This entire post is written to explain a very fundamental concept (and also to post some of the awesome shots that Super Cleary Photo took at our comp last weekend): To get better at CrossFit, you have to... CrossFit. That means showing up. That means practicing skills. Seems obvious, right? But I'm always surprised by the number of people that seem to forget this concept, myself included.
I'll give you an example. Like every other CrossFitter, I wanted to be able to do a muscle up. So every once in a while, I would jump up on the rings, attempt one, and get super frustrated when I would fail over and over again. I didn't understand! I used to be a gymnast, how hard could it really be?! I knew I was strong enough. I could do pull-ups and dips for days. And anyone who looked at me was always shocked when I said I wasn't able to do one. They would say, "That can't be right. Just try it!" That would only add to my frustration and before I knew it I would be down on myself and ready to quit trying all together. It wasn't until I finally checked my ego at the door, starting doing drills and working with a spotter, that I began to see progress and before you know it, I had one! And then I had two! A week later I completed my first workout Rx (as prescribed) with muscle ups and even though it took me longer than it should have due to a few failed attempts, I was beaming with joy afterwards.
I see this with a lot of beginner CrossFitters. They start going to classes and immediately want to be proficient in all of the Olympic lifts and gymnastics movements. When they can't do something, they get frustrated and decide that they're just never going to be good at certain skills. They act as if everyone who is able to do double unders, pull-ups, handstand push-ups or snatch over 100 pounds is just naturally gifted and was able to do everything overnight. Ha, if only that were true. I repeat: to get better at something, you have to practice. That means a few things:
- Show up, regardless of the workout. "I'm not going today because there are cleans and I suck at those." Well, I hate to break it to you, but you're always going to suck at them with that attitude.
Listen, I know it's hard. I have had countless frustrating days in the gym, lately more than I'd like to admit. But each time I have to take a step back, remember how far I've come, and keep pushing forward.
Don't believe me? The first video below is from June 2013 and the second is from August 2014.
In the top video, I'm pretty sure I couldn't overhead squat at all, had no idea what the hook grip was and didn't really understand what the snatch was other than ripping the bar from the floor to overhead. How did I get better? I signed up for a snatch seminar taught by a couple of great coaches. The first day was spent doing drills. In fact, I'm not even sure if we touched a barbell, which can be frustrating when you know you're strong enough to lift more than a PVC pipe. But each Saturday for about six weeks we would meet and each week we would see improvements. I can proudly say that my snatch is my best lift and I feel comfortable teaching it to anyone because I learned it from scratch. And while I can sympathize with the frustration of feeling like you're never going to get it, I have video proof that if you put in the work, that is 100 percent not true. And the best part is, there's always more to learn. Once you think you've mastered something, you find out another way you can improve. That's what keeps me coming back day in and day out.
Bottom line: If you want to improve at something, you have to practice. Want to run a marathon? Get out and run. Want to be a body builder? Start doing your curls and weighing your food. Want to become better at CrossFit? Get your ass in the gym and... CrossFit!