A beginners guide to what you should know and log to get the most out of your CrossFit training

As coaches we hark on and on at people to keep food diaries and training logs and it's not that we're being mean or think "grrr everyone should be an athlete" it's so that YOU can get the most out of YOUR training. Remember CrossFit isn't circuits, it's not spin classes, it's a combination of a lot of different strength and performance orientated sports and disciplines. With CrossFit you are on a constant journey of learning, if you think you're ever going to peak... You're an idiot.


Let's list this out using the CrossFit hierarchy of health!


1. Nutrition

Nutrition Your food diary should have everything in it, not only to count your macros but also as a diary to your overall health and mood, feeling really under the weather some week? Not feel as strong? Dodgy stomach? Consult your food diary, has something changed? You have a few social events? Booze takes a lot longer to recover from than your hangover. Maybe it's going the other way, your WOD times are through the roof and you're PR's are flowing freely!! What are you eating and keep eating it!

• What am I eating?
• When am I eating it?
• Am I hitting my calories?

Is my protein adequate?
• Is my fat intake enough?
• Is my carb intake correct?
• How is my mood?
• Do I feel sluggish?
• How is my body composition?
• How am I sleeping?


2. Metabolic Conditioning

Wods are your bread and butter when it comes to CrossFit, being able to perform as many reps as fast as possible without breaking down in technique, we may get made fun of for it but correct me if I'm wrong but I've never seen someone that's thirty stone living off box sets and fizzy drinks doing forty five thrusters and pull ups in under three minutes... Getting your WOD times down and using heavier weight gradually over time is your game plan here, if you can't be bothered writing down every WOD here is a few wods that you should definitely be tracking:

Annie: Double unders and sit ups, two simple exercises that EVERYONE should be able to do, can't do double unders? PRACTICE! Your goal is to complete this as fast as possible, if you can't do double unders yet then it's also a great way to practice them, give yourself a 15 minute time cap and whip yourself silly and see how far you get then repeat it again and again and again until you finish it, then try and beat yourself

• Grace: Clean & jerk 30 times as fast as possible, start off with a light weight, note your time, try it again another time, up the weight and try and keep the same time or beat it, congratulations! You're now stronger!

• Cindy: A beautiful full body workout, pull, push, squat, get as many rounds as you can in 20 minutes! This is a nice one for testing your endurance as the mental aspect really starts to kick in here as the make up of the workout is structured so that you can just keep going and going IF you have the willpower! Aim for constant movement!

Fran: Whether it be ring rows and wall balls the movement is still the same, to do Fran at RX you have to be able to do pull ups and do them FAST! So this is a long term goal and going from ring rows to assisted pull ups is still progress, higher level skills take time but it doesn't mean you shouldn't still be tracking your progress.

The same applies to Diane, Elizabeth, Amanda etc, they can all be scaled in many different ways! Always remember with wods it is INTENSITY you're after, don't be attempting an RX WOD if you can't do the movements well enough and have to take a minute break between each rep... You're wasting your time.


3. Gymnastics


Moving your own bodyweight through space and time is something that should be high on your list of things to develop. A main goal for ANYONE should be to be a better mover, having total body awareness is a massive part of injury prevention, working on not only flexibility but strength within that flexibility! Everything comes down to body movement from how strong you are to how good you are in bed!

I don't need a barbell to practice clean & jerk I can practice it anywhere, most failed lifts are nothing to do with the strength if you've trained correctly, it's because you PHYSICALLY messed the movement up! Practice perfect movement without load and you'll see your performance skyrocket in everything you do.

How do you track your gymnastic progress? Measurement!
• max handstand hold
• max time on rings
• max L-sit
• max dips
• max press ups
• max hang
• max vertical jump height
• max broad jump
• max pull ups
• max back lever hold
• max front lever hold
• max handstand walk
• max muscle ups

If you can repeat it, you can beat it, time, reps, length, whatever that's how you measure gymnastic skills, it's not as glamorous or cool as weightlifting but in my opinion it's more important. If you can't manoeuvre yourself what business have you got with a barbell?


4. Weightlifting And Powerlifting


Everyone's favourite! In your first few months your numbers will sky rocket and you'll feel like a beast every day! But if you're not tracking your initial progress you're gonna get stuck very quickly. Reoccurring formats in all CrossFit sessions strength elements reoccur because they work, simple as, you'll either see 5x5 or 5-5-5-5-5 which means five sets of five reps or 5x3 or 3-3-3-3-3 which means five sets of three reps. Then there's other variations on that like 5-4-3-2-1 etc. but they are more for testing and mixing it up.
• deadlift
• back squat
• front squat
• overhead squat
• strict press
• bench press
• push press

If you are constantly guessing and trying to remember what you did from week to week you're wasting your time If you come in to the gym during an open gym time and don't know what to do, but know those numbers, your coach can give you a program to follow in about three seconds - and the less you have to scratch your head about it the better it will be! Your goal is every time that you attempt those rep formats to increase on what you did before, the body only reacts to new stimulus, if you're still lifting the same weights you were a year ago you're not even maintaining you're going backwards.

One rep maxes are something you shouldn't really go near in those exercises for your first few months, play it safe and progressively load (add weight) week to week with something that is both challenging yet safe! When you are ready for one rep max efforts then you can maybe think about a percentages program that builds on 85% of your one rep maxes etc but always remember that when you see those types of programs they're probably designed specifically for a professional athlete and what they can do personally so always consult your coach first.

When you combine your strength work with your technique work on the lifts they are also a great way to track progress, even if the weight is the same but the technique is better that is still progress!

Always take videos of yourself when you can! You should know what you can do for each of these exercises:
• Clean
• Jerk
• Clean & Jerk
• Snatch
• Drop Snatch
• Power Snatch
• Power Clean
• Push Jerk

On top of those you should also know what weight that you can roughly do barbell complexes with and always try and beat it! If you can do it but it doesn't look pretty I wouldn't recommend counting it.

Tracking the weights you use in wods is important aswell, the weights you use for thrusters, push presses, cleans etc should also be gradually increasing over time but again DO NOT SACRIFICE INTENSITY!


5. Sport

A large majority of people that play sport do CrossFit just because of its general physical preparedness, it's a fantastic way to make you both strong and fast and helps with preventing injuries, but even if you don't have a sport that you take part in it's always a good idea to take a day off somewhere and go play football, tennis, rugby, swim, run, something! Be active!

Enjoy your fitness and have a laugh, even if it's just taking your kids to the park to throw a ball about it should still get your heart rate up and introduce you to throwing, kicking, swinging etc, be the person that will have a go at anything!

So there you have it, you should never be stuck for something to do and the more you can do the better you will become! Start working towards building a better you!

Want to try it? Sign up to our December Onramp course here and become a Varangian!

Any questions and feedback will be greatly appreciated!