This year has been great for CrossFit Kent Island. We have had lots of great special events, lots of great participation and success in the CrossFit Open, and lots of great new members. Many of our newer members have also been admiring and marveling at our experienced athletes who seem to be able to lift way more weight than seemingly possible, and fly through workouts with grace and ease, barely stopping on their way to new PRs. I get the question all the time, “How did they get so good at this?” The simple answer is that first they focused on technique, and then consistency, and then intensity. It can seem like a long process to get through, but if you are patient and keep your long-term goals in mind, it will pay off.
CrossFit is known for being an intense workout regimen. Pairing weightlifting and gymnastics in a 5-minute all-out-effort workout like “Fran” is a great example. But before you can safely move with intensity, you need to be very well versed in the proper techniques. Before loading up a barbell with 95 pounds, you first need to understand and be able to execute a Thruster with a PVC pipe. Then we move to an empty barbell, and gradually add weight until we notice flaws in your technique and we correct them until the movement once again looks solid. Focus on technique, striving for virtuosity in your movement first, before adding the intensity of added weight. Those firebreathing athletes you see in the gym that seem to be able to move flawlessly have put in the time practicing those techniques and getting feedback on their movement to the point where there is not a lot of thought involved anymore, and they understand the weights they can lift without risking injury. This all starts with our On-Ramp program, and continues with our warm-ups and skillwork before daily workouts.
When you have developed a solid foundation of technique, the next piece of the puzzle is consistency. Even if you understand the entire repertoire of CrossFit’s weightlifting, gymnastics, and conditioning techniques, if you only make it into the gym once per week, you will not be able to effectively add intensity to your workouts because your fitness level won’t allow it. Get your body used to working out consistently, and the muscle soreness associated with new movements will fade and be replaced with the adaptive physical and mental stamina required for an intense session.
Finally, once the technique and consistency have been established, we are ready to add intensity. Intensity in CrossFit is measured by your power output, or more specifically your ability to do more work in less time. If we use “Fran” again as an example, finishing the workout in the same amount of time but with more weight on the barbell would produce more intensity. Finishing the workout with the same weight but 1 minute faster is also more intense. But as you can imagine, that sort of increased intensity, resulting from increased work capacity or power, does not happen automatically. It stems from your ability to execute the movements with precision and grace, and your body’s adaptation to doing those movements consistently over time.
So all you beginners out there, stay focused on technique and consistency and gradually add that intensity when you are ready for it. Your coach will let you know. And for those that have been around the CrossFit block but find yourself stuck at a plateau, there’s a simple answer too – re-double your efforts to master the techniques, find the extra time to get in the gym and consistently practice, and you will move more efficiently and find the increased intensity you’re looking for.
See you at The Box!