A piece on why we can’t recreate those days in which skills just seem so effortless
I was approached just the other day by an athlete who recently got their first bar muscle-up. The conversation went something like this, “I just don’t understand, I did 10 total bar muscle-ups yesterday and they felt so easy. Everything finally clicked! I came into the gym today and I couldn’t even do one, why is that?!” when something like this happens there are a few things to consider.
Developing a new skill is very similar to developing a new relationship. When you first meet you may be nervous, unsteady, and unsure in your words or actions. However, the more you get to know someone and develop your relationship, the more confident you feel in approaching and engaging in conversation with that person. Working on skills in CrossFit can be the same way. The first time you get on a bar or a par of rings it feels foreign and awkward; you don’t know how to act and you feel like a fish out of water. But then the more and more you use the apparatus more comfortable you’ll become. You won’t even think about how to kip or pull anymore.
To be honest it takes hundreds of reps before you master a movement. But every mile long journey starts with a single step. Like we say all the time, consistency is key. The more y0u can introduce yourself to a skill or practice (within reason) the more confident you will become with its demands. It’s important for your personal goals to take inventory of your performance of said skills and adapt your workouts accordingly every time you approach them.
When it comes to practicing new skills there are many variables that can effect your performance. This includes environment, sleep, diet, hydration, proper rest and many other things. Some of these things are out of your control but you must understand what you can control. What you can dictate is the frequency at which you practice and how you execute these new learned skills. Take the time to make notes of how you practice and what coach helped you, whether it’s what he/she said or what the environment was like.
“Ok, that helps, but what if I can never do them again?” I think it’s important to remember that CrossFit is a lifetime program, it doesn’t end, we never “win” CrossFit. The athlete who wins the Crossfit games still can’t perform some skills, lift certain weights, or run a sub 4 minute mile. However, they all chip away one day at a time and work towards the same goal do, to be better than yesterday, so make sure you appreciate the small victories. Crossfit is a program that is dedicated to a life of health and athletic performance. If you are diligent in your efforts the rewards will come.
The goal of Crossfit is overall fitness. Practice anything and everything to move your fitness needle and you may see improvement all around. For example, if you can’t do Bar muscle-ups any more then spend more time practicing them for 1 month, then take a month to work on something not related. You’ll find that focusing on true weaknesses can improve skills. That’s part of the magic of this stuff, if it seems unrelated or useless then you should probably look into it a bit farther. Maybe improving your double unders and pull-ups will make you better at muscle-ups. If you can take anything away from this, know that you should enjoy yourself, enjoy the process, and work relentlessly to become the best version of you that you can possibly be!