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10 Mental Stages of a Crossfit Workout

Metabolic conditioning, whether is it just about rowing intervals or different gymnastic-weightlifting complexes for time, makes you crawl, sometimes throw up and always wanting more. Each workout itself is a challenge and often consists of different stages which also involve regular mood swings!

Let’s have a look at the different stages your mind goes through while you’re doing the MetCon workouts.

1. The Idealist: “I’ll do this unbroken!”

The WOD looks easy, at least on the whiteboard. It’s 21-15-9-something and you’ve worked hard enough over the past few months to do it unbroken. You also watched a lot of YouTube Rich Froning motivational videos.


2. The Optimist: “Watch me win this!”

The countdown begins. 3, 2, 1, here you go, beast mode going all out. You give a quick look around at your box competitors. For the next 10+ minutes they are your biggest opponents. And you don’t feel guilty for feeling this.


3. The Realist: “Oh this weight feels heavy today.”

Reality check happens the very first moment you do your first rep. Those 40-kilos looked so easy on the whiteboard, but keeping it in front rack position seems harder. Well you’ll have to grind harder today. Also, the mission unbroken is already officially aborted.


4. The Positive Thinker: “Life is beautiful.”

You try to motivate yourself. Try. The main characteristic of this stage is self-denial: making things prettier than they actually are. In reality you suffer, want to quit, throw the bar through the window and eat chocolate muffins, but your positive thinking is stronger. You decide to stay in the game and continue.


5. The Pessimist: “I want to cry.”

The self-denied hardship from the previous stage hits you hard. With a full force. Crying is the defence reaction to physical torture, caused by the athletes themselves (e.g. deciding to do a MetCon today with Thrusters involved). Not a lot to say here, basically you just want to cry.


6. The Philosopher: “Separate yourself from the ego.”

You start remembering all the Buddha books you’ve read. Calmness is a virtue and shall be obtained in that way. You are convincing yourself that it’s not all about the competition. It’s just you against you. The little clever voice in your head is saying that friendship matters more than the score, time or weight. Although your desire from stage 1 and 2 (going unbroken for the win) is still pretty much alive.


7. The WOD Victim: “I am dying.”

Motivation drops down to the lowest level possible. The dark kicks in, the “emo” state hijacks your brain functioning. You let go of the barbell, sit down on the floor, stare at the black rubber and think about how your life sucks. Some experts also call this particular phase the depression stage. You can’t even cry any more.


8. The Rationalist: “You’re not dying. You’re just physically completely fatigued.”

After a few breathes down on the black rubber floor, you try to rationalize the drama situation caused by the previous stage. Life is not so bad after all. But your physical form, in Crossfit known as the engine, is. You quickly evaluate your current state of fitness based on all domains of physical preparation needed for a Crossfit Metcon, and decide on which you’ll work on most in the next few months. This is the phase where all the training plans ideas come from.


9. The New Hope Finder: “Last round!”

Your brain starts to process the data and calculate the current stats. It’s your last round of this Crossfit Metcon. Excitement kicks in as you know the torture will be soon over and done. You pick yourself up, pull your shoulders back, put on the killer face and finish those last few reps like a boss. At this stage we often hear animal-like voices which athletes use pretty often to grind through the last stage of a metabolic-conditioning workout. Also your mood cheers up.


10. Crossfit Metcon – The Survivor: “Never Again.”

This stage is based around your box Leaderboard position.

A) If you won and the rest of your box crew is still struggling, you don’t sit down and relax! You run to the whiteboard and write your score on! With big letters, labelling it extra with a RX sign. Quite often you also take a selfie and post it on Facebook.

B) If you didn’t win, you throw yourself down to the ground after the Crossfit Metcon and form a recovery position: the mouth is downward so the fluid can drain out. Arms and legs are locked to stabilize your position. You show no signs of life.


WOD finished.

What stage did we miss?

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