Goals and Progress – What do you do when everything is working? Or when it seems like everything is not working?
January 2017 was when I made a real commitment to my health and fitness (yes, this was more than a year after I initially started CrossFit). At first, everything was going great. Huge improvements with diet and consistent training. I was eating healthier, paying attention to sleep and stress. The key in this phase was developing consistency.
Then, things seemed to stall out – after months of consistent gains, it got a little frustrating to be hitting what were the same times or weights on benchmarks and in some cases going backwards. It left me wondering, what was I missing? Why was it going on six months to a year of what seemed like minimal progress? Frustration set in a bit. I’d gotten used to a year of steady PRs, and while I expected that to slow down – I didn’t expect to have my squats, cleans and deadlifts to stall for about a year. And after months of trying to improve my snatch and overhead squat in the group classes, I’d really not gotten anywhere. For a bit, it seemed like everyone around me was still making gains where I wasn’t. So, what did I do?
There were two big factors, first, I started discussing my goals and what I wanted with coaches. This allowed me to set up scaling options and loads that would best match with my goals. Second, I started doing personal training. From years of not being active, and not using or taking care of my body properly, I have some mobility limitations. I’m getting gaining back range of motion in several areas, but it’s slow progress. In addition, I struggle with getting my body to do what my brain is trying to communicate (body awareness). It takes me a lot of practice to learn new things. And in the large group classes, I was practicing some bad form and bad habits. Even with the cues during a group class, sometimes it just didn’t connect to the right body part. For me, it took having a coach watch every single lift. Every single start position. Every movement. And it took months. Each person is different, some people will naturally have movements come easier, especially if it’s been practiced before.
When you are doing personal training, the coach is able to see what you need to do to improve. You are able to address your specific mobility and movement issues. You get repetition where you need it, cues that are individualized and work for you. There is time to use additional tools and videos to analyze. You work accessory drills and practice that is focused on your goals. You practice good habits and consistency.
While I do love the competitive nature of CrossFit and it does push me, I also really enjoy the personal training sessions where it is just me and the bar. I can concentrate, focus and push all the craziness of a day away for an hour and just lift. For me, it’s peaceful. Solid. Just an awesome hour that I look forward to each week.
The gains that I’ve been able to make through the personal training carry over into other movements and classes. Even though I haven’t worked on a stronger handstand push-up, learning to be more explosive in the Olympic lifts seems to help with kipping consecutive handstand push-ups together. Working the overhead squat, getting hip extension and timing has helped with developing a stronger and heavier thruster.
Now, as I’m writing this, I still haven’t actually PR’d my snatch in over a year. But I’m okay with that. I consistently can lift a heavy snatch. It’s smooth. The improvements and confidence have been amazing. That old ugly snatch could best be described as “chuck-the-bar-in-the-air-and-hope-I-can-save-it.” Or, say a prayer and hope I can lift this. God will give a lot of things in life, but a heavier snatch probably isn’t a priority. I used to rely on strength and muscle to get the snatch overhead instead of technique. It was time for a new snatch. One that is sometimes smooth and fast.