One of the key tenets of CrossFit is exercise “performed at high intensity.” In a veteran CrossFitter, that more than likely translates “no stopping.” The less you stop to rest, the more intense the workout is. Since most of you aren’t up to veteran status just yet, that means it’ll be a lot tougher to keep working straight through a workout. That means there will be resting at some point, and that’s okay. For now.
Since we know there’s a pretty good chance we’re going to need to stop and catch our breath at some point, there are a few things we can work on right now that will help out once we’re big badasses destroying WODs right and left.
- Pace yourself. If you know there’s a good chance you’re not going to just blaze through the workout unbroken start to finish, you should think about how you’re going to attack the workout. That means if it’s a 10 minute WOD and you’re pretty sure you’ve only got about 5 minutes in you at a time, you shouldn’t kick off the WOD at 110%. Try going into the WOD at 70 or 80%. It’ll still be pretty rough, but you might be able to get further through the 10 minutes before going into stop and stare mode as you try to figure out what just happened and how much time there is left. Pacing is important.
- Scale appropriately. Most of the time, the scaling has been built into the workout (push presses at x% of the maximum you just lifted), but yesterday we had a workout that had a pretty heavy programmed weight for a lot of you. So we got to learn about the glory of scaling and working out without an ego. At this point in your CrossFit career, it doesn’t matter what the person next to you is doing. If they’re lifting 100 pounds and you’re lifting 10, that’s perfectly okay, so long as you’re pushing yourself a little with that 10 pounds.
- Water is a crutch. So far, the longest workout we’ve done has been 20 minutes long, and we didn’t even do that in the dog days of summer. Assuming you’re drinking the amount of water you should drink (half your body weight in ounces), you don’t actually need to stop in the middle for a drink. That’s just your brain trying to find a sneaky way to get you to stop what you’re doing. ‘Cause then you have to walk over to your bottle, pick it up, take off the lid, drink, look around a little bit, drink again, put on the lid, put the bottle back down, then get back to work. It takes even more time to do that than to write it. That leads us to the most important tip:
- Count your rest time.It’s VERY easy to wander around in the middle of a WOD. You’re tired, so you take a step back, put your hands on your knees for a little while, stand back up, stare at that medicine ball, walk away, walk back, hands on the knees again… before you know it, you’ve just spent a minute trying to talk yourself back into restarting the workout. So any time you stop moving, count the seconds; either out loud or to yourself. Force yourself to be mindful of the time you’re not working so you realize how much time you’re spending. If it takes you a minute to recover right now, that’s fine (depending on the workout), but you’d damn sure better realize you’ve been standing there for a full minute because you’ve just counted to 60 in your head. Otherwise, what you think is a minute is probably more like five.
Keep these four things in mind during every workout and you’ll find your capacity for high intensity will grow and grow. Especially that last tip – the more conscious you are of exactly how long you’re resting and the more you try to drive that time down, the better everything gets.