I’ve been a Competitive, Type-A person all my life. If I didn’t have a chance of winning, I didn’t bother trying. Its how I approached CrossFit for the first years I did it. I wanted to be the Top Dog; top of the leader board.
My stance has largely moderated mostly due to Yoga. Even when I did yoga, I was striving to achieve. I wanted to conquer all the poses. I would bludgeon myself into getting what I wanted often ending up in injury. But it was Yoga teacher training that changed all of that. I began to explore the more subtle, gentle, mindful aspects of the practice. It didn’t matter as much to me that I “got” a pose or not. Teacher says; teacher does. I also implore this in the students I teach. I always say, “We are all on a journey and where we are in that journey is just fine.” I mean that. This non-harming attitude should prevail in all of life. It leads to satisfaction, contentment, and feelings of self-worth.
As I apply this to CrossFit, I am starting to learn how this non-harming influence applies. You have to ask yourself, what is your intention for your workout (or yoga practice)? Is it to get your heart cranked up; to apply a technical movement with quality while tired; or to lift something heavy with good form in the midst of a good amount of discomfort. These are all qualities that sharpens the spear and makes you better. But, if 50 toes to bar or Heavy DT with 225 pounds only leads to injury and failure, why do it? We have to peel away the ego and meet the intention instead of padding our masculinity.
Here are a 5 tips to feeling successful in CrossFit:
- Focus on quality, near non-stop action in a 5 to 10 minute WOD (workout of the day); throw in a 20 minute Cindy now and then and keep moving.
- Forget Rx. Scale down as often as you can. Think in 3-6-9 rep ranges and move weight fast and hard. Do some 2 minute blitzes and 30 rep Grace workouts. Use less weight and keep it moving.
- Tabata workouts are our friends. If your intention is cardio, then these are perfect. Use “Tabata Songs” on Spotify and other places. You may do pushups, situps, kettlebell swings, double unders, or whatever. Its the perfect (scientific) solution.
- Mix up your sequence. Routine kills. Sometimes, do your WOD as a warm-up for an Olympic weightlifting session. Or add a heavy Powerlifting movement into an AMRAP (as many reps/rounds as possible). And anything Strongman is the ultimate CrossFit.
- Plan for success. Instead of feeling terrible after a workout, leave a little in the tank. Then you’ll be straining at the bit for more. Finish with a 1K Row or a run and you’ll feel just fine.
Leaving a little in the tank also means you aren’t hobbling with soreness for a week without working out or risking injury. You might find you can workout nearly every day if you want to. But you still get the benefits of strength and stamina that high-intensity workouts provide. Honestly, you don’t have to kill yourself to see progressively better results.
As a yoga teacher, I continually have to consider my activities outside of teaching in order to demonstrate poses effectively. I have certain days and times plotted out to workout really hard. This usually involves heavy lifting and a CrossFit WOD (workout of the day) or two. Then I would have a few days to recover and allow the soreness to subside. I am no use to my students if my triceps cramp when I’m doing upward facing dog or my hammies seize during a forward fold.
I listen to a lot of podcasts and it makes me think about what I’m doing. Lately, I’ve felt the strength in my lifts has fallen. It all comes down to the squat for me. People like Travis Mash and Cory Gregory talk about squatting every day, and I’ve done that effectively in the past. So I’m back at it again. But its not only squats, its other exercises too.
Travis talks about younger athletes full of vigor and testosterone. They are able to get after it day in and day out. They still need a lot of rest and nutrition, but its easier for them to recover. For older athletes like myself, he actually says we should rest less, which is counter to current thinking. Instead, we need to do something every day. Maybe we don’t push the same intensity in a single workout, but we do heavy work every day. Its more about maintenance than actual growth.
My routine has really been working for me. I start with a warm-up, usually rowing, ski erging, or running. Then I go to squats. They may be back squats, front, overhead, Zercher, with chains, or any other variation. I don’t kill myself. I may do singles up to a max lift and stop. Or it may be a lighter weight for a set of 30. It may be a 5×5 of pause squats. The variations are endless. In between sets, I work on handstands and muscle ups on the rings. Then, I may do Olympic weightlifting or bodybuilding and try to finish with pulls, mostly with a trap bar.
The next day, I’m nicely toned but not really sore at all. I can jump right into it everyday. And I’m adapting to more volume each time. I’m learning I don’t have to kill myself and get sore all the time. Realistically, life gets busy at times and I take a mandatory rest day. But I don’t plan for rest days anymore. I just live instinctively. Try out this plan. But don’t sandbag your workouts. You can’t just go through the motions and expect to grow. You have to do the hard work.
She got me feeling all bent out of shape.
Cindy is a benchmark CrossFit WOD (workout of the day) that I haven’t done in a very long time. I don’t know why because its so simple and easy to set up. But it can also be just plain scary. Cindy is:
As many rounds as possible in 20 minutes of:
15 air squats
I am planning to do a long Hero WOD before Thanksgiving, so I wanted to do something that gets my mind in the right place. But now I’m totally sore from Cindy. I am teaching a yoga class tonight where I end up demonstrating a lot, so hopefully everything will be OK.
Also: I cooked two medium sized turkeys yesterday and froze the meat. I made two pie crusts too so my wife will finish those up today. But, my parents are not well right now so I don’t know if we’ll travel or not. We’ll see.
Enjoy your pre-Holiday my friends. Happy Thanksgiving!
I’ve started a new work and yoga teaching schedule this week. I think I’m going to love it. I’m so excited to share:
- Mon – rest day, yoga prep – Teach Rocket Yoga in evening
- Tue – rest day, yoga prep – Teach Candlelight Yoga in eve
- Wed – a.m. CrossFit, p.m. Olympic weightlifting complexes
- Thu – a.m. Bodybuilding, p.m. Olympic weightlifting
- Fri (week 1) – a.m. MAX lift Friday – p.m. Hot Yoga class
- Fri (week 2) – a.m. Sunrise Yoga class – trail run, kayak, fish, camp
- Sat – teach noon Rocket Yoga – p.m. hero, chipper, EMOM*
- Sun – a.m. short WOD*, Olympic complexes, Tabata – p.m. Restorative Yoga class
*WOD = workout of the day. EMOM = every minute on the minute.
On Monday & Tuesday, I work 10 hour days and 8 hour days the rest. Then I take every other Friday off. Its a “ME” day!!!
After two rest days, I was chomping at the bit to workout. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do today, so I set up a short WOD. Then I did another…then another. Yay for 3 WODs. Here is what I did:
WOD 1: 3 rounds for time (warmup)
- 10 ring dips
- 10 wall ball shots 20#
WOD 2: 7 minute AMRAP (as many rounds as possible)
- 7 deep parallette pushups
- 4 pullups
- 11 back extensions on machine
WOD 3: 4 rounds for time
- 3 strict toes to bar
- 6 kettlebell swings 1.5 pood
- 9 double unders
These were fairly easy wods, so I focused on keeping going without much rest and strict form. I felt totally refreshed afterward. The goal wasn’t to get sore, but to get a good heart pump. It was a completely athletic workout. Tomorrow will be for getting sore when I do bodybuilding. It will be all about eccentric contractions and the pump.
Don’t you love a new workout plan? It is so invigorating!!!
Mental barriers to working out are huge for most people. We are full of excuses.
- I don’t have my clothes with me to workout
- I’m sore. Maybe I’ll just rest today
- I don’t have time
- I’ll be too sore to function if I workout hard
- I’ll just do this tomorrow instead
And these are only a few that I use myself. As a yoga teacher, I need to be able to demonstrate poses in classes I teach. If I wipe out my chest and can’t do a single chaturanga, that’s not good. So I structure workouts around that. Many of us have something that holds us back. Time seems to be the biggest hurdle.
These excuses are largely invalid. Instead of simply walking down the hall, lunge or hop down the hall. That is, if your colleagues don’t mind. Maybe do 50 squats or 30 pushups in your office or cubicle. That takes all of 1 or 2 minutes. Sit forward on your chair and lift your legs for a 1 minute hold. There really are no excuses.
I’m lucky that I have a very well-equipped CrossFit gym in my basement. I have everything from competition Olympic KG bumper plates, to Concept 2 rower and ski erg, to wall balls. There really aren’t many excuses for me NOT to workout. I could easily stroll down in my jammies or my work clothes and bust out a WOD. But why don’t I do that? Because my mind won’t let me.
So, this morning, I almost called off my workout. I teach Rocket Yoga tomorrow and thought, I really don’t want to be sore tomorrow. But you know what? I can make a WOD (workout of the day) that doesn’t affect my yoga teaching muscles too much. I was short on time, so this is what I did.
WOD 1: 5 rounds for time
- 5 kettlebell swings 1.5 pood
- 5 burpees
This was short and sweet and took under 5 minutes – and my heart jumped out of my skin. I rested less than 2 minutes and went to the next WOD.
WOD 2: 5 rounds for time
- 5 pullups
- 10 push press with 30 pound dumbbells
Again, this was nothing really. But I worked opposing muscle groups and got my heart pumping. Both of these WODs hurt. If something seems easier, then you go faster and it hurts just as much.
All together this took under 15 minutes. And I was sweating hard and was totally exhausted. But now I feel wonderful. It doesn’t take much at all. You just have to do it. Don’t even think about it. Don’t even pre-plan. Just get it into your mind that you’ll do something. And do it!!