Eat the wrong foods- The most common mistake I’ve seen clients make is training on a bad diet. I’ve done it myself and once your body adapts to the general demands of CrossFit you will see stalls, or even declines in both fitness and fat loss. We’ve all seen the guy who trained for an Iron Man but looked shockingly round and unfit; that’s because he was ignoring his nutrition.
Don’t eat enough of the right foods- If you want to crash and burn, there is no faster way than to over-train and under-eat. Extreme low-calorie dieting and high intensity training are not compatible. This comes from the misguided logic that if I train hard and maintain a low calorie diet, then I’ll lose fat. What usually ends up happening is the client starts to lose lean muscle mass, has a bad immune system, trouble sleeping and see’s a consistent dip in performance.
Ignore mobility and flexibility-There’s nothing worse than a guy who can lift a house but can’t bend over to pick up a pencil. There is probably no more important part of your daily workout, with regards to your overall wellness and longevity, than the foam rolling and mobility work you do in the beginning of class. Without that foundation you will quickly become a tin man and start to experience chronic injuries
Progress too fast-CrossFit is competitive. CrossFit is a sport, to ignore that fact is to ignore part of what makes it so great. However, too often that competitive spirit we strive for can induce people to progress too quickly. It’s very easy to judge yourself by the other guy’s performance and too often we may make bad choices on the loads we choose for workouts and the risk of injure goes up. Train hard and progress sensibly. Leave your ego out of it.
Don’t progress at all-I’ve seen the opposite problem as well. You come into the gym and phone it in, never pushing yourself to the limit. If you’ve been using the same scaled weight on kettlebell swings for a year, or haven’t bothered to learn some of the basic movements, then your body has adapted to your workout and you’re going to stall out and loss motivation.
Take yourself too seriously-This one is a matter of perspective. When we overemphasize the self-improvement aspect of CrossFit at the expense of enjoying ourselves we diminish our experience. Ask yourself if you’re truly enjoying yourself? Growth and progress are great but not at the expense of fun and fulfillment.
Don’t make strength work a priority-I’m going to let you in on a secret. That middle portion of class, where you lift heavy weights, that is the part of class that is making the biggest difference to your overall fitness. The WODs are fun and challenging but in the end is the work you do on the platform that will transform you the most. Take this part of your training seriously. Log your progress. If I ask you what your 1rm deadlift or back squat is, you should know immediately. Strength is the fundamental ingredient of fitness. It is the hardest skill to attain, much harder than endurance or stamina and is the foundation of fat loss and body recomposition. If you want to get leaner, lift heavy weights.
Put sleep and recovery on the backburner-We’re all busy people. We have jobs, families, friends and other sports we play. That being said, you need to be your own advocate when it comes to these things. Sometimes taking a rest day (or week) is what’s best for your fitness. You can still work on mobility; go for a hike, play flag football but lifting weights and doing high intensity work without proper decompressing periods is a big mistake. Sleep is the most underrated part of recovery. You should be getting between 6-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep a night or adjusting your training accordingly. Lack of sleep increases production of the stress hormone cortisol which in turn causes us to hold onto bodyfat.
Don’t bother getting to know people at the gym-Even the detractors of CrossFit admit that the community aspect we’ve created is something special. I have made many, many long term friendships during my CrossFit training who are more important to me than any PR. Whether you think you’re interested in this part or not, be open to the experience of communal training. The team atmosphere is really like nothing else I’ve found.
Tell everyone you know that CrossFit is only way to train-We call this the “Kool-Aid” phase in CrossFit. When you first fall in love it can hard not to tell everyone about it. CrossFit inspires a level of fanaticism at times that can seem off-putting to friends and family. There’s nothing wrong with sharing your experience but there’s a line we need to be aware of. No one likes a fundamentalist. Show people how great CrossFit is by the results you get rather than tell them that their own training is worthless or misguided.