WOD’s up! Do you want to know what keeps people from getting better at CrossFit?
By now, you’ve probably heard of CrossFit–one of the biggest trends in the world of fitness since bodybuilding in the 1970s. What is it? It’s constantly varied, functional fitness done at relatively high intensity. But more than that, it’s a lifestyle and a community of fitness enthusiasts.
In this post, you’ll discover the most important things to avoid while doing CrossFit.
Whether you have years of experience with it, or just starting your on-ramp or essentials classes, these tips will help you, or a CrossFitter you know, make the most of the experience.
Mistake #1: Not Having a Clear Goal and Purpose
We’ve all started something without a clear outcome or reason for taking action. This leads us to changing course or spinning our wheels with no real results that we wanted. It sounds simple, but you’d be surprised by how much we forget to ask ourselves “What do I really want?” and “Why do I want it?”. This applies not just to CrossFit, but any area of life or project we take on.
Here’s a simple formula I learned called the Rapid Planning Method (RPM):
- Result – What do I really want? What specific result do you want?
- Purpose – Why is this important to me? What is my purpose in doing this?
- Massive Action Plan (MAP) – What do I need to do? What actions can I take?
Here’s an example of the formula in action:
- Result – Lose 20 lbs and do 5 strict pull-ups
- Purpose – To look and feel my best, inspire my friends & family to be healthier, be part of an awesome community
- Massive Action Plan (MAP)
- Go to CrossFit class at 5PM at least 4X per week
- Eat 70% Paleo during the week
- Eat a veggie omelet instead of cereal in the morning
There you have it. Knowing what exactly you want and why, especially when it’s written down and reviewed regularly, will accelerate your achievement of the results you want. Keep in mind the 80/20 rule which states that roughly 20% of the possible actions you can take, will deliver approx. 80% of your results!
Mistake #2: Not Scaling Your Workouts
When I first started CrossFit 7 years ago, I took advantage of the free community WODs every week at CrossFit One World. I remember every time I walked up to the door, I saw the words “CHECK YOUR EGO AT THE DOOR” in big bold letters, literally on the door. This reminded me that no matter how bad I wanted to hit a new PR (Personal Record) on my deadlift or snatch, it was never worth the potential risk of injury.
There is a fine line between knowing your limits and striving to push beyond them.
Self-awareness and being honest with your current skill level are the keys to progress. How good is doing a workout as RX’d (as prescribed) if you lack a foundation of strength? In fact, incorrectly doing a high-skill movement such as a snatch or clean & jerk repeatedly at a high volume or weight only reinforces bad form.
Solution: Scale it down. Scale down the weight, scale down the volume, scale down the movement, which simply means that if you can’t do a HSPU (Hand Stand Push Up) yet, ask your trainer how to do it on a box.
Train smart, know yourself, and be sure to always, all ways CHECK YOUR EGO AT THE DOOR.
Mistake #3: Not Properly Warming-Up or Cooling-Down
Most boxes I’ve had the pleasure of visiting always started a class by properly warming up. This triggers you mentally for what you’re about to do physically. Some of them, depending on the time restraints, will even do a light stretch or mobility exercise after the WOD.
Here are some rules of thumb I like to follow:
Before the WOD:
- Light mobility work (ie. foam roller, massage ball, etc.)
- Dynamic/Active stretching
- Review and practice movements in the strength and condition workouts
After the WOD:
- 5-15 mins of mobility work with foam roller, massage ball
- 5-10 mins of static stretching
- Do both with deep, controlled breaths
I promise you, you’ll thank yourself for taking the time to properly stretch and recover.
Here are some resources to help you become more limber like Gumbi:
Mistake #4: Lack of Hydration & Electrolytes
Have you ever eaten beef jerky? How flexible (supple) is that piece of meat? The answer is, not very. Now imagine your muscles lacking the proper hydration. What happens is exactly the same–your muscles end up being tough, knotted up, hard, and not very flexible. This ends up putting a lot more strain on your joints, tendons, and ligaments therefore significantly increasing your likelihood of injury.
Yes, lack of proper hydration actually contributes to injuries!
The fact is, 70% of our body is water. Even if we are slightly dehydrated, it can cause a drop in energy level, lower concentration and focus, it makes you crave sugar, and causes emotional mood swings. Check these articles from Time Magazine and CNN.
Why are electrolytes important? Simply put, they support hydration. I discovered this many times when I thought I drank enough water and ended up severely cramping on 400m runs during a workout. Colorful, “thirst-quenching” drinks like Gatorade may sound great but are packed with sugar (and previously, high-fructose corn syrup). Be sure to drink a low-sugar alternative like Amara or even add a packet of Emergen-C to your water bottle.
Mistake #5: Lack of Supportive Nutrition
With so many fad diets out there, it’s easy to get lost in all the marketing and hype. What I’ve found works best is to keep eating simple and enjoyable, while making progress towards my goals.
When it comes to food, I like Michael Pollan’s easy to remember advice from his book Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual
Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.
Personally, I follow a mostly Paleo type diet with lots of green drinks. Why? Because of how I feel and look when I eat that way. To me, it makes sense to eat as much like our ancestors did in the caveman and cavewoman days. However, I recommend you do your own experimentation and see what works best for you and your health & fitness goals.
Mistake #6: Not Tracking Your Progress
You can’t manage what you don’t measure. – W. Edwards Deming
In business, they’re called Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s). It’s how we measure that we’re actually making headway. While not everything can be quanitified, the progress of your fitness goals must be tracked in some way. If you haven’t set a goal yet, go back to Mistake #1!
Why track your progress?
- It keeps you accountable
- It increases your rate of improvement
- You can look back and see how far you’ve come
- Use Google Sheets – Here’s a template similar what I’ve used in the past WOD Log Template
- Use your gym’s tracking system such as Wodify
- Use a notebook – Less than $1
- Use a Journal – Sport Journals WOD Book
Mistake #7: Posting Nothing But CrossFit (and #FoodPorn) on Your Social Media
So you like CrossFit. No you LOVE CrossFit. Makes sense since it’s gotten you fitter than when you tried Zumba or use the Chuck Norris Total Gym. But please, I beg you… have a life outside of CrossFit. Sure our box becomes our second home and it’s community our second family, but there’s more to life than just fitness. Yup, I said it! When we’re part of a cult, I mean community, like CrossFit and it’s easy to just let it take over our lives. Believe me, I’ve let it happen in the past.
As Greg Glassman the founder of CrossFit himself said, “Regularly learn and play new sports.”
And stop posting about the dozen donuts you just ate after Murph. Yes, you feel like you deserve it, but stop with the #FoodPorn. You just negated your WOD and it just makes me sad that I can’t eat it directly off my phone screen.
Here they are again:
- Mistake #1: Not Having a Clear Goal and Purpose
- Mistake #2: Not Scaling Your Workouts
- Mistake #3: Not Properly Warming-Up or Cooling-Down
- Mistake #4: Lack of Hydration & Electrolytes
- Mistake #5: Lack of Supportive Nutrition
- Mistake #6: Not Tracking Your Progress
- Mistake #7: Posting Nothing But CrossFit (and #FoodPorn) on Your Social Media
Thank you for taking to time to read this article. If you found any of it useful or think it could benefit others, please share it and comment below. I love receiving feedback and hearing from you.
To your health & fitness,
- Goal Setting & Purpose
- RPM Plan by Tony Robbins – Rapid Planning Method (RPM)
- Supportive Nutrition
- Tracking Progress