by Coach Joe Masley
“The needs of an Olympic athlete and our grandparents differ by degree not kind.” - Coach Greg Glassman, Founder of CrossFit
Perusing the CrossFit Level 1 Training Guide for a quote that sums up the “why” of CrossFit, I came across this one that I have used countless times to explain the universal scalability and innate need as humans to perform functional movements (squatting, pulling, pressing, running, etc). This statement beautifully and concisely packages this above need but also speaks to why we each need to take ownership of our fitness - to live a healthier, happier life.
Currently, we sit halfway through the annual CrossFit Open. This represents an exciting time for us as CrossFitters to celebrate community and the fact that we have the ability to perform these movements and simply move. The Open naturally fosters competition, which in turn increases intensity. Intensity is what gives us results across all data-driven fitness and health markers - faster times, higher rep counts, heavier loads lifted, improved lean body mass scores, lower: blood pressure, triglycerides, blood sugar, etc. Anything in life (not just fitness) worth achieving takes sacrifice and hard work. The past three workouts, our City Line community has cheered each other on and seen first double unders, pull ups, muscle ups, overhead squat PRs, clean PRs, etc. These accomplishments are amazing and definitely deserve celebrating!!!
However, after the Open, should we still need a competition to push past our limits, reach intensity, and still realize these amazing, personal achievements?
The answer is a resounding, “No way, dude!”
Each class represents an opportunity for improvement and reaching our own relative intensity. We should be constantly striving for improvement and should be exhausted at the end of each training session. If we feel as if we could do another workout, we have not pushed hard enough. Do not mistake this for task accomplishment at the expense of technique - we need to balance technique and intensity and that’s why we coaches are here, to tell you to go faster when able, but also to pull back on the reins when we see technique start to deteriorate.
We all have different strengths and weaknesses, and we do not need special programming, competitor classes, or a cheering section to take ownership of our fitness and increase our results - we simply need to consistently come to class with a desire to give our best effort within the parameters of our own psychological and physical limitations: the definition of relative intensity.
We as a coaching staff are here to shepherd your journey towards reaching individual goals. Will we PR every day? No and that is ok. However, personal ownership over your individual fitness is something we can continually improve no matter what the outcome of our efforts in class are. This, in turn, will aid us in reaching our desired goals faster.
How do we take ownership of our fitness?
- Log Workouts - Record: reps, weights, scaling options, how sets were broken up, what movement gave us trouble, etc. The more data we have the better. Use a journal and pencil, a note-taking application on a phone, whatever you need, in order to record these efforts.
- Work on weaknesses - If we only concentrate on strengths, our weaknesses will never get better. Want to get better at double unders? Practice them. Want to be more efficient at overhead squatting? Grab the PVC pipe and hold the bottom position of the overhead squat. To this end, quality of movement yields far greater results than quantity.
- Communicate with the coaching staff - We are here for one reason - to help you in any capacity we can. Come to us with your log books so we can give you challenging modification options that will still meet the workout’s intended stimulus briefed at the introduction of class. Coming to us simply asking “What should I do?” will take both coach and athlete longer to figure out than instead including some concrete measures, such as, “Last time I did overhead squats, I used 95lbs and was able to complete 15 reps in a row.” There is a big difference between those two ends of the spectrum.
- Nutrition and lifestyle - No need to beat a dead horse on this one. Results will never be maximized if these are not dialed in. It is impossible to out-train a shitty diet. Looks are not a defining characteristic of health and fitness - workout times, reps, biometric markers such as blood pressure, cholesterol levels, lean body mass, resting heart rate, etc. are. We will be doing a group nutrition application soon after the Opens end, so stay tuned!
When can I take ownership of my fitness?
- LOG YOUR WORKOUTS!!!!! Air squat needs improvement? Cool, 5 challenging squat therapy reps everyday at home. Easy day. Push ups not great? Complete 10 for quality utilizing a challenging modification option everyday. Boom.
Before you know it, these basic movements will become easier to perform. Again, this doesn’t mean completing double or triple sessions, it just means that we consistently add in a small number of reps each day in those areas that we can improve upon. This small but consistent application will avoid overtraining and we will become more competent at them over time.
- CrossFit Warm Up. This warm up is designed to expose us regularly to basic movements in order to improve our ability to perform them. However, we can work our weaknesses here as well. After the first round of the basic movements, the second and third rounds can contain some graduated progressions of these:
Samson Stretch: overhead walking lunge with a bar
Squats: Front squat and overhead squat with a PVC
Push Ups: Handstand push ups, handstand walks, ring dips, etc
Pull Ups: strict pull ups, ring rows with feet elevated on a box, strict chest to bar pull ups, muscle up transitions, muscle ups, bar muscle ups, toes to bar, etc.
Sit Ups: GHD sit ups to parallel, GHD sit ups to full range of motion, L-sits, etc.
Hip Extensions: Good mornings, back extensions, hip and back extensions, etc.
These are all just suggestions. Talk to the coaching staff and explain where your individual weaknesses in these basic areas of: lunges, squats, pressing movements, pulling movements, and midline stabilization exercises lie. We will help you find some challenging options to help turn these weaknesses into strengths over time!
Start implementing these small behaviors and amazing things will continue to happen!!
I love the CrossFit Open - it represents a time for us to come together as a community and celebrate the fact we are physically able to move our bodies through space under our own power. We celebrate hard work and achievements gained by pushing past our limits of experience. Do not reserve these special moments and community spirit for just 5 weeks out of every year. Strive to make every class attended epic in its own way.
Each of us alone are the keepers of our fitness. Take ownership of it in the ways listed above, come to class with questions ready for the coaching staff regarding that day’s effort and together we will make the amazing happen everyday.