The ultimate goal. The Alpha and the Omega. Yin and Yang. We spend our entire lives in the never-ending search of balance. Balance in happiness, physical appearance, health, professional success, etc…
We’ve learned along the way, through trail and error, that Balance is not easy to achieve. Try keeping a pace of 35 stokes/min on the evil rower while also maintaining a perfectly even 500m/min pace. Good luck. But is this what we’re really looking for? Ask yourself honestly, “If my idea of personal balance was here, right now, would I be content?”. My answer is probably no. We CrossFitters are movers and shakers. We strive for more, for perpetual improvement. What our picture of balance is today will not be the same picture tomorrow or a year from now…BECAUSE I LIVE CROSSFIT and I will be a better me tomorrow than I was today.
Achieving balance in the 10 skills of fitness is incredibly difficult, if not impossible. But wait, that word doesn’t exist, BECAUSE WE LIVE CROSSFIT. So we’ll stick with incredibly difficult for the time-being. There are always ebbs and flows in one’s progression. Sometimes we even have to back-track down the mountain or set up base-camp for an extended period of time…but the climb is still there, available to us for the remainder of our lives. Sometimes we suffer injury, get lethargic, lazy or burt-out . It should be EXPECTED and its OK…as long as we eventually strap our Inov-8s back on and pick up the steel once again. Starting over ALWAYS sucks, I know because I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve personally had to do it. Am I really starting over though? Or do I possess a certain amount of acquired form and function regarding strength and conditioning stored up in my brain? Am I standing on the starting line of my first ever 5k? Do I know what a Clean + Jerk is and the basics of how its done? Am I TRULY starting over, or just a little behind?
No. So tape up, chalk up, shut up and get to work. If you’ve been out of the game for a little while TOO BAD. You’ve been here before, you know what these first couple of months are gonna feel like and I DON’T WANNA HEAR YOUR WHINING. Stand back up and fight, get that feeling back that only we know…BECAUSE WE LIVE CROSSFIT.
Who said that in your never-ending search for balance that you had to follow our gym’s or CFHQ’s programming everyday exactly to the “T”? Nobody will ever tell me that I MUST do 3 Metcons and 2 strength days a week no matter what. These WODs/programs are an excellent ballpark or basic guideline but not the end-all-be-all. You know why? Because no athlete is the same. New to CrossFit or a seasoned vet, young or old, male or female we are ALL out of balance in different ways.
One of the great things about CrossFit is its “Constant variance” of the modalities/varieties of fitness that actually WORK and get results. Better than any other program hands-down simply because of that fact. But some of us at times, especially after having been a CrossFitter for an extended period of time, need to break away or supplement our individual training in order to achieve our personal balance. For example, what’s wrong with taking a month and just O-lifting because your O-lifting happens to suck?
“Well Coach, um, I wouldn’t even THINK about doing that because then my exceptional Cardiovascular endurance (Or gymnastics, KB juggling, triple-unders, whatever…) will suffer and I don’t want that…”
Wait an F-ing second!…didn’t we just identify that your O-Lifts SUCK and you should be capable of much, much more? So If we drew up a bar graph with all the facets of CrossFit, you could opt to use the ten skills, or say various modalities of training (O-lifting, plyometrics, etc…) that would mean that your endurance level is way up here right? “Um, yeah”. And you O-Lifting skills are way down here in the gutter, right? “Right”. So maybe, just maybe, We could take a month suffering through not doing all these sexy Metcons that you feel safe doing? “OK, but…”. Let’s switch gears and take a month out of your remaining, what? 40-60 years that you have left of being a CrossFitter, to set you up with a plan focusing on these 3 lifts, or even better one at a time (Snatch first…Coach B represent!) from a speed, strength and power perspective. From an O-lifters perspective.
If you are a coach, I have found this to be especially effective during that inevitable, horrible thing that plagues us all eventually, INJURY. It always sucks, I know. But sometimes when we are limited by an outside force and not given a choice, that’s exactly what we need to open our eyes. I don’t want any of my athletes to get injured but I try to see the good in it, and you should too if its you. I and the other CFL coaches will always be willing to work with somebody that is injured, but there’s something you have to do first. You have to come to us and show your desire to keep training instead of sitting on the couch putting on all those pounds that you just lost during the last paleo challenge. That’s really the key to all learning or training, the student’s desire to learn and progress. You will only get in what you put out. Go try to learn any martial art and see how far you get being late, lazy, and not listening to the instructor. I called mine “Sifu” when I studied Kung-Fu. “But I pay you good money to train here!” is not enough. If you really want to learn or progress to a high level at ANYTHING in life YOU HAVE TO SHOW/PROVE YOUR DESIRE to the one’s with the knowledge. Some people don’t like me publicly stating this fact (Ego, etc.) but it IS a fact none-the-less and one you’re better off learning now…it applies to ALL OF US, Including me.
Back to my injured athlete, based on your calamity, the training you may be capable of might be limited, monotonous, repetitive. You may think, “I could just do this at home”. NO YOU F-ING WOULDN’T, LIAR! Beer and pizza. You know what this box and your friends here do for you…they do what you can’t do by yourself and that’s why you need to keep coming. You know this BECAUSE YOU LIVE CROSSFIT…Or you can stay home, crying, and fall off the edge of the earth to never again have the SICK privilege experiencing what the “Nasty girls (Or guys)” of CrossFit make you feel like! Shirts tearing off exposing chests and sports bras! Booty shorts! Yells and cries of rage and agony! Sweat angels! Vomit! True triumph!
What were we talking about again? (I’m thinking about the original “Nasty Girls” Youtube video) Oh, right! Balance. So do these “Ground-breaking” (Sarcasm) concepts of skill/modality specific training only apply if you get injured. Of course not! Everyone knows what a “GOAT” is right? Your weaknesses. Exercises you suck at or just simple hate. It is often that we work on these because we want to get better at these thing so they won’t suck as much. When do I see these worked on most often? Pre or post WOD. Are these good times to work on them. OK, yes and no. I’ll give you that, it can’t hurt right? But when do these “GOATS” really suck for you? When you do them in a WOD, right? So how about designing an AMRAP with some of your GOATS and facing them head on when it hurts the most? That’s when they suck, right?
On the side before a WOD little Timmy comes up to me a whispers, “Hey Coach, I know I suck at HSPUs, and I know HSPUs suck to do, but I can do them successfully if I can kip. The AMRAP today has Push-Ups, could I sub them out and make this WOD absolutely suck, because I LOVE the suck, I know I suck, so I’d like to suck it up and make myself suffer in the suck because that’s the only way I will get better!” “Sure Timmy”, Coach says, “Lets get you set up over here and quickly check your form. OK, good to go. I respect your motivation little dude!”
Are YOU little Timmy?
But when I think about training an athlete I choose to first look at it from a broader angle. Why not SKILL specific training to better achieve balance? I can hit an athlete from a hell of a lot of angles to boost a specific skill that is lacking rather than just a GOAT while possibly not even losing anything from the others. There are some however, that MUST be give and take. It is unavoidable. Sometimes we have to sacrifice a little over here to get better over there. You can’t just look at today, this week, this month, look at the master plan of your life and what is going to benefit you in the long run.
So I encourage you to stop and look at yourself when you are done reading this and ask, “Where am I lacking?“, “What can I do extra that I’m just not doing?” and “What should I sacrifice in order to improve somewhere else?“. You can look at it regarding your life…or CrossFit, the same ideas written here will apply. You may find that some skill specific training is needed to get you to the next level. Maybe you won’t have to sacrifice a skill and only some more of your time. Maybe you WILL need to halt your life/program in one respect and commit to a phase of strict power-lifting, O-lifting, therapy, diet, or adequate sleep for a period of time in order to find your Balance.
The point is…it’s OK to break from the norm and do what you, as an individual need to do, to take another step closer to Balance. But here’s the kicker, now…I’m going to prep you for this. DO NOT let this take the wind out of your sails. What I’m about to say is only my opinion but I believe it to be true especially because of type of people CrossFitters are…
You will never achieve balance. You might come close if you’re lucky…
But that’s not the point now is it? You will come close if you’re lucky but it is something we are rewarded the privilege to continue to work on. Like a painting you never finish painting It doesn’t make it any less of a masterpiece, does it? We know where the real beauty lies, in the chase for it. In the improvement, in the failed lifts, then in the PR’s, in doing something for someone else selflessly, in actually feeling good and happy when you wake up in the morning, in getting that promotion at work you earned, or getting to see someone pull their first successful snatch, or losing 20 pounds you didn’t want, in gaining 20 pounds that you DO want, or finally getting enough sleep! (HUGE benefit I have recently been granted, thank you…), or ACTUALLY TAKING AN EXTRA DAY OFF WHEN YOUR BODY IS TELLING YOU IT NEEDS IT AND IF YOU TRAIN AGAIN TODAY YOU ARE RISKING A SERIOUS INJURY AND WHY ARE YOU TRAINING SIX DAYS IN A ROW ANYWAYS WHEN I TOLD YOU NOT TO AND YOU KNOW THAT I NEVER TRAIN MORE THAN THREE DAYS IN A ROW, OK USUALLY TWO-A-DAYS, BUT NEVER MORE THAN THREE DAYS IN A ROW BUT YOU NEVER LISTEN CUZ YOU ALWAYS WANT MORE, MORE, MORE…
wow, sorry. Yes, sometimes you’re children and we have to constantly remind you of shit you already know. But that’s what we’re here for. It’ll be a miracle if you guys don’t make me crazier than I already am though. Wait a second, I do what I do because it helps me in my quest for personal Balance… Damn-it!…guess I’ll have to show up again tomorrow.
Race ya! Or maybe we should just chill? Last one’s a rotten egg! The tortoise and the hare…