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It’s Good to Be a Kid Again

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For CrossFit Kids, the philosophy is one wherein the primary goals are:  a) to have fun, and b) to learn optimal form for functional movements in the process. Before ever touching a weight, kids spend years putting in thousands of reps of unweighted squats, presses, deadlifts, pull ups, push ups and handstands, going through the necessary progressions and perfecting their form in the process. Then and only then do they graduate to a barbell, once puberty begins to set in and their form indicates they are ready for it.

Contrast that with the way most adults learn to CrossFit and take on CrossFit workouts. It’s true, we do go through an introductory course wherein we too, learn the foundational movements. But then we hit regular CrossFit classes, and our competitive nature kicks in. We want to see numbers on the board, and we want to see those numbers go up. Fast. We become impatient with our progress, and look for any “hack” to achieve the movement we are striving for, with no thought to how that may in fact be hindering our growth in the process.

I recognize that most adults don’t feel they can take the time to learn CrossFit the way kids do. But that doesn’t mean we can’t take a page from how they learn and apply it to our own training and practice.

Sometimes its a simple shift of mindset. In working with our Pony Club, we have them work on one skill a month. A month. It doesn’t mean they don’t do other movements, it simply means that each day we are doing something that leads them to perform that specific skill better. When we correct them, we choose one thing to focus on for that day, rather than overload them with all the cues they might need to perform the movement correctly. If they successfully make that one correction, it’s counted as a win for the day.

As adults, we can apply this during our training too. It might be as simple as looking at a WOD and focusing on one element that you want to make better. Choose one thing you need to work on, such as doing your cleans with fast elbows. Or if you are someone who prefers to break movements into small sets (guilty!), perhaps you can try to do at least one round of a movement unbroken, even if it makes your resulting time slower. Choose something that is challenging but achievable. That’s your win for the day, regardless of whether you went RX or super scaled.

Competing has a place in our fitness journey. Competing can encourage you to do things you didn’t realize you could do – like do Fran unbroken, or PR a lift. But competing is not what you should be doing day in, day out.

Competing means you are going to try and win the day any way possible. For some that means shaving reps, or not squatting below parallel, just to be able to say that they won. For others, it means meeting the minimally required standard, regardless of how you do it.

Training, on the other hand, means you are still going hard and trying to win, but that you are focused on getting better at something as part of the process. Guess which one is going to benefit you more over the long term?

It can be hard to pull ourselves back from competing when we should be training or practicing. But there’s a deep well of gains to be had if you can take a step back sometimes to work on quality. Take the time and leave your ego out of it.

Because which of us doesn’t have room for improvement? It’s a long journey. Set yourself up for a nice ride.


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