Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Stepping Down

Crossfit has an extremely broad curriculum. We incorporate exercises and concepts from gymnastics, weightlifting, sprinting, powerlifting, Parkour, and martial arts in our day-to-day training. This is a tremendous amount of material with a ton of depth.

Wisely, we begin training in the Crossfit Method by learning the basics. We do pull-ups, push-ups, sit-ups, and squats, adding resistance and complexity as our athletic prowess increases.

Soon, we learn thrusters, presses, ball slams, rowing, snatching, cleaning, deadlifting, and all the attendant variations. We assemble a set of skills for developing elite fitness, and we practice as much as possible.

Progress comes quickly. We turn in lower WOD times and higher weight totals with each passing week, and general physical preparation is on a moon-shot trajectory, doubling or tripling with every passing month.

Because of this immediate, tangible result, Crossfit has a well-deserved reputation for unmatched efficacy. We turn slobs into athletes faster than anyone else on the planet.

The problem comes when we try to turn our generalist athletes into sport-specific stars.

Many folks, myself included, came to Crossfit without a sport. When I arrived, I wasn’t training for a triathlon or recreation league softball—I was training to train.

Crossfit became my sport. With every shot at a first-place finish, I became more and more addicted to the workouts. My only objective was to move a ton of weight really quickly, and it did wonders for my athleticism.

As time wore on, my objective became more sport-specific. I became more enamored with Olympic lifting, dedicating the majority of my training budget to building a platform and seeking out qualified coaching.

Last month I decided my six-month goal is to snatch bodyweight. That’s 165 pounds from the ground to overhead with no local stops.

Unfortunately, meeting this goal is going to require some sacrifices that are incompatible with Crossfit’s general physical preparation programming. Daily torture with thrusters, pull-ups, and wall ball shots is not going to give me the technique I need to throw myself under that barbell. Toward that end, I’ll need to practice snatching on a regular basis.

There is a certain reality about the world--every time I’m practicing my snatch, I’m not doing Crossfit. I can only do so many workouts per week, and one has to take precedent over the other. Because of this fact, I anticipate a gradual decline in WOD performance as I dedicate more time to Olympic lifting.

I’ve learned that at some point in your training career, you have to make sacrifices in order to attain certain goals. This point will not come at the beginning of your training, when everything you do produces a tangible result. Rather, it comes when you’ve decided to improve a skill set beyond the province of general physical preparation.

It’s a hard sacrifice to make.

The question is simple: Can you give up the things you need to give up in order to attain your goals? Can you sacrifice metabolic capacity for a bodyweight lift?

No matter what they tell you, you can’t have everything.

Go faster!

Picture of Chad Vaughn courtesy of


Blogger John said...

Excellent goal!!! Plus excellent discipline to do so.

Have a great day and look forward to seeing it on YouTube!

1/03/2007 08:21:00 PM  
Blogger David said...

i totally feel you on this point, jon. i feel the same way about's hard to climb ANYTHING when you just PRed on fran the day before.'s all about that.

1/13/2007 02:33:00 PM  

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