I’m sure you’ve watched your fair share of CrossFit fail videos on YouTube but truth be told, there are probably a number of important lessons that you can learn from all the flailing, puking, and double unders.
I had the pleasure of working as a strength and conditioning coach for a private facility which also offered CrossFit classes. As such, I believe CrossFit can be an excellent learning experience for both the athlete and strength coach alike.
Motivational Social Networks
What’s the hardest part of working out for most folks? Squatting twice their bodyweight or completing their first muscle?
It may sound overly simplistic and slightly foolish but the fact is, the toughest part is just getting yourself through the front door of the gym.
For some reason, your bed seems incredibly comfortable at 5am and that 4pm work drag seems to suck the life out of your PR searching soul. But, isn’t it interesting how all of that melts away once you get under a bar and start sweating?
CrossFit has “hacked” the motivation factor of weight lifting by providing a group atmosphere designed to promote competition and comradery. A strong social network is one of the best ways to encourage consistency and sustainability.
Haven’t you ever noticed the people who come to the gym and socialize for 45 minutes? They have the social networking aspect of the equation perfected. However, the problem arises in that the individuals around them are focused on pushing themselves rather than others.
CrossFit has broken the extrinsic motivational mold by providing the missing puzzle piece for most individuals: comradery.
The Value of Hard Work
You’re probably reading this on your phone, aren’t you?
Heck, you might even be reading this DURING your workout routine. If so, there’s a good chance a cross fitter out there is working harder than you.
Now, that’s not meant to degrade you in any way, but I’m merely trying to help you see that despite the bad rap, most cross fitters work extremely hard.
Have you ever tried to do anything at maximal intensity for longer than 10-15 seconds?
Sure, I know what you’re thinking, “Mike, duration and intensity are inversely correlated.” And you would be correct in your assumption my friend.
However, I’m referring to the intent during the workout. Sure, you can devote maximal intensity to one set or even one exercise. But, if you watch the CrossFit games, you’ll see athletes pouring out their heart and souls in an effort to beat the clock or their fellow competitors.
I’m certainly not advocating that one cough up a spleen while trying to beat their best Fran time, but I think the average gym goer could learn a thing or two by getting off Instagram every once in a while.
Understanding the Importance of Evolution
CrossFit has received quite a bit of hate lately from those in the industry who think it’s a poorly designed fad with high injury risks but despite the hate, CrossFit continues to grow in popularity. Clearly, it’s not going away anytime soon.
Nevertheless, CrossFit has made a number of positive changes that I think were necessary in order to ensure participant safety.
Ditching certain exercises, utilizing progressions, and trying to place more of an emphasis on smart programming will benefit the entire community in the long run.
Remember, scalability is necessary for individualization.
Now the question remains, why doesn’t the average gym goers adopt the same methodology?
It sure beats me. If they did, we’d have less injuries and a lot more jacked people walking around but suit yourself…
Specificity: Prioritize What You Want to Improve
If you’re a strength coach reading this article, then I’m sure you’re rolling your eyes considering specificity is one of the key foundational concepts of training.
But, I can’t even begin to tell you the number of conversations I’ve had with a CrossFit athlete who had plateaued in one lift or another.
News flash: if you never train something consistently, you won’t get better at it. Mastery of a specific skill set requires time and practice. It may sound simple in theory but application is usually the part where most folks mess it up.
Just because you have a strong shoulder press doesn’t mean you’ll be good at handstand walks. Similarly, you might be able to do pullups all day long but climbing a rope for a time while incorporating your legs is a whole different ball game.
If you’re interested in competing at the highest level, then you must recognize one very important variable: the top athletes in this sport don’t just mindlessly complete WODs in the offseason, every day of their training is calculated and part of a periodized program.
Just keep in mind, random training leads to random results. Sure, you can get shredded and decently strong if you crush yourself day in and day out as some do within the sport. But, if you’re interested in longevity and sustainability, then take a note from the pros: train smarter, not harder.
About the Author
Mike Wines is a strength and conditioning coach and content editor for muscle and strength. He received his Degree in Exercise Science and seeks to combine personal experience with practical application to provide programming and movement based solutions to match each individual’s goals.