This week's post sponsored by my frustrated run-in with squat cleans.
This week at CrossFit we were working on finding our one rep max for cleans. I was pretty excited when I successfully completed a rep at 155—a ten pound PR for me—and added five more pounds on for another attempt. I stood at the bar, bent over and ready to go. Then I stood back up. I did this approximately a million more times before finally lifting the bar off the ground. I made it to my waist, and that's as far as it went. It had nothing to do with my physical ability, as I knew I had more gas in the tank after 155. It had nothing to do with fear, because I knew rationally that I wasn't going to hurt myself on the attempt. Every sport has a huge mental component to it, and CrossFit is no exception. Mental blocks happen to even the best athletes. You reach a point and your brain just says, “nope, I'm not doing that.” It's frustrating and discouraging, and I'm here with a few suggestions for overcoming those dreaded blocks.
Visualize Yourself Overcoming It
It sounds silly, but it works. Take a step back, close your eyes, and picture yourself doing whatever it is you're struggling with. Picture yourself successfully completing the rep with perfect form, and imagine how you will feel when it happens. Picture yourself failing? Try again, and do this over and over. It will help give you the confidence you need to accomplish your goal.
Break It Back Down
If you're feeling scared or uncomfortable, break the skill back down. Do more reps of the progressions, or drop to a lower weight. Sometimes going back to the basics can not only ensure that you are completing the skill correctly, but it can also help restore confidence. Make sure you feel comfortable in every position throughout the movement. If you feel uncomfortable then it makes sense that your brain would try to stop you from doing it.
Trust Your Training
Chances are you have a good coach who has helped lead you to where you are now. That person has taught you the proper progressions to get to whatever skill or weight you are working. They've taught you how to fail safely and how to complete a rep properly. Remind yourself of that, even if it means talking out loud to yourself. Positive self-talk is one of the best ways to pump yourself up and also replaces those negative thoughts that tear you down so quickly.
I wouldn't recommend this all the time, but sometimes you just have to walk away from the skill for a day or two and come back to it later. Focusing all of your energy on something that isn't working can be beyond frustrating and can start to impact the rest of your workout. Move on to something you know you can do and come back to it fresh another day. In the mean time, practice that visualization and positive self-talk!
Jess Brady: Jess graduated from college in 2009 with a Bachelors in Psychology and a minor in Athletic Coaching. She went on to get her Masters in Community Counseling in 2011 and currently works as a mental health counselor at a university in South Carolina. Jess was a competitive gymnast for 12 years, and completed both a half- and full marathon before making the transition to CrossFit in June 2014. So far she is loving the sport and is looking forward to getting her Level 1 certification later this year. Outside of work and CrossFit, Jess can be found posting pictures of her cat, Bella, on Instagram or visiting her soldier at Fort Bragg.