How To “Get It”

I’ve read a couple of nice Intro to CrossFit posts recently–it’s not perfect but I like this one the best and think it’s worth a read for newer and older folks alike.  (Thanks to AF for the original post and to our friends at H20 and Mountain Strength for reposting recently.)

It’s a good topic, this idea of how to ‘get it.’  While I’d love to say our gym is the kind of gym you don’t have to get but can just kind of fit into from day one, the reality is that we do have a fairly systematic way of doing things, it can be daunting, and we hear from enough of you that it can take a while to feel comfortable with the routine.  We’ve tried our hand at a couple of different how-to’s, but it occurred to me today that we might just be able to boil everything down to three main areas and help you all out a little bit more successfully than we’ve done thus far.  So we’ll try it down below:

1. Weightlifting.  After a month or so we will have you set ‘a max’ for each of our four big lifts (squat, bench, deadlift, and press–we do each of these every week in some form or another).   You are in charge of owning this number.  We will tell you when to raise it, lower it, or test it again.  Otherwise leave it alone.

We usually work in three distinct ranges relative to your max: 50-60% when we are doing lots of reps per set (this may be written as ‘volume’ or ‘assistance’ work), 75-85% when we are working to one top set (5-10 reps), or 90%+ when we are working to a single or double (1 or 2 reps).  (‘Working to’ means working towards a last set, or a last set or two)

2. Warmup sets.  We can fairly safely do work in the 50-60% range without much of a specific warmup.  Maybe the empty bar or a set at 40%.
When we are working towards the 75-85% range, we want 3-4 good warmup sets of 5 reps–something like sets of 5 at 40, 55, 70%.
When we are working towards a 90%+ range (something we might call a max effort), we want to taper the reps as we add weight.  Start with sets of 5 as usual, but drop to doubles and singles as we get closer to max.

5-7 total sets including warmups is usually a good number to shoot for.  More towards 7-9 on days we’re pushing the envelope because those last sets will be singles or doubles.

Our conditioning segments at the end of class are comprised of movements you won’t need additional warmup for.  Those…you can simply pick your weight and go.

3. YOU.  This is the money maker.  You won’t get this place until you realize we are asking a lot of you.  Honestly, I would say that we are asking things of you that you may come here thinking a trainer or workout program should do for you.  We want you to own every aspect of your training here.  Our job is to provide the framework, the coaching, and the encouragement.  Your job is to listen, think, and execute.

Your workout is your own workout.  You need to write it down, you need to put the weight on the bar that your percentages dictate (or that your trainer has prescribed for you), and you need to ask questions if something does not make sense.  You must never, ever settle for using someone else’s weight because it’s convenient or you are afraid to make waves by changing weight on the bar or the height of the rack.  Ever.  You are here for YOUR workout and it is our job to make the time for you to get it done efficiently but correctly.

Most importantly, you need to expect more of yourself.  Always.  You will become better than sentences like ” I’m just not a good listener” by trying harder, learning to expect more of yourself, and/or simply leaving the bullshit outside the gym.  If you can’t do that eventually, this is not the place for you.  In here, we want you to suck wind, not binkies.  I say that with all the love and respect  I own: the people who kick ass in here ask a lot of themselves and make every second of their training count.  We live to help you at every step of the way but you need to take pride in and recognize the primacy of helping yourself as well.

CLOSE.  The beauty of all this is that if you buy into what we do here, and if you own your own training…when you succeed, you don’t need to film an infomercial when someone asks you how you did it.  You can simply give the best, most honest answer there is: I showed up, worked hard, and I did it myself.

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