Please note: there will be no 7pm class, CF Endurance Class, or Yoga tonight.
How to Break Down a WOD Before It Breaks You Down
-By Coach Lindsay
Have you ever taken on a grueling WOD, only to find out halfway through, that your heavy bar will not go overhead again like it did in the first round? Or maybe last night, you researched the next day’s WOD online. After a quick glance, you thought, “piece of cake!” However, once “3, 2, 1 GO!” is called, it deceivingly becomes one of the hardest WODs you have done in a while, so you scramble to figure out how to save face. Perhaps in the middle of your third—or was it your fourth—no third round—wait a minute, where were you? You cannot remember for the life of you where you were in the WOD as time, energy, and reps waste away while you try to figure it out. Then there was the time you looked up the WOD, analyzed it forwards and backwards, and thought about it all day at work. Once you got to the gym, you thought you had concocted the perfect scenario. However, once you started sweating and things got really tough, your overthought and elaborate plan goes to the wayside and you froze, not knowing where to turn next.
These unfortunately are all examples of common mental breakdowns experienced by both seasoned and new CrossFitters alike, when they face a tough workout. With the proper strategy and mindset going into the Workout Of The Day, these problems can all be alleviated to achieve not only a great, rejuvenating workout, but maybe you will leave the gym with a new PR, to boot. By no means is this an “end all, be all” way to WOD, these are just thoughts and suggestions from a fellow athlete who has experienced some of these problems as well.
Fault: Not knowing where to even start. Fix: As a whole, a workout may look very intimidating from the onset, especially for a newbie. Try first to just break it down into smaller chunks, or look to break down each round. If there are 10 rounds, try not to get overwhelmed and stay positive. Look at one round at a time and mentally cross it off as you finish it. Think, “Round 6, sweet! I’m over halfway done!” Take the “glass as half full approach,” as well here. Then, as an option, you can breakdown the rounds even further. Are cleans easier for you than the toes to bar? Then focus on finishing the cleans unbroken in each round and then get as far as you can with the toes to bar. Or you can even break the reps up into manageable sets. Out of 12, maybe shoot to get 5 done unbroken and then finish that round with a set of 4, then 3. I think it is easier if my remaining reps are less than what I previously finished.
Also, really try your best to keep track of your reps and rounds. Everyone likes an honest CrossFitter. It should be something simple enough to do during your workout so you don’t have to think about it. If you have to quietly count out loud to yourself, do it. I like to keep track of lots of rounds by drawing tick marks on my arm beforehand and then erase as I go along. Additionally, focus on yourself and try not to always watch your neighbor. It’s good to use them to pace off of and push yourself, but you’ll lose track of where you are in your own workout before you know it.
If the workout is chipper style, focus on one movement at a time. Try not to mentally jump ahead in the workout. You will forget where you are and waste valuable time and energy, both physically and mentally. You also don’t want to psyche yourself out by thinking ahead too much either, especially if it’s on those pull-ups you struggle with, and not to mention, there’s 30 of them! Just focus on the task at hand and before you know it, you will be done!
Fault: The no game plan, game plan. Fix: At the very least, have a general idea of how things should be executed. It’s best to have one overarching goal/strategy for yourself in how you should tackle the workout and then make mini goals as needed to get there. Remember though, you don’t have to have each and every rep planned out before the clock starts, it just helps to at least have a general mindset on how things should be executed so you can hit the ground running, especially if you encounter bumps in the road.
Fault: When sh*t hits the fan and not knowing where to go from there. Fix: Have a backup plan. Likewise, don’t beat yourself up about not doing things as planned. Maybe those KB swings weren’t as easy as you anticipated. You didn’t sleep well last night and you’re super sore. So maybe a movement that normally comes easy to you, is not going so great. Try to stay positive and then refer back to how to break down each movement.
It’s also very easy to get distracted in a 10 minute workout. Don’t let it happen, it will create more problems for you. You’re breathing hard, sweat is dripping in your eyes, hair is falling in your face, and your hands are tearing. There’s loud music, of which maybe you don’t care for, there are fellow athletes and coaches yelling at you, and your lactose-intolerant neighbor forgot to wear deodorant and also fell off the Paleo bandwagon last night and had some ice cream—whatever it is, do as much as you can before hand to prevent any mental breakdowns and ignore what you don’t have any control over. Focus on the task at hand and keep your cool. And if worse comes to worse, and you still can’t get the bar overhead, drop the weight. Keep up the intensity in the workout and save yourself a trip to the emergency room by putting your ego on the backburner.
Fault: Over-analyzing. Fix: KISS (Keep it Simple Stupid). If you have an elaborate plan, it’s easy to forget what you were supposed to do. Or if you’re focusing on too many cues at once, that snatch isn’t going to land itself. This especially comes into play when you’re trying to set a new 1RM. Try not to think and fret about things so much beforehand. You will just create unnecessary anxiety, which again is wasted energy. Get out of your own head. Envision your overall goal for the WOD and just do it.
Remember, in the end, it’s just exercise. We’re all here to workout and have fun and to live active, happy, and healthy lifestyles. But by creating a sound game plan, that’s not too complex, and remaining positive throughout the WOD, you can leave the gym feeling refreshed and energetic. That’s why we all joined this “cult,” right?
SWOD: Push-press, build up to a 1RM
15 Wall balls (20#/14#)
30 Double unders (sub = 60 singles under)
-5 rounds for time-