It’s hard to believe but even good CrossFitters, and coaches make mistakes in CrossFit. Many of you are probably surprised to hear this I know, but often these mistakes can be painful, and my hope is that you all can learn from my time doing CrossFit.
As I’ve alluded to I’ve been doing CrossFit for around 11 years and I’m currently a level two coach. Before that I was a run of the mill gym bro, doing a back and bi’s split. You know the type, backwards hat, huge headphones, the works.
Some of these mistakes I’ve made and were fairly obvious in retrospect, but a few of them weren’t so obvious except after a lot of trial and error and personal introspection. Without further ado, let’s get into my mistakes, so you can learn from them.
Mistake 1: Doing What the Professionals Do
This is probably one of the most common mistakes I see my athletes do, and I’ve definitely spent years doing it myself. On the surface it seems to make good sense. Why wouldn’t we do what the best Crossfitters do? After all they are on top for a reason right?
This is flawed reasoning. It assumes that you are like them. I have some rough news for you. You aren’t, and neither am I. This took me years to understand and there are a few reasons for this.
Humans naturally tend to see other humans as similar to themselves, and generally that is true. I can tell you from personal experience that those that end up at the top levels of Crossfit started way ahead of the average athlete.
There are numerous examples of this that I can point to. I have personally witnessed a brand new member walk into the gym and deadlift over 405 having never touched a bar before. It’s not unheard of for gifted athletes, new to Crossfit, to post sub 5 minute Fran’s the first time they try it.
This is unfair, but it is life. To add insult to injury it often times seems that these athletes who start ahead of us maintain their lead and continue to improve more so than the average athlete.
I say all of that to say this. The type of training, intensity, and volume that they can handle is not what you and I can handle. I am a very good Crossfitter, generally finishing in the 90th percentile in the CrossFit Open. I can do all movements Rx and I haven’t scaled anything in over a decade. I cannot compete with these athletes, nor can I put in the volume that they do.
Realistically this means that we each need to find the right style of training that allows us to grow to our personal potential. Just like we all don’t like the same foods, we don’t all need the same amount and style of training.
I also want to point out that just because elite athletes start ahead of us it doesn’t mean that they get everything handed to them, far from it. To be the top of any field requires total dedication as well as competitive advantages.
I don’t want this to be a downer for you, and in fact it really is more of a positive. You don’t have to put in three sessions a day to reach your personal potential. You can still be strong, and look great with a much more manageable workload.
Mistake 2: Neglecting Aerobic Fitness
This is an extremely common mistake that many crossfitters make, and are still making. In the old days of crossfit it was much more focused on the WOD, and metabolic conditioning. If you followed the main site programming you’d only do a strength move, or a WOD each day, not both.
Gradually athletes realized that getting stronger really helped them perform better. In fact that is probably the key difference between a Crossfit Games Athlete pre 2010 and our current day monsters.
As a consequence, I and many others said to ourselves, “If a little is good, then a lot is better!” This means training more like weight lifters who also crossfit rather than pure crossfitters. Said more plainly, we have neglected to work on our engine, and specifically our aerobic energy pathway.
Most athletes believe that crossfit is all anaerobic, and that is true in a simplistic way, as that particular energy system is always in use. However, our aerobic, anaerobic, and PCr pathways are always operating simultaneously. Your power output determines how much of each is used.
The greater the capacity your aerobic system has, the longer you can delay burning through your anaerobic system. No doubt you will be familiar with the feeling of being deep in your anaerobic system. It feels like Fran lung !
Simple methods like a 10min moderate assault bike workout, before and after your normal gym session can do wonders for your aerobic system and are super easy to do.
Mistake 3: Chasing the “Best” Program
This is something more personalized to me, but I see many competitive athletes going down this same path. We all became crossfitters to increase our fitness and we can all be a little fanatic about it. Often times we jump from program to program searching for the missing ingredient that will skyrocket our performance.
Here’s a hard pill to swallow, almost all crossfit programs are good enough to get you to where you want to go. The magic ingredient is consistency and solid recovery practices.
I personally think the best program for you will be one that allows you to work on your biggest weakness while maintaining your other strengths. It doesn’t need to be complicated and it doesn’t need to take all day.
If you have trouble identifying your weakness I will help. What is your least favorite WOD? Now pick the move in that WOD that you least like and there you have it.
In many ways I’m glad I’ve made these mistakes. I could not have learned from them otherwise. This also allows me to share my experiences with others who may be a little earlier in their crossfit journey.
The best advice I can give you is, don’t sweat the small stuff, and remember this is supposed to be fun!
March is the founder and owner of The Barbell Beauties which she started in 2015. She is from the Philippines and currently lives in beautiful Thailand with her American husband and daughter. She is an avid Crossfitter and has just started her journey into Muay Thai (kickboxing).