing exactly what you need to make gains – once that stops working then change what you are doing or try to increase the workload just enough to see gains again. Too often we get into the mantra of “More!” when it is simply just that, not better.
10) Are we having fun yet???
If you are not having fun, you seriously need to reexamine your priorities and expectations. If you are spending countless hours doing an activity that is making your life more stressful or is keeping you frustrated over your “lack of progress” then you are missing out. The fun is the training and the community. It is not the PRs, and it is not about winning competitions (though I’ll admit those are nice too). CF is a life-changer, your life outside the box will need to change in order to really experience what CF can offer, The friends (I call them CrossFit Family) that you make at the box, are the people who carry you through the rough patches and make real, lasting progress happen.
The best part of my CF experience, hands down, has been the long-lasting friendships I have made through the Box. There are people enriching my life as of now that I never would have known if it weren’t for this place.
You won’t find that if you have your headphones on while jogging on the treadmill. I’ve already tried.