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November 1, 2018

5 Things Keeping Most CrossFit Athletes From Getting Better

Written by Damect Dominguez

It’s more than just a bad day: You feel like you’ve been doing everything right, going to class consistently, facing your weaknesses and yet, you feel stuck. Whether you’ve been chasing a PR for a while or feel behind everyone else, there could be some underlying issues to your CrossFit performance. See if any of these ring a bell.

1. Mobility Issues
If your body is simply inflexible in a particular area, you can’t muscle past mobility issues. While addressing them can feel like boring drudge work, it will pay off, for both your gym time and your life in general.

  • Ankle
    Do your heels routinely come off the ground when squatting? This is a telltale sign of poor ankle mobility, specifically poor dorsiflexion, the ability to lift your toes toward your shins. Your body compensates for this poor mobility by putting your pelvis and spine in compromising positions when performing lifts. Not good. Work on this with roller myofascial release, heel raises and other ankle mobility exercises.
  • Hip
    There’s a lot that can be going on here, but poor hip mobility can inhibit multiple movements – everything from explosive Olympic lifts to gymnastic toes-to-bar. Strengthen your psoas and hip flexors
  • Shoulder
    Have trouble with overhead lifts or handstands? It’s likely your shoulder mobility holding you back (and causing some lower back pain). You can actually measure your improvement here by marking a PVC pipe with one-inch hash marks. Measure your dislocates by doing pass-thrus. Slowly move your hands closer together and go until you can’t pass the pipe over and back. As you work on your shoulder mobility, measure your dislocates every month or so.

2. Bad Body Awareness
Knowing where your body is in space is incredibly important when performing complex movements like the snatch or handstand push-ups. Have you ever received a cue from a coach and just couldn’t figure out how to force yourself to do it? Working on kinesthetic awareness, where your body parts are at any given time, can help you improve your performance by making micro adjustments. Try incorporating some yoga in your stretching and thinking about the body parts being stretched or flexed. Or, pick a complex movement and just focus on one part of your body the entire time – the hip explosion in a snatch or the wrist flick during double-unders.

3. Poor Mental Grit
When you have no other choice but to put your head down and get through a tough situation, you can probably find the willpower to keep going. However, when you’re doing a voluntary workout that may or may not affect your life in the long run, it can be hard to buckle down and give it your all. Luckily, if we embrace a growth mindset, mental strength can be gained, just like physical strength. Go into each WOD with a solid plan, goals and a positive attitude. Read more here about developing solid mental grit.

4. Not Enough Raw Strength
Can’t lock out the top of a muscle up? Getting crushed on cleans? 500m row lacking power? At some point, you just need to be stronger. Instead of coming into Open Gyms and failing rep after rep of a fancy “reach” goal, be consistent in your classes and get back to basics. Work on your bench press, front squats and bodyweight movements like push-ups and strict pull-ups. By building a better, stronger structure, you can create more horsepower and support yourself.

5. Your Learning Style
There is no wrong way to learn, as long as you are open to learning. However, knowing HOW you learn is critical to success: Are you a visual learner, or do you need to “feel” something to grasp a concept? Can you learn simply through auditory cues or do you need to read a set of instructions? Answer these questions before you proceed. While your coaches should be providing cues and class instruction in several forms, they can’t read your mind. If what they’re doing or saying isn’t making sense to you, speak up! They should be able to explain it in a different way or point you to a resource that can help. Additionally, try dropping in to a different class time once in a while. A different environment or coach you don’t see often could be what you need to help something click.

Photo courtesy of AMRAP Fitness. Taken at the 2018 BoxLife Games

About Damect Dominguez

Co-founder of BoxLife Magazine. Author: Training Day: 400+ Workouts to Incorporate in Your Training.

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