There is a difference between a planned training experience that delivers both physical and the right psychological affects. It takes study of human behavior, understanding of (yes) psychology, anatomy, programming, muscle dynamics, your athletes, the season, and more. When I work with athletes I deeply consider all of these factors.
In fact, it is my primary belief why athletes needs to be athletes, and coaches coach. Coaches can be athletes and MUST experience their own programming to truly be in the fray and have the right experience. Athletes though cannot always be great at writing workouts. It isn’t a popular statement, but a true blood athlete is a workhorse. They will compete. They will run down any challenge.
That is the problem. Sometimes the right action is not to do that workout. Not to do that extra strength. Not to copy that instagram workout you saw online.
You must have a plan, see a progression, and apply that to your training and goals. This is where a coach, a mentor, an advisor is paramount. They invest the time, resources, and build the experience to deliver you this training and advice.
Find a Coach or Mentor that cares, has put the investment in the domain you seek, and fits your style.
Once you have the best plan, consistency is the key habit to realizing success.
Psychology of workouts
What makes a great workout? Why do some workouts we feel like we won, no matter the score. Yet other workouts, we feel defeated and unproductive?
Simple answer — it is how the workout was written, how you executed it, and how your mind was ready.
Let’s break this down simply …
How the workout was written
Workouts should be designed to make you fitter. That means you should be able to complete it.
Qualifiers and the CrossFit Open won’t make you fitter
If a workout is written as a TEST, then it isn’t meant to be completed by all but a small percentage. We see these in the CrossFit Open workouts, the Games workouts, Qualifiers, and such. These are NOT designed to make us fitter. So approaching them must be done as a competitive challenge where failure is certainly an acceptable result.
That is OK. That is their intention. They are fun to do and the community feel is beyond a doubt the best. Do these workouts passionately, but to make them a useful part of training, do the following:
- Scale the weight and reps as needed. Seriously if you want to get fitter doing Open workouts, scale the weight and reps to a proper scale. Most times this means 70% scale to the prescribed weight
- Make them an EMOM (1, 2, 4, 5 min) and hit the same movements and rep patterns with rounds that achieve the full Open rep count. This is a VERY effective programming technique that allows you to make this a training effort for an Open Test. You’ll get a better score ultimately on the Open workout if you do this variation in training, and then hit the Open Test.
Till you quit — Workouts like these are demoralizing and result in incomplete workouts (athletes don’t finish the prescribed work). This is a double negative. First you walk away super negative and that impacts all of life. Do you really want to feel worse leaving the box then when you arrived?! Second, from a coaching perspective you didn’t even get the muscle groups trained I had planned.
Achievable — Workouts that allow you to get the right exposure to various muscle groups, at a solid heart rate, and moving at the intensity desired are the key to success. These are never easy, always worth your time, and leave you feeling high on life. Not just from a feeling of alive, but also your body feels powerful — like it truly is.
Workouts of these types are blended together and your coach must weave this balance to achieve the complete results.
How you executed it
You need to know how you are meant to approach the workout on hand.
For our strength — are we looking for a tempo, a steady heavy set of rounds, ascending, singles, unbroken?
Strength can include:— strict pullups/pushups/handstands or squats/thrust/deadlift
For our workouts — are meant to go out HOT and then rest, or are we seeking 85% steady state? Workouts where we are working to completion (rounds / reps) how hard can you go? Some pieces I PREFER my athletes to burn up and not finish vs pace.
It isn’t easy, comfortable, and there is a lot unknown in our personal capabilities. Your coach over time learns your capacities and trusting him/her in these strategy moments will unlock huge personal gains.
Don’t be worry about how your score compares to others — it doesn’t matter. YOUR score today at your best effort is the best score. It matters far more than YOUR score compared against YOUR score from prior efforts matters. Seriously stop the self judgement, it isn’t productive or even a proper comparison.
How your mind was ready
Stress is stress.
Workouts bring stress to the body and it results in a mindset that serves you in tough situations (whether that is building your start-up or being empathetic to your upset daughter), muscles, and bones.
Life brings stress to you too — all throughout the day you are dancing through it.
The only thing is — you only have so much capacity in a day to handle the stress. Thus our ability to take on stress and for it to produce positive benefits, depends on the amount of stress present at the moment.
Be empathetic to your mental state when you train
Communicate how you actually are feeling and faring today
Allow and encourage your coach to make adjustments for you
Give yourself permission to customize your training, embrace this gift
We want you to succeed.
A good coach cares, sees, and designs training that delivers your success.
Most important aspect of progressing and achieving your goals. Is giving feedback to your coach. How did you feel? How did it go? What was your score? How did the weight/positions feel?
In the end
Our goal is to be healthier, fitter, and be able to enjoy the world around us. Seek out training that delivers that. Community, encouragement, support, and connection are the pillars of that health. Programming (workouts) that achieve fitness and then consistency are the secret sauce to achieving these goals.
In the beginning, just begin .. and then as you see your personal style and that of your coach .. you can adapt.
No matter what — just move that body, it is your greatest gift in this life.