Thursday, 14 June 2012

How To Survive The Honeymoon Period.

This has been something I have been thinking about a lot lately at the box as we keep introducing a great number of new members to the world of CrossFit.

How do you survive the honeymoon period of CrossFit and keep up the intensity, results and enthusiasm?

If you have been CrossFitting for a while you will know what its like. The first 3-6 months at your new home-away-from-home sees you arrive at the box bursting with a simultaneous surge of anticipation, excitement and nervousness. Willing to do whatever crazy things your coaches have put up on the whiteboard for you to do and with as much determination and zeal as you can muster. Your basic skills get a solid foundation (squats, deadlifts, presses), you learn new tricks and moves that you previously thought impossible (double unders, handstands, overhead squats) and you see your weights and times improving nearly every single session. You start eating the Paleo way and see yourself shrinking round your mid section whilst getting nicely defined shoulders, arms and legs. You spend all day, everyday trawling YouTube for the next crazy WOD that you can perhaps think about doing, talking nothing but CrossFit on your Facebook wall to other members and taking pictures of your dinner to share with other paleo purveyors! Have you gone mad? Nope, you have become addicted.

So all well and good you may say. You have never felt this enthusiastic about training before and actually LOVE coming to the box and training.

But what next? How long will this last? And what can you do about it when this new found excitement starts to wear off? this is where the real journey begins!

CrossFit is a journey. Its not a mad rush to the finish line and i dont think even CrossFit Games winners would ever say they have reached their destination in terms of training and where they would like to be.

The difference and appeal of CrossFit is that there are so many new skills to learn or improve on. Whether you have been CrossFitting for 3 weeks, 3 months or 3 years there is ALWAYS something to get better at or even achieve for the first time. And its this that should drive your training forward when the initial buzz of general WODing starts to wane. From experience at Connect I would say this happens around the 6-10 month mark.

My advice would be to start to focus in on your weaknesses. Talk to your coaches and see if they can advise you on something to work towards. They will know what you are good at and what you are not so good at and will be able to implement a plan for you to follow to improve those areas. Perhaps you could start making use of the Open Gym times at the box to specifically work on these things and give yourself a change from the coaches programming everything you do. Take responsibility for your training and learn about how to improve your all round game. Swap one of your WOD classes a week for an Open Gym session and really work towards your new goals.

A good example of this is a squat programme we had three of our members following recently. Looking for something to focus in on we gave them a 4x times a week squat plan which was really built to test their mettle. They only squatted and did no other lifts (other than in their WODs) across a 4 week period. Despite how hard this was to squat heavy 4 x a week, they discovered a renewed emphasis to train and train hard and all came out of it after 4 weeks with a 10-12.5kg increase in their 1 rep max. That sense of achievement and gain in strength renewed their vigour once again.

Squat baby, Squat

So pick up your training diary, have a flick through it and see everything you have achieved since you began your journey. Notice what things you could improve upon and if you need a little bit of motivation try to formulate a plan of something to work on over the next month. Pick yourself a realistic and achievable goal, write it on our goals board at the box and dont stop practising until you can happily tick that sucker off!

How about a few ideas to get you going (based on some common aims at the box):

* An unassisted pull up
* A muscle up
* A twice bodyweight deadlift
* A full press up
* A great, low, stable Overhead squat
* A sub 5 minute 'Fran'............(okay, so thats a nasty one!! haha!)

The one thing that will maintain your enthusiasm is your continued progression in weights or drop in WOD times. This is done through sensible and strategic programming alongside realistic and achievable goal setting.

Keep having fun and talk to your coaches if you need a hand planning or just a motivational pep talk! The one thing i have found with CrossFit is that it is much easier to maintain your enthusiasm and drive than any other form of training i have come across due to its constantly varied nature and sense of community. But this isnt to say that slumps dont happen. Be aware of them and what to do about them and your honeymoon period will soon turn into cosy cups of cocoa by the fire..............

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