As the year draws to a close it is impossible not to think what one could have done differently. Stop. Don’t do it. It is a waste of time. The past is long gone. Those that dwell on what may have been do themselves no favors.
“I would have.”
“I could have.”
“I should have.”
But they didn’t. They are the weak, the uninspired, and the unaccomplished. They prop themselves up on New Year’s resolutions that they will abandon within 30 days. To hell with them and to hell with the “woulda, coulda, shoulda” crowd. If you are interested in improving your performance in the New Year don’t waste your time with thoughts of yesterday and an empty promise. Instead, if they apply to your individual circumstances, try one of the suggestions below.
Buy your own jump rope: Are double unders still getting the best of you? If you are serious about learning to do them, you must buy your own jump rope. Once you have mastered the DU you can use whatever rope you want. Until then, using a different one each time will be an exercise in futility.
Use a workout log: If you are not using a workout log you are doing yourself a disservice. It is an invaluable tool for increasing one’s performance. In fact a good, detailed logbook holds the answers to most of your questions on why one of your lifts is lagging. By using the data in the logbook to analyze your performance on the lift in question you can make the necessary modifications to your program to attack your weakness. Trying to navigate a course towards improvement without a logbook is like trying to sail the open water without a chart and compass. It is anyone’s guess where you will land.
Water Breaks: If you are stopping at any point during a 7-9 minute WOD to take a sip of water I recommend you reevaluate the reason you are doing it. Are you really so thirsty that you have to stop 3 minutes into your workout, or are you using “thirst” as an excuse to stop working? A training session of that short duration must be an all out effort event. As parched as you feel at the 3-minute mark, you will not die if you abstain from water for another 3-5 minutes, I promise. You may just build some mental toughness, however. That is a good thing! Truthfully, the same holds true for longer WOD’s. Until you get past the 30 min mark water breaks are more of a mental crutch than a physical necessity.
Warm Ups: I offer up this next tip based on the premise that your gym does an organized warm up. The reason your coaches spend so much time providing dedicated, well thought out, training day-specific warm ups is so that you will perform better during the WOD. All you pre-workout peeiers or poopers, open the floodgates prior to the start of the class. Further, while it is tempting to use some of the warm up time to don and doff your cloths and your high-speed super bionic Nanos that apparently take 7 minutes to adjust, by doing so you are selling yourself short. No matter how high speed your cloths and gear the benefits they proffer will never outweigh the advantage gained by thoroughly warming yourself up. In order to do what we do, well, you need to have your muscles warm, your heart rate up, and your central nervous system primed. A good warm up will do that. If you find yourself avoiding the warm ups (or even just going through them half-heartedly) give them a go for the next 6-weeks. See what kind of difference it makes in your performance. Not coincidently, your rate of injury will decrease as you spend more time warming up.
Set yourself up for success: This is for the athlete that has gotten into the habit of setting their equipment up on opposite ends of the gym. You pick the pull up bar on one end of the gym and place your barbell in the most distant corner of the opposite end of the gym. It takes you damn near 30 seconds to switch between modalities. Hell, Stevie Wonder could do a better job of getting from point A to point B. Ask yourself the reason you are setting yourself up like this. Are you just being absent minded or are looking to get some additional rest time? Either way, if you want to up your game a helpful strategy is to put a little more thought into your set up. Arrange your workout area to provide the most efficient transitions possible. Doing so will facilitate you working more and resting less during your training session.
Cool downs: Many gyms, like ours, offer a post WOD cool-down. You are all on a tight timeline and your coaches appreciate how dedicated you are to get in early BEFORE work, or how quickly you rush to the gym after work. If possible, make some time to stick around for the cool down. The stretching you are going to do isn’t magical. It is not going to instantaneously fix anything. Its effect is cumulative, however, and the more you do it the more powerful its impact. If participating in the cool down cannot happen for you, then commit to 6 weeks of hitting your problem areas with some static stretching at home. You will see a noticeable difference in your movement.
Bathroom breaks: To all of the Mom’s out there, this does not apply to you. You are superhuman. Not only can you get jacked and lift heavy stuff, but you can actually make people. You can pee your pants, pee on the ropes, and pee on the floor. Pee whenever the urge hits. YOU MAKE PEOPLE. You can pee whenever you want and however you want. Fellas – what’s your problem? Does your bladder suddenly shrink when you walk through the doors of your gym? Does the thought of a thruster breathing ladder make you wet yourself? Whatever the reason for your weakness – get over it. You can’t maintain the intensity of the workout while you are sitting on or standing before the throne. Missing 2 minutes of a 7 minute AMRAP means you are peeing away nearly 30% of your work, literally. In longer, slower workouts, if you were supposed to take a 3-minute break in the middle of it, it would have been programmed that way. Warm ups aren’t the time to take care of business, either. No matter how hard you grunt and strain, poopin’ isn’t a warm up. When class starts man up and hold your water, son. (As an aside, Moms, we do have a clinic coming up in Feb/Mar to help you learn how to deal with the peeing issue.)
Strict movements: Do you feel like you have hit a hard plateau in one of your movements? Are you stuck at 20 pull-ups? Has your DL stalled out? Does it feel like your SP or BS has been nailed to the floor? Chances are you have been training for while which also means you are probably comfortable enough with your movements to have started getting a little spicy with them. In other words you started trading a little bit of your form for a little bit of momentum. Rather than bouncing your deadlift bar of the floor like Curley Neal driving to the net, lower the bar down to the ground on a 3 count. Reinvigorate your squats in your next WOD by pausing each rep at the bottom for a 2 count. Resist the temptation to kip your pullups when they start getting hard. Rather, jump your chin up over the bar and lower yourself back down to full extension on a 3 count. 6 weeks of implementing strict movements and negatives during WODs will help you break past your plateau even while you do fewer repetitions. Besides, it will do good to free up some space on the leader board for a while.
Ignore social media and magazines: The interwebs are an amazing place. Never before have more super humans existed. Every time you open your home page you see another PR, another record shattering performance, another act of incomprehensible athleticism. Magazine covers are plastered with images of perfect human beings. Inside you see more perfect people with their statuesque and sculpted bodies executing perfect movements. Hell, the only person not PRing every day of their lives is YOU! The only one that doesn’t walk around all day with a perfect six-pack is YOU. What’s wrong with YOU? Except none of that is true. The sheer size and scope of social media is mind numbing and exposes you to an artificially large pool of “awesomeness”. Everyone isn’t PRing everyday. Everyone isn’t walking around with a perfectly chiseled 6-pack and taught pecs bulging. Those countless folks that post on social media pictures of themselves shirtless and flexing while hoping that you don’t think that they are flexing, are flexing! Don’t get me wrong, they put in the time and the work and look freaking amazing, but you are not the only person whose stomach doesn’t naturally look like a 6 pack 24/7. As soon as they exhale they look a hell of a lot less impressive. For 6 weeks focus only on how well you are executing your movements rather than what you look like and how much you are lifting. Make your goal to move more mechanically well and through a greater range of motion. I promise you your strength and performance will increase.
Give yourself time to heal: Injuries are a fact of life for anyone that exercises. My old boxing coach always used to say, “Those of us in the best shape are in the worst shape.” There is wisdom in those words. We love to push ourselves and sometime we push a little too hard. When that happens you have to give yourself time to heal. Ignoring an injury and trying to push through the pain day after day is a sure path to failure. The time it takes to let a minor injury heal is far less intrusive than the time it takes to recover from major corrective surgery. Further, you will never see performance gains if you are not able to exert yourself with 100% effort. Give your body time to heal so that minor injuries go away and don’t become lasting problems.
Be patient. For how long have you been alive? For how many of those years have you been doing Olympic weightlifting, or gymnastics, or sprinting, or dead lifting, or any of the things you are doing now in the gym. It takes years to get good at the things you are trying to do. Remember that the destination is of minor importance. It is the journey where the memories, the good times, and the strength are built. It is along that arduous, gut wrenching, heart-rending road of sweat and iron where you become HARD TO KILL. Be kind to yourself and enjoy your fitness journey. Focus on movement and the weight will follow soon enough.
LIVE – GET STRONG – WIN