How did you do last year? Did you make the masters qualifier or the regionals team as you had set out to do at the beginning of the year? Did you hit that 200lb snatch or get the sub-four minute Fran?
These are my hopes for the new year for you as a functional fitness aficionado. Pick one, pick them all. Happy New Year!
Commit to Understanding Mobility
Almost nothing will make you a better overall athlete than understanding how mobility affects nearly everything you do. From pull ups to back squats, from snatches (especially snatches) to muscle ups, mobility is king.
I’m not just talking about your warm up. Laying on a foam roller and rolling your low back for ten minutes before class does not count. Mobility is different. It’s pre-workout dynamic stretching and post-workout deep stretching of the muscles and connective tissues. Understand how mobility affects your body’s mechanics, and you will be better at everything you do.
Make Friends With the Redline
Learn about pacing, and know not every WOD is designed to be performed at 100 percent. Base your pace on the length of the workout, and understand that once you redline (take yourself to your limit), you’re pretty much done for. At the “3, 2, 1, go,” your classmate may take off like a hare, and you may feel more like a tortoise. That’s fine. Rich Froning rarely comes out of the gate in the lead, but he frequently finishes first.
Assess the best strategy for each workout. Play with pacing and rep schemes. If you’re doing “Karen” (150 wall balls), opening up with a huge first set of fifty wall balls may not be the best strategy. Sometimes, on chest-to-bar pull ups, singles may be the fastest way to knock out reps. Learn how to work yourself into a pace that allows you to keep moving and always keeps you just short of being over and grabbing your knees.
Stop Saying “Squat Snatch”
That’s all. Just stop. When you say “snatch,” the squat is implied. When you say “power,” you are prescribing a specific movement. “Squat snatch” is redundant and ugly. And it’s the same with “squat clean.”
The squat snatch. Or as the rest of the world calls it, “the snatch.”
Fine-tune Your Fuel
Make this the year you figure out how important your fuel intake is to your performance. Consider that paleo may be awesome for aesthetics, but not too awesome for performance. Make friends with rice, oats, and yes, sometimes wheat. Have a sandwich now and then. You will not burst into flames.
Tinker with timing so you know when to eat, not just how. Make note of what and when you ate on the days your training feels amazing, and do the same for when everything feels shitty. You’ll be surprised at what you discover. No amount of mental toughness can overcome a simple lack of fuel.
Find the Slam Balls
Get out all that equipment sitting in the corner of the gym that no one ever uses and make use of it. You’ll be a better athlete and competitor for it. For example:
- Atlas stones – Roll one out of the dust in the corner, and lift it it up over your shoulder.
- Axle bars – Learn how to continental clean a heavy axle, and perform front rack walking lunges with it.
- Slam balls – Not just for the mom’s boot camp class. Have you ever done 150 slam balls at 30lb? Try it and report back.
- Sleds and prowlers – Push them, pull them, and drag them. Go all out on a heavy 800m sled drag once a week.
- Airdyne and Assault bikes – These are not just for casually warming up. Try this: Four sets of a 20-second all-out sprint, resting 3:40 between sets. Trust me, if you do this right, you will need every bit of that 3:40.
Want explosive power and a strong motor? Doing a lot of this won’t hurt.
Add Quality to Your Social Media
If you want to get better at your Olympic lifts, Jared Enderton and Charis Chan are the two to follow. Enderton is a well-known weightlifting coach and educator. Chan is an American record holder in her weight class with an 86kg snatch. Both are multi-sport athletes bringing their talent to CrossFit and GRID. They are also highly respected weightlifting competitors.
Their social media accounts document quality movement and serve as inspiration for anyone wishing to get better at their lifts. I have met them both, and they are humble athletes and all-around good people.
Put 20-50lb on Your Squat
In my humble opinion, being able to squat heavy is the foundation upon which a happy, long, productive life is built. I am convinced that staying out of a nursing home is predicated on having a strong squat well into your golden years.
Work with your coach and set some squat specific goals for the year. Ask your coach to factor in progressive strength training with a squatting emphasis to get you there. Yes, a solid and heavy snatch may look great, and a jerk PR is always uplifting, but there is a large element of technique involved in both of these.
Squatting requires strength. Make 2016 the Year of the Squat.
More Ideas to Supercharge Your New Year:
- Get a Big Squat: The Russian Squat Routine vs The Smolov Squat Routine
- The Intelligent Athlete’s Guide to Fueling Performance
- How to Strategize and Win a WOD Like Rich Froning
- New on Breaking Muscle Today
Photo 1 courtesy of CrossFit.
Photo 2 courtesy of Jorge Huerta Photography.