One of the things I really love about CrossFit is the constantly varied piece of the puzzle. There are so many different movements, skills, and lifts involved in what we do. However, for some, it may be overwhelming at first. Depending on your athletic/fitness background, we may be asking you to do a lot of things you have never done before. In one respect this is great because you don’t have any bad habits to break, and on the flip side it can be frustrating because there is a big learning curve. Fortunately there will be many lifts, skills, and movements that you will learn and become familiar with very quickly. Great! Our aim is to keep your strengths strong and at the same time improve upon the areas where you are lacking. Unfortunately, we all have our goats. Unless you are Rich Froning, Jr. or Annie Thorisdottir, there are going to be some things you are not great at…yet.
So, how do we improve our weaknesses? Here comes the tough love (and probably nothing too profound)…it takes tenacity, practice, and patience. Double unders was a skill I struggled with for a very long time. Honestly, it was something I never thought I would get better at. I would shudder every time I saw them on the board as part of a WOD. Finally, I got to a point where I told myself enough was enough. I started to incorporate practicing double unders into my warm-up everyday. I also started from scratch and made sure I wasn’t practicing bad habits. It took awhile, but eventually I had a breakthrough and my unbroken PR began to increase. Now I am at a point where I love seeing double unders in a WOD because they have become one of my strengths.
My recommendation would be to pick one movement, skill, or lift and practice it daily as part of your warm-up for at least two weeks (or until you see significant improvement). A mistake I see a lot is people trying to work on 10 different things at once. I like the enthusiasm, but it is just not realistic. Pick one and break it down into its components and practice those. If you want to improve your snatch, grab a piece of PVC everyday and do the Burgener warm-up. If you want to learn kipping pullups, make sure you can knock out some strict ones first, work on the motion of the kip, start with one at a time, then work the transition. Focus on each piece and be dedicated to perfect practice. Ask one of us to watch you to ensure there are no technical errors, because practicing with technical errors will perfect those errors, and that is the last thing we want. Once you feel like progress is being made, try incorporating it into a mini-WOD. Don’t worry about time, but do a few rounds of a triplet incorporating whatever you have been practicing, another skill or movement, and a short run (e.g. 3 rounds: 5 snatch, 10 burpees, 200m run). This will prepare you to deal with the additional stress of fatigue and allow you to see if your technique breaks down. Once you feel comfortable here, seeing whatever you have been practicing in a WOD should excite you. Through your practice, patience, and diligence you turned a weakness into one of your strengths. To me this is truly one of the most rewarding experiences and I hope it will be for you as well.
Someone told me a long time ago that CrossFit is a patient man’s/woman’s endeavor. I really love this and like to share it with people from time to time. If you are looking for something to be immediately great at, CrossFit is probably not going to be for you. However, if you are looking for something that will forever challenge you and push you to your limits, well then you have found a home and I look forward to taking the elusive journey to perfection with you.