Coach Mark’s Notes:
Olympic lifting, power lifting, gymnastics, and mono-structural training. 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 20 minutes, or how about some intervals? Ascending and descending reps schemes, as many rounds as possible, 21-15-9 or one-hundred-for-time. Call it what you want; GPP, CrossFit, Functional Fitness, Zombie Survival Training. Whatever your label is, it's all like drinking from the fire hose when you're first starting out. The world of constantly varied, unknown and unknowable fitness is as infinite as the amount of bad reps coming out of it. You set goals for yourself and you strive to get better at what you're poor at, but as soon as one thing improves, something else seems to start lacking. Or you just feel so overwhelmed that you end up losing motivation. With so much to focus on, how do you go about avoiding a seemingly uphill battle with progress? Even after a few years, it can still feel the same way. Hopefully with this post I can help you out and give you some solid advice, if not point you in the right direction.
Have a program and follow it religiously. Get a program from a legit coach, follow a free one online if you're short on cash, or if you're feeling up to it, write your own. Make the most of the time that you're spending in the gym. The basic process is pretty simple; determine your goals and lay out what you'll be doing to achieve them. Record your progress and keep focused.
Get a notebook and use it! Being able to look back at previous weights and times is crucial to succeeding. Write as much as you can down; your goals and your results and anything else you think is relevant to your training. Sitting down and writing out all of you strengths and weaknesses and giving any amount of structure to what you're doing in the gym is a huge step in the right direction. Even if you're an athlete that just goes by feel, you still need to right down what you have done, it will influence your decisions for future workouts.
Narrow your focus. Have you ever taken a look at the programming of a good Olympic weightlifting coach. Very often, Oly coaches will have specific training cycles for their athletes to follow at specific times in their regime. These cycles will target weaknesses in that particular athlete, and lessen the focus on what that athlete happens to excel at. Take a look at Catalyst Athletics for example. Here you will see all kinds of different training cycles of varying durations that all have different overall goals and focuses. The same idea can be applied to a CrossFitter's program. Not good at ring dips? Then for the next 12 weeks put an emphasis on heavy bench press, push ups, and obviously ring dips. Remove one or two things from your program for a while that you are very good at, and devote that time to what's lacking. I know this can feel counter-productive, but it's a big picture kind of thing. It's way more fun to smash out what you're good at than to struggle in front of everyone while working on your weaknesses, but it is so necessary if you're going to get anywhere. Put away that big ego and get to work on beating the red-headed stepsons of your fitness.
Repetition is key. You need to redo some workouts over and over to help improve at them. For example: a powerlifter is very good at three lifts (deadlift, bench press and back squat). He got that way because he can concentrate on a smaller requirement of skills. I'm not suggesting going to the extreme of only doing a handful of workouts exclusively, but hit the ones that you're not so hot at more often and track the progress.
It's not just the exercises. Time domains and rep schemes are just as important. Some athletes are so strong out of the gate, but within a few minutes have completely exhausted their gas tank. Others have the opposite problem; an inability to go ape-shit and crush those glycolytic and phosphagen pathways, but excel at the 20 minute workouts. Whatever your weakness, find it and fix it. Everyone has a time domain that is weaker and needs work. To be blunt and to the point; most people are cardio whores who unfortunately suffer from a mental deficiency that causes them to abstain from the short explosive workouts. Bad news bears; "Grace", "Fran", "Isabel", and "Elizabeth" are all way harder than "Nancy", "Nicole", "Eva" or any distance of running that exceeds 5K. Sorry, they just are, and if you don't agree, you're not doing them fast enough to make them hurt. Or...
You're probably just too weak. I'm giving this one it's own category because it is just so common. It's the reason why most people can't get their muscle up. It's partly why a lot of people's rep quality degrades the further into a workout they get. It's a contributing factor to why a chest to bar pull up feels so much harder and why atlas stones in most gyms are used more as a seat than lifted. Being strong makes everything feel lighter, so get stronger. Follow a strength program and make it your main focus for as long as necessary. I promise that the push presses on your "Fight Gone Bad" will be faster and feel a lot lighter if you're repping out 205 on your heavy days.
Know what's holding you back. So you know what you're not good at and you've made yourself a list. That's the easy part, know you have to pinpoint what the problem is. Like I said, it's probably just a lack of strength. But, it could be so many other things like a lack of flexibility for example. Or maybe you just need some instruction on a movement. Maybe you just need to try harder and be a little bit more diligent. Whatever the issue, you or your coach needs to figure it out and execute a plan to fix it.
Someone somewhere is going faster, lifting heavier, and doing more than you; that's just the way she goes. Don't feel overwhelmed and don't beat yourself up about it. Do better than yesterday everyday and you'll get to where you want to be eventually.
5x3xM.E. Push Press behind neck
Rest 5 minutes.
Three rounds for time of:
275/185 pound Deadlift, 10 reps
"The Turkish Get-Up Series: The Armbar Stretch" with Jeff Martone, CrossFit Journal preview video [wmv] [mov]