The Longview and Crossfit
Are you winning the battle but losing the war?
CrossFit by its very nature provides opportunities to “compete”against others basically every time you step into the gym. There are definitely a lot of positives that come out of training in this sort of environment and it is one of the big things that draw people into the world of CrossFit, but you may be focusing so much on winning the daily battles than you are winning the war and truly making progress towards your bigger goals.
The longer you do CrossFit the more you realise there is some stuff in there that is like really hard to get to get good at – muscle ups, handstand pushups, snatching anyone? High skill movements take a long time to become truly proficient at, if you think about it high level gymnasts often have 10+ years of training under their belt before they are even half way through high school, Olympic weightlifters train for years to add just a few kgs onto their lifts, to get really (really) strong and truly master technique it takes time. Obviously not everyone that does CrossFit is going to grow to be an elite athlete but we everyone can take a lesson from elite athletes in consistent long term consistent practice working towards bigger goals.
The trap we can fall into is that sometimes are goals feel so big that they seem like something not to worry about right now. You might be thinking “yeah I’ll get a muscle up…..one day, but its definitely not going to be today cos Im so far off it”, now combine that with the potentially competitive environment that a Crossfit gym can foster where you can compare yourself to others – how you perform in that daily workout relative to others can become a distraction to your longer term goal of achieving that muscle up and cause you to make potentially less productive decisions.
Heres where we go to a real world scenario to consider – the class has a little 3 rounds for time workout and one of the movements is CTB pullups (which you can do but you can only string a couple of reps together), you see someones time from earlier in the day, they did regular pullups and you figure that you could beat that time if you also did regular pullups – what would you choose to do? Now since you are reading this article you might automatically leap to saying you would do CTB pullups as that will get you stronger and closer to a muscle up (even it means a slower time today) but think about honestly what you would do – maybe you would go with CTB pullups but then do something like fast singles (rather than challenge yourself to hold on for multiple reps and require more rest) – the question to ask yourself on any given workout is – what is important to me in this workout?
To know whats important to you in a workout you need to have an understanding of what your goals are and what you need to do to get closer to that goal. This is where the trainers at the gym can be pretty useful in helping you out with more structured longer term goal setting (a quick note with that – they can help you with that not do all the work for you – it will make their job a lot easier if you have had a little think about your potential goals and written some things down before you start harassing them about how to qualify for the Games…)
Now part of applying this to the daily workouts is listening when the trainers are explaining workouts and letting you know the desired stimulus / outcome – ie when we say “this should be super fast” or “pick a weight that is heavy enough to challenge you technically” . if they dont explain it clearly enough – ask them questions, thats what they are there for and it keeps them on their toes (it will also put you on their radar to give you a little extra push in the right direction for you)
Now all of this isnt a excuse to get out of ever pushing yourself hard in sessions (the ol “Im just working on technique card” doesnt fly so well during assault bike intervals…) – quite the opposite, its about pushing yourself harder but just in the right direction and on the right things. This also isnt an excuse to scale everything up and avoid intensity (“yeah I took 45min on Grace and you dusted me by 42min but I did it at 80kg so yeah you know I basically won”),
The message is – make sure you know whats important to you, have an understanding of the process to achieve those goals and respect how long it might take to achieve them but dont forget to have some fun with those daily battles with your friends (or that person in a class time you never go to and have never met but stalk them like an apex predator via beyond the whiteboard) – just dont them get in the way of the bigger picture.