Ever walked into the gym, looked at our White Board (or Wodify), and thought to yourself, “What’s with all the boring movements?” Well, my guess is that you are NOT alone! That’s why we are going to begin to introduce a little more behind our philosophy here at SLCF.
Every week, you each see a wide variety of workouts on our white board. On any given week you will see accessory work, quality (Q) AMRAPs, benchmark workouts (like the CrossFit Total), a Zone 1 recovery session, etc. We do our best as coaches to explain the “WHY” behind each day, but we wanted to go into a little more detail about the “means behind the madness.”
Ben Bergeron released a phenomenal podcast recently on the importance of practice, training, and competing. If you are interested, you can listen to it HERE. However, for those who don’t have the time to listen, I’ll summarize it.
He breaks workouts/days into three categories: practice, training, and competing.
- PRACTICE: Here we are really focusing on the perfection of movement with lower heart rates, lower weight, and the attention to details (i.e. empty barbell work, drills for the “kipping” movement, hollow holds, handstand holds, pause squats, etc.).
- TRAINING: higher heart rate… heavier weights… improving engine/strength (10 minute AMRAPs, quick barbell turnover work, etc.)
- COMPETITION: max loads… max efforts… goal is to get a PR, beat your friend that is next to you, or to be as fast as possible (benchmark workouts, the CrossFit Total, etc.)
Most of us love the “competing” days that we go all out… we try to have the top time… or maybe we hit a new PR and get that gold ribbon on Wodify. Those days are fun. They are the days that stick out in our minds, get us fired up, and that oftentimes make us leave the gym feeling accomplished. What we don’t realize is that the practice days and the training days are even MORE important than the competing days.
You might have some questions come up from that last statement. Why we like this podcast so much, is it goes right along with our philosophy of programming. Yes, the competing days are fun. Of course it’s fun to get a new Personal Record (PR). However, if all you do is compete, your body will break down, you will get injured or burned out, and you will plateau in your performance.
What we love about this approach is it works for EVERYONE. Whether you are a grandparent wanting general wellness to keep up with grandkids, or if you are a High School athlete looking fora scholarship, this methodology works. It might vary by degree and intensity, but it works.
I’m going to try to give you a practical example from my time being a gymnast.
I was a gymnast for 18 years (that makes me feel old now) and competed at the collegiate level. We trained at a minimum of 20 hours a week (closer to 30 hours/week during High School). EVERYDAY, we spent 1 of our 4 hours at the gym doing basics. I am talking handstands, cartwheels, and rolls. That hour doesn’t include the 15 minutes of basics we did on each event before moving into our training of skills and practicing routines. Now, as far as “competitions” go, we competed 12-15 times per year. We’ll say an average of 1x/mo for easy math. So here is the breakdown:
- 40 hours of PRACTICE/month (basic work, slow drill practice, etc.)
- 40 hours of TRAINING/month (training higher level skill work, training routines, and training skill upgrades)
- 4 hours of COMPETING/month (the fun part!)
So, out of 84 hours of work put in each month, about 4 of those were spent competing. WHAT?!!!!!! How is that possible? Well, without the practice and training, our competing would have suffered. The competing was fun, it’s what made everything worth it. BUT, it was not the base, it was the icing on top. The competing (and excelling at competing) was only possible from hours and hours of practice and training. That doesn’t mean we got “less” work done because we were practicing and training, in fact we got MORE work done on those days typically.
Practice and training are so important. So, if there are days that you see hollow holds, or if we are breaking down an Olympic lift or a squat with an empty barbell, know that there is a purpose to that. We program these movements with a larger goal in mind. Put in just as much or MORE effort on the practice and training days as you do the competing days.
Don’t short cut anything. Practice perfection. I know it sounds cheesy, but find great satisfaction in the simple. Do the small excellently and you will continue to see great gains and accomplish your goals. It’s the attention to detail that will allow you to continue to see great gains, rather than plateau 6 months in to CrossFit.
I’ll leave you with a quote that I see as a challenge to practice perfection: “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” My challenge is to never underestimate the impact each step has. EVERY step has a purpose, and EVERY step takes you closer to your goals.