Talking About Practice

“Everybody wants to be a beast, until it’s time to do what beasts do.”
– Eric Thomas

When starting CrossFit, the majority of people walk into an affiliate with one, if not several of the following goals:

  1. Lose weight
  2. Improve health-related metrics (e.g. decreased blood pressure, cholesterol, etc.)
  3. Establish greater quality of life (i.e. improve functionality and increased longevity)
  4. Increase muscle mass
  5. Become stronger and faster
  6. Complete an event such as a marathon, half marathon, Tough Mudder, Ironman, or Triathlon

Training constantly varied, functional movements at high intensities (a.k.a. CrossFit), and eating a steady-diet of meats and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit little starch, and sugar will significantly improve health and increase fitness; ultimately enabling individuals to achieve any, if not all of the previously stated goals. However, upon achieving their initial goal(s), individuals undergo a transformation. These individuals begin to adopt a new perspective. Performance-oriented metrics become the primary concern:

  1. Pull-ups, Muscle-ups, or Handstand Pushups
  2. Double Unders
  3. Rope Climbs
  4. Bodyweight Clean
  5. Double Bodyweight Back Squat
  6. Rx’d Workouts

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Performance-based goals require patience, perseverance, and practice. Practice is essential to progress. In the absence of practice, it is impossible to achieve optimal performance. In CrossFit, there is a misconception that ‘practice’ is synonymous with ‘training.’ Training is performing constantly varied, functional movements at high intensity; it is moving large loads, long distances quickly, with an elevated heart rate. Training is finding the ‘threshold’ and riding it across time and repetitions. It is the Workout of the Day. Practice is the opposite end of the spectrum. Practice consists of deliberate, concentrated efforts; it requires thought and repetition. Practice is the development and refinement of movement. Practice is the ‘accessory work.’

The Workout of the Day is sufficient in cultivating GPP (general physical preparedness) and introducing high-skill exercises. However, the cultivation and refinement of technique can be accelerated with practice. In CrossFit classes, coaches present concepts and progressions that are designed to enhance skills and abilities. Yet, simply performing these drills in class is not enough. Clients and athletes must be willing to practice these exercises on their own time. Attend open gym, arrive to class 15 minutes early, stay 15 minutes late, or even complete the progressions at home. Regardless of how or when the accessory work is implemented, it must be done.

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Everybody wants to be a beast, but when it is time to practice, most of you aren’t on ‘beast mode.’ Part of being a beast is the process; you have got to love the process more than you love the prize. In CrossFit, practice is part of the process. The prize is a fleeting moment in time. The prize is the 10 seconds you spend at the top of the rings celebrating your first muscle-up, the high-fives and fist-bumps following your first Rope Climb, or the raw, uncontrollable roar that erupts after a completing a Double Bodyweight Back Squat. Then, in the blink-of-an-eye, the moment has passed. Few people understand or appreciate the time and energy required to make that dream a reality. No one witnessed the countless hours of low-ring transitions, rope climb attempts, or barbell complexes. Then, almost instantaneously, you’re back in the process. New goals are established, new concepts and progressions are learned, and the cycle begins again.

So if you want to be a beast, do what beasts do…practice!

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