In order to become the best at anything, it is undeniable that you will need to put in the hours and work in a certain way. That is no different in CrossFit and is what separates the champions from the contenders.
Every year when the “Fittest of Earth” is crowned at the annual CrossFit Games in Madison, Wisconsin, it is because they have trained in a certain way to achieve that incredible, sought-after goal.
The great news about training like a Games champion is that anybody can train in that way and adopt that approach to the sport. It will take a lot of dedication and discipline but it will have an incredible impact upon your training and your progress.
Feed your body effectively
It is no secret that if you eat healthy, nutrient-dense foods at an elite level, your performance will increase compared to excessively indulging in pizza, beer and ice cream on a daily basis. Even three-time Games champion, Mat Fraser, has spoken in several interviews about tightening up his diet and cutting out the junk food.
The old cliché is that the best diet is the one that you can stick to. Whether that is 4-5 smaller meals throughout the day or 3 slightly larger meals, try to ensure that you have a good balance of protein, fats and carbohydrates throughout the day and that you’re adequately hydrated. There are many different types of diet, but the focus should be on ensuring your diet is made up of 80% “wholesome”, nutritional meals. An easy way to do this is to try and make your plate as colourful as possible.
Vary your training
CrossFit workouts are constantly varied and each day there will be a different WOD (workout of the day) prescribed by your box, which makes it fairly easy to vary your training. However, it may also be a good idea to vary your routines even further. For example, if you always perform strength cycles before a conditioning circuit, you could swap this around so that the conditioning comes first.
If you are training twice per day, such as cardio in the morning and strength in the evening, try swapping your sessions over if possible. The benefit of this being that you will train yourself to hit certain numbers and milestones, regardless of the circumstances.
Work on your weaknesses with an expert
CrossFit is made up of many different elements such as conditioning, cardio endurance, gymnastics and strength training. Games champions will work with coaches to identify weaknesses and then set themselves the goals on improving in that area. If you struggle with short distance running then a good idea might be to find your local track and work with a sprint coach over a period of time. Hard work pays off over time, so investing this extra time and money into working with a specialised coach will reap dividends.
A common area for CrossFit athletes to seek extra coaching in is gymnastics, with many boxes also offering gymnastics classes for their members to work on the various skills required. The Champions past and present of CrossFit will all be working with experts throughout their season to make the improvements required and set themselves up for success.
Don’t be disheartened by injuries
Suffering an injury can be one of the most frustrating things to happen to anybody, let alone the elite CrossFit champions. It is incredibly common to rush yourself back from injury, which doesn’t move you closer to the goal. The Games Champions have admitted to rushing back and how that has set them even further back in the longer term.
Just because you have suffered an injury does not mean that you cannot still train – you will just need to be sensible about it. Games Champions will use this as an opportunity to work on some of their other areas, which is what you should be doing too! Sore elbow? Why not work on some lower body strength such as back squats? If you’ve suffered a sprained ankle during box jumps, then take some time out from being on your feet in the gym and work on some gymnastics movements such as handstand pushups or muscle up drills!
Understand that pain is temporary
The CrossFit Games champions endure many tough, painful workouts, especially at the Games every year. Midway through a workout they’ll feel as though they’re unable to continue – at this point is when the only thing they’ll do is to push through and continue. The pain you’re going through during a WOD is temporary. It may feel as though time is standing still during the workout but if you power through, knowing it won’t last forever, then you’ll finish the workout and feel great about it afterwards.