We’ve all heard of the “seven year itch.” This issue of the “honeymoon phase” being over can happen to our relationship with CrossFit as well. The first year or so is filled with PRs, learning new skills, and discovering an inner athleticism that you never knew you had. Around the eighteen month mark, however, things begin to shift. PRs become less and less frequent (or non-existent). You begin feeling run down, and workouts that used to relieve the stresses of the day actually make it worse. The love and passion you once felt as a CrossFit newbie is waning, and unfortunately, it seems as if you have hit the proverbial “wall.”
Hitting this type of plateau as a CrossFitter goes beyond having an off day. This feeling of stagnation tends to stay with you for weeks or months with no end in sight. It can be an incredibly frustrating situation when you work your butt off and get nowhere. Sure, you’ve improved since day one, but the rate at which you are improving has sharply declined. The best way to deal with hitting the “wall” is not necessarily to power your way through it. Instead, build yourself some “steps” to get over the wall so you can get back to crushing your workouts and feeling great!
Step 1- Incorporate More Active Recovery Days
When you hit a wall during your training, your first instinct is to train more. This is actually the exact OPPOSITE of what you should be doing. Instead of adding more WODs to your week, get yourself out of the gym! By incorporating activities like swimming, bike riding, or yoga, your body will have the chance to recover from your normal gym workouts. Your mind will get the opportunity to relax a little as well.
Step 2-Increase Your Mobility Work
As a new CrossFitter, your coaches train you to lift light weights with good form. As your weights increase, you may find yourself struggling more and more to maintain this good form. In turn, your lifts may suffer. By working hard on your hip, shoulder, and ankle mobility, both your form and your lifts will continue to improve.
This step is by far the hardest. When you plateau with your workouts, the biggest change you can make is with your diet. As your body begins to adapt to your workout intensity, it becomes increasingly more important to adjust your food intake. Whether you switch to a Paleo way of eating or follow a macronutrient tracking program, changing your diet is key. Food should fuel your workouts and not hinder them.
Step 4-Create Both Long and Short-Term Goals
Tracking your progress with CrossFit is essential. When you first started, you most likely had some short and long-term goals for yourself. Whether you want to Rx more workouts, shave seconds off your mile time, or add ten pounds to your clean and jerk, writing these goals down makes them more tangible. Be realistic with your expectations, and use your coaches as sounding boards. They will be able to guide you in the right direction.
When the newness wears off, the most important thing to remember about CrossFit is why you started. We tend to get wrapped up in the day to day of workouts and forget where we came from as an athlete. We need to remember why were started the journey in the first place. When you walked into your first box, you made a lifetime commitment to fitness. Consider this “wall” just a small bump in the road, and get after it!
Meaghan, a former collegiate water polo player and rower, has been a member of the CrossFit community since 2013. She is the webmaster for her box, CrossFit Unlocked, and she has her own blog “Barbell Broad: A Lady’s Take on the Lifting Lifestyle.” Meaghan can be found on Instagram @barbellbroad.