The Mental WOD You Didn’t Know You Did

Hey Community,

Our first week of “regular” programming is behind us!  I must say all of you have come a long way since that first day of on ramp and even further from that free trial day that many of you attended.  I wanted to take a minute to reflect on last week and 3 key things I want you all to take away.  It’s 3 things that if we commit to as a community will change us as individual movers, people, and as a broader community.

By now, you have all heard my “What is CrossFit?” soliloquy – some of you more than once (sorry).  I’m sure by the time I reached the piece about constantly varied many of you were in a trance, but I mentioned in there that our workouts are varied but not random.  When I program our workouts I do so in a way that is meant to illicit very specific responses. Yes many of these are physical in nature, but there is also a very mental aspect to it.  In fact, I used last week to bring you through one big mental WOD in order to drive home a few specific points.

1) Through Persistence and Failure We Find Success and New Potential

Two words for you – “double unders.”  That little rope is probably the most frustrating piece of equipment in the box but also teaches us a valuable lesson: we are capable beyond our own understanding.  In front of the class, I get an amazing view of personalities and body language.  I can still picture the “You must be crazy” faces on about 90% of you that I saw when I introduced the double under.  None of you had to say it, but I know you were thinking there was no way in the world that rope was getting around twice.  Some of you may still be waiting on that moment, which is completely cool.  Those of you that are waiting have gotten much better at single unders, which is awesome!  For several others, not only have you gotten one, but you have gotten several.  Did you ever think it would actually happen?  For many of you, absolutely not.  And for many of you, it didn’t happen until after over 100 failed attempts.  BUT, you persisted in the face of frustration and eventually got better in one way or the other.  Net, by continuing on and ignoring negative thoughts, you did something you didn’t think you were capable of!  Just imagine what you will look like in several months from now with that kind of mentality.  That’s what will enable you to perfect the snatch, battle through fight gone bad, and burn through Fran in the future!

2) Executing the Right Way Breads a Higher Ceiling for Success

Oh, snatches.  When I said they are like a golf swing, I wasn’t kidding.  So many moving parts.  So many ways to do something wrong.  So easy to have your mind so overwhelmed by form thoughts that you become a train wreck.  That being said, there is then that one lift where everything clicks.  The bar effortlessly floats above our head and we catch it in a beautiful overhead position.  We HAVE the potential!  Yes, strength will help us lift more and more, but it’s executing it the right way that will ultimately enable us to be great.  Let’s use that as a lesson for all movements that we do.  Yeah, we may have to take a hit to our ego, bring down the weights, and perfect that squat, press, clean, etc….BUT developing that flawless form will enable us to move more weight faster than we could ever hope to without it.  Sometimes you have to “lose” now to win later, so keep that in mind.

I even saw that in double unders.  As I was working with Jen, by simply putting a band around her arms to keep her elbows tight she suddenly began crushing the double unders.  By taking the hit on the time that round to get better at the form, she now has a much higher potential for improvement than she would without focusing on that form.

3) Strength is the Foundation

One of the odd things I see in boxes is the huge decline in attendance on strength days.  Sure it doesn’t have the mystical allure of getting that cough that stays with you days after doing Fran, but strength is incredibly important to our fitness.

First, strength allows us to work at a higher intensity which allows us to drive those results.  Remember that intensity is the independent variable most highly correlated with causing favorable adaptations in our bodies.  To geek out on you, intensity is directly equal to power which is equal to (mass x acceleration x distance)/time.  Soooooo, if I become stronger and can lift larger loads longer distances more quickly, then my intensity goes UP!  If my intensity goes up, so do my results.

If that isn’t reason enough, let’s look at one of the physical adaptations caused by strength training – muscle gains.  Now before you get worried ladies, no you won’t turn into the incredible hulk.  Your body is not predisposed to do so.  Yes, you will put on some muscle, but in a good way and not a beastly one unless you train for it.  With muscle gains, our body often responds with a higher metabolism.  Higher metabolism means we burn more calories meaning we lean out if all other things are held constant.

Personal Story

In my own CrossFit journey as an athlete, I’ve seen the power of these 3 things come to life.  Last September I did Fran for the first time.  I had no idea what a kipping pull up was, my form was horrendous, and my squat strength laughable.  All of this came together in a Fran time of over 10 minutes.  That was a huge wake up call for me, so I committed to learning proper form, building my strength, and working on my overall skill as an athlete.  A little over a year later (last week), I did Fran again and was fortunate enough to see the fruits of my efforts pay off in a sub 3 time.  I’m telling you this not from a braggart POV – frankly there a many more impressive times out there – but instead I hope it serves as some sort of inspiration.  I’ve never been an all-star athlete so it wasn’t natural talent, it was simply the culmination of the 3 factors above.  I hold those three close to me in everything I do inside and outside of CrossFit.  Keep those 3 close to you and see what happens!

Take a look at the video link below!

RCFBC – Coach Mike PRs Fran – 2:45

Mike

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