CFU Athletes, take special note to #1!!
By Amy Lawson
Watching the 2014 CrossFit Games this year, my eyes were focused on the Champ. Last year his glaring weakness was the swim; this year he placed 8th in the swim event—weakness successfully targeted. However, after watching the run event, I was left wondering if he had merely traded a swim weakness for a run weakness.
It turns out; the Champ was fine and went on to repeat his reign as “Fittest Man on Earth.” But his performance in the run continued to run through my mind. Strengthening your weakness is one of the main tenets of CrossFit. But what happens when you have multiple weaknesses? Or when you are just beginning CrossFit? How do you decide what areas to target? And how do you keep from creating new weaknesses?
Because CrossFit is multi-dimensional, there are so many opportunities for growth for every athlete, whether you’re in your first few months of CrossFit or you’re more experienced.
1. Know Thyself
First of all, you should be tracking your workouts. Record your benchmarks. Record your one rep maxes. Pay attention to where you struggle in each WOD. What slowed you down? Was it the heavy weight, the gymnastic move, did you have to stop and keep catching your breath? Make notes in your training log.
2. Find a Coach
If you just want to make improvements so that you prevent injuries and improve your overall fitness, then work with a coach at your box. Ask questions. Ask him or her to watch you specifically and offer pointers on your form. Ask the coach to make suggestions on areas you should be targeting.
If your goal is Rx competitions, consider hiring a coach who will do more than just offer some pointers in his or her spare time. A coach whose sole focus is to help you design a program that targets your specific weaknesses is invaluable.
3. Follow a Program
Whether you follow a strength-building program or a program specifically designed by your coach, follow the program. Pre-made programs such as Wendler’s 5-3-1 or Stronglifts 5 x 5 are excellent ways to build strength if you’re already confident in your form.
But isn’t following a program in opposition to the “constantly varied” aspect of the principles of CrossFit? On ESPN’s Outside the Lines, Russell Berger, head trainer for CrossFit Inc., addressed the misconception that CrossFit is about random workouts. In order to train a broad base of gymnastics, strength, power and Olympic lifting, there has to be some programming done to ensure that there is, in fact, a variety of exercises incorporated on a regular basis.
4. Do What You Hate
Typically, your weakness aligns perfectly with that thing you hate to do. Attack that thing you hate, and you may just find yourself liking it AND improving a weak spot.
5. Be Realistic
You will not transform your weakness into a strength overnight. It will take time. Snatches, cleans and gymnastics moves are highly technical. It will take lots of sweat. Maybe some tears.
Do not get so caught up in training your weakness that you neglect your strengths. Somehow, you have to make time for everything. But that’s the beauty of CrossFit—if you’re doing it right, your training should never be stale.