After your first CrossFit workout you’ll undoubtedly have a lot of questions…
“Why am I here?”, “What just happened?”, “How is everyone else so fit?”, “Is it normal to sweat this much?”
Some of those questions are easier to answer than others, and as time goes on you’ll find yourself asking new and better questions…
“How should I pace this workout?”, “What can I do to build strength?”, “What’s the best food to eat before/after a workout?”
And as you get stronger and your movement gets better your times and score will all improve. But as you develop as a CrossFitter you should never stop asking yourself this one question:
“Did I earn it?”
This simple question applies to everything and when applied correctly it will put perspective on all movement and every workout making you a well-rounded athlete and speeding up your CrossFit progress. Here are some examples of this question in application.
“Did I earn that Rep?”
This is the most simple variation; was your technique sound? Did you perform the rep to the movement standards? Proper technique is all about effective force production, and movement standards are there so we can measure that force accurately. Earn every single rep.
“Did I earn that Weight?”
We all know how this works, you feel good and get caught up in the moment with everyone around you cheering and high fiving and hitting PRs so you decide to load the bar up for a lifetime PR on the deadlift. But have built a solid foundation of mobility work, light weight technique, proper recovery, and a correct warm-up? Or are you just caught up in a pissing contest with your gym nemesis? If in your last set of deadlifts your back looked like Quasimodo’s and the bar seemed to move in slow motion DO NOT add weight to that bar. Earn every single kilo.
“Did I earn that Movement?”
This is like the gymnastic equivalent of having too much weight on the bar but really applies to anything technical. Everybody wants to do butterfly pull ups and handstand push ups but they haven’t built their base strength or practised the progressions. Flailing around on a pull up bar or stacking 3 ab-mats up to do handstand elbow bends does not constitute proper reps (see “Did I earn that Rep?”). So while we all know you want to do these movements don’t go insulting the people who have put the work in to be capable of doing these movements by claiming to be doing the same thing as them when you clearly are not. Have you developed the necessary strength for the movement? Have you gone through all the progressions successfully? Remember this, even Rich Froning does Air Squats to warm up. Earn every single movement progression.
“Did I earn that Intensity?”
Think of intensity as Force times Distance divided by Time. Essentially it comes down to you being honest with yourself up to this point. If you can’t answer yes to any of the questions above then you need to go back and address those things first. Before the workout begins you should be thinking “Do I move well enough and have the correct level of technique and strength to be doing a workout with 60kg Squat Snatches and Ring Muscle Ups or is this going to be way too hard for it be an effective workout?” For example, doing Isabel (30 Snatches for time) at 100kg if you miss every other rep and take over 10 minutes to complete it is a bad idea – learn from my mistakes 😉 Earn every bit of Intensity.
And finally… “Did I earn that Score?”
And this can go two ways. Firstly, this may be apparent to someone who is the opposite of the person above. They scale the shit out of every workout so they can get blazing fast times and keep up with (or beat) the Rx athletes. This is the ugly ego rearing its head in a different form. If you could’ve put more weight on the bar but just didn’t like the idea of doing sets of 5 instead of 20 reps unbroken then you are missing the point of why we workout.
Then in a general sense, all scaling aside, this is about you being completely honest with yourself and being able to say at the end of the workout “I did everything I could.” You earn your score with good movements, proper intensity, blood, sweat, and a few tears (obviously I mean on your hands, right?!).
So don’t be afraid to pull back, work on strength or skill progressions, lighten the load in the workout, scale the movements or go the other way and load up for a PR snatch. Be honest and control your ego because CrossFit has a way of humbling even then best in the world. And when you go to post up your score on the whiteboard ask yourself, did I earn it?