Simple and Effective
CrossFit is one of those things that comes along every once in awhile and knocks the accepted norm on its back. It took all the familiar fitness staples and tossed them out the window.
CrossFitters do strength training, but not shoulders, chest, legs, a.k.a. the traditional bodybuilding splits.
We do "cardio" but not the run-of-the-mill hour on the elliptical or two-mile run after we lift weights.
We embrace solid nutrition, but not quick, 30-day fixes that guarantee results, albeit fleeting ones. Rather, we encourage a lifestyle of smart, goal-driven nutrition that one can maintain all year round.
We go to the gym, but we do so not to get away from the world, but to enjoy the community and camaraderie of our fellow athletes. We leave our earbuds in the car so that we can hear others cheering for us and root for them as well.
We've learned that routine is the enemy and that varied, functional movements performed at high intensity are the key to achieving true, balanced, ready-for-anything fitness.
As CrossFit has passed the test of time, it's proven that it can provide a level of fitness higher than most of us thought possible, all while improving athletes' range of motion and overall joint and musculature health. Most CrossFit athletes also see a drastic change in their nutritional habits over time as the coaches, community, and WODs encourage athletes to take care of their body inside and outside the gym.
One of the most amazing aspects of CrossFit is its scalability, which is directly related to CrossFit athletes' ability to continue to progress and retain their fitness long into their older years. We've seen athletes in their 80s, 90s, and 100s able to work out alongside those in their 20s and 30s and get similar results because the workout was tailored exactly to their specific needs.
Greg Glassman, the founder of CrossFit was quoted saying: "It has long been our contention, our observation, that people's needs differ by degree, not kind" In other words, the same CrossFit workouts, if tailored correctly, can provide the same stimulus to an elite athlete as to a beginner.
To get to my point, after coaching for 6+ years while observing and studying the CrossFit formula, seeing some athletes compete and others just train to keep up with their kids, I've heard all sort of different opinions and trains of thought on what the best way to adjust CrossFit for each person is. I see athletes take CrossFit, and try to add all sorts of "extra work" to a CrossFit program. Examples are: multiple workouts each day, strength/bodybuilding training, fancy movements (lots of barbell complexes, arbitrary gymnastics moves etc), or continually trying to make the WOD harder by going heavier, longer, or makingn it more complicated.
I have yet to see an athlete progress much longer than a few months after making these additions. The athletes either get burned out, injure themselves, or continually switch back and forth between different "extras" and then finally become frustrated and demotivated from their lack of progress.
One of the best aspects of CrossFit is its unbelievable potency as a fitness program. If you are able to do the workouts as intended, you will find a level of intensity that most find to be a mix of pain, adrenaline, and unrivaled sense of accomplishment. You will also find that, in a balanced, well designed CrossFit program, you have the ability to go close to 95% effort every day, during every WOD. Some days you may have had added stress from whatever life might have thrown your way, which can adversely affect your intensity level, but in general, you should have the energy, muscle capacity, and mental stamina to look at a WOD, scale it appropriately (via your coach), and hit it with everything you've got. If you finish your WOD and still have plenty of gas in the tank, you need to assess how well the WOD was tailored to your abilities and work to adjust the movements or loads next time in order to leave you with very little, if anything, left in the tank when you finish.
From there, if you are able to build your capacity as an athlete on the normal CrossFit program and are looking to get a competitive edge, you have to start with an honest conversation with yourself about your strengths and weaknesses and decide what areas you will focus on.
Extra work is not always a bad thing. It can actually be a great addition to your training, if it is applied wisely. There is no need to do two workouts a day, every day, or spend five hours in the gym working on skills a couple times a week. For 99.9% of the athletes out there, extra work should consist of smart weakness training (gymnastics work, a targeted strength cycle, general metabolic conditioning, etc) a few times a week, with recovery in mind as the driver of how much extra work you take on. If you just jump into extra work, or a second WOD each day, you will get random results and pesky injuries that result from such training. If you jump into a program with strength work every single day, then a "metcon", and then some sort of "cash-out", the likelihood of injuries and burn-out skyrockets. I've seen this occur personally many times with many different athletes over the years.
To get the most out of CrossFit, and progress in the sport of CrossFit, you need to simply do CrossFit. Do it faster, heavier, and with continuously better form. Never let yourself become too satisfied with your form or intensity. Always look to maintain balance and recovery. Listen to your body and most of all, listen to your coach.
Your coach is an outside perspective who will help guide you and keep your health the priority. You are ultimately responsible to listen and make good decisions, but your coach should be a strong influence for the positive. We coach because we want you to excel as an athlete and reach your goals. We work hard to help you reach those goals by researching and being experts in the field of fitness. We will fight to help you tailor CrossFit to your needs and guide you in the direction where you will benefit the most. Through proper, responsible coaching, you will be able to continue enhancing your fitness utilizing CrossFit throughout your life.
Enjoy the simplicity of CrossFit. Don't chase the gimmicks. Trust your coach. Trust the science. Stay consistent. Work hard. Enjoy the results.
"Today I will do what others won't so tomorrow I can do what others can't"