Everyone comes to CrossFit with a background, a training history. Even if that history is plagued with failed attempts at joining a gym or plenty of time on the couch, this background is responsible for the way our bodies, nervous systems, and neural pathways have developed.
We all have things we are good at
For instance, an individual who has been running marathons for several to many years probably has a fondness for endurance-related cardio-respiratory activities and is probably pretty good at them. That person also probably enjoys those things, which is why they have opted to do them for so long.
Where goats come from
Now for whatever reason (aside from being awesome) they’ve decided to try CrossFit, and they will naturally gravitate toward CrossFit workouts that mimic the stimuli they are used to with running. This is the start of what most coaches like to call “cherry picking,” which in reality is also ignoring “goats” or weaknesses.
In the past, I’ve talked about max recoverable volume (MRV), so if you haven’t, check out that post, as I’ll only review briefly here. No one should go over their MRV, and depending on the stimuli, people’s MRV and rate of decay (helps you recognize MRV) will be different. This can get complicated quickly, but as I talk about working on weaknesses, I want to be sure that everyone understands we should not do this to the point where we surpass our MRV.
Now, back to our runner. And to be clear, I’m not just picking on runners, it’s just an easily labeled example. After being in CrossFit for a few months, our running friend has fallen into pattern with the workouts he attends. He never misses a longer interval day, but opts out of the heavy lifting days. While we understand someone not feeling like they’ve worked out unless they breathe heavy, but missing heavy lifting days because they don’t play to your strength will only lead to problems down the road. Additionally, there is a significant body of research showing that strength training AND cardio-respiratory in a balanced regimen offer significant benefits over specialization.
Leave no training stone unturned
To try and nail this idea home — to be a well-rounded athlete, your regimen needs a diversified approach to training (thus why CrossFit is so popular and effective), and what we NEED most is often what we neglect. Better objectivity about our weaknesses and balance in our training can push us over the hump of plateau, improve our overall quality of life or improve performance in hobbies and sports we enjoy outside the gym. Being able to run a 5:30-minute mile is great, but being able to deadlift your bodyweight is also important and will help multiple facets of essential human performance. Reversely, deadlifting 2-3x your bodyweight is great, but if you need to take a break on a flight of stairs, you might struggle keeping pace with active friends or family, or other activities such as gardening and sightseeing.
Greater strength through weakness
The point is, often times we neglect what we don’t like. And often what we don’t like are things we aren’t good at or comfortable with. It’s a vicious cycle and all the more reason to end it by not cherry-picking and taking your weaknesses head on. Get out of your comfort zone, and embrace the suck. The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll be trending toward improvement, and if you’re like many, your weaknesses stem from more mental barriers than physical.
Always remember, you can only be as strong as your willingness to face your weaknesses.