I have read a couple of interesting articles this week which talk openly about the highs and lows of CrossFit, the positives and negatives and the most interesting was about how the top level CrossFitters will train in the future
- Preparing for the demands of CrossFit – Technique, Programming and Seasons
- The importance of Weightlifting and Gymnastics
- Recover, recover, recover….
Before you read any further a large proportion of this article is aimed at people wishing to compete, however the lessons can be applied to even the most basic of programmes and to the most novice beginners.
CrossFit is evolving, the demands are increasing and as we grow into this new sport we need to look at a few things;
How do we prepare people for the demands of competition?
Simply turning up day after day and absolutely smashing your body to pieces will guarantee short term progress and long term injury. We need to implement TPS – Technique, Periodised Programming, and Seasons.
Technique – Let’s face it, you can’t go onto YouTube without seeing a CrossFit Fail compilation of muppets in their garages dropping weights on themselves or using cheap substandard kit which breaks underneath them. These people represent a minority, sure there are CrossFit Boxes out there that don’t have a clue, but a large proportion offer an environment fitting for such demands, the kit required and their coaches have the technical ability to implement positive change in their members technical ability. Don’t get tips off YouTube (unless you know the source to be credible).
Periodised Programming – Possibly the most overlooked aspect of Crossfit, many establishments and individuals think that a strength element, followed by a skill and then a WOD is programming……….Go back to school!! If your Box doesn’t follow some form of strength cycle as well as testing and enforced de-load weeks ask them why. If you don’t follow a programme your progress will slow, or even stop and you will have no clue when you need to decrease the load demands of your sessions and allow the body to rest/recover sufficiently to begin the next cycle. An article from our Head of S&C Barrie-Jon will follow in the next few weeks.
Seasons – CrossFitters love to compete, it’s in their DNA and partly the reason they were so attracted to the sport in the first place, but competition doesn’t equal improvement. An old coach of mine always said “get fit to play sport, don’t play sport to get fit”, and this is especially true in CrossFit. Progression and improvement take place as we increase the volume and efficiency of our training, the competitions are there for us to show how much we have improved, prove to ourselves that we have made progress and to test ourselves against others so we can measure that improvement against theirs. So how do we have seasons in CrossFit, there are so many comps we want to do and they are on every week? Pick competitions at the start of the year that you want to compete at, and plan your season and programming around them ensuring you are at your fittest come game day. Rich Froning doesn’t enter every competition that is put in front of him, the top guys probably do a handful of comps a year and handpick the ones that fit in with their cycles.
Plan your comps around your programming, not the other way around.
Weightlifting and Gymnastics
When looking at the top CrossFit athletes they tend to have either a weightlifting or gymnastics background. These elements should make up a large proportion of your programme. The article I mentioned earlier described how the top CrossFitters of the future would train like weightlifters with a higher inclusion of metcons…….I think he’s right, CrossFit comps almost always include a 1 rep max, or complex of Olympic Lifting movements, to ignore these would be costly.
Weightlifting technique cannot be taught by someone with no experience other than a CrossFit Level 1 Cert, so choosing your source of education is key. Most Boxes will outsource their Oly Lifting coaching, or have a coach who has the experience necessary to teach you correct form. If your box doesn’t have these then look for a local weightlifting club that you can attend or get private coaching from time to time. Weightlifting can be one of the best training tools in your armoury, but get it wrong and you can do yourself some damage, so be careful.
WOD’s or Metcons are there to help you build your engine, which you need to complete CrossFit Open workouts, so my advice to you is this;
If you are in a strength cycle, keep WOD’s to a minimum, if you are lucky enough to train with us at The Athlete Centre you will notice we run Strength and CrossFit classes side by side, so when the new strength cycle starts, do 6 weeks in the strength class, and then go back to CrossFit once the cycle and de-load week is complete. Long term you will make more improvement and be able to maintain the demands. It is very difficult to expect your body to be able to get stronger and build cardiovascular endurance at the same time.
Resting properly is key, if you don’t get the rest you need and thus don’t recover in time for your next session things will start to give out, resulting in potential inujury. Part of your recovery process should involve Mobility, and again your Box should be offering this on the programme.
Recovery though, is everything we do outside of the gym;
If any of these are lacking then your gains will suffer, even if you’re overly stressed, this has been shown to have a huge detrimental effect on your training. Take more rest days, CrossFit is hard, you need to have days of enforced rest, now that’s not just taking the WOD out of your session, that’s spending a Sunday at home, a gentle walk with the dog and eating well……DO IT!!
Do I have to dress like a CrossFitter to take part?
CrossFit is taking the world by storm and like any trend, there is a fashion/look to go with it. Yes, you can go online and kit yourself out to look like the guys on TV but please please don’t go buying £120 shorts because you think they will make you a better athlete, other reputable brands are available from all good sports shops. My only real, sensible advice on this is the footwear, shorts are shorts, but the wrong shoes can be a nightmare, and at the end of the day, CrossFit shoes are made specifically for the demands of CrossFit, so consider these carefully.
Last piece of advice is KEEP YOUR SHIRT ON……Taking your top off mid WOD doesn’t cool you down, or make the bar easier to hold…….Keep it on, especially at The Athlete Centre
You have a lot to think about, if CrossFit is your sport, whatever the level, then you need to seriously take heed of the areas covered in this article, sure there are other important things to consider, but this is what we are covering today. Train hard and plan sensibly, stop watching YouTube for tips, Rest, be strict with your form, don’t sacrifice this good form for a short term victory, Rest and above all else……Keep your shirt on.