Intensity, Rx’d WODs, and the Competitive Spirit of Crossfit

The Crossfit games is that glorious time of year when we get a 4 day glimpse into the abilities of the best of the best. These men and women are the cream of the crop in the Crossfit world. Strength, mental toughness, focus, a broad scope of skills and abilities, and engines for daaaaaaayyyyyyssss! It’s all there. This is Crossfit the sport!

Is an average Tuesday in your local box the Crossfit games? No of course not, but that doesn’t mean we can’t learn something from them and apply it to our every day training. We talk a lot about training with intensity in our box. The willingness to give your all as often as possible is catamount in elevating your fitness and ultimately achieving whatever your personal goals are. It also breeds an attitude that has massive carryover into the other aspects of our lives. This isn’t inherent in everyone’s personality. One of the hardest things to try to do as a coach is to teach someone to have fire in their belly. Sometimes it’s just there or it isn’t, but for most it just requires a change of mindset and learning to be embrace the idea of competition.

Being an affiliate owner and head coach I don’t actually get to join my own classes very often. When I do there is something that nobody knows. I stay quiet about. It’s only in my mind, but it’s always there. I’m trying to beat ALL OF YOU! If you are next to me, we are racing.  I’m also pushing to get as close to Rx as I possibly can. Do I always win? Nope. Do I care? Nope. It actually brings me great pride when one of my members beats me. Hopefully our training and our programming helped them achieve that.

Why do I think this way? I was an athlete most of my youth and I am used to and enjoy competition, but that isn’t the main reason. Competition breeds intensity and intensity yields results. Let that sink in. COMPETITION BREEDS INTENSITY AND INTENSITY YIELDS RESULTS. Without this competitive mindset I simply wouldn’t push as hard. I would go lighter, move slower, take more breaks, and generally perform at an average or sub par level. I want the push. I need it. I embrace it. It drives me to be better.

I recently had a chance to workout with one of my coaches prior to afternoon classes. It was one of the best workouts I’ve had in a while because we got to set up next to each other and go head to head for time. She beat me by 3 or 4 seconds and damn it I felt good about that! I made a much better time than I would have on my own and I was smoked in just over 6 minutes. I didn’t expect to keep it that close honestly. We both win! That’s the point.

A couple days later we were talking about the positive aspects of being competitive and she said something that I really though hit the nail on the head. “Competition is part of what makes Crossfit what it is. That measurable way to improve. I wish I could measure all the aspects of my life like Crossfit. Today I know that my Fran time improved by 20% in the last 8 months. I wish I knew if I had gotten measurably better at being a friend, a boss, a dog Mom, a daughter, at reading, or cooking, or problem solving etc. The measurement allows competition with yourself at the most basic level.” Perfect.

There is another key idea in what she said. “Competition with yourself.” If you are one of those athletes that has to scale frequently or comes in towards the back of the pack a lot then trying to measure up against others can be frustrating. Let’s not turn this into a negative experience. You do you! Keep track of your strength gains. Make sure you track your benchmark WODs. Keep a diary. Did you finally get a couple single, single, doubles in a row? Did you use less assistance on a pull up? Did you do a couple full push ups not from your knees? Guess what? You just beat the old you! You earned the right to trash talk the you from yesterday because you are winning! Get it? Turn it into a positive experience at all times. Before you know it you are creeping closer to Rx or maybe you moved from the back of the pack to the middle! Success!

Keep it fun. One of my favorite things is when I see the competitive side come out in our athletes in a fun and positive way. A little ribbing and friendly trash talk brings a different element to the workout. It provides incentive. Bragging rights are fun if they are presented in a fun and kidding humble way. I mean if you can’t break balls with your friends then who can you do it with right?

Understanding “Rx” is critical to improving and gauging your progress as well. Rx WODs are NOT meant to be the average. They are a goal. I’d say in the boxes I’ve had the opportunity to train in that 25% or less of the athletes perform Workouts at Rx. I am an affiliate owner and coach and I frequently have to scale. I’m 44. Ive had numerous surgeries over the years. I have mobility issues. I’m human like most of you. I get frustrated too. I am not elite. I can relate. It makes me a better coach. I know what it means to scale and understand the need for it, but I also aspire to creep closer to Rx as often as I can. THAT is progress and that’s why we are here right?

How does an Rx’d workout tie into being competitive? Well if you couldn’t care less that you are nowhere near Rx then you probably don’t have a competitive bone in your body. You should care! You should want to get as close as possible. It doesn’t matter if  it is realistically out your scope. You should want to improve and get faster and stronger. Let it be a healthy driving force for you. It doesn’t have to be  an entirely frustrating and soul crushing experience. Just attempt to hone a healthy desire for improvement. You just might surprise yourself and exceed what you thought were your capabilities. One of the most rewarding things Crossfit coaches experience is that pride and beaming grin when an athlete completes their first ever Rx’d WOD. Those are the moments that make us truly thankful for and love our jobs.

Find the healthy competitive side of yourself! Check out the leaderboard every once in a while. See what the time or the weight to beat is. Set some goals. Prior to workouts have a sense for the weight you hope to move or a time you want to make. Track your progress. Look back on times or weights from 6 months ago. Break through plateaus. Find a fun gym nemesis/buddy to talk a little smack with. Enter a competition! You’d be surprised how those goals can drive you and how those little victories can lift you up. Working out without a purpose or motivation leads to lackluster results. “But I just want to lose some fat and have a nicer butt!” Cool. I get it. Competition breeds intensity and intensity yields results.

Go forth and lift all the heavy things. J.K.H.

Brad Preslar