WOD WISDOM: How can the CrossFit Games improve your fitness?

Mathew Fraser raises his arms to celebrate winning the 2016 Reebok CrossFit Games in Carson, Calif. (Photo courtesy of CrossFit Games Facebook page.)
Mathew Fraser raises his arms to celebrate winning the 2016 Reebok CrossFit Games in Carson, Calif. (Photo courtesy of CrossFit Games Facebook page.)

Watching the CrossFit Games is awesome! It is amazing to watch the most elite CrossFit athletes in the world go head-to-head.

During the CrossFit Open, 178,000 men and 130,000 women participated in the Open. Only only 40 men and 40 women made it to the Games. We have just watched the top 0.02% of CrossFitters in the world. Games athletes train full-time. They have full-time coaches. Of the 40 men competing at the Games, only two of them have children.

If we’re not careful, watching the CrossFit Games can be detrimental to your health and fitness. Why? Because Games athletes are nothing like you and I. We work full-time jobs. We have children. We are always trying to lose weight (which means we’re probably overweight). We are not genetic freaks.

But, like Games athletes, we LOVE CrossFit. With the proper perspective, watching the Games can help us become better CrossFitters.

“RX” is relative (and not always a good thing) – Think about it, how many of the workouts from the Games could you complete ‘as prescribed.’ Same thing goes in class. Scaling appropriately (and consistently) is guaranteed to get you results in gym. Over time, you will get stronger and faster. You will also greatly reduce your chance of getting injured. Less injury means more time in the gym. Scale the workout and take your intensity through the roof. There is no point in going “RX” if the weight or the reps are not realistic for your current ability to complete the workout in the designed time domain.

Time Domain – Every workout at the CrossFit Games had a time cap. When you are looking at a workout in class, ask yourself this question: ‘What would the time cap look like for this workout?’ Is it 5 minutes? 10 minutes? 20 minutes? Your goal in every workout is to complete the workout underneath the time cap. Scale the workout accordingly. Maybe that’s scaling the weight (like a clean or a snatch). Maybe that’s scaling reps for higher skilled movements (handstand pushups, muscle ups, pull-ups, double unders). Again, scaling the workout is important to make sure you get the right ‘type’ of workout. Scale the weight so you can do workouts in larger sets (again, as the workout is designed). Maybe a workout is ‘RX’ with 95-pound thrusters. This workout is designed to do thrusters in large sets (like 10 or more at a time). If that’s a struggle, you should scale the weight so you can do the workout with larger sets. If the thruster is written at 155 pounds, it’s probably going to be smaller sets (maybe sets of 3 or even singles).

Pacing – When a Games athlete enters an event, you’ll notice they have a plan on how to break up their reps. They typically don’t think about breaking up reps in singles, except for maybe ring handstand pushups or pegboard ascents! Whether thrusters, ‘Murph’, or ‘100%’, athletes perform the worked around their strengths. You need to be doing the same. If your max unbroken pull ups is 7, then doing 7 pull ups to start a workout isn’t a good idea. A set of 2-4 reps would be more appropriate to keep you from fatigue from the start. Rest is also a major factor when pacing. It’s OK to rest, but have a plan for your rest. Maybe it’s looking at the clock and resting for 10 seconds. Maybe it’s stepping away from the bar and counting to five before picking up the bar again. Enter each workout with a plan. Write that plan in your journal beforehand and record the outcome of that plan. The better you plan out your workouts, the quicker you will see massive gains!

Recovery – If you watch any of the interviews from the Games, every athlete will mention the same thing — recovery. They could be referring to doing some kind of mobility, sleep the night before or rest during the day, or their nutrition.  For an athlete to compete at the highest level, they must carefully consider every ounce of food that goes into their body. You need to do the same. Maybe that’s keeping a food journal. Maybe it’s working with a nutrition coach. Think about it this way: most of us spend 5 hours or more in the gym each week. Yet we spend less than 10 minutes planning out our nutrition. If you put the same amount of effort into your nutrition as you do working out, you will take your fitness to the next level!

Happy training!!!