Five Ways To Stay CrossFit (and Fully Recovered) For Life
CrossFit is flourishing in 2020, and the number of young and older participants continues to rise. To excel in the sport that you love, here are five ways to be a CrossFitter for life.
Learn the Moves
The key to athletic longevity is practice. Michael Jordan said it best: “You don’t practice until you get it right, you practice until you can’t get it wrong.” Over time, your body begins to know how each part of the movement should feel and the movement gains fluidity. There is less strain, more confidence, and greater power.
First, understand the demands your body will experience from the complex movements utilized in CrossFit. A lot of these exercises require multiple muscle groups and joints to perform in a fluid, balanced, and powerful manner. Start with lightweight and leave your ego at the door.
Don’t assume you know what you’re supposed to do because you’ve seen someone else do it or watched a “how-to” video on YouTube. Begin by breaking down each complex movement into simple, one-step actions. This allows your body the opportunity to learn how firing each muscle properly feels for all parts of the movement. For example, a “snatch” is a compound movement performed across the CrossFit community. A snatch involves your upper and lower body working concurrently to raise a barbell from the floor to over your head in one, fluid movement. The body flow of a snatch is: Grounded feet ready to jump; strong grip for control; active core for stability; powerful thrust from your hips; smooth rotation of your shoulder and elbow joints; balance on your toes; firm foundation shift to your heels; strong back; soft knees; confident overhead hold then rise into a standing position. Simple right!?
To perform this complex movement, there are a few things your body requires. First, shoulder, hip, and core mobility are essential. Using pressure techniques and dynamic range of motion are a good place to start to achieve greater mobility in these areas. Once these muscles and joints are primed, the second step is to begin the process of mastering an overhead squat. To start, try doing a bodyweight squat with only your arms above your head and slowly progress up to using weight. After you have practiced this and your body is comfortable performing it safely, the third step is to practice the full range of the “snatch” motion. We recommend using a broomstick during this step to simulate a bar until you’re confident in the movement.
Listen to Your Body: Preparation and Recovery
You are an athlete and like all good athletes, you need to listen to your body. Proper preparation and recovery are essential to your ongoing success. If your muscles or joints hurt before your next WOD then take the time to prepare your body before jumping into your routine. Preparing for activity is critical. Better preparation means fewer injuries. When performing complex or explosive movements, introduce non-weight bearing actions such as leg swings, arm circles, standing crunches, and torso twists. These prepare your muscles, joints, heart, and brain to what’s coming next—they are the wake-up call for your body.
Recovering after each WOD is equally critical to your CrossFit longevity. Proper recovery allows your muscles to rest and recover at the proper length which decreases joint stress and fosters mobility. Moreover, recovery benefits the work you just did and carries those benefits forward. Spending 10 minutes to recover for every 50 minutes you train replenishes the flow of fluids into the tissue to reset your body and heal tissue faster.
Pain, stiffness, and soreness are your body’s way of speaking to you. Each are indicators that your body needs something. The key is to listen and appropriately respond. The mantra of “fight through the pain” or being so sore that you can’t move the next day are rarely beneficial when it comes to athletic longevity. Take the time to prepare and recover. “You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” – Buddha
There’s a wealth of information needed to keep your body healthy and happy. Whether you’re a seasoned CrossFitter or a beginner, there’s always something new to learn. Many athletes are told to do things a certain way by a coach or trainer, but your body may have a different design and capability than the proscribed method. This means the approach for your body may be different from the person next to you. Pull your coach aside and ask them questions. Tell them how movements feel in your body and ask how you can get more out of your workouts or if you’re hurting, what modifications will serve you the most. Remember: “A man who asks a question is a fool for a minute, the man who does not ask is a fool for life.” Confucius
Eat Like You’re an Athlete Because You Are One
Fuel your body based on your goals. Your body is a complex machine and requires the proper nutrients to operate optimally. Pre-workout meals differ greatly based on the individual. However, post-workout calorie consumption is a bit more uniform. During your workout, your body uses several forms of energy—sugars, fats and sometimes even muscle. This varies greatly based on the intensity and duration of your workout.
Immediately follow your workout with protein. Try plant-based (edamame, lentils, or chickpeas), dairy-based (yogurt, milk, or cheese), or animal-based (eggs, lean meat, or fish). These supply your body with the essential macro-nutrient from which your muscles are made and repair and re-build the muscular strength you just trained for. Serving sizes vary with workouts and goals so we recommend talking to your coach.
While there’s not a one-size-fits-all, there is a science to building healthy muscles. Regardless of diet preferences, proteins and amino acids are vital to keep your muscles performing at their best. “Every time you eat is an opportunity to nourish your body.” Unknown
Switch It Up
Supplement your CrossFit with cross-training. While there are a dozen specialized moves that are part of the CrossFit WOD, your body adapts to these movements over time. In one respect, this is great because these movements become second nature. However, without the inclusion of movements outside of your routine, it’s difficult to maintain balance in your body.
To increase your CrossFit longevity, occasionally move your body outside of the CrossFit “box”. This means integrating smaller, deliberate movements into your routine. The goal is to use these movements to enhance your next WOD. Include an activity that involves controlled, full range of motion movements for each joint in your body with little to no resistance. This change helps your body feel more energized and confident. As Max Depree said: “We cannot become what we want by remaining what we are.”
CrossFit is an exciting and adrenaline-packed sport. Its vast community brings joy to teams of people and the movements are a constant challenge for your body. Many CrossFitters are into CrossFit for life so you need to train for the long haul. Keep yourself healthy and injury-free so you can enjoy your passion indefinitely!