If you have been doing any physical training for a period of time you know this feeling all too well. We all started CrossFit for a particular reason. For some of us it was to lose weight, for others to gain strength, and most of us just to get in shape. In the beginning we all absolutely killed it, setting new PR’s every week, moving better, losing weight, gaining strength, getting faster, and most importantly feeling better. But what happens when that stops? What happens when the PR’s stop coming so easy, when the weight stops falling off so fast, when the gains vanish, and frustration sets in? Is it time to give up? Or is it time to shake things up?
When we first started CrossFit most of us had a very clear goal in mind. Maybe yours was to have a six pack, or to lose 40 pounds. But generally speaking those goals probably changed in time. Maybe now your goals are to clean and jerk 280+ pounds, or to run a sub 20 minute 5k, get a double under, or Rx your first wod. In the beginning it seemed like these goals were right around the corner. Each week we were adding new PR totals under our name on the whiteboard constantly. Our body fat was dropping like crazy as we became stronger than we ever have before. We were going to crush our goals and then some. But then for most our strength started to level off, gains were less noticeable, and then we couldn’t lose that last 5-10 pounds.
The shock and stress that we put on ourselves during a CrossFit class forces our body to adapt quickly, especially in the beginning. Training your whole body the way it was meant to be trained (functional fitness) forces change rapidly. With that change comes great results. But after a period of time our bodies begin to adjust to this new stimulus, therefore making progress even harder. CrossFit does an incredible job of not letting our body get accustomed to the stress by constantly varying the workout daily, but nonetheless our bodies will grow somewhat accustomed to the training. Imagine if we could pr every week! We would all be deadlifting 1000#’s and running sub 5 minute miles! Take a professional Olympic lifter for example, they train for years at 2 specific lifts. When they hit even 1# PR’s they go absolutely nuts! The push themselves to the limit to make even the smallest improvements.
So what should we do when the PR’s stop coming and progress has halted?
- Check your mechanics! Most of us can muscle through a lift or a workout, but mechanics are key. The best lifters in the world work form constantly. It may be time to check your ego, lower your weight so you can perform the lift consistently. Learning how to move properly will allow you to eventually add more weight and blow past your PR.
- Look at your training When we started CrossFit most of us were to sore to go more than 3 times a week. Now ask yourselves is 3 hours of training a week enough? Have you tried coming a fourth day or even fifth day? Are you adding any additional endurance or cardio training? Have you jumped into a Shred class? Maybe working out on a Saturday would help you keep your goals through the weekend.
After a long enough period of time your body becomes accustomed to what you are doing with it. So it might be time to ditch the mon-wed-fri routine and shake things up a bit. It also might be time to add additional training to your routine.
- Take a Break! Most of us become vary addicted to CrossFit very fast. The endorphin rush after a workout becomes our natural Prozac for the day! But our body needs time to heal. The intensity of CrossFit is awesome but can also take its toll mentally and physically. Take a week off every 3-4 months and work on recovery, mobility, and give your mind a break. If you are coming every day of the week take a few days off here and there and perform active recovery. More often than not you will come back stronger, and with more desire to destroy the workouts! The more intensity you give the more results it will produce.
- You’re not pushing yourselves! You all know the workouts where you could have added more weight or finished faster. You don’t have to push the throttle everyday but sometimes that engine needs revved! Don’t be afraid of failure, especially on a lift! Most of us won’t add enough weight for the simple fact of being scared to fail. But how can you know your limits if they are not pushed! Lifting heavy weights is hard, but it also produces the greatest results!
- Clean up your diets! Are you fueling your body properly? Give your body the nutrients it needs to push through those tough workouts and break those plateaus. Clean up your diet and eat the things your body needs without all the junk, and watch your body change as you perform better. Add more water and protein to your post workout recovery to refuel and recharge your muscles. Get rid of the processed garbage and eat real food, your body will thank you.
- Do what you need to do, not what you want. We all have things we are good at and the things we suck at or hate. By only working on our strengths we are leaving huge holes in our fitness. Most lifts we perform are tied together in some way and build strength in different areas. Being a well rounded athlete will benefit you far more than only working what you want to work at.
- Work on Mobility! Is there a lift you struggle at? What are you doing to address the problem? Mobility plays a huge role in functional fitness as strength and flexibility are intertwined. I see so many people sit in the waiting room before class just waiting to begin. Don’t just sit there work on mobility! Working mobility is not a one time, one move, fits all. It’s a daily progression for better performance, less pain, and more PR’s! Talk to a coach or grab a book. Becoming a Supple Leopard might be the best investment of your life, outside of CrossFit.
Take a step back and rethink your training. I’m not saying start over I’m just simply saying refresh your train of thought. There are many other smaller reason that your progressions may have stalled but I feel these are the most important and need to be addressed. Please don’t be afraid to talk with a coach when you feel frustration set in and progression stop! In the meantime keep those PR’s Coming!
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