Why Compete at CrossFit



Photo credit; CF Whiteboard


I spend a lot of time discussing physiology but today I want to take the talk upstairs and discuss why CrossFit works from a psychological perspective.  One of the things that makes CrossFit workouts so effective is something called the Social facilitation theory.  Social facilitation theory is the tendency for people who are being watched or observed to perform better than they would alone on simple tasks (or tasks they know how to do very well due to repetition). Coach Glassman once said something along the lines of If you are rowing and your dog walks into the room you are going to row faster.  We are creating an internal competition, be it with ourselves, with the person training next to us or the number that was placed on the whiteboard earlier in the day by your gym adversary.  We internalize this competition for good or for bad.  The shout “10 SECONDS” from our coach and the clock ticking down in those ominous red numbers conjures a very unique form of anxiety.   How do we reduce that pre-WOD (TOD) feeling?   How do we become masters of our own apprehensions?

Competing is more than just showing off in front of your peers, it is a necessary aspect of CrossFit efficacy.   As a coach, I encourage people who have mastered the fundamental movements to challenge themselves in a competition environment.  The purpose of this isn’t glory, it’s self improvement.  Think about Fran, a benchmark that most of us are all too familiar with as an example; If you did this workout by yourself in your garage the result would likely be a slower time than if you did it in a gym with other people around you.  Furthermore, if you completed this same set in a competition environment with people cheering for you, your time will likely drop further.  In doing so you have created a new personal best time and in turn a higher expectation of your own capabilities.  This increased self expectation is brought into every training session from that point forward.  Last year during the CrossFit open I had the sheer joy of watching athletes that I coach surprise the living shit out of even themselves at their abilities.  The idea of the entire CrossFit world having access to your results absolutely facilitates a greater effort, which in turn generates a positive response and a mentally stronger athlete.  Furthermore, when we compete on a larger stage it makes the smaller ones seem even more manageable.  This transcends CrossFit.  Having to preform a snatch ladder in front of a thousand people may make you nervous but I guarantee the next time that you have to give a presentation in front of a dozen of your peers you will do so with far more confidence than you thought  possible.  Competing in CrossFit gives us the competitive edge in our day to day lives.  You don’t have to go to the Games to experience this boost.  Start small and work your way up.  There are no shortage of competitions to choose from.  You are the customer and have the ability to choose what format you are most comfortable with.  Your coach should most likely have extensive experience in competing and should be able to help you with your decision on where and when to compete.

Recently I had the privilege of competing at a local competition called The CrossTown ThrowDown.  (Which I will be posting a review of in the next day or so)  It was not a huge competition but it still helped me immensely in preparation for things to come.   It placed my current weaknesses under a microscope.  I was forced into doing workouts that I may not have otherwise done and came away with the knowledge that I may need to work on a couple more things than I thought.  So why do people shy away from competing?  In my opinion, no one wants to be told that they are no good at something.  It is uncomfortable to have to come to grips with the reality that an aspect of our life needs work.  My advice….. Embrace what you suck at.  Work at it. Improve.  Move on to the next thing that you may suck at.  Repeat.

That is how winning is done….

In CrossFit AND in life!!

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