I’ve been doing CrossFit for 11 years, and coaching for 4 years. This has given me ample opportunity to make plenty of mistakes, both in my own programming, and coaching other athletes. When I think back on them, and other mistakes that I see CrossFitters make, I find they fall into three categories. Keep reading to see if you are making these mistakes, and how to avoid them.
1. CONDITIONING IS EASIER THAN STRENGTH
I’ve heard this one a million times, and I must have said it two million more. You’ll often hear someone saying, “strength takes a long time to acquire, but you can get into WOD shape in just a few months.” Nothing could be further from the truth.
In my experience writing programs for athletes, and gyms, there is no physical trait that is “easy to acquire.” There are some that different athletes already have, and can build upon quickly, but there are none that are universally easy for all athletes. I think this platitude comes from folks that spend a lot of time training strength, which is probably me, if I’m honest. When you train this way, you gradually decondition your ability to perform at a high level in WODs.
Consequently when you do start to turn your attention back to metcons, you rapidly improve to where you were previously, and maybe make a little progress. This leads us to think that conditioning is somehow easier to obtain. If we think about this critically there is nothing in training that can be developed at a high level, without much effort. All newbies to a certain method of training will rapidly develop, but once those beginners gains wear off, it’s a hard slog for further improvement.
We also see top level games athletes working on their conditioning year round. If it were truly so easy to acquire, then why do they constantly hammer it?
2. SELF FULFILLING SURGERY PROPHECY
This will also be no surprise to anyone who has crossfitted for a while, but we keep making this mistake over, and over again. How many times have you seen an athlete who’s rubbing a shoulder, knee, elbow, and says it’s “tweaked” and yet proceeds to squat like hell on it, or do a million pull ups?
Miraculously it’s even worse the next week, and the week after that. Eventually they get fed up with the constant pain and go to a doctor who tells them they’ve torn a rotator cuff, or a labrum, or damaged their common sense, and will need surgery. Incidentally, commons sense transplants almost never work!
The athlete has taken what was a minor overuse injury, and turned it into months of no WODs out of sheer stubbornness, and neuroticism.
I always tell new athletes that if you crossfit, you are incurring a risk of injury. There is no way around that. The injury risk is very small with a good coach, and program, but it can’t be completely mitigated. You cannot obtain something worthwhile without any risk along the way, but that doesn’t mean you get to ignore warning signs of danger ahead.
If you have a “tweaked” body part you need to stop working it for a time! Continue to work as hard as you can in every other aspect of your training, but allow it to recover. Once you are pain free, wait another week before directly working it again, and ease back into it.
The pain generally stops fairly quickly, but that doesn’t mean it’s PR time.
3. LETTING YOUR GOATS WANDER FREE
We all have GOATs, or areas in our fitness that we don’t enjoy working on. I don’t like handstand push ups. I can do them, and I’m not bad at them, but I generally avoid them, and prefer to do something else.
This generally bites me in the ass when I do the open, or another crossfit competition. In my head I’m like, “hey you can pretty much strict press your bodyweight, what do you need to do handstand push ups for?” Then they come up in the WOD, and I spend way more time than I should on them, because I’m out of practice, and not efficient.
This kind of myopic thinking is something I see in others as well, but it doesn’t make it any easier to avoid. This leads me to the inescapable notion that doing the style of training we least want to do, will likely yield the best results.
Otherwise you really aren’t any different than the Globo Gym guy with huge arms, and nonexistent legs. Or you could be that runner that wakes up at 6 am every morning to run an “easy 10 miles,” but hasn’t picked anything up over 100lbs in a decade.
We find growth at the edges of our ability, not the center.
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).