Despite that, knowledge is – as they say – power, and learning in greater depth about the following 3 training mistakes can help you to progress more effectively, and as a result, increase your fitness level, PRs, and general Crossfit performances.
‘Recovery is as important as training.’
If you train hard, then you need to take time to recover properly, or else what’s the point? If a Crossfitter is making incredible short term gains, only to burn out and loose them a few months later, then the whole process has been counter-productive from the very start.
Every athlete is different, and as a result, takes their own personal amount of time to recover. Training a lot is great fun, and will produce results, provided it is intelligently done and coupled with adequate rest and the right nutrition.
In a recent interview between BOXROX and Katrin Davidsdottir, the 2015 winner of the CrossFit Games, she told us that ever since she was a young girl, she would train for gymnastics for up to 3 hours a day, so she has no problems with the high volume and intensity of training patterns required for a professional Crossfit athlete, because she was used to it.
For us mortals, many of us don’t have this kind of athletic base to build upon. If we suddenly up our programming to include multiple Wods per day, and smash ourselves headlong into this new system, then fun as it may be, it will probably not be sustainable, and could result in burnout and/or injury. Gradually upping the intensity, and making time for recovery, is a more intelligent route on the pathway to progress.
Katrin also remarked that one of her strengths as an athlete is the ability to listen to her body, and to take a rest day if she knows she needs it (and not because she is making excuses). She knows that this is more important in and will help her reduce training mistakes in the long run.
Signs of Overtraining
If you are not sure whether you are overtraining or not, speak to your coach, analyse your recent performances, or see whether any of the following apply to you:
- Bad moods and raised stress levels
- Decreased performances
- Difficulty sleeping
- Higher than normal levels of post-workout muscle soreness (can also be caused by poor nutrition)
TRAINING MISTAKES: SOLUTIONS
- MAKE time for recovery.
- ENJOY active recovery time: swimming is a perfect activity for this, as is cycling, as they both give your body a rest from the heavy jarring of barbell lifts or gymnastic stresses.
2. KIPPING BEFORE STRICT
Kipping Pull Ups are faster and more efficient than strict Pull Ups. As a result, if you want to complete a Wod that features them (such as Fran) in a quicker time, then it makes sense to kip rather than going strict. This is fine and logical, provided that you already have the basic strength that comes from learning to do strict Pull Ups in the first.
Outside of the Crossfit community, kipping is often misunderstood as ‘cheating’, or Pull Ups done with bad form. The reality – as you are well aware – is that they are simply two different movements, requiring similar, but alternative techniques.
Strict Pull Ups are not easy, and require a great deal of strength to perform well. Because of this, the benefits you get from working on them in a dedicated way are significant. Kipping, in order to complete a set of Pull Ups quicker and get a better time, should never be done if a Crossfitter doesn’t already have a strong base of strength and the confidence of movement that has been developed through strict Pull Ups first.
- Develop strict Pull Ups first before learning to kip. A set of 5 solid strict Pull Ups is a good basic target to aim for, but speak to your coach for more personalised information.
- Don’t neglect strict Pull Ups just because you can perform kipping Pull Ups well. The strength gained from strict movements should never be underestimated
A video posted by Dr. Anna Hulda Ólafsdóttir (@annahuldaolafs) on
3. STICKING TO YOUR STRENGTHS & AVOIDING WEAKNESSES
We all have strengths and weaknesses because that is part of being human. When we train, our natural physiology, genetics and background make some of us more suited to particular movements and exercises than others. This is the case from total beginners, right through to the top level Crossfit pros.
- For example, Rich Froning 4 x CrossFit Games champion, hates running.
- BK Gudmundsson, Icelandic champion, 3rd fittest man in the world in 2015, and currently sitting in first position on the European Open leaderboard, found pistols on his right leg one of the hardest things in all of Crossfit to master, but master it he did.
A video posted by richfroning (@richfroning) on
So how did these athletes counter their weaknesses?
They simply work on them; again and again and again. Froning once explained how he always completes his running workouts with other athletes, so they have to suffer alongside him and his competitive streak forces him to keep going and finish each Wod.
Firstly accept your weaknesses in order to improve them
This leads us into a position where we tend to enjoy the lifts, workouts and movements that we are good at, so we want to train them more frequently, and we become exponentially better at them. On the other hand, when left to our own devices we tend to avoid the exercises we aren’t so great with, and as a result, they don’t improve.
‘Working on your weaknesses is hard, because it firstly involves taking a long hard look in the mirror and accepting that in reality, you just aren’t as good in those areas.’
This takes humility, and it takes guts, because you also know that you will have to spend time on things that you do not enjoy doing as much, because you know the end result will be worth it. The ability to do this is a powerful display of character, and a strong definition of personal discipline.
The speed of progress
The other issue with is time. It takes longer to progress with an exercise that you find difficult than it does with another that you take to naturally. If you are shorter and heavier set, then Deadlifts may come more easily to you than a friend who is 6 foot four, stick thin, and weighs next to nothing. However, when you switch over to Handstand Push-Ups, all that bodyweight bulk becomes a hindrance rather than an asset. In this case, both athletes will progress at different rates, but it is essential that they don’t just stick to the exercise that they are good at, at the expense of the other, because this will affect their versatility in the long run.
Often the process that has been described above happens without us really even noticing. To even realise that we are cherry picking Wods, technique sessions or mobility routines, it often takes a coach, or another external perspective and opinion that we trust to show us our errors and training mistakes.
Fortunately Crossfit is a great teacher for pointing out our weaknesses to us.
- Mix it up by trying a Wod you’ve never done before.
- Rework your programming with your coach.
- Scare yourself and get out of the comfort zone by learning a new movement or blasting through one that you find difficult. Hate Snatching? Tackle the problem head on and try Randy (75 Power Snatches for time) for example
Feature image & Photo © MC (Martin Cowey)
Davidsdottir Instagram © Katrin Davidsdottir
Olafsdottir Instagram © Dr Anna Hulda Olafsdottir
Froning Instagram © Rich Froning