A Letter to New CrossFitters: Good Training Habits

Below is a short article we ask all our new members to read when they graduate from our Foundations program. As mentioned in a few of our articles (including “The Benefits of Introductory Programs at Affiliates” and “Failing, Bailing, and Training Culture at Affiliates”), it's important to guide your members’ training perspectives early on. The sooner you can get folks thinking about how to make proactive, intelligent training decisions, the more likely they'll optimize their time under your roof.

While it's our responsibility as coaches to teach movement, program wisely, and generally take care of folks, it's the athlete’s job to listen to their bodies, track their workouts, and maintain a mature perspective about why they're doing CrossFit in the first place. For some athletes, this may be completely intuitive, but most folks walking through your doors will need to be taught even the most basic components of serious physical training. Many people pursue CrossFit because they want to lose some weight or a friend does it and it sounds fun—not necessarily because they've suddenly decided to eat, sleep, and breath CrossFit. (The obsession part happens organically, after they’ve been exposed to its benefits.) With that in mind, the commercial fitness industry’s claims of quick fixes and supposed “secrets” to success may have influenced new athletes’ perspectives and expectations when they arrive at your gym, and it behooves you to disabuse them of such false messaging. Messages such as the one below are part of a larger dialogue that CFSBK is constantly facilitating, with the aim of giving our members the most accurate and honest advice about what it takes to adopt a healthy lifestyle.

If you're at an affiliate, consider making an article similar to the one below required reading for all your new members. We've found it’s a great first step to helping people on a lifelong fitness journey.

Good Training Habits
While it’s our responsibility as coaches to teach you movement, program intelligently, and keep you safe, it’s your responsibility as athletes to develop good training habits. Here is an overview of three great habits that will significantly enrich your training experience.

1. Be Proactive With Your Movement Prep
Everyone needs to do a little personalized maintenance on their bodies. Even 10 minutes of DIY movement prep before class can go a long way in keeping you fit and pain free. After you've signed in and changed, take advantage of the time you've got and start moving.

Row an easy 300-500m on the erg. Get your heart rate up a little and try to get a light sweat going. We recommend holding 20 strokes per minute and rehearsing good form.

Stretch/Foam Roll
Many of us know where our tightest areas are—they're the ones that make it difficult to squat below parallel or press a barbell overhead. Spend a few minutes mobilizing and doing some soft tissue work (foam roller/LAX ball, etc.) on your "problem areas.” If you don't know where to begin, ask a coach what you should be prioritizing and we'll help you out. We also regularly refer our members to out Active Recovery classes and This is great resource for folks who need simple, effective strategies to help them move better.

2. Log All of Your Workouts

Training without logging is like driving without a road map. You don't know where you've been or where you're going. Taking notes on each training session helps you track your progress and helps us make informed decisions about how to assist you in choosing weights and scaling movements. Each day should list some quantitative and qualitative notes about your training session. Here is an example:

3 rounds NFT
5 Snatch PP (22lb bar)
5 Muscle Snatches
10 Push-ups on knees

Move up to yellow bar

AMRAP 15 minutes:
Row 350m
12 Overhead Squats, 45lbs

4 Rounds + 320m

Kept rows at about 2:23 splits, felt hard but doable. Don't shift forward during overhead squats.... Mid foot!

You can track your workouts in a journal or online. As coaches, we LOVE to read the details of your workout in the Comments section of CFSBK’s blog. It gives us a deeper perspective into your training and the programming in general.

3. Start Slow and Maintain Perspective
We take our training seriously at CrossFit South Brooklyn and with that comes with a good deal of responsibility. Our movement pool uses serious strength and conditioning exercises in order to develop broad, inclusive fitness. If we don't treat these movements and workouts with respect, training plateaus and injuries are sure to follow. The best way to ensure your success and training longevity with us is by starting slowly and developing a rock-solid technical base. In fact, the first few months you start CrossFit, intensity should not be a significant concern. The movements are potent enough that just consistently performing them will create a favorable adaptation. After you feel really comfortable with most of our exercises and have a working knowledge of your weights, only then should you start ramping up the intensity.

Training with a lifelong perspective is incredibly important. Remember that you're here to build yourself up, not break yourself down. Scaling workouts properly, listening to your body and checking your ego at the door will allow you to work out successfully for years to come. Most importantly, have fun with this stuff and enjoy the process.


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Reader Comments (1)

I have to say that this is one of the best things you can do in foundations. As a beginner, it can be a little intimidating to start your Crossfit journey especially without feeling like you have to keep up with everyone else, often times folks who have been doing this for years and years. The gym does a great job of reminding beginners to stay focused on working your way up slowly while building up a strong understanding of the movements. That takes away some of the pressure of trying to get quick gains without gaining the knowledge you need to avoid injury (something very important to me!). Well done, thanks for advising other places to do this too.

March 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDarlene M

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