Every day in your box you're faced with a new challenge that's programmed to make you a better CrossFitter; but sometimes just completing the task is not enough. Like all athletes, you bring habits along with you that can slow or even derail the progress of your training. These bad habits can be preexisting or developed over the course of your training; either way you need to find a way to break them so you can get the most out of your effort and hard work. CrossFit-Athlete shares 11 Habits You Need to Break to Become a Better CrossFitter.
Focusing on others instead of yourself can impact your performance in many ways. For one, there is no use in wasting energy getting down on yourself when another athlete does well on a movement you struggle with. Everyone has weaknesses and everyone has strengths. Second, stop worrying so much about what others think of you. So what if you finish last, make a funny face when you squat or have an unusual grunt when you exert yourself. What’s important is that you feel good about YOU during the WOD.
Oh grasshopper, it does. It so does. If your performance is not where you think it should be and you’re doing everything else right at the box—mobility, focusing on technique, attending class regularly—take a look at what you’re feeding your body, chances are some improvements could be made in that area.
A good box is a social place, where friends can be made and good times shared. The camaraderie between CrossFitters is one of the founding pillars of our sport. But chatting while your coach is demonstrating the finer points of the snatch, or having some fool talk to you as you mentally prepare for your WOD or PR attempt is a problem. You don’t want anything to disrupt your focus—and people, talking too much will do that. So stop it.
Setting a goal—a movement to nail, a weight to hit, a time to beat or an event to compete in—gives purpose to your training, which will help to propel you on your charge to achieving whatever target you have set yourself.
Is it not nature’s intention to evolve or die? Ok, extreme comparison, but there is an underlying lesson to it. There is truth in learning to walk before you can run, and yes, there is nothing wrong with scaling to focus on technique and safety (in fact, it is to be commended). However, when you’ve been walking for months or even years, it’s time to start running, otherwise you may never learn how.
A lack of mobility, much like having a poor diet, is one of those things that is certain to hold you back from getting better, whether you’re a competitive athlete or use CrossFit as your fitness fix. Taking the time to properly focus on working the mobility in your shoulders, hips, IT band and so on will translate to success quicker than banging your head against the wall again and again.
This probably has and will happen to all of us, usually before a PR attempt or a tricky lift. You know the feeling: you approach the bar; the movement makes you uncomfortable; the weight on the bar even more so…thoughts of injury cross your mind. Perhaps it’s the embarrassment of falling flat on your ass or not completing a WOD in time. Rather than fighting the fear, understand that every athlete experiences it. What separates those who are successful is their trust in their physical capabilities and mental strength, enough to generate the self belief that they WILL lift the bar, they WILL finish the WOD, that they WILL succeed. Trust in your mind, your body and your training, focus on what successes you have had and combine them into a mental battering ram to break through the wall of fear. And hey, if you do fail, that’s OK too. As the great inventor Thomas Edison once said, “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”
“In practice if you’re starting to hurt—legitimately hurt, not pain—you stop. But in competition, unless you’re going to die, I’m going to keep going.” (Josh Bridges on the Mental Game)
There may be a time and a place for form to go out the window, but as 2012’s 2nd Fittest Man so eloquently put it, training is not one of them. From time to time you might say, “Screw this, I’m going balls to the wall to dominate this WOD.” But if you do, remember that bad form with heavy weight equals high risk of injury. Also, if you consistently perform movements with bad technique you are promoting bad habits, and we all know that it’s far easier to prevent bad habits than to break them.
Don’t underestimate the value of a good night’s rest. The strains and obligations of everyday life (and CrossFit) take a toll on your body and mind. In no way should you neglect yourself from the recovery that sleep provides. A good night’s sleep means quality sleep, which comes about in a few ways: sleeping in complete darkness to help the release of melatonin (a hormone that controls the body’s sleep cycle), going to bed at a good hour and sleeping in a cool room which helps to decrease body temperature and avoid an increased pulse rate.
Much like a warrior who sharpens his sword in preparation for battle, CrossFitters must continue to work on their skills to ensure they don’t become rusty. You’re only as strong as your weakest movement, so if you spend all your time working on, say, Olympic lifting, your gymnastic skills will invariably suffer as a result. Worse still is an athlete who neglects working on skills altogether, hoping that the weekly WODS will suffice for their development. News flash—it won’t.
If your goal is to come to CrossFit, chat with your friends and get in a workout, you’re probably getting what you want out of the experience. But if you want to hit a PR, drop or gain some weight or make it to Regionals or even the Games, you need to understand there is a certain work ethic you need to apply each and every time you step into the box. You need to work harder than you ever thought possible, and keep that level of effort consistent. 2013 Games 3rd place finisher Ben Smith sums it up perfectly: “Remember the CrossFit term of ‘virtuosity’—doing the common, uncommonly well. I would say, work harder than you think you should. If you think you’re working hard, work twice as hard as that. Always work your hardest. You can’t be going at it at 50%. Every workout should be making you better. If it’s important to you, you’ll make the time for it.”
Chris Spealler is not only a CrossFit legend, but he's arguably the best bodyweight specialist to ever compete at the CrossFit Games. Watching him fly through muscle ups or handstand walk his way past the competition was truly amazing and inspiring to watch.
With over a decade of CrossFit experience as both a coach and athlete, and with 6 Games appearances, Chris Spealler has racked up a wealth of knowledge on proper movement and technique.