50 Ways To Get Better At CrossFit

 

Your Task:

1. Read the list…
2. Implement…
3. Watch yourself get better!

How to get better at CrossFit (in no particular order):

1. Gear up. Get Oly shoes, some inov-8s or nano’s, a speed rope, wrist wraps, and quality workout clothes.

2. Lift heavy weights regularly. Don’t just stay in comfortable 70% zones. Push your limit… which leads perfectly to #3…

3. Use a spotter and FAIL. If you aren’t missing reps, you aren’t training hard enough. Period.

use a spotter 50 Ways To Get Better At CrossFit

 4. Work mobility A LOT. Before, During, After.

5. Take your training seriously. Always strive to become better.

6. Don’t take your training too seriously. Give yourself a break.

7. Train with others. It’s just better.

8. Show up no matter what. If you aren’t in the mood, here’s what you do. First: Walk to your car and drive to the Box. Second: Figure the rest out later.

9. Fast before you train.  ‘The idea that we “need” to consume calories before, during, or after training, is bullshit hype pushed on us from the bodybuilding and supplement industries.

When you switch your metabolism over to training without food, you will PR more often and feel better in general. And you’ll want to send me a thank you card… you’re welcome.

10. Don’t throw your barbell or other equipment. It’s just douchey.

11. Warm-up A LOT. Make sure you focus your warm-ups and utilize dynamic movements before you train. This will improve your results and prevent injury.

12. Motivate other athletes. To receive, you must give.

13. Practice handstands often. You have to get upside down if you want to improve them.

14. For Females (and guys who don’t have strict pull-ups yet): Have someone spot your ankles as you perform strict pull-ups (push off the spotters hands to assist reps and go for failure). This is the best way to develop the dead hang pull-up that I have found.

get better at crossfit ladies 50 Ways To Get Better At CrossFit

15. Don’t cherry pick your WOD’s or days. Show up the days that make you want to hide. These are the days you should never skip (weaknesses… HeLLo).

16. Train your weaknesses. Really try to destroy them. This is the only way to become a better athlete in my professional opinion.

17. Utilize your coaches before and after class. They love to talk training, food, and lifestyle. Ask them questions and then shut up and listen. You will learn a LOT.

18. Ask other athletes for tips and tricks. We are all on different paths in this journey and have learned different things along the way. You never know who you can learn from.

19. Buy a jump rope and size it to you. Then never leave it at the gym.

20. Practice double-unders every day

21. Do a few strict pull-ups every day

22. Do a few one-arm push-ups every day

23. Meditate 5 minutes every day. This can improve your entire life (and CrossFit).

24. Practice your Olympic weightlifting every day with a dowel and empty barbell. The gains you will make doing this are insane.

25. If there is an exercise you are not good at, do the following: perform 3 sets of 10 as part of your warm-up every day.

26. Work on heavy, light, and moderately weighted squats every week. Doing lots of squats will produce big gains for men and women. Squats are king.

27.  Practice jumping in all modalities. Over, under, on top of, sideways, backwards, long, short, high. Get jumping.

28. Make sure you have a very good rack position. The barbell should be completely supported by your shoulders and not your hands.

29. Train planks often. And I really mean train them. The results from these come 30 seconds after your arms start shaking. You need some mental toughness for these.

30. Learn to bounce out of the bottom of a squat. This can be difficult for those of you that have tight hips and this is why you should practice squats often with a dowel and empty barbell.

31. Do pistols at least once a week (the more the better).

32. Make sure to hit all the major lifts at least once a week. Squat, Deadlift, Press, Bench, Snatch, Clean, Jerk.

33. Have a recovery plan: hot/cold water, massage, foam rolling, nutrition, ice, Epsom salt, etc.

34. Get your family involved. Who cares if you come off annoying at first? They are your family and you don’t want to bury them, do you? If you really love your family, you should give a shit if they are killing themselves with shitty food and bad lifestyle habits. Start working on them NOW.

35. Do shoulder dislocates with a dowel every workout. Don’t force them. Move smoothly.

36. Turn the wrists out at the bottom of the muscle-up. This will ensure you reach full extension of the elbows, lats, and shoulders.

become a better crossfitter 50 Ways To Get Better At CrossFit

37. Do lots of strict dips and negative holds on the rings.

38. Incorporate strongman work into your program. Sled work and the prowler can do amazing things. Walk with a sled attached to the hips as recommended by Louie Simmons.

39. Practice heavy farmer carries.

40. Throw things. We’ve been throwing spears and javelins for thousands of years.

41. Wake up to 20 push-ups every morning.

42. Do 30 air squats and 20 push-ups after every meal. No really..this is an awesome recommendation from Tim Ferris in The 4-Hour Body and I use it all the time. It’s even more effective after big meals. (The 4-Hour Body)

43. Walk after every meal. This improves digestion, prevents fat gain, and makes you feel less bloated and lethargic.

44. Do travel or home WOD’s if you can’t make it to the gym. Check TrainingBox.TV for free functional fitness workouts at home.

45. Practice L-sits often. Same with frog stands. These basic gymnastic skills are easy and low-stress movements that can help you become fitter.

46. Listen to your coaches! They see what you don’t see and they know CrossFit.

listen to your crossfit coach 50 Ways To Get Better At CrossFit

47. Work on your lifestyle and nutrition. Here are some resources: Cooking Guide, The Paleo Diet, MarksDailyApple

48. Take REST days. I know it’s an insane concept, but you CAN’T train every single day. CrossFit is very stressful on the body and requires adequate rest. If you want to live a long life, and give your body time to get stronger, you must let it repair itself through proper rest and recovery.

49.  Take a REST week every couple months. This has done wonders for a lot of my athletes.

50.  The best thing you can do when training CrossFit is LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. You must learn when you can push past your redline and when it’s time to back off. Listen to your body when it tells you to rest. Figure out what your body responds to and what it doesn’t. Self-experimenting allows you to develop a plan that works for your goals and body type.

Download the PDF: 50 tips

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86 thoughts on “50 Ways To Get Better At CrossFit

  1. Normally, weight loss articles are full of bs but this one had most of the techniques I use in my own journey as well as tips I’d like to try to make habit. Thanks for taking the time to throw all these great tips together in one place!

    • You are welcome Eryn! I hope you use some of these tips to make real changes and improve your health along the way!

    • Thanks Stephen! I might have to look into that haha

  2. Good article Colin, and I like that you posted an alternative by creating your own box at home for those who right now want to train but might not be able to sustain a monthly fee. I believe the community is what really drives me. The coaches and the peers working together to help each other be the best they can or want to be. I love our box!!

    • Melissa,

      I totally agree about the community aspect of training. I train at least 30-40% harder when I train with a class at my Box. When training alone I just can’t find it to give it the same effort.

      And you are right, some people can’t afford or don’t have the schedule to go to a Box but that doesn’t mean they can’t still get really fit at home!

  3. this is awesomesauce. “better than yesterday”
    :)

    • Every single day Brenda…it’s amazing how easy it is to reach goals when you live by this creed

  4. Thanks! really good article! I’m going to start practicing some of this stuff and see how it goes

    • Welcome! I hope you can find some of this info actionable that you can use to improve yourself…if you have any questions drop me a line anytime..

  5. Just curious what you think about Ezekiel bread??

  6. A great one to do like this is cajun spices, chicken, tomatoes, water. Cook in crock pot. Shred chicken. Serve with Avacado and salad leave. Et Voila. Mexican Chicken!

  7. You should try sweet potato soup – sweet potato, stock, onions, blend, add chilli to taste. Amazing. Tastes creamy with no cream. Nom

    • I did one a long time ago…ive been doing butternut squash lately but this is a great reminder cuz sweet tatters are soo good for you…thanks for the recommendation Ill try this tonight

  8. Out of curiousity, why no Lentils? I don’t each much lentils, but curious.
    Great article!

  9. Hi looking for a good Pull up bar set up For home Gym,wondering What your Measurements Were For Your Set Up above?

    • Which set are you referring to? I use an iron gym at home for my closet doorway. I do strict pullups a few times each day here…highly recommended and no damage to install/use

  10. Hi Colin, great article! How Long before training do you suggest to fast?

    • Lars,

      Sorry I just saw this comment. You should experiment with your fasting schedule but typically the goal is to train in a completely fasted state. That would be no food before and your first big meal after your training. This is my preferred method.

      On days that my schedule doesn’t permit this, like lunch meetings or whatever, I try to eat as soon before training as possible so my food can digest for as long as possible before I hit the gym. When you start training like this you will feel lethargic and weak when you have food rumbling around in your stomach. At least that’s how it is for me!

      • So for an after-work workout, do you recommend completely skipping the mid-afternoon mini meal? I usually have a handful of almonds or some greek yogurt (anything with lots of protein) about 2 to 3 hours before workout time. Should I just have water instead?

        • Start experimenting with this. It will take some getting used to.

          What i would recommend is a water/whey shake before/during your workout. You can sip it.

          You could even try doing a light smoothie of simple ingredients a bit before your workout if you have trouble going to the straight fast pre-workout.

          Ultimately, your goal is to avoid any mini-meals or snacks altogether. You want to get to 2 or 3 square meals a day and that’s it. Snacking is not ideal.

  11. I been doing CF website workouts and feel like I am getting weaker why? And what am I doing wrong

    Mark

  12. Mark,

    It’s hard to tell without more information, but overall you have to think of your training as ‘strategic weakening’ of your body. Every time you train you are breaking down your muscles so that later on they will repair and grow with proper rest and nutrition.

    I would suggest you take more rest days, get more sleep, and make your nutrition as great as possible.

    After you test/tweak some of these variables you will have a better idea if you are maybe overtraining or doing something else fundamentally wrong.

    It’s all about test and tweak.

    Hope that helps!

  13. Hello there!

    This is such a very helpful post. I totally agree with you that in order to get better at crossfit, we really need to lift heavy weights regularly.

    • Thanks George! Ya, weightlifting is perfect if balanced properly with the other modalities of fitness–gymnastics, mobility, endurance, balance, etc

  14. Could not agree with you more about fasted training. Everything about my workouts is improved in a fasted state. More focused, aware, motivated, and I have a real sense of when I’m actually totally wiped out. Great post, keep up the good work.

    • Thanks man. I feel so weak when I train with food in my stomach now. I dont know how I used to do it.

      • I have always been told to eat certain types of food before working out , to give you energy -build muscle- loose fat all different types for different thing
        so usually i eat a banana and some organic natural peanut butter -witch falls in to my eating schedule of 5 small meals a day at specific times

  15. I have misunderstood something.
    I thought I had to go all out every day of training,
    but
    LISTENING TO MY BODY is a key factor..
    and working out properly even if its little by little and day by day… and good warm up too.
    i started working out with benchmark and traveling WODS since this sunday, and went all out which caused me headache…
    Better know when to take a rest.

    Thank you for these tips.

    • Anthony,

      Listening to your body is so important! While you do have to train hard, you also have to rest hard. You should feel great after your workouts. Take it slow and controlled until you build your fitness up and you get that ‘healthy high’ from your training!

  16. Hey its Anthony again!
    when talkin about practicing one arm pushup,
    double unders and strikt pullups EVERYDAY,
    do you mean everyday as it is ? or everyday i work out?
    and how bout doin 20 pushups everyday i wake up?

    arent these gonna cause overtraining?
    regards from bogota, colombia.

  17. Anthony,

    Yes, everyday. These are low-impact exercises you can do when you are training as well as on off days. Just do a set here and there. It’s known as ‘greasing the groove’ and was created by Pavel Tsatsouline!

  18. Great advice! I just completed my first CrossFit competition and i am going to use these tips to map out my strategy to get better for my next competition in April.

    • Awesome Carol! For competition athletes, nutrition and recovery are HUGGGGE…so don’t skimp…

  19. Dude, thanks. I started CF, had the holidays happen, got sick (antibiotic not “oh, I have a headache” sick) and now I am back on it. This advice is exactly what I needed to read. Freaking passing it on to my motivational buds. Cheers!

  20. Bonnie, my pleasure.

    Remember: training is a stress. When you are sick, your body needs as little stress as possible. Rest up!

  21. Actual scientific studies published by the American Journal of Physiology say no 9 is rubbish – check out Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab 301: E1236–E1242, 2011.

    • A few things:

      1. Most published studies are not executed properly: they do not use proper controls and standards, and many seek correlative connections to support claims that the study was funded to find in the first place–aka, pure bias.

      2. Science, labs, books, and reading mean jack shit when compared to actual human testing in one’s own life. GO try number 9 for yourself and gauge your own results. The American Journal of Physiology isn’t going to matter when you are performing and feeling better.

      3. It’s obvious that your bias is the same kind of bias that I refer to in number 1: you have your protocol that you prefer and that you are used to and you’ve sought out ‘evidence’ that allows you to justify what you already believe so you can easily discredit another source that offers a contrarian point of view.

      4. I dont care if you do 100 studies that point to then opposite…the fact is: I feel and perform better on this protocol and I felt like shit and was weak on the other (and this is true of many that have switched to this protocol: leangains.com)

      5. To say something is Rubbish bec you found a study somewhere shows your lack of understanding of studies, health, nutrition, industry, and just about all of it.

  22. Exploding – scientific evidence could be found to disprove anything. People are different and there is some truth in #9. Eating less (or nothing for some) prior to a workout can allow the body to send blood to the muscles and areas where it is needed instead of the digestive organs. This will results in better physical performance. I personally have to eat something in the am prior to my workout, because I don’t like the feeling of being “empty” and I take pre workout supplements that require food. Regardless – your comment seems to only want to disprove the 50 tips. These words of advice are really good. Many of them I have found myself being a fanatic crossfitter. The blogger here is a very humble individual (and I don’t know him) and if most people followed half the advice here we would have a healthier country. Thanks!

  23. Hi there. I am the founder of zcalories.com and have just launched my new product called the cut gut.. I am seeking 5 fitness bloggers to review and hold a giveaway for my product. If you are interested I would provide you your own Cut Gut to review and keep and I would also ship one to the follower that wins the giveaway. Is this something that you would be interested in? I look forward to hearing from you! Thanks so much!

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    -Cartier

  24. “40. Throw things. We’ve been throwing spears and javelins for thousands of years.”

    I dont know why but this made me crack up, haha.

  25. Read the article and disagree with number 14 a little. I do think that women should only do assisted pull-ups or jumping pull-ups and never band pull-ups. However, the way he tells you to spot by holding their ankles. I disagree with this because if that persons doing the pull-ups grip slips the spotter would not have time to let go of their feet. The first thing to hit would be her upper maybe her head. End result still bad at pull-ups and possibly a concussion and missing teeth. He should spot by grabbing her waist and assist that way. If their grip slips she will land on her feet.
    Another thing he does not go over is the grip on a pull-up. When practicing pull-ups you should wrap your thumb around the bar. This is a safe practice. Anyone who argues this point I always ask them if they do deadlifts, snatches, cleans, KBS, etc.. without wrapping their thumbs around the bars or handles. When they say no I ask why. They quickly understand the importance. Now during a Met-Con do what you have to do just be safe.

    • Phil,

      There is risk in anything physical involving movement. An athlete’s hand can slip after hitting a snatch and the bar can fall on his or her head or neck. And so on.

      Spotting at the heels or ankles puts you right under the athlete and very close to her. There is no way an athlete is slipping off the bar and falling face first 8 feet down to the ground. The spotter is there. I’ve spotted this way hundreds of times and there has never been even a “close” example of this. Not even close.

      Another thing is, the spotter can let go of the feet in an instant and the athlete’s feet are then at the ground in a microsecond.

      That is my experience.

  26. As a 41 yo rookie these are great tips, thanks. Finding the time to do all the extras is going to be tough though. Any other tips specific for the older athlete? Or resources you recommend? As backing up workout to workout is getting harder. Supplementation?

    • David,

      For supplements check this out: http://agymlife.com/supplement-program/

      For general balance and health check this out: http://agymlife.com/50-ways-to-lose-weight/

      Nutrition, sleep, and working your mobility is going to be paramount in your program. Also, going slow at times while everyone else might be going buck-wild is something you will have to accept.

      It’s always about speed. More speed in anything increases more risk. Less speed can almost completely eliminate risk in certain situations. Apply this to all your movement and be smart about it. Listen to your body

  27. GREAT article. I might as well get a sleeping bag for the box. I feel like I live there already but I’m obviously got a list to get to.

  28. What is #35? I’ve googled “practice shower dislocates” and have not found anything. How is this done?

  29. Great article. Going to share on our WODBOXuk Facebook and twitter now as think more people should see this! Nice one

  30. I been doing CrossFit for a while now and jus seem like I am getting slower now like I can’t push I finish the workout but I rest longer now why what do I need to do to get faster and feel better about myself? I wanna improve my times again they jus seem to get slower i am trying but don’t know what to do any suggestions?

    • Avoid saying can’t…that literally makes you unable to. So start with that.

      What does your diet look like right now? How are your stress levels? Are you getting enough sleep?

      These 3 factors that I’ve just listed play very big roles in the quality of your health, fitness, and energy levels.

      It could also be just mental. Sometimes during a workout you just need to DIG DEEP inside of you for whatever is left and finish. Intensity takes practice, you have to get good at the skill of doing this while staying safe. Be patient is my main recomendation. It is a process.

      I’ve been CrossFitting for 5 years now (and training for 10) and I still have to work every day towards my goals like when I started. And somedays I go light, somedays hard, and some days wayyyyy intense. Mix it up. Don’t think of ALL OUT every wod. That actually isn’t the best way to increase your fitness in the long run.

      Hope that helps!

  31. Great Post! I’ve had great luck with the sprints, awesome power lifting shoes, and the only thing I’ll take to the gym.

  32. This is such great advice, thank you! You mentioned making sure you dig deep in the above comment – and I do try to do that as a newcomer; but what about pushing past fear? I sometimes hold back due to fear of injury. I’m so new at this type of training, I feel like that extra push will cause me problems, but I know I need to push to grow.

    Did you ever deal with those concerns, personally? I should stress I have a bad right ankle and sciatica issues.

    • CS,

      The key is to seek perfection in your form by going slow at first. When you can perform every rep with 100% perfect form at a slow pace, you can gradually progress the intensity and speed up.

      It may take time but you will do much more for your fitness and injury prevention by taking this approach.

      Go slow and perfect, then medium and perfect then aim to do short bursts of near-perfect form at a faster pace. Keep this process and you will make yourself stronger/fitter and reduce the likelihood of injury!

  33. Thanks for the quick response and great advice. I’ll be using it next time I’m in the Box. I’m loving this lifestyle so far.

  34. I love, love, love this list. There are so many basic, simple, things on here that we just don’t take the time to do!

    For example, I struggle with DUs, though how often to I spend time before class doing them? Probably not nearly as much as I could/should. I’ve been sharing some of these tips, and this whole post with members of my box as it’s such a great starting point on how to focus on overall improvement.

    Thanks!!

    • Thanks Jennifer!!!

      For DUBs, the first thing you have to do is get a good rope that is fast and sized to you. That’s hugely important!

  35. Thanks, i appreciate the post
    Great post, keep up the good work.

  36. Awesome post! True motivation and inspiration! Keep up the good work! Thanks!

  37. I have been reading this list every morning as my mental motivation to CF later (after work). I have been a rut of some type lately that I need to get out of.
    I feel like everything I have been doing at CF has been subpar at best. I can’t squat deep enough with my snatch (something about the bar overhead throws my balance off), getting upside down to work on my HSPU trips me out mentally, and my sucky attitude about not being able to nail those is really getting in my head. It’s just really frustraiting.. espcially being so competitive.
    I think I need to take it easier on myself and remember the positive more so than the negative.

    • Cassy,

      Stop comparing yourself to others. Really stop. That is a perfect way to sabotage yourself from ever getting there.

      Try this, pick the 2-3 things you are the worst at… let’s say handstand, squat, and one other.

      Then do 20 reps of each perform your workout and 20 reps of each after. Make the goal just to complete the full rep each day. That’s it. It’s not about perfection, it’s about progress. If you start doing lots of reps, you will improve fast and it’ll give you a mental break because your only goal will be completing the reps.

      Also, for the squats, sit in the bottom of squat with an empty bar or a bit of weight on your back. Do this before and after each workout. It’s a great way to improve your hip flexibility.

  38. Hi! Do you use Twitter? I’d like to follow you if
    that would be okay. I’m undoubtedly enjoying your blog
    and look forward to new updates.

  39. I am sure I commented before, but just wanted to comment again that I love this list. Anytime someone I WOD with complains about plateauing or struggling staying motivated or that they aren’t improving in xxx, I refer them this list. :)

    • Jennifer, thank you for that, I really appreciate it! If you ever need anything shoot me an email

  40. Hey Colin, big fan of your articles, I just want to know if I’m doing right; here is my routine: wake up at 5:40, eat a banana for natural carbs for energy for cf, do my protein shake, and go walk to the box (it’s very near my home, about 1.3 km) stretch and do my wod, and do 100 sit ups regularly after the wod, then I walk back to go to a job as a gym assistant (I’m 16 tbh it’s a pain in the ass to be in that job), anyways I do a cardio WOD at home at around 5:00 o’clock. Strict diet of pure protein, veggies, spinach, no milk or bread, juice, water, and fruit. I aspire to become an athlete, and I try to do my best. (Tbh my only rolemodels are you and Rich Froning lol). Recovery plan of 5 on 2 off, cheat meal on saturday (hell yeah). As for #9 you said that fasting is important, so I shouldn’t eat the banana for carbs? Since my protein powder doesn’t have sugar, fats, cholesterol, and just 8g of carbs. Please reply.

  41. It’s a great list but I think a mention about proper sleep would be good. Thx.