By Coach Jason Struck
It’s a very common story for some folks at Full Circle, that after a while, they become interested in ‘The Sport of Fitness.’ Whether it’s the Open, the Games, or just a local competition, there’s undeniably something alluring about the idea of putting what you’ve done in class to the test in a competition setting.
I bet it’s true that some of our newer members may have even discovered CrossFit by seeing the Games broadcast on ESPN. For us old timers, the idea of a CrossFit competition ever being on a TV station, let alone being fully broadcast on the number one sports station, well it’s unbelievable. But it happened. And damn it if it ain’t totally inspiring to watch the best of the best demonstrate such virtuosity with so many of the very same movements we do every day (albeit at much higher weights and greater speeds).
So, you get this bug in your head. Where do you start? Well, with our current system of programming, if you are not regularly completing most of the WODs at RX, and at least some every now and again at Totally Sweet Elite (TSE), you need to identify your weak points. A lot of times, people will focus on one movement, like “I can’t do Toes to Bar, or I struggle with the Snatch.” But in a lot of cases, these are just symptoms of bigger and more general problems, like a lack of relative strength, mobility, or power.
Attending regular CrossFit classes is a necessary component of this process. You won’t quickly or correctly assess your imbalances without the assistance of well-rounded programming and the watchful eye and corrective push of a seasoned coach. (For more info about how our programming will help you identify your weaknesses, check out this past blog.) With great coaches and earnest effort, it won’t take long (1-6 months) to figure out what’s missing. Then it’s time to correct it.
If you can’t lift the weights at TSE, you need to do Barbell Strength and Power. It’s that simple. Attending CrossFit classes will yield the same strength gains, but at probably 1/10th the rate. Are you willing to wait 10 years to get strong, or would you rather put in the work to be a monster next season? In Barbell, a beginner can reasonably expect to raise their 5RM Back Squat 30-40lbs every 10 weeks. That means an additional 25lbs on your Clean and Jerk, and maybe 20lbs on your Snatch. You don’t have to do Barbell forever, but imagine how much more you could lift after only 2-3 cycles.
If you can’t do the gymnastics at TSE, you should probably look at your performance at RX. Can you do those exercises for 20-30 reps or more unbroken? If not, you’re not likely to have much success at the next level. If you can’t cut it at RX, the truth is you are not strong enough for your size. So, is that because you’re too big or not strong enough? If it’s the latter, go back to the last paragraph. If it’s because you’re too big (Ladies, BMI>25, Guys BMI>30), most gymnastics movements are going to be very difficult. It’s highly likely that you have excess body fat that you could afford to lose without affecting your other attributes. So why not talk to one of our coaches about a nutrition plan and start taking action to get into gymnastic shape?
If it’s the mono-structural training that holds you back, it’s another two-parter. Is that because your cardio sucks, or is it because you are too big? If you’re great at rowing, but suck at running, it’s the latter. But if it really is simple cardio, or even running technique and economy, then there’s a class for that too. Join us for Full Circle endurance workshops, training teams, camps, or classes. Again, a real commitment (2-3 training sessions per week for 8-12 weeks) is guaranteed to produce demonstrable improvement.
All of this is stated with the assumption that if your sport is CrossFit, you NEVER stop practicing your sport. It’s OK to have on and off seasons, and to focus more or less at different times of the year, but you can next to never afford to just stop doing CrossFit all together if it’s CrossFit you want to get better at.
For most athletes joining our gym, with aspirations of achieving success in CrossFit as a sport, the prescription is usually this:
- Do CrossFit long enough to figure out what your strengths and weaknesses are starting off. (1-6 months)
- Really focus on your biggest weakness, while never discontinuing training in CrossFit. (6 months to 2 years)
- Slowly increase the number of classes that you can handle and recover from over time. (From day one: may take 1-2 years.)
- Eventually assume you will be doing two a days, especially Barbell in the morning, and CrossFit at night. (After #2 is alleviated, probably ongoing until you ‘retire’ from competition.)
It’s just a fact that CrossFit as a sport now assumes that men have to Clean and Jerk in excess of 300lbs (Ladies 200lbs) just to hang, and that a decent time for 30 muscle ups for time is about 3 minutes. So don’t think you’ll ever make it to the top tier without Barbell and a lot of hard work over a long period of time. My advice to you if you want to compete is to utilize the resources we offer at Full Circle, including barbell classes, nutritional counseling, and even personal training if that suits you. We’ll help you get there if you’re willing to put in the work.