How to "level up" or "levelling up" is a fairly new term that has recently been thrown around in the fitness industry. It simply means getting to the next level, or how to improve to the next level. The term is now being used all over the place. Sports, recreation, school, and even in employment. The term really isn't new, as I was introduced to it when I was a teenager. It was used in Martial Arts training. And still is today. Every time you tested for another belt color, you would be "levelling up". I took Taekwondo all through my youth and then competed on a team in college, and then went onto instruct for a while. So levelling up was nothing new to me. From white, to yellow, to green, to blue, to red, and eventually to black belt. With various levels inbetween those belts and then various levels or "degrees" in the black belt. Throughout the years they have added stripes and even more colors. But you get the point.
Levelling up is a perfect tool to use in Martial Arts. It gives people goals, mostly short term goals, to strive for. It is also a savvy business platform in which institutions can charge extra every time someone wants to "level up".
I have seen the "level up" model used in CrossFit recently. And I don't think it fits. To me, if we have different levels (other than RX and SX, Male and Female), then we have different "groups" in the gym. For instance, let's say everyone that can do a pullup gets a yellow wristband, and then everyone who can do chest to bars gets an orange, and then everyone who can do a muscle up gets a red, and so on. Can you imagine? You might laugh, but this has been done. And it creates a bunch of little "groups" in the gym, and instead of creating an inclusive environment, it does the exact opposite. In my opinion, CrossFit should be, and I believe is at Conquest, all levels working together to motivate, encourage, and teach (yes teach) those that want to learn and improve.
Think on this. In my eyes, there is NO difference between the overweight dude who just joined after sitting on his couch for the last 10 years, but has come 4 to 5 days a week over the past 2 months and puts 100% effort into every class, takes OLY class to learn, and asks questions and is engaged with his fellow members and coaches....and the seasoned 5 year CrossFitter who does competitive training, eats paleo, has a ninja turtle tummy, and basically crushes every wod. I LOVE having both in the same class. Just think how motivating it is to be new, and to wod next to a badass. We have all done it. It's pretty amazing. As long as we leave our heart and soul on that gym floor, both people should be wearing the same color bracelet. I am passionate about this point. Because it is inspiring, and I know it works wonders on those that seek excellence. Hell it works wonders on those that seek mediocrity.
Recently I had two members in one of my late night classes who I haven't coached in a very long time. They usually come to open gym time so I don't get the chance to coach them very often anymore. Not only was it a pleasure to coach them again, but it was so cool to be able to have them demonstrate movements to the other members that were a bit newer to Conquest. Their movements were as close to flawless as it gets. One member even had to change out a movement due to injury, and I thought this was such a good moment to show that just because we might be "down", we are never "out" of a wod. Like here is a seasoned veteran crossfitter, changing out a movement, demonstrating that it's not only ok to do this, but we MUST do this, for longevity, safety, and yet we still get a kick ass workout. Again, a much higher "level" athlete, but able to teach, and motivate, and also show humility, and not even know he was doing any of those things for the other members. These moments get overlooked by many. Not by me. And if my coaches are reading this...take note. Look for these moments, they are everywhere. And they are inspiring.
Ok, for those of you that love the "level up" model, and want to know how to level up in CrossFit, there are two areas that I recommend working on. So we won't call this levelling up. Let's just call it sound advice on how to make faster gains at CrossFit. The two areas are leg strength, and strict gymnastics. Think about it. What usually goes to crap in a wod with weight? Our legs. Any wod with deads, squats, cleans, snatches, even overhead movements...there goes the legs. Couple it or triple it with box jumps, wallballs, dubs, or burpees over the bar, there goes the legs again. A bigger squat means longevity for your legs in these wods. The other area is strict gymnastics. Strict pull-ups, strict dips (ring and stationary), strict toes to bar, strict HSPU. Strict gymnastics make kipping gymnastics so much easier. Strict gymnastics make you STRONG, and make you a better weightlifter, not the other way around. So start tracking your progress on squat days, push your limits, go hard and heavy within your limitations. For strict gymnastics...do EMOMS. Do them all the time. Ask me to run the clock for you in the back and I will do it. Every time. Work on those strict movements!
I see most people practicing everything BUT strict gymnastics. And let's face it, leg day isn't everyone's favorite. But trust me, these are the two areas which will propel you to the next level.
Thank you for reading. Thank you for inspiring me, your coaches, and your fellow peers. Go hard. Go till I say 3...2...1....time! And take the time to hone that strength. Both with a barbell and without one.