Can You Plateau with CrossFit?

As I’ve slowly watched my weight increase (and not in a good way) over the past 6 months, I’ve been wondering this question: Can you plateau with CrossFit? In my mind, yes, I believe you can and here’s why:

  • Same movements, same weights. Sure, CrossFit is known for its variety in workouts. However, it’s still all the same movements and usually the Rx (the recommended weights) are the same each go-around.
  • Same format. Each CrossFit box is unique, but most stick to the same pattern. At my old CrossFit box (of which I have just now switched), we did a strength and then a workout or WOD that was usually under 20 minutes. Well, your body adapts to this over time (for me it was 3 years), and unless you push yourself further, you won’t see results.
  • Same mindset. It’s hard to push yourself when working out alone. Yet, I’m still moving but am I getting the same benefits?
  • Same perspective. A change in coaches is a good thing. Listening to different ideas is a good thing. Visiting other boxes and seeing how others do things will prompt you to do things differently. Go somewhere else. Get a different opinion and different idea. Let go of the idea “this is how it’s always done” and be open.

CHANGES IN CROSSFIT PROGRAMMING

crossfit girls doing burpees over barbell at crossfit competition
Burpees over Barbell

As I said before, it’s time for a change. I’ve recently embraced HIIT training, which is training at high-intensity for short amounts of time with active recovery in-between. The theory goes HIIT training gets and keeps your heart rate up and burns more fat in less time, increasing your metabolism, which translates to more fat burn up to 48 hours after the workout. And this is what I need.

I want to improve my CrossFit game, and for the last 6 months, all I’ve been doing is maintaining. I’m adding in HIIT classes, swimming, and smaller does of CrossFit (sometimes twice a day) to see what happens. And when I do CrossFit, it will be different. Heavier weights. Odd objects. Something.

It takes something unusual to make me sore these days (this is part of the reason I love CrossFit Competitions so much — different exercises and multiple times in one day that make me sore). I miss that sore feeling — the knowledge in your brain you are changing instead of staying the same. And no one wants to stay the same.

 

The Love/Hate Relationship CrossFit Women Have with their Bodies

I recently came across an article about how CrossFit women should be proud of their bodies, have less body issues than other women, and are strong. It was written very definitively about how women who CrossFit love their strong bodies.

I’m here with the counter-argument: CrossFit women have just as many body issues as other women (maybe more so since our bodies do change significantly when you continue with CrossFit). We struggle just as much with nutrition and food choices. We do care what we look like in terms of makeup. Clothes shopping is much harder with a CrossFit body.

There is one difference NOT noted in the article:

CrossFit women have a love/hate relationship with their bodies that other women do not.

WHY CROSSFIT WOMEN LOVE/HATE THEIR BODIES

  • We are stared at. Usually in a leering way, not in a healthy way. Women either are
    CrossFit hotties at CrossFit Competition doing box jumps
    CrossFit Box Jumps

    jealous or think we look gross. Men look at us like men look at other women — they just stare longer since we DON’T look like other women they see too often.

  • Clothes don’t fit. I have given up trying to find jeans that will go over my calves and my thighs. I live in yoga pants. I have given up trying to find nice-fitting T-shirts that are small but fit my shoulders. Dresses have to be the right cut or my muscles look horrible in them.
  • Food is a real struggle. Adhering to a strict diet is a test of mental strength, which after doing a CrossFit WOD which puts us on the floor, is a battle many of us don’t have the strength for. How your body looks is all about food. Period. If you don’t eat right, you won’t look right no matter the hours you throw down at the gym.
  • We are strong but still want to be delicate flowers. I am strong. I can lift heavy items. But I don’t outside the box. Why? Because I’m a woman who wants a man to lift heavy things for me when the need arises. I don’t want to have to lift MORE heavy items after the gym.
  • Our changing bodies yield body insecurities. When people first started telling me, “Hey, Jen. You’re ripped!” I didn’t realize how muscular I had become. It was definitely an acceptance process. Now, as I lift heavier, my lats are thicker, my shoulders wider, my legs bigger. It’s an on-going battle women CrossFitters face.

It’s a fact if you lift heavy weights, you’ll gain muscle. Muscle is bulk. You will look different than your average woman. Some women I know quit CrossFit because they don’t like what CrossFit does to their bodies. Anyone who tells you you won’t bulk up is lying to you. This is part of accepting your body as it does gain muscle. And this is part of CrossFit.

CrossFit will Change Your Body

Go into CrossFit with your eyes open. Learn about it. Read and study about lifting weights. Read about the metabolic pathways. Then decide if CrossFit is for you.

You all know I love CrossFit. I love what CrossFit does for me. I love how my body looks. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a struggle to accept how I look, to not be critical, to think I’m fat, etc.

We all have baggage we carry from childhood into adulthood and from society. It’s a mindset we all have to overcome.