Obviously, we all love CrossFit and can agree that when done appropriately, we see some impressive results. We know that intensity is the magic behind it’s effectiveness, so naturally we try to hit each workout as hard as possible.

In my experience, sometimes I feel banged up or don’t feel like I’m improving. I’m hitting the workouts with everything I’ve got, but something hurts and it’s not getting better. I’ve discovered it’s not always about the effort for me, but sometimes about my approach. I don’t always need to try harder; sometimes I just need to try SMARTER. Intensity is definitely the goal, but there are important steps to check off before you get there.

Look at Angelo DiCicco. He won the CrossFit Games in 2015 in the 14-15 year old teen division. He placed 3rd in 2016 in the 16-17 year old division against many athletes a year older. He works out with Rich Froning, who has won 4 individual championships and a few more on a team. These guys know what the heck they’re doing. In this interview (watch it here), they talked about when Angelo first started doing CrossFit. He wasn’t allowed to use anything more than a 95 pound bar for over a year. Seriously.

He learned the movements at a weight that was not very heavy for him. He did rep after rep learning effective technique. After he consistently showed good movement, he went on to try it heavier and/or faster. He’s now a few years into his CrossFit career, and at 16 years old,  snatched 235 pounds!

If it’s an approach that worked for him, do you think it can help you? For me the answer it absolutely, yes.

The idea here is mechanics, consistency, and then intensity. And that order is very important!

Learn to move safely and effectively first. This doesn’t mean perfection, but it does mean pretty darn good. For an air squat this might take a day, and for the snatch it might take months.

After it clicks, demonstrate some consistency. Do another great rep, then 10 times in a row, and then multiple workouts in a row. We don’t need 100% of our reps to be great reps, but we should be able to feel it each time we have a bad rep and be able to correct it on the next one. We want controlled, quality reps almost every time and almost never two bad ones in a row.

Once we are consistent, we can level-up to the intensity stage. Woo! Now is when we can start going faster, and then heavier. At each new weight or pace we still need to show great mechanics and consistency though. From here on out the game becomes “how heavy or how fast can I go while keeping great, consistent technique?” That’s not a very catchy title for a game. Let’s call it CrossFit instead.

What movements are you struggling with or not progressing at? Consider taking them back to the mechanics or consistency stage. Your ego might be sad about moving slower or at a lighter weight, but if you always let your ego make decisions for you you’re probably an a-hole. I’m very guilty of this on many occasions, but quieting my ego and adopting a patient steady approach almost always ends up better for me. Think long term and decide what’s best for you. Ask us for help if you’re unsure. A few months of dialing in technique can help you move well for the rest of your life!

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