(Editor's note: this post originally appeared on the blog in the CU Project Management networking group. This group is open to credit union staff in the Carolinas who have a registered web site account. Please click here to view and join the group.)
Written by: Sandon Nachmann, Coastal CU.
I started CrossFit about 7 months ago. Those who know me know I’m a fitness junky. I’ve always been involved in some type of fitness/exercise activity since I was in my teens. I spent about 12 years on and off competing in amateur kickboxing, then I got into goruck (goruck.com) and rucking, spent some time running, and most recently I’m addicted to CrossFit.
There are all different levels of athletes at my CrossFit gym, but being as competitive as I am a strived to be at the top as soon as I started. I’m probably over simplifying this, but I would say the three main components of CrossFit are technique, strength, and stamina or endurance. Right off the bat I have to say that endurance is my biggest strength. When I started in July I was consistently ranking in the top 5-10 out of 50 or so men on a daily basis. I didn’t have the technique or strength part, but I had years of performing endurance based workouts and grinding through the pain.
As far as technique, I had some of the techniques from years of trying different weight lifting routines in my basement. While there’s still a lot for me to learn in the way of technique, that’s been easy for me to pick up and adjust to.
Strength… Being strong is definitely not my strength and I would say that I have average strength for my weight and height. In contrast there are some men and woman at my gym that are genetic freaks and can throw around weight like it’s nothing. That’s NOT me and never has been. Based on that, I decided I was going to focus on strength to help bridge the gap between myself and the very BEST people at my gym.
My kids also go to the kids class at night so I’m fortunate enough (or obsessed as my wife would say) to be able to go to the gym twice a day on most days. I do the group/class workout in the morning before work, and I started focusing on strength at night when I brought my kids. For four months I followed a specific weight lifting routine at night which focused on Bench Press, Deadlifts, Squats, and Overhead Press. It was great to see the progress and I definitely got stronger. My 1 rep max squat increased from 240lbs in July to 300lbs in late December.
With all this new strength it goes without saying that I was now beating the elite people in my gym right? WRONG! In fact my ranking compared to the elite people really hasn’t changed at all, and that’s because being strong isn’t my strength! Sure I can squat 300lbs now, but some of the guys laugh at 300lbs and can squat 400lbs. What I found was that in my efforts to focus on my weakness I was neglecting my natural strength which is endurance and stamina. I’m sad to say that I only had this revelation in the past couple of weeks, but since then I’ve been incorporating running at night into my weekly routine and I feel better already.
Long story short, focus on your strengths. However I believe the exception to this rule is when you have a fatal flaw. A fatal flaw is not just a weakness, it’s something you do very wrong that is clearly holding you back. For me that’s muscles-ups. CrossFit workouts are written as Rx, which means you can do the exact workout with all weights and modalities as it’s prescribed. If you can’t Rx the workout you can do a modified scaled down version. I can Rx every workout except for when it includes muscle-ups, so for me that’s a fatal flaw and something I need to work on.
The concept of focusing on your strengths isn’t new to me. It’s something I’ve read in books, blogs, discussed in school, and at work but I still went about it all wrong. We are all gifted with natural strengths, but a lot of times when people look to improve they focus on their weaknesses. As you can see from my example above you need to focus on your strengths whether that be at work, personal life, hobbies, etc.
So, what are YOUR strengths?