So let’s face it we love our sport…no…we REALLY love our sport, we love the feeling of calloused chalked up hands and the sound of weights dropping after having hit new PB’s. But what happens when in the midst of all this sunshine and PB’s you find yourself in a frustrating rut? Too often, with most athletes, it’s either caused by the feeling that they aren’t progressing at the speed they believe they should be, or because they’ve developed niggles or injuries that are inhibiting their training and which clearly, going into the box and trying to red-line every workout, isn’t going to fix.
So what should every CrossFitter be focusing on in order to become a better, stronger, fitter and let’s face it ultimately happier athlete?
1) Prioritising Mobility: Mobility is not stretching; it is not half-heartedly lying on your foam roller after class or doing the same cool down every day. Stretching focuses specifically on lengthening short and tight muscles whereas mobility is broader, incorporating joint range of motion, neuromuscular coordination and knowledge of the proper form for a movement. It includes stabilization, too, created by muscular balance and strength (particularly core strength to protect the spine).
Basically, mobility is a movement based approach to address the parts of your body that inhibit your movement. It is something everyone should be prioritising and there is a multitude of online content to assist with this. By engaging your body properly, you drastically decrease your chance of injury, you increase the efficiency of your movement, you improve range of motion, all of which ultimately lead to better performance.
2) Focus on Technique: Are you playing the short game or the long game? The short game strategy is to use your normal barbell grip when Olympic Lifting as you are likely to hit that 100kg snatch quicker and stay there. The long game strategy is to scale down the weight, get used to the hook grip and then slowly build up again. This technique, which may take a few months longer, may eventually result in a 120kg lift. What is the rush? Quality will always trump quantity in the long run!
3) Vary your training: Ultimately, CrossFit is a game of constant trade-offs. More time spent on A, means less time spent on B, C and D. Short-term goals are great but you want to be constantly varying your training so that there are incremental improvements across the board, rather than in one single discipline to the detriment of others. Is an extra 20% on your Clean and Jerk worth it if you can’t finish a 5km run?
4) Get out of the box: Play touch rugby, go for a hike, swim in the ocean. We have this inherent fear that if we are not close to barbells and pull up rigs, we aren’t progressing. That couldn’t be further from the truth. CrossFit is designed to increase your functional ability to enable you to enjoy these other experiences so embrace them. You will be a better athlete in the gym because of it!
5) Contribute to your community: Suffering together builds community! What have you done today to improve the experience of those around you? Have you shared some helpful personal experiences? Have you helped a fellow athlete with their mobility work? Have you introduced yourself to the new member in the corner who is intimidated in this new and unfamiliar environment? Have you celebrated someone else’s new PB? You have the ability to positively impact those around in meaningful (and easy) ways – what do you have to lose?
Author: Raun Billet
Raun Billett is an owner and coach at Black River CrossFit in Observatory in Cape Town. He is a certified CF Level 1 trainer and is currently the UCT First XV rugby manager.