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For most CrossFitters, their fitness journey is a means to a healthy and fit lifestyle. But as an athlete develops a comfort level with participation, long-term perspective can be blurred by whiteboards and new skills and PRs. Immediate gratification is not only a distraction but also a danger in some instances. A journey that began as a means to health can end with injury and aggravation. But avoiding a few common CrossFit mistakes can keep any athlete on track!
1. Neglecting Progressions
Everybody wants to learn butterfly pull-ups and pistol squats and handstand push-ups, but not everybody is ready to dive into those movements headfirst. The key to safe and proper movement is respecting progressions. If you can’t do a strict pull-up, you’re not prepared for kipping pull-ups and neither are your joints and muscles. If your pistols are only manageable on your toes, your mobility probably needs some work before you tackle a workout that might result in rough knees. Your coach should always keep an eye on your progress and guide you through proper progressions. But it’s also an athlete’s responsibility to stick to instructions and progression plans.
2. Inappropriate Modifications
As a coach, I always instruct my athletes on not only the movements and standards within a workout but also on the main goal. Sometimes we want you moving fast and other times slow. Sometimes we want to condition your lungs and other times we want to build strength. Knowing the goal of a workout is wildly important to your success. An athlete going too heavy or too light with weight, or selecting a movement that is either too easy or too difficult, can change the entire experience. CrossFitters need to look to their coaches for guidance on every workout and aim to achieve it. A 10- to 12-minute workout should be 10 to 12 minutes (or close to) for everybody, regardless of abilities. A “light” workout should be light for everybody, regardless of strength. Make sure you’re not taking your workouts into your own hands by making inappropriate modifications that alter the foundation of your training that day.
3. Too Much, Too Fast
Stronger, faster and more complex … it’s what we want as we progress. But there is such a thing as too much, too fast. In the initial stages of CrossFit participation, an unconditioned body (and oftentimes even a conditioned one) will require a different kind of recovery than one that’s been at it for a year or two. In addition, if strength is the entire focus and technique is left in the peripheral, big jumps might be possible but bad for your body. There is no healthy and quick solution to physical development, so take your time and allow yourself to explore the process as you go.
4. Forgetting Foundations
You learn a skill. Then you complete it on repeat, fatigued. There’s a good chance that not every rep was perfect. And while that’s common, it’s something that should be considered daily. Only perfect practice makes perfect, so if you find your form is losing its former glory, it might be time to take a step back and revisit all the cues and tips you began with. Practicing bad habits are the surest way to wind up with injury. Keep the foundations of your lifts and movements in the forefront of your mind to keep yourself healthy and progressing.
We all have greedy moments in our CrossFit experience. But if you’re able to hold yourself accountable to just a few very applicable best practices, your end goal will have a much greater rate of achievement. Remember why you CrossFit … for most of us, it’s to be a better and healthier version of ourselves. Silly mistakes and lax fundamentals aren’t worth letting go of your goal. Laser focus keeps you moving forward the right way.