What I've Learned from Crossfit: 1 Month Update

Happy Friday! I hope everyone is having a good Friday thus far and if not, hey you only have to make it until 5 o clock then it's the weekend. :-) I promised you all a Crossfit update this week so it only seems fitting that I give you one while I'm chugging sipping coffee and covered in chalk, fresh from this morning's workout. 20120824-101718.jpg

We love doing planks EMOTM for 15 minutes.

I've been doing Crossfit as a full-time member (5x a week) for almost a month now and I can safely say that I've learned more in the past 3 weeks than I have in YEARS of doing things on my own. While I've definitely learned a lot about the technical side of things like form, lifts, etc. I think the biggest thing I've taken away this month is how the sheer physicality of it all is only a small part of what makes you successful. Yes, getting faster and stronger can be seen as the definition of success - they are the outcomes you are trying to achieve - but it takes so much more than running and lifting a lot of heavy things to get there. It takes a lot of training, dedication, trust, and sweat to get there but more than that, it takes a lot of mental work. I'm obviously no expert and I can't say this is the same for everyone, but I think a lot of us get stuck in place with training/fitness where we just feel plateaued. We can change up our routines and change what we eat but still feel like we are spinning our wheels. I definitely felt that way before Crossfit and now, well, I've learned a lot in a short amount of time. Here's some key things I've learned thus far:

1. I let my mind get in the way: I've always known this but it has become even more apparent as I've started Crossfit. I can clearly tell where I fail or underperform because I let my head get in the way of what I'm doing versus under performing because I physically can't do something. Case in point, overhead squats. First off, lifting a barbell over your head is a bit terrifying and there is a lot you have to focus on. While we were doing overhead squats (my first time, ever), I was loading my bar progressively heavier and got to my last set which I loaded to 73lbs. I went to jerk the bar and didn't do it. I quickly proclaimed "No, not happening" and was going to be satisfied with my 3 reps of 68lb OHS. After some coaching and encouragement, I tried again and did 2 (almost 3 but bailed a bit at the end) reps of 73lbs. Without having someone to coach me, I would have thrown in the towel and I probably wouldn't have even attempted anything near that weight to begin with. Which brings me to my next point...

2. Having a coach is critical: I know that I tend to overtrain myself, I know that I will take it easy on things I'm not good at/super comfortable with, and I know that I avoid things I don't like/am not good at it (um, hello deadlift and pull up aversion for the past 6 months). Having a coach means having someone who has much more knowledge than you to push you do things you don't like and aren't good at, again and again until you make progress. Do I really want to do strict presses? No. Do I need to do strict presses to get better at other movements and life in general? Yes. To me, that's what a coach is for.

3. Good programming is key: First, please read this article. I'm very, very thankful that I'm at a place where the coaches are super knowledgeable and care about making me better, faster, and stronger and getting actual, functional results. How is doing 1,000 burpees for time functional? It's not (unless you need to do that for competition or something). But you know what is functional? Being able to squat properly and being able to run safely. I go to Crossfit 5x a week and have yet to feel overtrained, overworked, or just plain bad - sure I'm sore and tired every once and awhile but I don't feel nearly as "broken down" as I did before. I'm positive that that is due to good programming. I think it's important for anyone interested in trying Crossfit to find a box that has programming that is purposeful, designed by a knowledgeable coach, and that is in line with your philosophy on fitness.

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I'm working on getting a dead hang pull up - one of my goals.

4. Recovery/nutrition are important: I'm amazed to see how much what I eat affects my performance. On that same note, I'm actually noticing how important food is to recovery. If I eat like crap, my body feels like crap, and I don't perform well so I'm trying to make sure I'm eating good stuff and eating enough of it. I'm on the hunt for a new recovery powder (I can't stomach food after an intense workout) and am hoping this helps with my recovery.

5. Seriously, get your mind together: This bears repeating because this is my biggest obstacle by far. I let my head, my fear, and all the other bull get in the way and I essentially freak myself out. Research shows pretty consistently that the mind fails before the body in most situations and that is definitely true for me. If I approach the bar thinking "Holy eff, I have to put 90 FREAKING POUNDS over my head and try not to die", I'm going to fail that lift. If I go up the bar thinking "Okay, it's just a few pounds more than the previous lift, just power through, get under it quickly, engage, and focus" and then put it out my mind, I will probably make the lift, unless it really is too heavy. (This was pretty much the exact situation that happened to me this morning while doing jerks). Morale of the story: I need to get my head right!

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Set up for "McGhee" (5 heavy deadlifts, 13 push ups, 9 box jumps) - I just about died.

This week was the last week of the current training cycle which means we've been going for PRs all week. I've managed to PR the heck out of this week and also got some good PRs along the way. After a month, here is how I stack up since starting Crossfit (this is more for my record keeping than anything else, but thought I'd put it out there!).

Deadlift: previous PR - 145x2; New PR - 175

Front squat: previous PR - 125; New PR - 130

1600m run: previous PR (not from crossfit) - 10:00; New PR - 9:02 (I'm no runner ha!)

Strict press: no previous PR; New PR - 63

Push press: no previous PR; New PR - 90

Jerk: no previous PR; New PR - 90 x 3

Overhead squat: no previous PR; New PR - 73x2

Snatch: no previous PR; New PR - 53x3

500m row: previous PR - 2:31; New PR - 2:06

Power clean: no previous PR; New PR - 78

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Tell me: Does your mind get in the way of your training?

Get any new PRs lately? What are they?

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