"How do I take it to the next level?"
By Coach Betsy and Coach Ian
We all do CrossFit for a myriad of reasons, from looking better naked to going to the Games. Some athletes have discovered that CrossFit is the perfect program to make them stronger, faster, and better at life, while others find that it allows them an advantage while playing their sport. Still, some other athletes, after CrossFitting for a period of time, begin to feel the desire for something a little…more. Whether they want to improve their back squat or enter into their first CrossFit Competition, athletes often turn to their coach(es) and peers to seek advice on how to up the ante in their training plan.
The programming at CrossFit Mission Gorge is not for just one person or a small group of people, but rather for all of our members. While our programming alone is extremely effective in mentally and physically strengthening all of our athletes, we love to see athletes recognize their weaknesses, overcome their fears, and decide that they want to challenge themselves in ways they never would have before CrossFit. The desire for something more gives an athlete both the motivation to train as well as inspiration to work even harder.
There is no simple “one size fits all” answer to what an athlete can do to become stronger, and it requires much more thought and insight on behalf of both the athlete and coach than one would think. If there are ten minutes before or after class, and someone is struggling with a muscle up, your coaches are happy to give some advice and pointers to help him or her work at their muscle up (for many of us coaches, this is a natural tendency). Likewise, during any class, it is our job to give detailed feedback and provide specific cues to help an athlete improve his or her performance.
If an athlete desires more direction and coaching than what is given in class (or in the timeframe a coach is available and talking to members before or after any given class), a personal training session (or two) with one of your coaches can be an effective way to recieve some one-on-one instruction for strength, specific skill(s), or conditioning. (As a side note: All of our coaches are independent contractors and set their own prices, so be sure to speak with them personally about cost). Your coach can often set up a session focused around one, two, or perhaps only three different movements, depending on what the athlete wishes to work towards.
However, it is the more general question: “How do I get stronger?” or “How can I get better at CrossFit?” that gives us a little more pause. We would first suggest that this person break down their thoughts further, and map out specific and measurable goals with a timeline. “Getting stronger/better/faster” is not specific enough—athletes need to think about what they want, and decide exactly what they are training for. Some people want to their clothes to fit better, some would like to compete in their first CrossFit Competition, or pass the fitness test at the Police Academy, or run their first 5k. Whatever the long or short-term goal is, an athlete needs to remember that everyone is different, and that goal(s) can change depending on the time of year. Instead of saying “I want to be better,” an athlete needs to take a step back and think about what he or she wants to be better at in that time.
There are many programs out there on the Internet that one can choose to follow to “get stronger” but, just like the workouts programmed for CFMG, they are not programmed for the individual. We have seen many people start these programs, only to end up quitting because the volume was too much, they hurt themselves, had too many unanswered questions, or the program did not address their specific and personal needs. We are not knocking some of these “popular” programs, as we know that many people have benefited from them, but nine times out of ten, the people who actually gained anything from one of these programs already had a solid foundation to work with.
Before an athlete decides whether or not he or she needs additional programming, they should think about where they are at currently in Crossfit. A solid foundation in CrossFit generally means that an athlete has been regularly performing CrossFit WODS for for over a year, training their muscles, learning new skills, developing the appropriate neurological pathways, and progressing steadily in the sport.
The model of CrossFit is a double-edged sword—on one hand, the encouragement an athlete receives from training with their peers and recording the results on the whiteboard for all to see is a great motivational tool, but on the other, athletes are constantly comparing themselves to others. This can be great when an athlete decides to put more weight on the bar because someone from the earlier class did it, but can turn harmful when an athlete constantly wonders, “Why am I not as strong as him/her?” or “How come I am not progressing as fast?” Keep in mind two things when evaluating yourself: the first is that every athlete is a unique individual, and the second is that building strength and becoming “good” at CrossFit takes YEARS. One of the many amazing things about CrossFit is that it exposes your weakness(es), and a good athlete will use this as inspiration to work on the things they do not like or are not as proficient in. Much like an athlete who follows a strength-biased program in order to gain strength, or an endurance athlete who follows a specific program to gain speed and stamina, in order to get better at CrossFit, an athlete should continue to do CrossFit and not become mislead into thinking that focusing on only one weakness will make them a better CrossFit athlete, in general.
One way to find an individual plan that caters to individual goals is to seek the help and guidance of one of our coaches at CFMG. If an athlete has specific long or even short term goals to work towards, setting up a meeting with one of our coaches for a program will help an athlete map out specifically what he or she would like to achieve and what he or she needs to do to get there. With the athlete’s input and commitment, the coach will then discuss specific needs, and learn a little more about the athlete by discussing/filing out an athlete profile. This information includes: the current training plan, various data points (age, weights, athletic background, benchmark WODS, workout markers, endurance, etc.), diet, strengths, weaknesses, and main objectives. After obtaining the athlete’s input, and time and commitment to training, the coach will map out a reasonable timeline, and a plan outlining the things necessary to achieve the specific goal(s). For example, we have quite a few routines that we can program for pull-ups, push-ups, double unders, muscle-ups, etc. Each one of these routines require less then thirty minutes of time. We also have created strength-based programs that could require up to 1.5-2+ hours of time. It all depends on how much work the athlete is willing to put in and what the particular goals are. All that matters to us as coaches is how badly an athlete desires to improve. We can help anyone who is willing to put in the time and effort.
The coaches at CFMG are available to assist athletes in accomplishing all of their fitness and health-related goals, and communicating specific goals is the first step. The second most important step comes in the form of an athlete’s effort. One does not necessarily have to be great to work hard, but one does have to work hard to be great. We have faith that all of our athletes have what it takes to succeed at any level, and believe that anything is possible with a little direction, planning, and dedication.
SWOD: Overhead squat 4/4/2/2/2 (Your first working set should be at 75% of your 1RM)
A1) GHD Hip extensions 10/10/10/10
A2) Toes-to-bar 12/12/12/12
If you haven’t quite got the kip down for toes-to-bar then use this time to practice. Remember, don’t rush to get your toes immediately to the bar as this may cause you to swing.
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