Do you remember your first Crossfit experience? I do, and will never forget it. I was a young lad at the ripe ole’ age of 36. The workout was Fight Gone Bad. I was, from what I thought, in tip top shape for my age.
Needless to say, my body laying lifeless on the ground, drenched in sweat, on the edge of meeting the classic Crossfit clown we all know as pukie, proved otherwise! I was beat, broken and yet I loved every minute of it. It was the feeling of being challenged both mentally and physically that hooked me from the very beginning. I guess you could say, that experience awoke something inside of me.
Maybe it was the fighter and competitor in me that wanted more and wanted to do better. Fast forward to a thousand or more wods and seven years later at 43 years old, that drive and fire to constantly better myself still exists. It has never died. The best thing about it, my 43-year-old self can beat my 36-year-old self in Fight Gone Bad or any other wod. Now, this is not the case for everyone. Crossfit can be hard on you as you get older. If you are not conscious with your training and recovery, your crossfit years can be cut short. Training smart, not just working out, will help you avoid injuries and continue to progress and enjoy Crossfit for years to come. Over time, I have figured out how to properly train, eat, perform and avoid injuries as a masters athlete. Here are 5 tips and tricks that you might find helpful in your masters training.
1. DON’T GO 100% FULL THROTTLE ALL THE TIME
Oh that thing that we all love, that magic that hooked us on the first day….Metabolic Conditioning. Fran, Grace, Isabel and all those Hero WODS we LOVE to hate.
That love affair can go on for months, maybe even years. You remember when you started? You couldn’t stop talking about it. Maybe you lost some social media friends because they were sick of hearing about your workouts that tore the palms of your hands or that run that made you puke. Who cares! You love it and you metcon yourself into delirium every day. As great as it is to metcon, it is possible to do so much of it, that you burn yourself right out.
For example, it’s Friday morning and you did not take your scheduled rest day on Thursday and your box has programmed an amazing WOD that you just can’t miss. Your body, or that angel on your right shoulder, is telling you….Hey, maybe you should have rested yesterday. You have maxed me out at 100% in every work out this week. Let’s have a rest day. Now pops up that alter ego, that 17-year-old on your left shoulder and says hey, don’t be a quitter, lets do this. So the battle goes on.
The key is, you have to find your balance by listening to your body and getting the proper recovery. Sometimes that 17-year-old exists physically and mentally and some days, he or she is there only mentally. Keep in mind that it’s okay to dial it back to 75%. Hopefully your box programs around a load and de-load and mixes in some good strength training and EMOMs.
2. DON’T BE A CHERRY PICKER
It’s Wednesday, you roll over after your alarm clock goes off, your tired as hell and sore, you check the WOD on your phone app…it’s some stupid movement with dumbbells and lunges and you hate those and you hate Castro for giving your programmer the ideas. If it were barbells you would get up. You decide it’s not worth getting up for and go back to sleep. Congrats! You’ve become a Cherry Picker…..one who picks out WODs that only have movements that you good at or enjoy.
The problem is, these movements are all functional and could help us become a better athletes, more mobile athlete. An athlete that is ready for anything at any given time. This is what I like to call a Chimera, a Hybrid. You’re a monster on the barbell, a master at gymnastics and a fire breathing animal with your cardio. Cherry picking only pigeon holes you into specializing and specializing is the ENEMY. If there is one thing that needs to be consistent in your training it needs to be constantly varied. So, turn off the snooze, get up, don’t look at the WOD before you go if that helps. Show up, put in the work and see the results. Doing what you hate will eventually become something you love. Who knows, with a little practice you may discover that you are actually good at some of those movements you thought you hated.
3. TRAIN SMARTER
One summer a few years ago, a couple of our members were current D1 soccer athletes. I loved their energy and drive and boy could they work! We would do the scheduled WOD of the day in the morning and then do another WOD around noon in the heat of the day! We were at the box constantly and would go full throttle every day. This helped me train my mental muscle tremendously. To do this, I had to be mentally strong. This is where I summoned that 17-year-old evil twin. We would bang bars and beat ourselves to death and we had a blast. My younger friends could recover a lot quicker and their energy levels seemed endless.
Eventually, being the older athlete, I started to break down and over time, I failed to keep up. I realized that in order to be effective and competitive at my age, I had to pick my battles.
I had to be smart with my training and with the volume I was doing in my training. Obviously, science proves that age is a factor. It’s the sad truth. However, that does not mean we can’t compete with the younger athletes. We just have to train smarter and pick our battles
I now train once a day for two hours and throw in some barbell and accessory work twice a week. A good training schedule that I found that works for me is:
- Monday, Wednesday and Friday doing the programmed WODS at the box with the class.
- Tuesday, I participate in the programmed WOD but dial it back to about 75%, followed by a barbell class a little later in the evening.
- Thursday, I do stretching, maybe a ROM WOD and focus on mobility.
- Saturday, I use my fitness and do something active with my kids
- Sunday is 100% recovery both mentally and physically
Getting your mind and soul in tune is key to balancing your physical body.
4. 3-2-1- GOAL!
Let’s be honest, why are we doing this? Why do we get up at 5 a.m., go grind out grueling work outs, put our bodies through these tests, and then come back for more each day?
To keep yourself motivated and driven. It’s imperative to set goals for yourself.
These goals do not need to be unrealistic, like making the Crossfit Games, or setting a World Record Fran time. Make them simple and attainable. Maybe your goal is simple….you just want to be fit. Maybe it’s to redefine your age, be free from disease or you want to stay active and participate with your kids in physical activities. Whatever your goals are…the beautiful thing is we have a community that helps keep us striving to accomplish those goals.
Crossfit brings like-minded people together to support one another while each of us strives to accomplish our personal goals. Remember, half the battle is won by just showing up. So, set your goals, quit cherry picking, stop hitting snooze and show up!