^ Coach Nick, instructing athletes at the Hog Wild competition
I felt like this post was appropriate with the Open on its way here. Often times we mix up the three levels of physical fitness: Practice, Training and Competing. All 3 are very important in our daily fitness gains and the long term goals we hope to achieve. How to spend time in each of them is a whole different story though, so I’ll break them down so you have a solid understanding!
Competing: Surprisingly people spend too much time here! The act of competing doesn’t have to be in a CrossFit competition, simply looking at someone’s score on the Whiteboard and trying to beat them is an act of competition. Basically you are trying to get first.
Some examples would be: 1 Rep Maxes, Benchmark WODs, if you reach a point where the performance of a movement becomes an afterthought and winning is your primary goal, you are competing. While this is a great way to test your fitness, it is also an easy way to compete yourself out of shape. Once we start competing on a regular basis our technique starts to break down and we become less efficient athletes. So pick and choose a few WODs a month to really get after and give 100%!
Training: This is where we should be spending the majority of our physical fitness. Training should occur when we do Metcons with appropriate weight, mindful gymnastics movements and reasonable numbers for Running/Rowing/Biking/Etc. It is in training that we will see great physical adaptations especially in cardiovascular endurance and strength.
During this time we can complete the WODs in an appropriate time frame and do so with good form and without losing focus on intensity just for the sake of hitting the Rx button. We are still performing at a relatively high intensity, figure somewhere between 75-95% and we make sure that our movements aren’t breaking down into sets of 1s or 2s.
In case you are still unsure what I mean, let's look at a workout like Fran (21-15-9 Thrusters/Pullups). With Fran we are trying to complete it in around 4-5 mins, we may break up the reps in to sets, but at no point am I doing 1 pullup/thruster at a time. We keep moving and never hit our limit. With that in mind, if I try Rx at 95# and it takes me 7:30 to complete, I know that I probably went from training to competing.
Practice: This is the area most people spend the least amount of time in… and it’s probably the most important. When we practice we are actively trying to make a neurological change, aka improve our form/technique. It is here that we can see drastic improvement in our movements, we use light weights and modest sets to help keep our heart rate and effort low and focus in on our form.
I’m sure most of us have heard the phrase “practice makes perfect”, I’m here to tell you that it is not necessarily true. Perfect practice will yield far greater results. So the next time you are warming up on the rower, try to really think about form. You will only be helping yourself improve during metcons and high intensity WODs
Example of practice: 10 min EMOM - Light Weight Snatches. We don’t go heavy, we keep things light so we can evaluate our form and make the necessary changes to improve!
Next time you workout, be mindful, "Am I competing, training, or practicing?"