CROSSFIT IS ACTUALLY QUITE SIMPLE… (PART 3 - Sport).11 June 2017
So you do want to be a competitive CrossFitter?
Well, let me start by saying that nothing is impossible - if you work hard enough for it.
Secondly, let's also realise that it also takes time to get to the highest level in anything. 10.000 hours to master your craft and Rome wasn't built in a day you know..
But, this third part in our series about how to become good at CrossFit aims to give you that are looking at becoming a competitive CrossFitter some direction on how to get there!
I have a few points that I think are important to use as a foundation, and let's start by being a bit boring while repeating what we've been saying in the first two posts:
Yes, first thing you will need to be good in our sport is an insane amount of Fitness..
If we once again look at the Fitness Pyramide, provided by Coach Glassman in the very beginning of CrossFit as a training form, we can easily see the importance of making that foundation stronger than anything to allow us to get even better at the things above (Gymnastics, Weightlifting, and the Sport it self):
All of the above is important, but you can NOT be good at the sport without the conditioning as your base..
Let me give you a few examples:
1. The Open 17.3 - "But I NEED a 120/80kg Snatch to finish that WOD!"
Right, and wrong. If you are anything like most of the population, the weight in it self did not stop you from getting to the Regionals, your lack of fitness did. You see I know of several athletes that actually can snatch way more than they "got to" lift in that WOD, but failed getting into the next round simply due to their fitness and/or gymnastic stamina didn't allow them to get through all those Chest To Bar Pull Ups.
Don't get me wrong here, obviously high capacity in the Weightlifting area of our sport will allow you to do better in WOD's with heavy loads and by being able to Snatch 120kg the 60kg in the first round becomes easier. But, and it's a big BUT I know of way too many athletes that are great with the barbell but lack general fitness and then it doesn't matter how heavy you can lift..
2. "But Matt Fraser was a Weightlifter first and he is now the fittest man in the world!"
Yes, it's true that Matt (and a bunch of other highly competitive athletes was competing in Weightlifting and other sports first), what you may not know though is that before he won the Games in 2016, Matt Fraser took an entire year "off from heavy weightlifting"* and focused on building his engine and aerobic capacity for running etc..?
Now, yes I'm kicking in an open door here since Matt obviously is already well "Strong enough" for the sport of CrossFit, and it's obviously easier to drop the barbell if you can already snatch +140kg. My point is however that we need to understand that by focusing on Olympic Weightlifting too much we aren't winning any CrossFit comps.
*Fraser arguably lifted heavier loads than most people's maxes in his WOD's and definitely DID Olympic Weightlifting throughout the year, but the point here is that it was NOT even on his top 10 priority list.
3. "But if I don't go on a Weightlifting cycle my numbers won't increase and will never be competitive..?"
False. By lifting "heavy" in your WOD's and by obviously mixing Heavier Days into your training you will definitely improve your numbers. Funnily enough we seem to be doing better and better in the Weightlifting department the more CrossFit we do in our boxes. You can take the Wolfpack as an example where their last month of training was aiming at preparing them for their Regionals Adventure, (which as we know was a barbell free competition), and even though we then obviously didn't focus on the Weightlifting side much at all pretty much ALL of them PB'd their Snatch, Power Cleans, and/or different Squat variations in the last couple of weeks before the competition. AND, I'm convinced they gonna hit even bigger numbers now after the competition when we continue our CrossFit training.
So, what do I need to do to become more competitive?
Well, first you need to cover your basic CrossFit conditioning. You need a sub 3min Fran, +20 rounds of Cindy, and so on before you are even close at being able to compete with the big boys (and girls). The way to get there can have many different shapes but for you that aren't a full time athlete already, and haven't been in the sport for many many years already this is your hierarchy:
1. Consistency in training.
Think about this now, you want to put in MORE training but you aren't even showing up to class every single day? Instead of thinking that "by adding one more session per day I'll surely be more competitive" you need to first build a base of handling training at least 5-6 days per week. If you miss out on 1-2 days of training each week that's between 20-33% of your training volume gone there already..
2. Commit to a program and trust it 100%.
If the program is good and have proven to give results to many others before you, all you need to do is show up every damn day and put in a 100% effort. If you add TRUST to that equation all of a sudden you'll get results you didn't think was possible simply by always creating a positive energy around your own training.
3. Work your weaknesses.
THIS is where the "Weightlifting" and "Gymnastics" part of the Fitness Pyramid above comes in! IF you have a weakness in a certain movement, for instance the Muscle Up, yes you now need to address it. You need to work on that weakness often enough to make it a strength or it will always hold you back. No magic pills really, but sure your coach should be able to give you some drills to work towards your goal - you still need to do the work though..
4. Build a solid base, spend the hours, days, weeks, years needed..
Before we start looking at increasing the volume, yes competitive CrossFitters these days do put in A LOT of volume, we need to build you a base to handle it. If you haven't trained consistently hard 5-6 days a week for a long while you will first of all have trouble keeping up with a high volume program purely based on lack of recovery, and secondly your risk of injury increases a lot.
5. Add volume.
No, I'm not contradicting the above here. AFTER, and only after, you have built your base. AFTER, and only after you have reached those markers of high competency in the regular CrossFit WODs - now we can chat about "double days" and eventually like the most competitive athletes out there even more sessions than that to reach the very top.
Please realise that those athletes did not START with 5-7 hours of training per day out of the blue and got good because of it. They trained hard with LESS volume first, got good, and then started increasing their volume.
The athletes who competed in our CCF Wolfpack at the Regionals do train twice a day, but they all started by doing our class training and doing that WELL before they moved on to our CCF Competition Program.
Lastly, what you really need to do is this: sacrifice everything you have to give yourself the chance to win.
Both metaphorically as a mindset thing, and actually also quite literally.
Are you prepared to go to sleep at 9pm and/or get up at 5am to get your training in meanwhile you sleep long enough to recover 100% each day? Are you prepared to give up fancy dinners with your friends, stay away from partying every weekend, and are you prepared to stop rewarding yourself with croughnuts, candy bars and any other sweets you give yourself "for training hard today.."?
Are you prepared to not have time for any other hobbies, allow your social life to be gone like the dinosaurs, and have your girlfriend/boyfriend or better half constantly feeling that you aren't spending enough time with them..?
By no means do I mean that being a competitive athlete is not fun. By no means do I mean to discourage you from working your ass off to reach your goals, I just wanna make sure you know what it really means.
Sorry, it doesn't work like this...
That said, being a competitive athlete can also be something really cool!
Working entirely with one goal in mind can be incredibly rewarding as the feeling of working on your purpose is massively inspiring, to you and to others. At the end of the day I think that most competitive athletes out there will agree with me when I say that the journey matters more than the end result. We set the goals with aims of winning competitions, and don't get me wrong we are willing to kill ourselves to reach those goals, but no matter if they come through or not we will always be proud of the effort we put in if it truly is us giving everything we got.
Working towards becoming a competitive athlete is tough, but if you make sure you enjoy the journey it might be the very most important period of your life in the sense that you will always be able to look back at it and say something few will: I devoted every single breath towards my goal.
Ok, so what do I do now?
If you are not a "full time"-athlete already but are looking at becoming more competitive, do this from tomorrow:
- Train HARD every day. Consistency remember.
- Listen to your body when it comes to risk of injury, tell it to shut up when it's tired.
- PREPARE each session mentally, a logbook is a really good thing here.
- Prepare physically for each session. At CCF you'll find our "CCF Pre-WOD" as a good guidance on mobility & activation drills to do before each class.
- Work on weaknesses while slowly getting used to more volume, our "CCF After Party" is a great way of doing just that after each class.
- Eat, sleep, and train with the purpose of becoming FIT.
- Avoid negativity. Not every day will be 100% successful, but every day can teach you something, and every day you stay positive you are getting one step closer to your goal.
This is an article series which aims at helping you find the right “level” of CrossFit training for YOU.
I’m not here to “tell you what to do”, I don’t pretend that I have all the answers, and I’m definitely not “better than you” in any way..
But, I am quite experienced in the world of CrossFit AND I want you to live your best life - two aspects that I hope will mean that you can find a lot of powerful guidance in these small articles.
Acceptance & Purpose