How to Dominate CrossFit: Stop Half Assing Your Warm Up & Recovery
By Andrew Wilhelm
When I played football, my coaches always said, “we need to dominate all three phases of the game if we want to be successful”. Those phases were offence, defense and special teams.
Although it’s been a long time since I wore football equipment, I still apply that lesson to my own training and to the training I provide for others.
I believe in that CrossFit athletes (and you are a CrossFit ATHLETE no matter your skill level, age, or capacity), must dominate all three phases of their “game” in order to be successful. Those phases are warming up, working out, and recovering.
THE EASY PART
It’s intuitive to dominate the working out part of CrossFit. There is usually a clock running or a score being counted, a coach and maybe even a partner will be there to hold you accountable to your intensity and effort. If you’re not dominating then, it becomes pretty obvious.
THE HARDER PART
Warming up with intensity is much more difficult. The warm up is always at the beginning of the workout when you’ve paid the least amount of attention to how you’re moving. Some people even show up to the gym with sleep in their eyes yawning and stretching (which is okay but means you need to REALLY dominate the warm up).
In order to dominate this phase of the game, you’ve got to start with the right mindset, which means setting intentions. I have three objectives during my warm up– get sweaty, get mobile, and get in touch with my body.
Getting sweatyis simple enough – increase your heart rate slowly until you start to get physically warm. Getting mobileis also easy; test end range of motions for positions you’ll be required to find during the work out. Getting in touch with yourbodyis a little more complex but it can be simplified to the following check list:
- FEET – Are they connected to the earth? Is my weight distributed across them evenly?
- KNEES – Which way are they pointing? Are they moving symmetrically?
- HIPS – Does one side feel higher than the other? Am I tilted forwards or backwards?
- CORE – Is my core active from rib cage to pubic bone? Do I have my “organ seatbelt” strapped on?
- SHOULDERS – Are they over my hips? Is one further in front of the other?
- NECK – which way is my chin facing? Is my head in front of my chest?
Want to dominate your warm up? Be focused and determined to accomplish all three of the objectives I mentioned above!
THE HARDEST PART
Recovering properly is by far the hardest part of CrossFit. It is SO EASY, and I know this from experience, to finish a really hard work out and think, “you know what my body deserves a reward” (I usually turn to a twenty pack of Timbits). Suddenly that post workout shake and stretch becomes less of a priority and you run off for a doughnut (or twenty) without thinking about the potential implications.
Or you end up in the cumulative injury cycle where you warm up like crap, try to do really challenging workouts, recover and refuel like crap and endlessly wonder why you’re not seeing results and are maybe in pain.
Recovering from your workouts requires both of the following things:
- HYDRATION & NUTRITION – You use a lot of water and energy during CrossFit workouts, and it needs to be replenished. If you don’t know your Daily Caloric Output and Intake you’re setting yourself up to fail (Contact Julie or Anita to find out these numbers!)
- SLEEP – Training hard and heavy requires lots and LOTS of rest. Sometimes not getting enough sleep is a perfectly good reason to skip a work out. Being mentally tough and doing detriment to your body are not the same thing.
In order to dominate the recovery phase, you need to stay dedicated to your nutrition and hydration practices, stay well fueled, and get plenty of quality sleep!
Doing well in a workout, pushing yourself beyond what you thought possible is great and really admirable, but in order to really succeed in the CrossFit arena, you need to be dedicated to all of the phases of the game. From warming up, to working out, to recovering, you need to be focused and committed if you want to really excel. Otherwise, you’ll be subjecting yourself to unnecessary wear and tear and be stifling your athletic potential!