5 Things to Know About Your First Three Months of Crossfit
While I have been doing Crossfit for over a year, I see so many new people coming in that it mentally takes me back to my first three months of Crossfit, making me think of things I have learned and things I wish I knew. I've put together a few things that I think anyone starting Crossfit should keep in mind as they start their journey!
Check your ego at the door
I do not care if you were quarterback of your high school's football team, or an elite gymnast, or have been doing deadlifts and squats for years in the globo gym. When you walk in through the doors at a Crossfit box, be humbled and take everything in as if you were learning it for the first time.
First and foremost, listen to your coaches. Crossfit boxes typically do not have mirrors, but they have coaches who are educated in proper movement standards. If something feels off or if your mobility is lacking, drop the weight. Focus on proper form on all of the movements before you start to increase weight, otherwise you are putting yourself at risk for injury. There is zero shame in scaling a movement until you are able to perfect it. This may mean you are working with a PVC pipe, a training bar, or a "girl bar."
The first time you can put "RX" next to your name is a feeling unlike any other, but be smart about your choice to RX a workout. Just because you are physically capable of doing the prescribed weights for a WOD doesn't always mean that you should. Be patient with the process. Starting from the bottom will allow you to advance more quickly than someone who is executing improper muscle memory.
Mastery is impossible
No one walks into a box knowing all of the movements.
There will be so many skills that you will learn in your first few months, many of which you may never have done before. Kipping, box jumps, Olympic lifting, powerlifting, kettlebell swings, burpees, wall balls, double-unders, toes-to-bar, pistols, handstand pushups, rope climbs. While you may learn how to do the skill in the first three months, and possibly properly perform any of them, there is no mastery within these first three months. And that is okay. Focus on building strength and learning proper techniques for each movement.
Know that there are people who have been crossfitting for six months, a year, and more that still cannot do pistols or muscle-ups! Some still have mobility issues when squatting, cannot efficiently snatch, or have a horrible front-rack position. Even when you think you have become efficient in a skill, there will always be more to learn, no matter what level you are at. There will constantly be room to grow, so do not rush the process.
Do not fall into a comparison trap. It is so easy to look at someone else who may have started around the same time as you or is the same size of you, but remember that every single person has a different background. Remember where you are at today and use that as your measure of progress for the future, not measure against anyone else.
You get what you give
There are so many levels of commitment to Crossfit and in these early months, you will go from being young and impressionable to being overwhelmed and wanting it all! Some people are there for a good workout; others are there to train. It takes time to figure out which one of those people you are. Those who want a good workout can show up, do the work, get a good sweat, and go home. Others want to be more competitive and put in extra effort to become good at the sport.
In the first few months, focus on showing up and doing the work. Learn the movements and ask a million questions. Check out the different programs available, from standard WOD classes to Endurance or MetCon classes to Oly classes. Absorb every bit of information presented to you in this early phase which will help guide you in your next phase.
It's okay to not be "in the know"
It is so easy to get wrapped up in "looking the part" when you start Crossfit. The basic uniform for Crossfit appears to be booty shorts, knee-high socks, and tanks for the girls, and tight-fitted tees and board shorts for the dudes, with Nanos to complete each outfit. Additionally, the more experienced Crossfitters will have their own jump rope, knee sleeves, wrist wraps, and Oly lifters.
While the latter items may help improve performance once you become more proficient in the movements, the former ones are all about personal preference and comfort. Wear what you feel most comfortable in and take the time focusing on what you are doing versus how you look doing it.
You may also hear people name-dropping, talking about Froning or Foucher, rattling off their benchmark WOD times, discussing the latest episode of Barbell Shrugged, or what was posted on MobilityWOD. While this is all great information to know and you should definitely check out the resources, your focus should be on building a solid foundation and a relationship between you and the sport. All the extra fun stuff will fall into place after!
Start good habits early
Crossfit is an excellent catalyst to make other life changes, partially because your body will be screaming for you to do it. Too tired to workout? Make sure that you are getting adequate sleep. Not enough energy? Analyze your diet to see where you may be lacking. Sore all of the time or unable to perform a full range of motion on a movement? Stay well-hydrated and stretch and mobilize every single day.
Keep a journal of everything that you do. Refer back to this when you feel you aren't making any progress or if you are having any issues; it is amazing to see how far you will go in just three months. Record your lifts, and record how you feel. Track your body fat over scale weight and understand that your weight may go up.
Become well-rounded in your exercise, nutrition, sleep, and mental health. Without a balance between all of these, you will not be successful in the sport as a whole.
I truly believe it takes about three months to develop a foundation with Crossfit and to form good habits which will help you further your progress. Keep showing up, do the work, and most importantly, be patient with the process!
What do you know now that you wish you knew in your first three months of Crossfit?
What is one movement that you consider yourself good at, but could do better?
How long have you been doing Crossfit and what movement do you feel you will never master?