When it comes to goals, there are two types of athletes at the gym: I like to call them “Competitive” and “Just for Fun.”
The “Just for Fun” athletes want to sweat, laugh and be healthy. The “Competitive” athletes might be training for something like a local CrossFit competition or they’re seeking auxiliary training to achieve skills, build strength and “level up.”
Both groups are here to be better than they were yesterday, that’s what brings us together. And throughout people’s fitness journey, they may go back and forth between the two groups.
For anyone in either group who wants to get better, faster, there are three things you’re probably not doing, but should be:
Nutrition. Seriously… NUTRITION.
“You can’t out-exercise a bad diet.” I can’t emphasize this one enough. There’s a reason nutrition is the foundation of the CrossFit pyramid. Clean food is important to fuel your workouts, to help your body recover effectively and honestly, to hedge your bet against chronic diseases.
I could write ten more blogs about the what, why and how of nutrition but for now, here are my two biggest pieces of advice:
- If you aren’t tracking your food and/or you don’t know what macros are, the day to change that is TODAY. We can’t make adjustments until we know exactly where we’re starting.
- If you’ve truly been putting in the work in the gym and nothing is changing, chances are nutrition is the culprit. It’s worth investing the time (and sometimes money) to find out.
Side note: Because of the number of requests I’ve gotten for nutrition help, I’m running an ongoing Nutrition Kickstart program. If you want details.
STRENGTH is the key to all the skills.
We have a running joke at the gym that anytime anyone isn’t able to do something (pull-ups, Olympic lifting, you name it…) it’s because they “don’t want it enough.” It’s tongue-in-cheek of course, but the real reason, 100% of the time is that they need GFS. That stands for “Get F*cking Strong.” Sorry Mom.
The reason you can’t achieve that thing you’re trying to achieve is that you’re not strong enough. People don’t want to hear this and I absolutely understand that. Here’s a personal example:
From the day I started CrossFit, there was one skill I always wanted to get: Butterfly Pull-Ups. I’m not kidding when I tell you that day after day, week after week, month after month for YEARS, I spent hopping up on the bar, flailing around and thinking that magically, today would be the day it just clicked and I would just crush those pull-ups. Along the way, my coach Kiel would (very nicely) tell me the same thing over and over: “You don’t have the strength yet. First get strict pull-ups, then get kipping pull-ups. Once you develop that strength, the butterflies will come.”
I didn’t want to hear it at all. So I just kept trying and flailing and frustrating myself. Finally, THREE YEARS of flailing later, I was fed up and defeated.
“Fine,” I said. “What do I need to do?”
You guessed it: Strength training, strength training and some more strength training. I had to check my ego, learn to get out of my comfort zone and find out that the human body is capable of some pretty amazing things.
Note that with this one, it’s going to take some work outside of class but not like “quit your job” type of time. If this is your area of struggle and you want to get better, faster, CLICK HERE and tell me about it.
The shortcut to injury is skipping mobility.
There’s a key component to fitness that no one likes to talk about because it’s very boring. Remember that monotone professor you had for Political Science class? More boring than that.
Mobility is the thing that no one wants and everyone needs. Stretching is not glamorous. Working on mobility weaknesses is not fun. Foam rolling… kind of sucks. The Lacrosse ball REALLY sucks. And honestly, the more you need it, the more it sucks. But it is SO NECESSARY.
Think of it as “pre-hab.” If you injure yourself, you need rehab work. If you want to prevent injury from happening, you better be doing your pre-hab. (Pretend I was shaking my finger in the air when I said that… that’s how serious I am).
Can I share my advice for making it suck a lot less? Work on it a little bit each day. Never try to do a “mobility day” and commit to an hour of stretching and foam rolling. Why? BORING. Instead, take 5-10 minutes before or after class (or both!) to take inventory: What feels tight or uncomfortable? Or maybe just not right, like you’re verging on an injury? Also, do you know the difference between soreness and pain?
Pre-hab means being proactive with your body instead of waiting until something happens to do something about it. Ask your doctor for a SFMA (Selective Functional Movement Assessment) or contact Dr. Chris Owens at TWR.
Nutrition. Strength. Mobility.
I wish someone had shared these with me years ago because they truly are game changers. As with anything, be realistic. If your diet is currently pizza and burgers, don’t expect it to go well if you change to strictly chicken and broccoli. If you want to build strength, find a program with a realistic plan (like 30 minutes of extra work, twice a week). If you’re going to focus on mobility, start with five minutes a day, or check out GOWOD, where you can choose a range of 8 to 22 minutes per day.
Oh, and there’s a bonus game-changer that you should stop doing today: Making excuses. I believe in you. It’s time for you to believe in you.