The Secret to Getting Better at CrossFit

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by JULIA AVERY

The Secret to Getting Better at CrossFit

This entire post is written to explain a very fundamental concept (and also to post some of the awesome shots that Super Cleary Photo took at our comp last weekend): to get better at CrossFit, you have to…CrossFit. That means showing up. That means practicing skills. Seems obvious, right? But I’m always surprised by the number of people who seem to forget this concept, myself included.

I see this with a lot of beginner CrossFitters…. When they can’t do something, they get frustrated and decide that they’re just never going to be good at certain skills.
I’ll give you an example. Like every other CrossFitter, I wanted to be able to do a muscle up. So every once in a while, I would jump up on the rings, attempt one, and get super frustrated when I would fail over and over again. I didn’t understand! I used to be a gymnast, how hard could it really be?! I knew I was strong enough. I could do pull-ups and dips for days. And anyone who looked at me was always shocked when I said I wasn’t able to do one. They would say, “That can’t be right. Just try it!” That would only add to my frustration, and before I knew it I would be down on myself and ready to quit trying all together. It wasn’t until I finally checked my ego at the door — and started doing drills and working with a spotter — that I began to see progress. Before you know it, I had one! And then I had two! A week later I completed my first workout Rx’d (as prescribed) with muscle ups; even though it took me longer than it should have due to a few failed attempts, I was beaming with joy afterwards.

I see this with a lot of beginner CrossFitters. They start going to classes and immediately want to be proficient in all of the Olympic lifts and gymnastics movements. When they can’t do something, they get frustrated and decide that they’re just never going to be good at certain skills. They act as if everyone who is able to do double unders, pull-ups, handstand push-ups or snatch over 100lbs is just naturally gifted and was able to do everything overnight. Ha, if only that were true! I repeat: to get better at something, you have to practice. That means a few things:

1. Show up, regardless of the workout.

“I’m not going today because there are cleans and I suck at those.” Well, I hate to break it to you, but you’re always going to suck at them with that attitude.

Show up, regardless of the workout.

2. Put in the work.

Wanted to get better at the Olympic lifts? Go to barbell club or Oly class or whatever supplemental class that your gym offers. If you gym doesn’t have one, find one that does. Or ask a coach to work with you. Take a seminar. Sign up for private training. Practice drills in your apartment with your broomstick (I’m guilty of this). There are countless options.

3. Commit.

If you belong to a gym with good programming, you’ll find plenty of variety and you should constantly be challenged to test your limits.
If you want to get better at CrossFit, you’re going to have to CrossFit. You can’t just show up once or twice a week, on top of running and spinning and barre class or whatever other forms of exercise you’re holding on to. I’m not saying that you have to quit everything else that you love, but you’re going to have to make CrossFit your main focus if you want to get better. “But I don’t want to just do CrossFit! I’ll get bored and my body will get used to it.” If this is your mindset, then I guess no one ever explained the definition of CrossFit, particularly the “constantly varied” part. If you belong to a gym with good programming, you’ll find plenty of variety and you should constantly be challenged to test your limits. When I first started, I held on to my old gym membership for the longest time, afraid (as most people are) to commit totally to CrossFit. After a couple of months, I found that I was using it less and less, and even when I was going to the gym, I was frustrated by the lack of adequate equipment (how does a gym not even have a pull-up bar?) and pointless exercises I saw people doing. I finally cancelled and put that money to better use…new Oly shoes and a barbell!

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