[Editor's Note: This piece was originally published on September 6, 2006.]
Crossfit is extraordinary in its breadth. The physical tasks we undertake are remarkable for their constant variation and immutable intensity.
To the beginning Crossfitter, the sheer size of the curriculum can be daunting. You'll learn Olympic lifts, gymnastics, sprinting, kettlebell swings, medicine ball work, basic nutrition, and a hundred other things. Crossfit has combined these modalities and a good dose of creativity to develop an inclusive model of fitness programming. In an effort to make Crossfit a little easier to deal with, here are the things you need to know to become an elite athlete. Everything else will come with time.
1.) Virtuosity: Do every rep correctly, every time. Virtuosity is the pursuit of perfection. Become a stickler for form, and you will reap the benefits of Crossfit extremely quickly.
2.) Consistency: Get out of bed. Go to the gym. Get in the habit of showing up.
3.) Intensity: Strive to minimize the amount of time you spend resting in the middle of each workout. The less you rest, the stronger you'll become. Your workout times will plummet, and your health will skyrocket. Go hard!
4.) Nutrition: Eat enough calories to support vigorous exercise. Not eating is not a solution. Avoid alcohol, starch, and sugar like the plague. Eat lean meats, vegetables, low-GI fruits, and good fats. Fat is necessary for athletic performance--get it from almonds, avocados, olive oil, and fish oil. The best way to maintain a good diet? Clear all the crap out of your cupboards, and never ever buy it again.
5.) Sleep: Sleep is essential to your athletic development. When you sleep, you heal. Progress is a constant give and take between breaking down and building up--exercise breaks you down and sleep builds you up. Give your body the fuel it needs to heal--lean protein and fat immediately before bed will keep you in a good physiological state to burn fat and build muscle all night long. Sleep at least 8 hours every night. Make it a priority.
6.) Rest: Don't exercise every day. You'll burn out. Schedule rest days after every two or three days of heavy training. You can speed up healing with ice, compression, mobility work, and good supplementation.
7.) Instruction: Spend money on quality trainers, reading materials, seminars, and certifications. A few hundred bucks here and there will accelerate your gains much faster than advice from the counter guy at Gold's.
8.) Comfort: Stray from the known path. Approach new skills as an opportunity to learn, not an opportunity to fail. The best athletes in the world spend all day working on their weaknesses, not reinforcing their strengths.
9.) Goals: Write everything down. Set goals and work to meet them every day. Look back over your progress, and change what needs to be changed.
10.) Stress: Your body doesn't distinguish between training stress and life stress. Minimize life stress to maximize your progress.
None of this is earth-shattering. Incorporate these tenets in your training, one by one. Follow them 90% of the time, and you'll find yourself at the top of the scoreboard each and every week.
Jon Gilson is the founder of Again Faster and a member of the CrossFit L1 Training Staff