The purpose of this post is to help members and athletes establish goals and understand the practicality of competing in different levels in “The Sport of Fitness.”
There will be a follow up post on CrossFit for health and longevity as I believe there should be clear distinction between the two sides of the spectrum.
So you want to compete?
Awesome! Competing at all different levels can be an amazing journey to be a part of both coaching and participating.
In my experiences, athletes interested in the competitive side of fitness typically come from one of two viewpoints:
CROSSFIT GAMES | SANCTIONED EVENTS
1.) I saw the CrossFit Games on TV, social media, or YouTube and I want to train for that!
2.) My friend has been posting on his or her social media page or bragging at work about competing in CrossFit competitions and I think that’s what I want to do.
From the outside looking in, training for #1 or #2 could appear to be the same. The purpose of this post is to shed light on the fact that training for the CrossFit Games or a CrossFit sanctioned event (#1) is a full time job. This is similar to watching the athletes running 13 minute 5ks in the Olympics.
Training for a local competition (#2) is more comparable to your 5k Turkey trot. You can sign up and just do it.
Sanctioned events could be compared to the Houston marathon where you have elite professional runners (athletes competing for money and a spot at the CrossFit Games) mixed with folks who trained to complete the marathon (intermediate and scaled athletes) but do not focus on the marathon solely as their job.
What does it take to compete?
To compete in a local competition you should be familiar with all the common CrossFit movements and be able to complete full range of motion movements without risk of injury.
There are so many different levels of local competition from ultimate newbie, scaled, all women’s, all men’s, masters, kids, intermediate, and “RX”…. Every local competition will provide movement standards or expectations for athletes prior to signing up. You can expect these events to range anywhere from $50 – $150 per participant to register.
Local competitions can be great fun for family and friends and they are a great way to support the local fitness community as well as small businesses.
By completing the CrossFit Annihilation workout of the day 4-5 days per week, you should be ready for most local competitions intermediate or scaled. To compete RX in local competition however, you should be able to complete the majority of our workouts without scaling and be near the top of the whiteboard on a day to day basis.
TRAINING FOR A SANCTIONED EVENT OR THE CROSSFIT GAMES
I want to be fully transparent in regards to training for this level of competition to eliminate false expectations and self made pressure to anyone who reads this post.
If you have a full time job outside of a gym, it is highly unlikely you will have the time or energy to compete at this level. If this fact ruins your reasoning to do CrossFit then I’m sorry, you can hit the exit browser button now and thank me later for saving you the trouble… if you have the time or are just curious what it takes then continue to 2.).
2.) If you have the time and energy to train for the CrossFit games you need to be aware of exactly how much training needs to be done on a day to day basis
as well as the other factors that need to be considered.
A. 30-60 minutes daily (or more) of body work.
This could include physical therapy movement preparation, foam rolling, stretching, warm up, cool down, massage, chiropractic work etc.
Without this type of TLC to your body, it is highly unlikely you will make it through the years and years of high volume training necessary to compete at this level. The demands on your body at this stage are far beyond what is considered “ideal for health” and more towards what is considered “extreme.”
B. 8,9, or 10+ hours of sleep on a regular basis. If you find a CrossFit Games athlete with a full time job outside of the gym getting by on 6 hours of sleep daily I’ll drink a cup of canola oil with a cherry coke for your viewing pleasure. That was a joke, the point is I don’t think you’ll find that anymore. Maybe in 2009.
C. Alcohol– if you’re a male consuming more than a few drinks total per month, I’d be willing to bet your hormone levels are too low to compete at this level. That’s just my theory based on what alcohol does to a males hormone levels and heart rate variability.
D. The programming – the volume needed at this level is no longer safely achievable within the first 3 (usually more) years of training. Basically, unless you have the enforceable future planned for training at an elite level… I mean, here’s an example of the work you will need to put in.
Example training week:
Take our most intense CrossFit Annihilation or local crossfit gym’s workout of the week. Combine 2-3 of these per day 3-4 days per week in combination with:
KTX Capacity workout of the day 3-4 days per week ensuring you hit every energy system with every possible cardio element on a fairly regular basis.
KTX Strength and Weightlifting 4-5x per week ensuring you are about as physically strong and efficient as possible on every lift as your body can possibly handle.
KTX Gymnastics 2-3x per week ensuring you can do very high volumes without unnecessary stress to your joints (good form).
Personal accessory work regularly to make sure you have no weak areas.
The training listed above has to be done not only day in and day out but realIstically year in and year out which leads us to the next point…
E.) You have to be beyond a normal level of mentally strong. What some people call #obsessive.
It’s easy for people who do no understand what kind of mindset it takes to be a champion to point the finger at everyone better then they are at their craft and accuse them all of using steroids or other performance enhancing drugs.
Obviously, in any competitive sport there will be athletes doing whatever they can to have an advantage or cheat the competition. That does not mean that all athletes at the elite level are doing it. In my experiences being around elite athletes of all different backgrounds, the best ones usually have more integrity and less desire to cheat where as the ones pointing fingers and getting caught are the ones who (in their head) have to use drugs to try and keep up. This is not always 100% true (obviously).
Personal belief – some athletes cheat, most do not.
The best of the best have the MINDSET, the GENETICS, most have a lifelong TRAINING HISTORY, and skill sets that go far beyond what the losing mindset will allow them to see. This isn’t a 6 week training program. These athletes are doing the big AND little things day and in day out all the time.
F.) $$$ is almost non existent until you are the best of the best.
This could be an issue in many areas, including but not limited to :
1. Body maintenance is expensive. You need a good network of physical therapists, chiropractors, massage therapists, or sponsors willing to help in your journey. Or a sugar momma.
2. The amount of food needed is expensive. Most aspiring athletes do not get anywhere near the nutrition needed to compete at their desired peak levels. Supplements are essential to fill the void so sponsors or $$$ are required here as well.
3. Nutrition can be stressful for athletes. Having a nutritionist or meal prep service can help take stress off the shoulders. Both of which cost money or require sponsorships.
4. Qualifiers, travel, and signing up all cost about as much as a vacation… fund raisers & sponsors are almost always needed for this considering these athletes don’t typically have full time jobs unless they are RICH fitness trainers 🙂
5. You are trying to compete or “catch up” to the athletes who already have all of the money and sponsors listed above … this makes a coach or manager even more valuable…. you either need a really dedicated supper buddy or someone who believes In your abilities to donate this kind of time and energy into helping you achieve your goals. Or be that much more disciplined on your own watch = even more stress.
I’m sure I’m missing some key points, but I’m about to land in Colorado and think i got my message across.
1. Training for local competitions can be great fun and are realistic to any person or skill level.
2. Training for elite level competitions is unrealistic for most people and shouldn’t be a burden on your shoulders if you don’t have the time and resources essential to be successful.
I am always available to help you establish a training goal and keep it real regarding the competition side of CrossFit or “The Sport of Fitness.”
We are spending a good amount of time and energy on correcting movement patterns, gymnastics and Olympic lifting accessories and “skills.”
I can relate to the frustrations that may arise by taking a few steps back in one area to improve overall. The largest mind shift I had to take several years ago was convincing myself that a direct focus on skills and movement would have a beneficial long term effect. I was trying to be competitive in CrossFit so I thought I needed MORE volume here and there when in reality the QUALITY of volume and correcting movement flaws improved my overall fitness. It took time to develop this relationship, but after a lifelong journey of different sports and military (10+ years of CrossFit sprinkled in there) I’m deeply in love with the smarter not harder approach. “What’s the best bang for my buck?”
Attention to detail:
Olympic lifting and gymnastics are among the most technical sports you will play. Both of which have their young athletes practicing hours and hours throughout the younger years of their life where motor development is developed at a much faster rate than where most of us begin “functional fitness programs” or CrossFit. (As adults).
For the mass majority, 1 hour of gym training 5x per week is the most that can fit in the busy work life schedule. This makes the 1 hr class valuable!
Focus on the small details.
Focus on what your body is doing on the skills day in and day out and you will make long term improvements.
Focus on perfecting the movements before adding volume and weight!
Buying into this belief will allow yourself time to recover, adapt, and improve.
Many people are looking for a 6 week or short term body transformation. If this is your mindset there is nothing wrong with that but I do not believe CrossFit Annihilation is the best option for you. Sure, I’ve seen amazing transformations happen in 6 weeks. But the faster you try to achieve a goal the higher the risk of injury and burnout occurs and the unrealistic long term diet/lifestyle changes unfold.
We want to develop lifelong skills, health, and fitness. This takes consistency and smart work, which is typically more difficult for people than “hard workouts.” Because it requires more discipline, patience, and attention to details.
• If you prioritize hard, challenging, and fun workouts only, you will inevitably reach some stalling point in your training. (Possibly injuries).
• Honoring the progression principles from the beginning will save you countless hours of frustration and disappointment.
• Honoring the fundamentals doesn’t have to mean boring or easy. We spend a great deal of time keeping the program fun and challenging while still emphasizing the basics and foundations. (I will be the first to admit, this has been a huge shift in programming/culture and I feel guilt for how I initially programmed for the gym).
• Training is not a constant progression. Take specific time periods to progress and follow a plan towards a goal, then step back to recalibrate and refresh before you tackle the next big goal and training build. Regress back to the foundations!
If you feel lost or unsure where you can focus time/energy on improving as an athlete PLEASE reach out to myself or one of the coaches at KTX!
We have a wide range of brilliant minds from doctors of physical therapy, movement specialist and massage therapists, gymnastics, weightlifting, endurance and nutrition coaches.
We want to help you reach your goals!
P.S. – this message comes from some deep bitterness in myself from cramming in “junk volume” a month leading up to a local competition I should not have taken so seriously. I was quickly reminded by my body that I’m not 20 years old anymore 😉 I’m not injured, but it was a frustrating couple of weeks scaling the workout of the day.