Crossfit Thoughts with Casey: Volume III

Customizing Every Workout: How to Prevent Stagnation

To continue achieving progress on your Crossfit journey, you can (and should!) customize your workouts.

Stagnation is one of the biggest battles we face as athletes.   Whether you seek pull-ups after several years into your fitness journey, find yourself stuck at the same snatch max for months, or can’t seem to find a way to PR your favorite benchmark, this message is for you.

A customized game plan will help you work through these fitness plateaus.  It may require a different approach to scaling, selecting more efficient movement choices, or purposely setting an intention for attacking a workout.  Below are some proposed strategies on how to continue progressing in three specific workouts: 

Workout #1: Build to a 1RM Snatch (How to handle heavy days)

Lifting is fun, and max out days are few and far between on a well-run program. Athletes often use this day to focus on a number rather than a movement pattern. For some, getting that extra 5 lbs added to your PR is worth doing the ugliest movement of their lives!  For someone who is STUCK and has been for awhile, this is a day to PR the movement pattern, not the weight. A couple of ways to do this:

-Land a heavy snatch with a 3 second hold at the bottom of the squat (Show control)

-PR your speed under the bar (Show proper mechanics)

-Hit 100% of your attempts that day (Show consistency)

All of these are “scaling” the workout. While you may not lift as heavy, these scaling options are much more difficult than making an ugly lift. Grow your movement patterns and the PRs will follow.

Workout #2: AMRAP of Rope Climbs, Running, Wall Balls (New Skills in Metcons)

Rope climbs are hard!  We can say it. Rope climbs are a high-skill movement and are metabolically taxing (aka I’m breathing really hard!).   Adding a fear of heights to the mix makes these suckers a spicy addition to any workout.

For those first learning this skill, they often scale far more than they should for fear of failure or “not getting a good workout in.” The problem is, these individuals will never end up learning how to properly rope climb under high heart rate.

It is okay to finish last. It is okay to take a workout with 3 rope climbs per round and do 1 rope climb per round instead. It is definitely okay to not make it all the way up the rope. Scale to something that is doable, but also helps you learn the skill.

This applies to a myriad of movements. Instead of automatically reverting to your favorite scaling option, try to find something that challenges you. It is OKAY to fail reps in a workout; in fact it is necessary for you to fail to truly master the skill.

Workout #3: “Grace” 30 clean and jerks for time (Re-evaluating benchmarks)

Benchmarks are tests. They are science experiments. They are opportunities for you to try new things in an environment that you can compare to later. Grace is one of the best places to run these experiments.

With the 30 clean and jerks, there are two main decisions.

-How much weight do I use?

-How do I break up the reps?

There is nothing wrong with taking 10 minutes on your first RX Grace. Ask any accomplished Crossfitter and they will have a story of the time they got murdered by a benchmark the first time they RX’ed it. It’s part of the process. Often the social embarrassment of being last will stop people from taking this chance. Take the chance! See if you were ready for this. On the opposite end, when is the last time you firebreathers reading tried Grace at 185/135?

For those who have RX’ed several Graces, it’s time to test out some new strategies. If you have been doing sets, try singles. If you have been doing singles, try sets. You may get a slower time. THAT IS OKAY. It was a test, an experiment, and you learned from it and got fitter in the process.

These are just some examples, but consider applying this thought process to every WOD you approach.  When in doubt, ask a coach for help establishing creative ways to improve your gym performance.