When we first start CrossFit, the intensity is usually more than we’re used to. It can take weeks or months to acclimate to this. We all know that “redline” feeling when your heart is about to beat out of your chest if you do even one more wallball, or the nausea that ensues on those last couple of burpees or the burn in your shoulders as you grind out that last push press. Crossfit encourages you to push past your former comfort zone and in part this is what makes it so effective.
That said, many of you need to learn how manage your rest during a WOD. Going to the edge of failure early in a WOD is not a good strategy for improving your work capacity and improving your overall fitness. There are WODs occasionally, with built in rest, that ask you to straddle that redline, but with the rest built in, you can handle it and push past old limits. But knowing where those limits are, relative to your fitness is what allows many to go to the next level. So what ends up happening if we anxiously rush past that redline? Usually a lot of standing around, rechalking of hands that don’t need anymore chalk, multiple water breaks and generally a lot of mismanaged time looking around. All of this begins with proper scaling. If you don’t scale enough because your pride got in the way or you don’t know your personal limits then you’re missing out on the benefits of the workout and your form is probably breaking down. You need to listen to the coach on this one, while being your own best advocate. I generally know what one of my regular athletes is capable of so I can offer suggestions. If they make a good case that they’re ready to push it a little then we can take it from there. So here is what I suggest:
1. Scale appropriately. This is the key. If you can’t do solid reps then there is no reason to do it.
2. Have a strategy for the WOD. Think about how you’ll break it up and stick with the gameplan. If you’re nearing the end and you have more gas in the tank, put your foot on the pedal in the last minute.
3. Manage your rest intervals. Use either the clock or your breath counts to time your rest. Don’t just stand there until you think you’re ready to continue. 10-15 seconds on the clock or 5-10 deep breaths will usually give your battery a good recharge.
4. Don’t get fidgety. There is a saying that if you want to find the rookie in the gym, just follow the chalk. You don’t need to rechalk your hands after every 5th rep. You don’t need to adjust all your equipment and gear every round. Or drink water constantly throughout the WOD.
5. Lastly, stay organized rep to rep. This requires attention and concentration.
Not to get too philosophical here, but this idea applies to nearly everything we do in life. Think about your workday. Sustained, planned bursts of work without interruption, punctuated by timed breaks is about twice as productive as random work intervals with random breaks and interruptions. Each time you get distracted from a task by a stray email or an unnecessary facebook check in, you lose more time than you think. Manage your rest, stay organized, Do the work an you’ll continue to improve.