Most people tend to live their lives retrospectively. That is, they wait for things to play out before deciding to look back and make judgments about the choices that were made. This lifestyle can lead to missed opportunity and, possibly, bad choices. A little foresight can go a long way to assuring we don’t miss out on the things that really matter in life. The same rule applies to CrossFit.
Your next workout isn’t just an opportunity to get a good sweat in, or a good pump, but rather a shot at getting better. There are two types of CrossFitters, those that see a workout as an opportunity to tackle a weakness, and those that mindlessly go as hard as they can. The opportunity seekers attempt to look ahead to the future. They see a workout on the board and ask themselves questions like, “how can I break this up?” and “which movement do I really need to focus on my form?” For them, it isn’t about how good they are today, but rather what they will be capable of 6 months to a year from today. As a result, opportunity seekers don’t have very much regret.
On the other hand, and even though it may not be evident right away, the mindless go-getters ultimately live with regret. Because their aim is to be as good as possible RIGHT NOW, opportunity to work on technique and skill is bypassed in favor of instant gratification. When viewing a workout on the board they ask themselves questions like “What’s the fastest time?” and “what’s the prescribed weight?”
What do you think about when you look at the board and see a 95#/65# power clean? Do you think, “Awesome! I’m going to be able to hit this super fast”? Or do you tell yourself, “Okay, keep it slow and steady. Work on that form”? Your answer should depend largely on your “clean” technique. If you have a great understanding of the movement and you perform it consistently well, going fast might be a viable option. But what if technique isn’t your best quality just yet? Going through the workout at top speed definitely shouldn’t be first choice. That isn’t to say you couldn’t crank out a bunch of 95#/65# cleans quickly. In fact, you probably very well could. It’s certainly a light enough weight. But what about next week when the board reads “185#/135# clean” or even ((pause for dramatic effect)) a 1 rep max clean? Expecting to magically nail down the form/technique for any heavy movement, without ever having practiced it properly at lighter weights, is downright foolish.
The biggest problem I see with many athletes is this lack of foresight. We all have to walk before we run much the same way we need to be able to clean 95# properly before we can clean 135# properly. We always go over the movement before hitting it in a workout but that isn’t enough time to perfect it. You must be diligent in sticking to the proper technique during the workout as well. Workouts have a ton of reps and, depending on how you approach them, will either put you on a path toward improving your movement technique or cause you to remain stagnant (or even digress). And there’s nothing worse than looking at yourself one year later and realizing you’re exactly the same. Your trainers can only do so much. At some point, you have to become your own worst critic. Never be satisfied with a crummy clean, no matter how light the weight is. Once bad habits are developed, they are very difficult to get rid of.
This especially applies to beginners. The proper progression towards virtuosity (mastery of skill) is taking every single rep you perform seriously. The light ones are just as important as the heavy ones, if not more so. It is with the light stuff that we can tell the potential/future of an athlete. If I were a betting man, I’d always put my money on the person who progressed slowly and consistently, starting with taking light weights very seriously, to have longer, more successful, CrossFitting experiences. In many ways it goes against the “high intensity” mantra we promote, but if you remember the “results” equation it will start to make more sense.
Technique + Consistency + Intensity = Results
Don’t skip step 1! Fitness is a journey, not a destination. Enjoy the ride and make the most of it.