Use Your Damn Brain

By Juli Bauer

Did you know our brain is incredibly helpful? It does a lot of stuff. A lot of scientific stuff. Stuff I don’t really understand because I’m not smart enough. But I do know it’s pretty complicated. Even more complicated than my dating life. Yeah, real twisted. And our brain is quite useful, especially when it comes to CrossFit. We can actually lift heavier, move quicker, and be more efficient if we use our brain. Weird, huh?

It really is that simple. Use your damn brain. Think before your lift. Activating your brain activates your muscles. Activating your muscles activates the barbell. The barbell can then be thrown over your head.

But sadly, our brain shuts off far too often in workouts. Sometimes, it’s a good thing. Most of the time, though, it’s bad. REAL bad. If you don’t concentrate at least a little when you’re trying to squat 400#, sh*t could get ugly. Who needs a spine anyways? It’s so overrated.

So if your brain thinks it’s too cool to give a crap about your squat form, and you think concentration is overrated, you won’t go as far as you’d hoped in CrossFit. Simple facts.

Our brain can also be used for other things, such as thought processes. Should or shouldn’t I shove this double deck-er peanut butter cup cheesecake into my mouth and then proceed to try to do ‘Murph’ tomorrow? Here is a play by play of what your thoughts may look like:

Will this be close to the best thing I’ve ever tasted? Yes.

Will I get the sugar sweats as I try to sleep tonight? Yes.

Will my stomach be flipping upside down while I’m running the mile? Yes. And during the second mile? Yes.

Will I most likely crap my pants? Yes.

You have the ability to think through all of these thoughts about the cheesecake and make the right decision before you’re licking the plate and people are staring at your lack of self control. We have the ability to decide what goes in our mouth and how we take care of our bodies. That’s pretty damn cool.

We can also use it to listen. Listening to our body is a big deal. When your body cries out in pain when you try to do an air squat, you probably need a rest day. When you can’t lean over to pick up your child, you probably need a rest day. And when you can’t sneeze without crying, you probably need a rest day. Your body speaks to you. It literally tells you what it wants. If it wants a rest day, LISTEN TO IT.

The fact is, our brains do some incredible things. If you watched any of the Regional competitions last month, you saw some acts of pure elegance. Hopefully you were lucky enough to watch on as the athletes stared at their bar, concentrated on what they wanted, thought about their lift, and listened to their body. And what happened? Those athletes did things they never thought possible. They had taken the time in practice, listening to their body, feeding it the right things, and using their damn brain to improve themselves.

So do something for me. Tomorrow when you walk into the gym, use your brain. Think before you lift. Concentrate and visualize what you want from that workout. And listen to your body with every pull of the bar. With every squat. With every swing. Your brain can do wonders for you. So let it.

Juli Bauer is a regular contributor to Again Faster and the sole author of PaleOMG. She coaches at CrossFit Broadway in Denver, CO.