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Old 04-23-2008, 01:41 PM   #1
Brandon Oto
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The smaller lessons of CrossFit

Some things I've learned in the past 18 months. You may not agree. More suggestions are welcome, though *I* may not agree...

1. CrossFit is very, very hard. Unlike most things, it does not get easier and may actually get harder. This is a daunting prospect.

2. You can learn to CrossFit extremely well on your own with the internet as a resource. However, it will add 6-12 months to your learning curve and 1-2 injuries along the way.

3. You can work out on your own, but working out with others is almost always far better.

4. The impressive feat is not digging deep and pushing through pain at the end of the workout. Anyone can do that. The impressive feat is hauling *** as you reach the middle -- right after you realize what's ahead of you and how much you already hurt.

5. The impressive feat is not going balls-to-the-wall in a single workout. It's doing it the next day. And the next. And the next. Forever.

6. The hardest part of training is consistency. It is also the most important. You can do nearly anything if you show up every day.

7. Everyone needs to rest. Your body is not a machine. (Look at how many people take a week off and set six PRs when they return.) Your mind is not a computer. (As Garrett Smith likes to point out, continual stress is not actually healthy.) "Burnout" is physical, mental, emotional, logistical, and a little bit like combining ennui with despair. When you no longer want to work out, rest.

8. If your breaks start cropping up constantly, either take a longer one (or a different training focus for a while) or just slap yourself and stop slacking.

9. The fewer mundane obstacles to working out, the easier it is to be consistent. If there are two gyms in your area and one is a little better but farther, go to the nearer one.

10. Try music and see if it helps. Try planning out your workouts (picking a time to shoot for and breaking down how you'll get there) and see if it helps. Try the supplements and see if they help.

11. For 90% of us, diet is crucial to good progress. For the other 10%, diet is crucial to reaching elite levels.

12. Keep your nails trimmed short but long enough to comfortably cover your fingers and toes. Too long will get broken; too short will cause bleeding when, say, you use a hook grip. File your callouses every time you shower.

13. Chalk is better than gloves except to cover a wound, which tape does better than either except for holes in the web of your thumb.

14. You don't need as much chalk as you think. You keep rechalking because you're a spaz and the bar is scaring you.

15. The workout will last only a little while and you will feel happy again within a few minutes afterward. This is the only positive thought you can have while you work, but it is the important one.

16. The fear leading up to your workout can last many times longer than the workout. Find a way to manage this or CrossFit will begin to dominate your life.

17. Do not let CrossFit dominate your life unless you are a coach or trying to be the first sponsored pro CrossFitter.

18. The paradox of CrossFit is that it is an isolated system that attempts to make you better at everything else. If you never leave that system, you will forget the point. Regularly "step outside" and play a game of basketball, drop in on a step aerobics class, climb a mountain, or arm wrestle everyone in the bar. Sometimes you need to be reminded that you're extremely fit compared to everyone who's not a dedicated athlete, and that the gallons of sweat you've exuded have accomplished something significant. Call it ego or anything. The best CrossFitters may not need this, but they get the ego boost of beating the rest of the CrossFitters anyway.

19. Regularly learn and play new sports.

20. By the time you are an advanced novice, you will begin to learn your strengths. By the time you are intermediate, you will know most of your weaknesses. Addressing your weaknesses is the only way you will become advanced.

21. Logging your workouts is a little silly at the very beginning, but the sooner you start, the more data you'll have later.

22. You can push harder than that.

23. If your Olympic lifts are more or less correct, but still limited by form, the problem is probably the bar path.

24. Buy Starting Strength right now. You're doing it wrong.

25. Half of the reason your workouts suck is because you're not strong enough. Get stronger and your "metcon" problems will diminish.

26. Strength develops fast at first then slows at the intermediate level. It takes a long time to lose.

27. Metcon develops quite fast, as long as the strength exists to express it.

28. Technique can take a long time to develop or not very long, depending on many variables.

29. That place you're usually sore is where you're weak.

30. Your grip may or may not limit you right now, but at some point it will if you're not proactive about developing it.

31. When comparing yourself to other CrossFitters, understand that some of them are lifelong athletes and some of them did nothing before this. The difference in terms of progress between these groups is massive.

32. Muscular endurance is always a factor.

33. Very few things improve without focused effort on them.

34. Extremely intense and consistent effort on WoDs is a fast jetstream to improvement.

35. A lot of stuff on this forum is useless, but there is at least one person who knows anything you want to know. Search first, then ask, read all of the responses, pay attention to the ones that make sense and match what you already know, and ignore the ridiculous ones. In this way you can learn nearly anything.

36. Spend time with other websites, forums, and resources to understand the non-CrossFit perspective.

37. You're not fully extending at the hips when you Olympic lift, and you're bending your arms too soon.

38. Everyone has cheat meals. Find out if you do better with small cheating or big cheating. The advantage of big cheating is that you feel like crap afterwards and the food looks gross again, which will help to remind that it's not so great after all. If you cheat small, this is not an excuse to cheat often; that's not cheating, that's just a mediocre diet.

39. Seek out new foods and new ways to cook them, or you will lose your mind with monotony. Everything you walk by in the produce section should be something you'll eat.

40. Canned salmon or tuna is a good emergency protein source when you're in a hurry or haven't shopped. Some cans of salmon are exactly five blocks.

41. Determine how much of your carb intake you can get through low-density vegetables without exploding or going insane. Get the rest with fruit and don't worry about it.

42. Expensive extra virgin olive oil is a waste if you're just stir-frying with it.

43. You can stir-fry anything but "anything" will usually be mediocre.

44. Salt improves everything and is almost always necessary.

45. Looking into a mirror with your own eyes is a very unreliable method of judging body fat and muscle mass.

46. You're not supposed to have a chronic pain. You're doing something wrong or you have an injury. Deal with it.

47. Running and swimming are very hard, very specific in terms of metabolic and muscular development, very technique-dependent, and you need to work on them more.

48. If you're on this forum, you are probably spending too much of your time and attention in the zone of CrossFit. If you do this in the long term, this essentially means you are dedicating yourself to training for a non-existent life.

49. There is nothing like gymnastics rings, a Concept2 rower, a jump rope, or a medicine ball. When you sub for these, you're doing a different workout.

50. Everybody is different.
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Old 04-23-2008, 01:49 PM   #2
Bryan McWilliams
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Re: The smaller lessons of CrossFit

Take your shoes off when you can, and get to know your feet better.
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Old 04-23-2008, 01:49 PM   #3
Tom Brose
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Re: The smaller lessons of CrossFit

Amen brother. Nicely put, valuable points!
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Old 04-23-2008, 01:55 PM   #4
Kim Layton
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Re: The smaller lessons of CrossFit

I like it. Especially # 14 - might have to put that one on a wall somewhere.
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Old 04-23-2008, 02:31 PM   #5
Derek Maffett
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Re: The smaller lessons of CrossFit

Originally Posted by Brandon Oto View Post
48. If you're on this forum, you are probably spending too much of your time and attention in the zone of CrossFit. If you do this in the long term, this essentially means you are dedicating yourself to training for a non-existent life.
And if you make 50 point lists on this forum?
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Old 04-23-2008, 02:43 PM   #6
Garrett Smith
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Re: The smaller lessons of CrossFit

Nice job, Brandon. Quality observations.
__________________ - Saliva, Blood, and Stool Testing
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Old 04-23-2008, 04:37 PM   #7
Jay Cohen
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Re: The smaller lessons of CrossFit


Very wise post.
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Old 04-23-2008, 05:42 PM   #8
Jason Scheffler
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Re: The smaller lessons of CrossFit

Very well put Brandon.
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Old 04-23-2008, 08:05 PM   #9
Adam Head
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Re: The smaller lessons of CrossFit

Brandon, do you mind if I post this on my site? I'll, of course, name you as the author.
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Old 04-23-2008, 08:19 PM   #10
Yvette Coddington
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Re: The smaller lessons of CrossFit


A must read for all new Crossfitters. Refreshing, honest, and sometimes, just darn funny! Thanks for taking the time to share your observations.

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