Why you need to stop doing CrossFit to get better at CrossFit

There are two types of Crossfitters – the first type, where most people land, is “I do CrossFit to be healthy and/or look good naked.” The second type is a complete different and dark dark universe filled with endless hours of lifting heavy ass weights, ensuring your toes are pointed on your gymnastics training, and training your mind to endure the hard work. If you fall into the first category, then this article does not pertain to you. You keep doing what you are doing and lookin’ good doin’ it! But if you aspire to be the best at exercising then continue reading.

I remember a few years back. At the time, I had already been doing five or so years of Crossfit. My friend and I had the silly notion that we were on the cusp of making it into regionals. We trained our asses off that year, did multiple lifting programs, focused on gymnastics and made sure our cardio was “open ready”. That year my numbers were:

  1. Deadlift: 405
  2. Back squat: 325
  3. Clean and jerk: 275
  4. Snatch: 215
  5. Fran: 3:30
  6. Grace: 2:30
  7. Max pull ups: 45

Looking back, those numbers are still respectable for a the average human. But man, we were wrong about being close to making it to regionals. Those numbers landed me at 6,780th place. Not exactly the results I had hoped for. My buddy didn’t do much better as he had to pull out of the competition due to injury. It was about that time when a study of the statistical analysis came out that broke down athletes that made it to regionals by the numbers, specifically the bottom 3% of athletes. What they found was eye opening and changed they way I and many people approached the sport of Crossfit. These were their numbers to the best of my recollection:

  1. Deadlift: 505
  2. Back squat: 450
  3. Clean and jerk: 335
  4. Snatch:275
  5. Fran: 2:30
  6. Grace: 1:36
  7. Max pull ups: 75

These numbers represented the BOTTOM 3% OF REGIONALS ATHLETES. After this, it became more apparent than ever that it didn’t matter how big your engine was or how much heart you had, if you want to be a competitive CrossFit Athlete, you need to be strong AF and focus on weightlifting and gymnastics and skill. Don’t get me wrong I love a long strenuous chippers or a good team WOD but believe it or not those WODs are hindering your strength gains.

So what should you do then to get better at CrossFit? Throughout the year you need to be practicing cleans, jerks, snatches and all the accessory lifts. Learn and master the fundamentals of gymnastics – do hollow holds, hand stand holds, push ups, pull ups, dips and all that other good stuff. Keep your WODs and interval training between three and five minutes. As the CrossFit Open approaches, you can increase the length of your WODs and begin the necessary cardio training needed to keep you moving in those long Open workouts (this can typically be done 6 to 8 weeks out from the Open). So when the Open rolls around, you will approach it much like a fighter getting ready for a fight. If you followed the plan throughout the year, you will be stronger than ever with much improved gymnastic abilities at this point. I guarantee if you take this approach you will greatly improve your score and set yourself up to compete with the best.

So, remember if you want to get better at Crossfit, stop doing Crossfit!

How To Do Better in the CrossFit Open

Every year we get together for 5 weeks and put the past year's training to the test. There will be no faking it here - the bro reps wont be counted and only if you’ve put in the sweat, tears, and sometimes blood, do you even stand a chance to compete with the best. Even then your chances are bleak unless you are strong AF, your gymnastics is on point, and you’re a fucking machine.

            In order to get better in the Open, your focus should be on getting stronger in the Squat, Deadlift and Press for the majority of the year. You will also want to pay close attention to the Snatch and Clean & Jerk. This is tricky though, Olympic lifting for technique and Olympic lifting for Crossfit is much different but you need to practice both. Olympic lifting with technique makes you better at Crossfit, but Crossfit doesn’t make you better at Olympic lifting.

            Simultaneously you should be working on your gymnastics skills. Everyone will have a different focus here but a good place to start, as with everything, is with the fundamentals. Do hollow holds, handstand holds, strict pull ups, push ups, dips and arch to hollow swings. For a more detailed program check this one out.

            Now, we can’t forget about your cardiovascular endurance. To get the most out of the years lifting and protect your precious gainz, keep metabolic conditioning workouts to under 10 minutes. Start ramping up around November-ish by adding in some longer and more frequent MetCons. The Open starts at the end of February and you will want be have world class conditioning by then. You should follow a program that consists of running, rowing, swimming and all sorts of others sucky shit.

            So to recap: lift heavy and often, work on your gymnastics, film yourself, analyze, make adjustments, watch all the videos (of the experts) and work your ass off. And remember -this is supposed to be fun, so loosen up and enjoy the ride.