When I started CrossFit I didn’t care much about how many reps or how much weight I lifted in a workout. I was giving my best effort and that was good enough for me. During a workout, my main focus was on moving properly and not giving up. Honestly, at that time, the times, weights, etc., that I got had no place in my exhausted mind. But then the months passed and I started to feel more comfortable with CrossFit, the lingo and the changes in my body. Unconsciously I thought that my experience at CrossFit was like all the other group exercises I tried before; attend class, do your best, clean your sweat and go home. Pretty static if you ask me. But when my coach asked me what was my back squat 1 rep max and I answered “I guess the weight we used last week in the scaled workout”, I understood I was falling into the same monotonous cycle of my previous gym experiences. Plus, by the face of my coach, I could tell I was missing the point.
Tracking your results and making them public has a huge impact on an athlete’s progress, by allowing you to use appropriate loads and pacing strategies. By keeping a personal journal and writing down your results on the whiteboard of your gym, you are also contributing to the progress of your community, including helping your coaches. Making your results public can be both scary and motivating. And not just for you, but for the other athletes at your gym. Your numbers can inspire other ladies and you can get motivated by the scores of the super fit women at your gym. Your coaches can use these records to assess strengths and weaknesses and develop a program more appropriate for their athletes. Now, are you curious to know how to keep a good record of your results? Just keep reading.
Tracking your progress in Crossfit
CrossFit is a complex sport due to the mix between strength training, gymnastics, monostructural (think “cardio”) and other unique movements. In a workout, we play (yes, like an adult playground) with weights, times, distances, calories, reps, etc. Tracking results and keeping an accurate record can be overwhelming. So how can you know, with reasonable precision, if you are progressing or stagnating in your CrossFit journey? Here we are going to learn which are the essential metrics that every CrossFitter should be tracking.
The essential workouts, lifts and times to record
Don’t get overwhelmed trying to record all the numbers, focus on these essential results:
In a workout:
Recording your Strength Training:
Sets: Total number of sets you completed this movement
Reps: How many total repetitions you did during that set
Weight: The weight lifted in a set. Sometimes you will use different weights on a set, keep track of each separately as well.
Notes: Use the notes as a reminder of a particular weight, movement or modification you did, so the next time you perform the same movement you have a baseline.
Recording your Workout of the Day:
Rx: If you did the “prescribed” weight/movements.
Scaled: If you use a different weight and other movements.
Rounds: Total amount of rounds completed of the workout (for AMRAP style workouts).
Reps: Any additional repetitions completed after your last full round
Time: The time on the clock when you finished the assigned workout (in time-focused workouts).
Notes: Used similarly to the notes for strength training. For example if you did the scaled version, write down on your notes the modifications you did with more detail.
Keep in mind that taking good detailed notes can help you with future workouts. If you read my notes you will find phrases like “could have gone heavier” or “pushed too fast, slow down in the beginning”. These notes can help you tackle the workout better on the next time.
1 Rep Max
Or like Chris Hinshaw, coach of CrossFit Games champions, calls it “lifetime best“. The one rep max is designed as a test for maximum weight you can lift one time. It is especially interesting to see how your lifts will improve with time but also your technique. Plus by knowing your 1 rep max, you can set an appropriate goal to strive in the future.
Another interesting thing to consider is that often in CrossFit we often use strength training progressions. This is a system that uses various percentages of a 1 Rep Max for a specific number of repetitions. In short, you use your 1 Rep Max to base your future workouts on. Next time you see in a workout “3 sets of 10 reps at 75% of the 1RM” you will know your numbers and you will know why you are doing this percentage, progression will lead you to progress!
Keep track of the best of each lift (you can do more than this, of course!):
Clean & Jerk
Benchmark workouts “The Girls”
If you are wondering why CrossFit benchmark workouts are named after girls, this is what its creator, Greg Glassman, said about it “I think anything that leaves you laying on your back gasping for air wondering what just happened to you should be named after a girl”. What do you think about that, ladies?
Let’s get back to our topic. Today, there are many benchmark workouts. The most classic are probably:
As many rounds as possible (AMRAP) in 20 minutes
5 Pull-ups 10 Push-ups 15 Squats
21-15-9 reps for time
1000 meter row
However, your gym may also have it’s own benchmark workouts that it created or may place more important on other classic CrossFit benchmarks. Ask your coach which workouts they think are the most important to track.
Tracking Endurance and Sprinting
It is also a good idea to track and test distances for running and rowing. This is very simple to retest once you have worked on your technique and engine.
I know that, for a lot of CrossFitters, running is not something they enjoy. For Hinshaw “running is about developing and improving overall work capacity, you are supporting your bodyweight, the amount of precision you are controlling and your body’s ability to buffer or clear your lactate.” And you want to get rid of lactate, lactic acid buildup can result in muscle pain, cramps, and muscular fatigue.
Camille Leblanc-Bazinet said running is her “engine” and it’s true! Running improves her overall capacity because of her body’s ability to buffer and clear lactate.
Get on the trail and go for a run or jump into the rowing machine. Here are some distances recommended by Boxrox magazine, to test and keep track to evaluate your progress:
But, of course, you can track any distances you complete to use as a reference.
I think we can all agree that tracking your results will help you become a better athlete. It doesn’t matter if you use an app on your phone or you go old school like me and have your CrossFit notebook. These records will motivate you to keep pushing for a better performance, but also, in these numbers/notes you will recognize the value in what you are doing. Don’t forget to give yourself credit for your progress and be proud of your improvement, even if it’s little, it means you are moving in the right direction.
Don’t forget to share your records, write them on the whiteboard of your gym. I have been doing CrossFit for over three years and I am consistently challenged to find scores/notes from other women to gauge my progress and challenge me to push harder. I know there are other women that would benefit from seeing your scores to get motivated.
Part of the power of sharing your records is to inspire and push others to work harder. It helps us all as athletes and as a community. Send us some pics of your names on the whiteboard. Share the power, sister!
March is the founder of the Barbell Beauties. Her goal is simple… Empower every woman to grab a barbell and LIFT. She’s been an active CrossFitter for 7 years and credits that sport for turning her into a true athlete.