Get past those fitness plateaus by avoiding these five common mistakes
If you’re like me, you are dedicated and committed to your fitness. Your meals are planned, your workouts are calculated and your sleep is dialed in. Social events are secondary to training and it’s rare to go a full day without saying the words AMRAP or snatch without blinking an eye or caring about the weird looks from other who ‘just don’t understand’. You’ve drank the cool aid and couldn’t be happier, but for some reason, after all the honeymoon PR’s and first ripped calluses, you’ve found yourself plateauing and can’t figure out why… Here is what I’ve learned over the last six years of competitive CrossFit and five years of coaching that I think will help you get past those plateaus and back to talking about how awesome your snatch is again! Not a CrossFitter? I guarantee you can still take these lessons to the gym, road or trail and see improvements.
Mistake #1: Nutrition
The base of Coach Glassman’s pyramid is nutrition for a reason. Without a proper calculated diet fitted to an individual’s needs, performance will suffer. With regards to training, you probably write down PRs, times, percentages, feelings and goals in daily training logs. It’s easier for an athlete to tell me what their 5k row time is than to list exactly what they ate over the last week. For me and my clients, the zone diet is the best place to start. Research the CrossFit Journal’s zone meal plans (CFJ21), go shopping, start prepping, and put off the Vegas trip till next month. Spend 30 days completely devoted to your zone blocks without wavering and see if that Helen time doesn’t improve.
Mistake #2: Lack of virtuosity
It’s human nature to want to tackle and conquer the biggest obstacles we find. Climbing Mount Everest, scaling El Capitan, building your own house – these are all things we would love to do some day, but none of us would ever imagine attempting any of these without first hiking a smaller mountain, learning to boulder at a local climbing gym or working in construction first. The same should go for the movements you see in your gym!
Learn how to do a perfect air squat before attempting an overhead squat. Have a perfect overhead squat before attempting a snatch. Build the strength to perform five strict pull-ups before trying kipping pull-ups. Build a solid base of virtuosity and watch the other movements come much more naturally and progress faster.
Mistake #3: Chasing the RX
A good gym fosters the environment that the RX symbol doesn’t matter, but instead the score or time associated with that workout does. Walking into a gym and looking at a whiteboard at the end of the day can give you a great idea of good or bad coaching. Are the times or scores similar to one another regardless of weights, reps or movements used? This is how I gauge myself as a coach at the end of the day. Did I do everything in my ability to make sure that each member of my gym got the correct stimulus from the workout that was desired, barring a major limitation in movement or ability?
What makes this hard on me or any other coach is when you have the RX chaser. The athlete that hears the coach explain that the weight should be EXTREMELY LIGHT, or that the run should take no longer than 1 min each round, or that the pull-ups should be done in sets of 10-15 UNBROKEN, but halfway through the workout ‘Jonny’ has ditched the jumping pull-up his or her coach prescribed and is now doing some sort of half way, kinda-bending-the-elbow-and-violently-kicking-the-air pull up, in an attempt to have an angle appear and whisk him above the bar for the next 10 minutes.
Yes it’s the coach’s job to control his or her athletes and make sure all movements are being scaled appropriately each and every workout, but you are also an adult and can listen to directions. So throw the RX out the window and shoot for making each workout FEEL the way the coach describes it and watch how much benefit you’ll see in the long run.
Mistake #4: Lack of consistency
Everything we do in our lives revolves around consistency. Making coffee each morning, getting our children to school on time, performance at work, changing the oil in your car. These are all things that are done on a regular basis without hesitation (except maybe the kids on time part… but you’re working on that. Working out should fall directly into that daily list of must do’s.
I recently did a Q&A at my gym in Gilroy and opened up by asking people to list the most important thing in their lives. The list looked like this:
- Family or God
- Health and wellness
We list health as being part of our top priorities in life, yet when it comes time to set aside 1 hour a day it immediately drops to the bottom of the list. Do you think your family, career and social life would improve if your health and overall fitness did as well? Absolutely! Get rid of the excuses and carve out an hour a day to workout. Even if that’s burpees every minute on the minute in your living room at 10pm before hoping in the shower to go to bed. Get it in consistently, every day!
Mistake #5: No Plan
While CrossFit is constantly varied it’s not random! Doing a workout from CrossFit.com one day, Invictus another, your local box the next, and finishing out with a little Outlaw and Comp Train is random. And you wonder why your legs are so sore? Every one of these had you doing back squats each day! Find a program and stick to it for a minimum of 30 days. If after 30 days you aren’t enjoying it or seeing improvement, then try another for 30 days. Continue doing this until you find a program you like and stick with it. Each one of the coaches listed above has put an extraordinary amount of time into their programming and each has a specific goal they are after with a specific way of getting there. You’re not only doing yourself a disservice by skipping around programs, but you’re also doing the coach one as well.
When your friend asks you what program you follow and you say ‘Invictus’ when you’ve really only done a handful of the workouts, you’re now falsely representing Invictus. If you’re interested in learning more about a specific training plan or starting one, you can now participate in my training plans on train heroic Give a program a chance for 30 days and see if all those “goats” you have start to go away. If not, switch to another until you find a home to call your own.