My Secret Laboratory

If you haven’t noticed CF is pretty much exploding day by day. The growth over the past year has been insane. Interest from newbies looking to check out CFCA runs the gamut from “I’m going on vacation in 3 weeks and I need to look good in a bikini,” to the opposite – athletes who want to supplement their specific sports and others interested in Crossfit for competition.  The truth is, with this explosion in growth there seems to be an underlying theme that Crossfit is some sort of a magic pill. That all you need to do is show up. Unfortunately admission does not guarantee results. You still have to work hard, and potentially harder than you think given that our WODs are generally on the short side. You CAN get a lot out of 1 min sprints on the airdyne or a tabata cycle of 20 seconds work 10 seconds rest x 8 but you need to be consistently pushing yourself. If you are not, then you may not see much of a benefit at all.

When Karen and I started CFCA, we thought Crossfit was for everybody. At that time, we needed any and all members to get the business off the ground so of course it was for everybody. I did honestly believe that though. I probably met peoples initial intimidation with something like “anybody can do this.” As we have grown over the past 2 years we have seen some changes in the way we bring new members up to speed, and the free intro has become less of a pitch on the benefits of CF and more of an interview to see if CFCA is the right fit for that particular person and their perceived goals.  I no longer think CF is for everyone.

When we are giving intros to perspective members we often get the question of “how many times should I come per week?” That is a really loaded question with no right answer.  It all depends on what your goals are and a host of other factors that have to do with you specifically (desire,  personality, occupation, patterns, stress, lifestyle, attitude, nutrition, etc).  You have to sort of diagnose yourself and have a realistic view before you can make a plan that will work.  What I mean by that is, you need to set up a plan that is sustainable based on your goals in relation to all those factors.  A plan that will allow you to be consistent on the road to better fitness and a better lifestyle in general.  As with most things in life… what you give is what you get.

For optimum results here are a few tips.

1. You need to be active everyday.  Get some form of exercise either a hard day at CF or sport specific or a recovery day (20-60 min casual/conversational/social activity  ie. trail run/hike, swim, bike, turkish getups are great too). This is key.  Develop a routine to do something active everyday because you always feel better after exercise, it clears the head, alleviates stress, etc… you get the idea. Make the time, and make it happen.

2. You need to do more HARD workouts then recovery days per week. A ratio of 4/3. Define ‘hard’ and make sure your definition matches up with mine.  Think pushing yourself to your full capacity and making the elements challenging. Remember…”Intensity is defined exactly as power, and intensity is the independent variable most commonly associated with maximizing favorable adaptation to exercise. That equates to go HARD and FAST and you will maximize change.

In terms of conditioning WODs- “HARD” would be defined as 85-95% MAX EFFORT. “Conversation unlikely – not possible, beyond single syllables”. Obviously different WODs have different objectives but for the most part you need to modify the elements to a point where you are not sitting around waiting 30 seconds for yourself to recover because the elements are too hard from a strength perspective. Maximize your time in that 85-95%. Push yourself to the redline and back off as you need to to momentarily let those feeling pass…..then get right back to it. If you cannot do that then you might not be working “hard”.

In terms of strength WODs, you need to lift as heavy as possible with clean form.  If the movement is too complex then you have the option to modify the weight and work on skill/ form or modify the movement to what you know you can do  heavy safely.  Think snatch to overhead squat or snatch deadlift.

*If you have a tendency to coast through CF WODs… you need to either ramp it up or come more frequently.  Likewise, if your occupation is physically demanding (demolition with sledgehammers all day) or sedentary (chained to the computer) you may need to make some adjustments to the ratio.

3.  You need to dial in your nutrition from a long term sustainability perspective. What can/can’t you limit/ live without? Cut out sugar, grains, and limit alcohol and there’s no question you’ll make gains. Be hyper vigilant paleo/primal and the results will come even quicker.  If those foods are too important to you, then just understand body comp goals will be harder to attain.

4.  Other factors… How are your stress levels? Can you eliminate some by simplifying your life in some aspects?  How’s your sleep?  How’s your confidence/attitude? Do you beat yourself down when you fail to hit unrealistic expectations? Are you a type A all the way go getter, ‘I can do this!’?  Are you in the middle, willing to try anything with no expectations? What are your patterns? Set goals too high, too low, do better without goals?

I guess what I’m getting at is that you need to know yourself or get to know what works for you and how that fits into your goals if you have them. There is no right way. Understand that life is dynamic and things change all the time. Make adjustments based on your needs and keep moving. Be intuitive and listen to your body. If something hurts (ie pain while moving) talk to a coach to make modifications and get suggestions for mobility. If you know you need extra time to warm up, show up early and/or stay late and cool down with mobility that is specific to you. Take advantage of the open gym too! Have the coaches set up a dice roll weakness WOD for you. I do them pretty much every other day.

**Probably the single most important fact that will help the most is if you see exercise as a chore, either try to adjust that vision or find something that makes it less of a chore.  In a sense, that’s what what we’re striving for at CFCA.  Yes the workouts are hard, but we try to mask that underneath the aspects of community, teamwork and camaraderie. That, combined with giving you guys a really fun clubhouse where you can make progression on anything from pull-ups to ping pong.  Make it fun, stimulating, and enjoyable to push yourself in all different forms.

There are two great slogans that I have always loved. The North Face’s “never stop exploring” and Nike’s “just do it”. Both are pure genius. Never stop exploring is just like – YES! Keep pushing yourself, your limits, keep learning, searching, and staying stoked on anything your interested in. The “just do it” is like that shrugging part of me that’s like “you got it so get on with it”… no big deal. I think Nike should have maybe tweaked it a bit to be “Just fucking do it already”, and you could tweak it further to “Just try it” but Yoda wouldn’t like that as much.

See you at CFCA.

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