Originally titled “5 reasons you’re not getting better at Crossfit” or “5 reasons your progress with Crossfit has stalled,” I feel Crossfitters are more drawn to the use of the word “suck” when referring to bouts of negativity in the sport, though really this post can be relevant to any sport outside of Crossfit, too.
“Do more, suck less.”
“Wall balls are in my suck bucket.”
“Sucks to suck.”
“Embrace the suck.”
“Train not to suck at life.”
I will be the first to admit that despite my almost two-year commitment to Crossfit thus far, there are few movements that I can execute perfectly, and quite a few that I would say I legit suck at. Shocker, I know. Every one of my barbell lifts has gone up and I can do double-unders and handstand push-ups and pull-ups, but there is still plenty of room to improve on these skills.
When you are new to Crossfit, you are hitting PRs all day long, mastering skills that were once foreign to you, and lifting weights you never thought possible. But as time lapses, three months, six months, maybe even a year, you may hit a grand plateau, and no amount of ambition, drive, or will-power is going to push you past that point. Or maybe you haven’t plateaued by the numbers, but you are feeling stagnant in your performance.
What gives? You put in the time and effort and.. nothing. Below are five reasons that progress may be stalled, reasons why even though you feel you are giving it your all when you inside the box, you still suck at Crossfit.
You don’t have a plan.
Crossfit is intentionally constantly varied, so it is quite possible within any given week you will work on numerous lifts and skills. Even if those same skills are repeated the next week, if you are only attending class a few days a week, you could be missing out on the instruction and coaching on your suck-bucket skills or the skills that need the most attention.
For some, this is perfectly fine and you are not derailing your own efforts by putting in less gym time compared to someone else. But if you are trying to get better at one particular skill, such as double-unders, it is important to consistently practice that skill. Double-unders everyday.
If your goal is a pull-up, working on them once every two weeks is going to delay your progress compared to if you worked on them every other day.
Many can go to the box often and get a good sweat on and go home and feel awesome, repeat. But as someone hoping for improvement and endurance or strength gains, a well thought out plan should be made. Set one-month, three-month, six-months “SMART” goals and how you are going to achieve them. This could require additional personal training sessions or working with a coach to come up with a game plan. Or maybe involves getting to class 15 minutes early or staying 15 minutes later to work on extra skills.
If you are not actively trying to get better at something, there is a small likelihood that you will become better.
You are tight. And inflexible. And not working on rectifying this.
Crossfit movements and weightlifting recruit so many muscles that you may not use during your day-life. How many of you sit at a desk all day hunched over the keyboard? Or have a long commute to and from work or school, sitting, hands clenched on the steering wheel? Or go home after a long day at the gym or work and the first thing you do is seat yourself on the couch right in front of TV?
Invest in a lacrosse ball, foam roller, a mobility band, and other tools to use when you are outside of the box. Make an appointment with your local chiropractor and ART specialist. Get frequent massages.
You eat like garbage. Or don’t eat enough.
Or maybe you are eating enough but you aren’t eating enough of the right things. Are you effectively using the macro-nutrients of protein, fats, and carbs? Have you considered supplements?
How do you feel during your workouts? Is your weight or waist size increasing or decreasing? If these are trending downwards, you may wish to experiment with an alternative way of eating. Greatist put out an excellent chart to measure progress vs weight if you are concerned about where the scale is going.
While every body is going to react differently to different foods, I have found a happy place with Eat to Perform, where I load the majority of my carbohydrates around my workouts and the remainder in the evening post workout.
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Many others have significant success switching to strict paleo, though it may take your body some time to adapt. Some others like IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros) or balancing doughnuts or Zone, which require a bit more planning and preparation.
Make small changes to your diet and see how it affects your workout, then continue to make tweaks until you find the best strategy for your body. I suggest tracking using a site like MyFitnessPal, but you can also just use intuitive eating if tracking is not feasible.
You are over-training– or under-recovering.
Combining mobility, fueling, and other things, recovery is so important to a successful sport. Our bodies can do some pretty amazing things, but when your body is constantly under stress, it is going to one day just tell you, “no.” You have to treat your body properly, give the muscles the time and energy that they need to be restored and grow, while also letting the mind and central nervous system just relax.
My personal plan includes two full rest days a week (no more than 3 days in a row of training) and frequent epsom salt baths post workout. I am for 8+ hours of sleep, and often use a sleep mask and a faux-humidifier I made from an old crockpot. Compression gear can also be helpful to soothe achy muscles post-workout.
If your body is begging for a rest day, take it. If you are fatigued during the day and cannot focus on your day-to-day tasks, evaluate your training plan. Ask yourself these questions often if you are in a funk or getting discouraged: Are you sleeping 8+ hours a night? How is the quality of your sleep? Are you shutting down the electronics before you to bed to allow your brain to relax? How are your stress levels?
You want it all- yesterday. Or you want it all- now. Or you want it all- way sooner than you are going to get it.
Learn what you should know in your first three months of Crossfit, and remember these forever.
Who doesn’t? But chances are, you are not going to get double-unders in a day. And you will not get a muscle-up in a month. Heck, many Crossfitters don’t get one for years! Your snatch may increase 5# every month for six months or even a year, and then stall for six months. Your fear of kicking up on the wall to do a handstand may take weeks to overcome. You may get one kipping pull-up but it will take you four more months until you get another. Or you may be able to do a million single toes to bar but still struggle linking them after two years.
You will feel awesome and on top of the world and constantly progressing upwards, but then you’ll have a down day.
Despite the ups and downs, over time, you will see positive trends. And if you’re not, then revisit the other items above. Log your workouts. Sometimes we do not realize what significant progress has been made until you take a minute and look back to where you were before.
Crossfit is not the equivalent of a “get rich quick” scheme in the real of fitness, but you will likely see significant changes in the beginning and they will taper off as you go along. But anytime you do struggle physically or mentally, revisit the items above and ask yourself if you are really doing everything that you can do to keep the suck out.
Do you feel your progress has stalled?
Which of the tips above could help you out the most?
What’s your biggest recommendation to someone feeling “stuck”?
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