By signing up to CrossFit City Road and attending classes, you’ve already taken a big step towards fitness and health. But if you really want to maximise your progress and stay healthy for the long term, following the below steps will get you there fast. Put all of this together and you will be well on your way towards incredible results!
Here are the top 5 five things we think you should be doing inside and outside the box:
Inside the box
(1) Be Consistent
This is obvious, but it is probably the biggest factor in determining your success. Whatever your membership level, make the commitment to reaching your class quota every single week. Coming 3 times one week and then not coming to another class for 2 weeks will not get you the progress you want. How successful would you be in your professional life if you went to work only 75% of the time? Not very, besides the fact that you would likely be unemployed! Fitness is no different. It requires constant work.
(2) Work Hard
Again, this is obvious but its importance can not be overstated. Intensity is the key variable when it comes to getting results. This does not mean going recklessly hard all the time (see (3) below). But it does mean having the mental strength to push past your limits and learning to tolerate (dare I say enjoy) the discomfort of training hard. When you come to class, be ready and willing to put in the work.
(3) Mechanics ==> Consistency ==> Intensity
Don’t let (2) fool you into thinking CrossFit is all about intensity over everything else. You have to earn the right to chase intensity. You earn this right by working hard on your movement quality and technique. First you have to show that you can perform a movement safely and efficiently. Then you must show that you can do this consistently and without significant fault. Only then can you add load / volume / intensity. That means before you even add 1.25kg, you have to show that you can snatch the empty bar over and over again with perfect form.
(4) Respect Movement Standards
One of the central achievements of CrossFit is that it provides a measurable approach to fitness. If, over time, your score in a range of workouts improves, we can say you have become fitter. But this only works if you are comparing like with like! What this means is that movement standards must always be the same. How will you know if you have got fitter if your range of motion varies between workouts? Beyond this, reducing your range of motion to get more reps will inevitably lead to limitations in the future. You will develop muscular imbalances that will not only dampen your progress but will likely cause injury. If you want to be fit and strong, you will never, ever, ever cheat movement standards. So if we say “no rep” during a workout, don’t be the guy who counts the rep anyway.
(5) Listen To Your Coach
This links in with a lot of the above points. When we ask you to take some weight off the bar, when we call you out for a no rep, when we ask you to scale a movement down, or when we ask you to stop in the middle of the workout to correct your form, it is not because we want to hold you back or stop you from getting a good work out in; it is because we know this is what you need to do in order to make the best long term progress. It’s also, of course, to protect you from injury. Just trust us that we have the experience to know what is right and what is wrong. We’ve been there, a thousand times over, literally. Often these decisions will be based on the intention of the workout and how best to meet this intention. In a WOD where conditioning is the key focus it doesn’t make sense to stick with a weight that will have you taking 1 minute breaks between reps. Listen to your coach!
Outside the box
Training properly is only one side of the coin. What you do outside of your training is equally important. Remember that you adapt to your training, you get stronger and fitter, during the time between training sessions. Recovery is key and you can only recover properly if you are providing your body with all the right raw ingredients.
(1) Eat Nutrient Dense Whole Foods
Nutrition is unquestionably the base of the fitness “pyramid”. It is impossible to overstate its importance. Whatever your fitness and health goals, you simply will not achieve them without proper attention to nutrition. There are no exceptions to this rule. CrossFit’s classic prescription is: eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar. Keep intake to levels that will support exercise but not body fat. There is much more to be said on nutrition but following this guideline will give you a great start. Our recommendation would be to try eating “Paleo” for 6-8 weeks as a baseline. Cut the grains, processed foods, soft drinks and alcohol. Base your diet around preferably organic meats and wild fish, reared on natural diets (grass-fed etc.), dark green leafy vegetables, quality fats and sufficient starchy root vegetables to support your level of activity.
(2) Get At Least 7 Hours of High Quality Sleep
Even if we don’t fully understand the mechanisms of sleep, we know it is crucial. Yet over a third of the UK population sleeps less that 6 hours a night! To give one example of how detrimental this is, research shows that sleeping this little results in significantly increased insulin resistance. Sleeping too little will essentially make you pre-diabetic. So sleeping less makes you fatter… Our recommendation is to to get an absolute minimum of 7 hours sleep per night and ideally at least 8. Sleep quality is also important. Try sleeping in a completely dark, cool environment and make an effort to limit caffeine intake (and ideally drink none after lunchtime). Limiting exposure to blue wavelength light at night time will dramatically improve your sleep quality too since this kind of light inhibits melatonin production (the sleep hormone). This means turning off the TV and your phone at least 30 minutes before bed!
(3) Work On Your Mobility Daily
You guys already know that we place a huge emphasis on mobility. That is why we spend at least 10-15 minutes in each session working specifically on improving the quality of your positions. But this is only half the battle. Mobility is a challenge that can only be met with daily work. Mobility work will benefit you in two ways. First, it will aid in the recovery process. The low intensity work will increase blood flow to your muscles and help reduce soreness. Secondly, over time it will improve your range of motion and capacity to get into the correct shapes for CrossFit. This isn’t just about things looking pretty. Being more mobile will mean more kilos on your squat and snatch and more reps on your pull ups. The techniques we teach you are not just safer, they are more efficient. So they cost you less effort and allow you to do more work. What all this means is that increasing your mobility will have a direct impact on your fitness. Do at least 10-15 minutes of mobility work a day. Buy a band and a lacrosse ball. You can use the drills we have shown you in class and you can also refer to Mobility WOD for other ideas. Mobility WOD founder Kelly Starett was instrumental in introducing this kind of approach to CrossFit training.
(4) Reduce Stress
Stress, whether related to work, personal life or training, can elicit damaging hormonal effects on the body. Stress is associated with elevated levels of cortisol and reduced levels of testosterone and growth hormone. This hormonal profile disrupts the recovery process in favour of making reserves available for immediate use. Chronically elevated stress levels can prevent muscular repair, impair the immune system and cause weight gain. You want to avoid these things, obviously! In order to do that, you need to allow yourself some time to disengage from stimuli. Reading, meditation and even mobility work can be very effective for this. Just understand that if everything else is in place, and you are still holding extra fat or under recovering, it’s likely that stress is playing a role.
(5) Understand The Mutual Dependence of Lifestyle Factors
That’s a bit of a mouthful. But what it boils down to is the following: understand that neglecting one lifestyle variable will negatively impact your efforts on other variables. For instance, if you eat exceptionally well but sleep poorly you will not get the full benefits of a great diet. One of the benefits of a clean diet is reduced insulin resistance and a better functioning metabolism. But one of the effects of poor sleep is the reverse; increased insulin resistance and a dysfunctional metabolic system. Don’t undo your good work in one area by neglecting another! Lifestyle is a holistic concept and, in the end, you get one score for the whole thing. You can’t out-train a bad diet. You can’t out-eat bad sleeping habits and you can’t out-sleep poor attention to mobility! Get it all in order gang!