Taking Steps Back to Take Steps Forward

When you first start CrossFit and are fresh out of our Elements program things tend to progress rapidly. Every day there is a new workout and overtime a benchmark comes up you are hitting heavier numbers and finishing workouts faster. Every day you seem to hit a new PR. It's great! When you are new to almost any workout routine it means your strength is going to increase rapidly. In CrossFit this translates to new PRs in individual lifts and WODs nearly every time you attempt them. This honeymoon period doesn't last forever, unfortunately, and once you have been doing CrossFit for a while you may begin to hit a plateau. This seems to be prevalent in your workout times as no matter how hard you push yourself you finish within a few seconds of the same time over and over again. Each time a new lift comes up your numbers may be equal or alas even less than your previous PR.

If it sounds like I am talking about you, don't worry, there are solutions to help ramp up your performance again! This is something that happens many times over your CrossFit career. You will likely have to break through multiple plateaus to continue moving your fitness on a forward trajectory.


So how do you do this? You may have noticed that we just finished a month long cycle of really working on technique. Some of you may not have enjoyed this as much as lifting heavy weight as often but I can assure you the results speak for themselves. The number of people who PRd their lift after this cycle has been huge. Even if you didn't PR I can assure you that you are probably moving weight more efficiently in workouts. Here are some tips going forward on why sometimes we have to take a step back to take a step forward.

Form and Technique are the most important thing to mastering any lift or movement. You have to have patience. Speed and weight will come with technique and time, work hard and be patient. If your form is off you will not be getting the full benefit of the movement and thus be leaving a lot of gains on the table. Ensuring you have proper form and technique will lead you to maximum gains and movement efficiency creating a solid baseline for increasing weights and speed in the movements.

Sometimes it is extremely beneficial to back off of the weight and really work on hitting all of the correct positions. In the olympic lifts especially there are so many nuances throughout the movement. If you hit each position correctly then I can assure you the lift will be sound and will allow you to lift more weight. Sacrificing form for weight doesn't benefit anyone in the long run. We would much rather see a perfect lift at lower weight than be impressed by the amount of weight on the bar in an incorrect lift.

To work on technique with the barbell it is sometimes easier to mentally wrap your head around than other movements. Gymnastics movements especially can be frustrating because sometimes taking steps backwards means not even doing the movement in its entirety. Don't get frustrated because you can't do the workout prescribed like you used to...instead focus on the future ahead and the next time you do it you will be so much better off. Examples of this are as follows: pull ups - can you do 1 in a row and then have to come down from the bar between each? Maybe we need to back off and work on our kipping movements and staying tight to be able to take steps forward. Can you do toes to bar by the "swing, swing, kick" and hit the bar but can't link them? Let's take a step back and not worry about your toes hitting the bar but work on the fundamentals of the movement. Hand stand push ups - can you do them to 3 ab mats but can't seem to progress from there? Let's step backwards and work on building some strength and technique that will allow you to achieve the full range of motion.

In conclusion, don't get too caught up in having to always Rx a workout or try to do something that maybe you would be better off scaling down to allow you to progress down the road. We have a lifetime to work on building our fitness. My goal for you is to be doing CrossFit when you are 90 so we all have plenty of time!

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