Whether you’re new to CrossFit or have been doing the sport for years, you probably haven’t achieved every goal you set, feel your progress has stagnated or you’ve plateaued.
Success, in most cases, doesn’t mean qualifying to the CrossFit Games. For some, it means stringing double-unders, achieving a muscle up or finally being able to do a solid handstand walk. It can also mean getting fitter or losing weight.
Whatever success means to you, these five realities might be interfering with your progress and be the reason why you’re not more successful at CrossFit.
YOU’RE NOT CONSISTENT WITH YOUR TRAINING
Of course a good gym, a coach and a good program all impact your journey to success in CrossFit, however, if you’re not consistent with your training none of this will matter.
If you only show up sporadically, whenever life doesn’t get in the way, you will progress slower than the athlete that is at the Box five days a week every single week.
We all know of someone who will only show up when they’ve got a holiday planned and want to look well, or set a resolution to train but never stick to it. Many athletes who make excuses every week, and while they always find a different excuse not to train, the outcome is the same: they don’t show up consistently.
"Success as an athlete is largely dependent on consistency in three areas: programming, nutrition and sleep. When you're already fighting an uphill battle to catch up with the pros, you have to give as much attention as possible to the areas in which you have control …" pic.twitter.com/C4aE6AgcZs
— The CrossFit Games (@CrossFitGames) January 6, 2018
If you keep convincing yourself you’re too tired, it’s too cold, you haven’t eaten yet, you’re too busy today – who knows how many other excuses we’ve convinced ourselves of – you’ll only slow down your progress.
Psychological obstacles such as distractions, temptations and lack of motivation intervene in the same way for everyone, what makes an athlete successful is their capacity to tackle them.
YOU HAVEN’T DIALED-IN YOUR NUTRITION
Nutrition is the foundation for fitness and health.
If you spend hours at the gym, work on your power, strength, technique and endurance, but complement that with a bad diet you won’t reap the full results your training plan could offer. In addition, your risk of injury is increased and you’d be more prone to poor health.
“You cannot out-exercise a bad diet. To reap the full rewards of the CrossFit program, work out regularly and optimize your nutrition,” states CrossFit.
The effects of nutrition in your performance and health are undeniable. Everything you put in your mouth, in either solid or liquid form, is either helping you achieve your goal or hindering your progress. Make sure you understand the basics and make them a habit.
Ways to make nutrition easier for you include:
- Individualising your nutrition: what works for some is the downfall of others. Follow a healthy diet that fits with your lifestyle, dietary restrictions and taste. There are general healthy eating guidelines you should follow, but outside from that you should individualise your diet.
- Minimalise the stress of decision: deciding what to eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, pre workout, etc. can be overwhelming. Employing some simple strategies to minimise the stress of making these type of decisions, such as meal prepping or having a quick go-to meal, can help you keep on track and stay on top of your nutrition regardless of the situation.
Eat the best quality produce that your budget allows for and dial in your nutrition, as this is the reason many athletes’ progress stagnates.
YOUR RECOVERY ROUTINE LEAVES MUCH TO ASK FOR
When we train we apply stress to the body. The body reacts in such a way as to meet the demands of the stress and prevent damage.
In the post training period the body will try to reverse the impact of stress induced by training, making us fitter and stronger. In order to get the most benefit, you should let your body recover fully from one workout before you train again.
If you’re constantly stressed, never take rest days, or sleep poorly every night, this recovery process is hindered and you won’t be able to make the most out of your training (an exponentially increase your risk of injury).
YOU’VE NEGLECTED FOUNDATIONAL STRENGTH AND MOBILITY WORK
One of the big reasons why you’re not able to do butterfly pull-ups, snatch your bodyweight or do three handstand push-ups is because you’re not strong enough, it’s that simple.
Foundational strength is paramount to CrossFit success. Every exercise, from gymnastic movements to bar complexes and even bodyweight workouts require a solid foundation of strength.
Good foundational strength in basic exercises will translate directly to more complex ones. For example, it is clear how a deadlift can help the initial stages of the snatch, however, deadlifts also improve your grip strength and they are a great exercise to strengthen your core, consequently making your Rope Climbs or Muscle-Ups more efficient.
Strength and flexibility are also intrinsically tied together. You might have good foundational strength, but you won’t be able to perform properly without strength and mobility working together.
For example, a squat requires full range of motion (heels on the ground, neutral spine), as well as the strength to support the additional load of the barbell. You need mobility to improve strength and strength to improve mobility.
To become a more successful CrossFit athlete you need to train to develop strength and flexibility in the specific ranges of motions each exercise demands of you.
YOU DON’T TACKLE YOUR WEAKNESSES
The first step towards CrossFit success is identifying your weaknesses, the next is working on tacking them. Start by identifying where there are issues; once you know and acknowledge there is a problem you can do something about it.
If you skip workouts because you don’t like running or cherry pick to only train those days where your strengths come up you might have lots of fun, but you’ll never get better at the things you don’t like because you don’t expose yourself to them.
It’s easy to avoid the things we believe aren’t our strengths because if you hate (or are scared of) doing something, you’re less willing to go through the process of doing it. This only means your progress will stagnate.
Sometimes, the sheer magnitude of a task can seem overwhelming, and every time you try to improve you simply get frustrated by your failures. Instead of trying to do all at once, start with small, manageable chunks and stay consistent.
For example, if you’re working on your double unders, practice them every day for five minutes. Set that time cap so you stop before frustration kicks in and make sure you practice every single day (if you’re serious about wanting to improve).
This applies to everything: your endurance, your speed, your power – work separately on your weaknesses and you will continue to progress on your fitness journey.
There will always be obstacles to doing something, however, to be more successful at CrossFit you should know to prioritise your health and learn how to navigate and overcome these obstacles.
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