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4 Skills to Help You Become a Better Crossfitter

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So you have been doing  Crossfit for a few months now and your really getting the hang of the workouts, your building strength, your running faster, you’re feeling better and you may even be losing weight…but you still seem to have trouble making it through the workouts without feeling so gassed.

You watch your fellow athletes seemingly skate through some of the toughest workouts on the planet without having to stop much, other than to transition from one movement to another…what gives?

As soon as the timer goes off, you push hard, you go 100%, yet  you can only hang for a few reps until you find yourself so out of breath that the only movement you can muster is to stand, bent over with your hands on your knees gasping for air!

You walk away feeling frustrated and tell yourself that everyone has been doing this longer than you and therefore they MUST be more fit than you…right?

Not necessarily.

Theres something else at work here…something you cant see from the outside.

They know something that you haven’t realized yet and that’s the power of control.

Mark Divine talks about it in his video, “The 4 Skills SEALFIT Teaches to Forge Mental Toughness and Emotional Resiliency”  in regards to his SEALFIT trainees but these 4 skills can and should be utilized in crossfit, no matter what level of experience your at.

So let’s go over these 4 skills and how they can help you become better at crossfit…

“The 4 Skills that Create Mental Toughness and Emotional Resiliency”

  1. Breath control

Learning to use your breathing, to your advantage, is the link between the body and mind. Learning this technique will help create a balance between the body and the mind during your training.  So what is it and how do you use it? Breath control is a way to “pace” yourself. It is NOT going too hard, to fast, so that you can’t sustain your pace throughout the entire workout. Its knowing what parts of the workout in which you can go faster and what parts you may require more time.

For example, let’s say you have a workout that has a buy in of a 1 mile run and a cash out of a mile run. with a lot of other movements in between. Knowing where your strengths and weaknesses are in the workout, is a big plus but also knowing that if you begin the first mile at an all out pace, you may find that you have to walk in order to finish or worse yet, stop all together. No bueno!  Now you make it back to the gym and have all the other work to do AND then another mile to finish! Yikes! What you should do in a case like this is go out with an easy pace and try to hold that pace throughout the whole workout. Then there would be less time needed to stop and rest and more time to complete the entire workout in a timely manner.

2. Positivity

Having a positive mindset, developing mental control and using positive mental dialogue.

Did you notice one common thread in that last sentence?

None of these things are verbal…they are all mental.  Things you tell yourself; positive self talk.

You should never go into a workout with a negative mindset, thinking things like, “I will probably be the last one to finish” or “everyone is so much better than me, I should just skip class tonight” or even worse “I cant do that, I’m just not good enough”.

Developing mental control is important in that if you cant control your mind to tune out all the negativity, then you have lost already. Its NOT about  throwing your jump rope across the room when you cant do double unders, its NOT about screaming profanity when you miss an  attempt at a new PR. Its letting courage and strength carry you through; to not let fear or weakness bring you down!

  1. Using imagery or visualization

You’ve probably heard of athletes winning the title belt for the first time, musicians standing in front of millions of fans singing for hours without being nervous and even politicians accepting the position of president. All of these people visualizing these things as if they have already happened!  Why do they do this? Because it works! The beauty of it is that you don’t even have to be in the moment when you do it. You can visualize days, months, weeks in advance of something, in order to build up the confidence to accomplish the task.

Heres how it works!

Imagine something that you are unable to do currently, lets use climbing a rope, for example. Close your eyes and imagine yourself standing at the bottom of the rope, with it hanging right in front of you. Feel the fibers as you put your hands on it as you reach up and grip it. Feel your whole body tighten up as you pull yourself up and wrap your feet around it, feel the pressure on your feet as you clamp down on the rope and straighten out your legs and get your first pull…don’t open your eyes just yet, you’re not done…keep visualizing those same things over and over again until you reach the top, in your mind.

Visualize the physical feelings happening in your body, the feel of the movement, the sweat on your skin, your breathing, the smile on your face when you do your first rope climb and everyone cheers!

By learning visualization, you can take yourself through any activity, one step at a time, and working toward the end goal.

If you can visualize it, more than likely you can accomplish it!

  1. Micro goals

This is a big one for a lot of athletes in that they look at a workout as one whole entity instead of breaking it up into smaller parts.

For example, a workout that includes 4 rounds of 10 push press at 95 lbs. Many times, I hear athletes say, “Yeah, I can do that weight but doing 40 of them is going to be rough. Im just going to do the scaled weight so that Im not the last one to finish!”

While that may be true, you need to remember that you’re not doing 40 push press all in a row.  They  are broken up into sets of 10 and depending on your ability, and if you’re like most people, you’re going to have to break up those reps anyways, so why not go for it and push yourself a little.  No workout is supposed to be easy.  If it were, how would you ever get better?

Break up the reps and work your way through it.

Mentally, this can be the determining factor to making or breaking a workout.

Never look at the big picture…think of it as a process of steps toward an end goal. That way it looks much more achievable, will be less intimidating and so much more enjoyable!

Train hard, stay strong!