Is CrossFit Stressing You Out?

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)
Page:  1 Next »
Print
by DAWN FLETCHER

Dawn Fletcher has her MA in Kinesiology, with a specialization in Sport & Exercise Psychology. She has worked with top CrossFit athletes Miranda Oldroyd and Katie Hogan in helping them achieve higher levels of performance through improvement of their mental training. Read more of her blog posts and learn more about her coaching on her website.
The ‘Stress Family’ is not a fun one. This family consists of anxiety, fear, pressure, nervousness and panic. Each one of these components can negatively affect your CrossFit Performance. There are numerous theories (Drive Theory, Inverted-U Hypothesis, Catastrophe Theory, Individualized Zones of Optimal Functioning Theory) that attempt to describe how stress affects performance. The bottom line is that every individual has a unique experience to stress. It is likely that small amounts of stress may help your performance, but larger amounts of stress will negatively affect your ability to perform at high levels. Let’s take a deeper look at the components of stress and the mental skills you can practice to help negate any decreases in performance outcomes.

How Much Stress is Acceptable?

By any other name…

Although the stress mechanism may be very different (ex. A challenging day at work vs. seeing “Fran” as the WOD), the somatic and/or cognitive stress response may be exactly the same (ex. Inability to focus on task at hand).

Literature in the field of sport psychology commonly expresses that a certain amount of stress is necessary for performance. Our bodies initially respond to stressors by releasing hormones that prepare our bodies to respond, known as the “flight or fight” response. These hormonal and physiological changes provide an increase in energy and awareness, and therefore can have a [positive effect] on our ability to perform. As all CrossFitters know, there is only a certain amount of stress that we can handle. When any member of the ‘Stress Family’ becomes chronic and/or increased, the stress-response is no longer beneficial.

Some commonly noted somatic (pertaining to the body) and cognitive (pertaining to the mind) signs of increased stress are:

  • cold and clammy hands
  • constant need to urinate
  • profuse sweating
  • negative thoughts and self-talk
  • inability to focus
  • headaches
  • butterflies or nausea
  • increased muscle tension or pain
  • difficulties sleeping
  • energy loss & burnout

These signs can be brought on by stress at work, home, or even training stress from CrossFit. Although the stress mechanism may be very different (ex. A challenging day at work vs. seeing “Fran” as the WOD), the somatic and/or cognitive stress response may be exactly the same (ex. Inability to focus on task at hand).  As one can see, any aspect of life that becomes stressful may lead to negative responses that can decrease CrossFit Performance.

Mental performance training is necessary in order to halt or negate the negative impacts of stress on performance.
Many CrossFit Movements require composure, finesse and absolute concentration. It is easy to see how each of these symptoms may negatively affect your performance. Most athletes are able to cope with one or two of these signs of increased stress and may not sense any threat to performance. A culmination of these symptoms, however, may lead to an excessive amount of stress; over time that may have a detrimental influence on many areas of function, performance and health. As these symptoms accumulate, athletes have a very hard time regulating and controlling their negative effects.

Mental Performance Training

3 Steps to Improving Mental Performance:

  1. Develop awareness of your mental processes.
  2. Develop skills to manage performance stress.
  3. Apply strategies during performance and/or competition.
Psychology has been studied and used in sport performance scenarios to describe, explain and predict behaviors. Mental performance training is necessary in order to halt or negate the negative impacts of stress on performance. I have simply broken down mental performance training into three segments that are expressed as a simple continuum. Developing AWARENESS—>  Developing SKILLS —>  APPLYING Awareness & Skills (in performance setting) <—-  continuing back to awareness    <——- This basically means to become aware of the thoughts in your mind (or your mental processes), develop and learn skills to improve control of your mental processes, and then the application of those skills during performance situations. Then you can continue this spectrum in a continuous manner. CrossFit Athletes should constantly tune into their mental state, and continue to find ways to improve on their mental control under during pressure and/or performance scenarios.

Step 1: Developing Awareness

Until you are very aware and accepting of your mental processes, you cannot begin to take proper steps in ensuring that you gain control of them.
The first step of mental performance training is developing awareness of your mental processes. When dealing with the stress family, it is important to become very aware of what is causing you any negative thoughts or emotions and how exactly they may be affecting your performance. As an athlete, you must become aware of the direction of your stress. Is it facilitative (benefitting your performance by increasing your arousal levels) or debilitative (hindering your performance)? There are some very simple steps to becoming more aware of your excessive life stressors.

Page 1 2 Next »
Printable Version

We Are Scouting Top Writers

Are you passionate about fitness and have something to say? Reach a huge online community and get the discussion going - start writing for Tabata Times today!

Share this post
@TabataTimes on Twitter, become a fan on Facebook 

Contribute to this story by commenting below:

Advertise Here

Most Popular of All Time

astewart30 published the post Size Doesn't Matter on Tabata Times
From the time I was 10 years old I have been aware of my size. I have always known how much I weigh...
CrossFit KSX posted on Facebook

Tuesday's Workout Strength: 10 min EMOM 3 Deadlift @ 70% of 3RM Conditioning: 12min EMOM 3 Power cleans 155/115 5 strict pull-ups Rest 2 min: 3 rounds of: 1 min elbow plank 45 sec max supermans 30 sec Russian twist with weight 20/15 * 30 sec rest between rounds*

CrossFit Center City shared a link on Facebook

#DIDYOUKNOW that CFCC offers Custom Fit Meals? These fresh, healthy meals are a great option for weeks when you're especially busy. They offer a huge menu that rotates week to week, and there's no commitment required. Use code CENTERCITY to take 10% off your first order. If you're thinking about participating in the #cfccrecharge or are struggling to find healthy options on-the-go, give CFM a try! #nutrition #paleo #paleoish http://crossfitcc.com/a-new-option-for-healthy-convenient-eats-at-cfcc/

CrossFit Center City shared an image on Facebook

Don't forget we are holding a 2 hour introductory Strongman clinic on Sunday September 28th. Link to sign up is in the comments. Email Record at record@crossfitcc.com if you have any questions about it and remember it is open to both CFCC member and non-members!

CrossFit Prime posted an article
CrossFit Prime posted an article
Kristy Parrish published the post How Julie Foucher Became Julie Foucher on
Editor's Note: "How Julie Foucher Became Julie Foucher" was originally posted to the Beyond the...
WhatWouldJohnMackEat published the post Portuguese Style Littleneck Clams on Nutrition WOD
Littleneck clams are hands down my favorite seafood. I eat them raw, steamed or cooked Portuguese...
CrossFit Prime posted an article
CrossFit Focus shared an image on Facebook

Jeremiah swinging the kettlebell with authority.

CrossFit Focus shared a link on Facebook

You don't get what you want - you get what you work for.

Breaking Point Fitness CrossFit Ridge Ave posted on Facebook

Tuesday 9/9/14 15 mins to work to heavy Snatch deadlift + snatch pull + snatch For time: 10 power cleans 185/125 20 burpee over bar 30 toe 2 bar 200ft farmers carry 55/35 30 toe 2 bar 20 burpee over bar 10 power cleans

CrossFit Center City shared a link on Facebook

Learn all about the newest cycle leading up to the CrossFit Total on Halloween! Deadlift and Strict Press Tuesday tomorrow! http://crossfitcc.com/workout-of-the-day-tuesday-9-9-14/

CrossFit RDU shared a link on Facebook

CrossFit Invoke shared an image on Facebook

Body Comp Challenge is in full swing. Be sure to make these next 12 weeks worth it! #cfinvoke #cfiathlete #cfibootycamp #crossfit #bodycomp #fat #relentlesslife #weighin #eatright #nutrition #goals #progress

CrossFit King of Prussia posted an article
CrossFit RDU posted an article
CrossFit Gastonia shared a link on Facebook

Tuesday's WOD http://www.crossfitgastonia.com/w-o-d

CrossFit Delaware Valley shared an image on Facebook

6pm cleanin' and dubbin'!

CrossFit Delaware Valley shared an image on Facebook

N'Sync! (See what I did there? Lol)

Breaking Point Fitness CrossFit Ridge Ave shared a link on Facebook

There is still space left to register for the Carl Paoli seminar at CrossFit Ridge Ave on September 20th from 9am-5pm. The seminar is $295 with discounts offered for CF Level 1 Certified Trainers, Educators, Military/Fire/Police/Rescue and USA Gymnastics members! https://freestyleconnection.pushpress.com/open/event/freestyle-connection-seminar---philadelphia-pa

CrossFit 77 shared an image on Facebook

What an awesome start to our Let's Move class on Saturday September 6! Remember this class is free every Saturday from 10:30-11:30 bring your kids and their friends! We can't wait to see the turn out for this Saturday!

CrossFit Focus shared an image on Facebook

CrossFit 77 posted on Facebook

George just PR'd his back squat by 50lbs! 365# like a champ!

CrossFit Wake Forest posted on Facebook

9/9/2014 WOD: Push Press 3-3-3-3-3 Use the heaviest weight you can for each set. Rest as needed between sets. Then: 4 rounds for time of: Run, 200 m 10 Kettlebell Swings

CrossFit Wilmington posted an article
CrossFit Harrisburg posted on Facebook

Tues Back Squat (3x4 @ 80%, then 1 set for max reps) 15 mins to complete Metcon (Time) 4 Rounds 200m Run 40 double unders 300m Row Rest 1 min 2 for 1 du subs

CrossFit Invoke posted an article

@TabataTimes on Twitter

Watch the latest episode of GPTV