In recent weeks I have had numerous conversations with members and coaches regarding what I believe the "secret" is to getting better at CrossFit. Many do not have the time to dedicate to a structured "competition" training program. These programs can take anywhere from 90 minutes to 3 hours per day, and most have jobs and families that would not permit that type of training. Don't get me wrong, they work, and they work well, it's just that many find them very demanding and not as "fun" as classes. That being said, many of you want MORE, or at least want to know what to do to get better at what we do. In the following paragraphs, I am going to outline what I believe is the secret sauce to making progress. Will you progress by just coming to class and class alone? Yes, of course you will. But for those that want a little more, this is going to outline how to speed up the progress. There are no shortcuts and it requires CONSISTENCY, among a few other things, but more on that later.
1. Attend class at least 4 times per week. This is crucial in that consistency breeds success. If you come to class at least four times per week, you are guaranteed to do some type of cardio, and usually HIT cardio (High Intensity Training), in the second half of any of our classes. As you all know, a good engine helps you get through 99% of our workouts. So attending at least 4 classes per week will ensure a good cardio base. Oh, and do the programmed extras (the cash out).
2. Attend Olympic Barbell class once a week if possible. As you all know we have Olympic Barbell training on Thursday evenings. Learning and perfecting these barbell movements is a game changer for when you are in a regular class. You will learn how to cycle the barbell efficiently, correct barbell pathways, progressions on the harder movements such as Squat Snatches, Overhead Squats, and Split Jerks. Those that take the time to perfect Olympic lifts have a much easier time in WODS that demand barbell cycling, not to mention these lifts make you more explosive and stronger. If your schedule does not allow you to come to the Thursday classes, spend a little time on Saturdays in the strength room and move the barbell. It will help, a lot.
3, Squat two times per week and dead lift once. I realize that we might only program squats once per week, so take the time on another day to hit a quick 3x3 set of back or front squats on the rack in the back of the big room. Or on a Saturday after class, hit a few sets really quick in the strength room.. I have always believed that one of the crucial elements to CrossFit is strong legs. Strong legs make the majority of our movements feel easier. Also hit a few quick sets of dead lifts. They don't need to be heavy, but they need to be done. Maybe do them after you practice your Olympic lifts. It will take less than 10 minutes to get in a few sets at 70-75%.
4. Get GYMNASTY! The very ONE thing that separates the good from the excellent, is gymnastics. Waiting for pull-ups or HSPU to come up in the programming just isn't enough practice. We MUST practice these movements on our own time, all of them. Depending on your skill level, I would recommend at least a 5 sets of 3 pulling movements two times a week and the same for a pushing movement. Once you get stronger at pulling and pushing, you can start doing EMOMs with both pushing and pulling. An example would be a 20 min EMOM, on the even minutes you do 5-10 reps of pulling, and on the odd minutes you do 5-10 reps of pushing. If you stick with this you will be amazed at how fast you can develop your gymnastics. I realize many don't know where to begin with this. So just ask a coach or go to our YOUTUBE channel and look at some of our videos. There is a lot of good information out there. In summary, do extra gymnastic work at least two times per week outside of classes.
5. Ok, this one is probably the hardest. Eat clean 34 out of 35 times per week. Yes, that's right. We should be eating 5 times per day. 3 meals and 2 snacks. And they should be CLEAN. Cheat once a week on a day that you worked out hard. If you need help with nutrition please let me know and I will show you the options we have here at Conquest.
6. Sleep. Sleep is when we recover. We need to sleep. We gain strength when we sleep and we also burn calories because of our HIT workouts. So sleep as much as you can. I realize that's tricky for all you students and parents out there, but do your best and it will help!
Ok, in review. Be consistent to class. Do extra Oly. Squat and deadlift. Do extra gymnastics. Eat clean. And sleep!
It really is that simple. It may seem like a lot, but it isn't. It's an extra 10-20 minutes every couple days. You spend more time on Instagram LOL. This will not take the place of a competition program, but it will certainly bridge the gap and make you a much more efficient CrossFitter with a well tuned engine.
I have honestly thought hard about this and tested it time and time again over the years. As a business owner and a father of two, I do not have the time to commit to a structured competition program. I did in the past, but simply do not anymore. So years ago I started peppering in extra things to my training here and there. Then Natalie started doing it too, and we both saw gains without the time demand. I backed off of it after I injured my back in 2016, but recently through rehab with Dr. Jaime Gold (The Box Doc), and making some great strides in my progress with my back, I started doing these extras again. I metcon (class wod) 4x per week. My schedule does not permit me to take OLY class, so I either turn a barbell WOD into my OLY session, or I do a little extra after class. I do 3-5 sets of 3-5 deadlifts increasing in weight after I do extra OLY. I squat with class one day and I add another day, usually on Saturdays. I do gymnastic EMOMs twice a week or at least once, with another session of practice and drills focused solely on muscle ups or handstand walks. I eat clean 34 out of 35 times per week and cheat Saturday night as that is pizza and movie night with my daughter Charlotte. I take very little supplements (I take protein, fish oil, and amino acids). I do NOT get enough sleep. But I damn well try.....LOL.
Guys, I turned 50 years old last September, and can tell you that I am making bigger gains and having more fun than I have in a very long time. I am careful, cautious, and attentive to what I am doing and I listen to my body and those smarter than me when it comes to my limitations. I also embrace my limitations and work with them instead of getting frustrated and defeated. I am sure I will have some setbacks, but that is the natural curve to any progress. It is never straight up, but a series of peaks and valleys that over time creates an ascending line on a graph, and that is what we want and what we should expect.
I hope this helps and I hope you enjoyed reading it. This is not a guess at what works. A few of us have really put it to the test.