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.

CrossFit: What You Learn by Doing One Rep at a Time…

Since I’ve been working out by myself a lot, I’m in no rush. It’s become about the work, not the time.

When a heavy barbell move is programmed into a CrossFit WOD, I usually do one rep at a time.

I did a CrossFit workout programmed by Bergeron he named Jump City:

For Time:

crossfit girls
Crossfit Photos

1 Round:
800 Meter Run
80 Double Unders
21 Hang Power Cleans (155/105)

2 Rounds:
400 Meter Run
40 Double Unders
15 Hang Power Cleans (155/105)

3 Rounds:
200 Meter Run
20 Double Unders
9 Hang Power Cleans (155/105)

The hang power cleans were heavy for me, so I did them one rep at a time. During the hang power cleans, I kept asking myself, Why are these so hard? They shouldn’t be this hard. I started paying attention (since I wasn’t in a hurry to finish–I had no time crunch).

Why my Hang Power Cleans were Hard!

I noticed the same thing my daughter noticed with my bar muscle ups and ring muscle ups–my left wrist does not rotate. In essence, I have a death grip on the bar–a common fault for all of these moves.

This was the first time though I’ve become aware of this doing hang power cleans in CrossFit. It makes sense as to why I’d fail occasionally on my left side and why it would be hard–because I was stopping the upward momentum of the bar by not allowing the bar to rotate around.

For the rest of the CrossFit workout, I tried to be cognizant of this but, of course, like everything performed multiple times incorrectly, it will take a while to reprogram it.

But it’s a start.

And that’s all one ever needs.

My Three Years Doing CrossFit

I can’t believe it’s been three years doing CrossFit. It seems like such a long time when spoken out loud, but in my mind, it doesn’t seem that long at all.

I had no expectations going in. I began CrossFit because, honestly, I was at a level of fitness that wasn’t progressing doing the typical “gym routine” of exercise classes, cardio, and circuit training machines. My personal trainer suggested I try CrossFit — which I did — and I was immediately hooked.

CrossFit has grown into a lifestyle for me. I can’t imagine life without it, honestly. My life beforehand seems dull without it.

After three years of CrossFit, I’m happy with where I’m at except for one thing: I don’t have my ring muscle ups. It’s a bit depressing really.

So what did I get from 3 years doing CrossFit?

crossfit babes
CrossFit Competitions Floater

What 3 Years of CrossFit has done for me:

  • Given me an amazing sense of accomplishment. I’ll never forget the first time I climbed a rope or got my first pull up. Feats of strength most women only dream of — and I did them.
  • Given me a body I never dreamed I’d have, didn’t think I ever wanted, but now that I have it, I can’t imagine not having it.
  • Given me a self-confidence that intimidates others (so I’m told).  I know what I want, and I either go do it or go get it. There’s nothing in-between.
  • Given me a focus that allows me to accomplish an amazing amount of work in a short time period.
  • Opened up possibilities of what is possible. I’ve learned everything is possible if you can overcome your mental barriers.
  • Honed my competitive skills. I love to compete, and I think I’m better at competing since starting CrossFit.
  • Made me different. We’re all unique in our own ways, but there’s something about those who CrossFit that is different than others. I not only look different; I am different.
  • Given me a determination that translates to all areas of my life. When I set my mind to do something, it gets done.

CrossFit is a Lifestyle

CrossFit is definitely a lifestyle. A lifestyle 3 years ago I never would have imagined or thought I needed.

Now, I need it like the moon needs the sun to shine. I’m smarter about it. Don’t go so hard. Try to minimize the tweaks and such. Because I want to still be CrossFitting in 15 years.

Choosing How Long Your CrossFit Workout Is

CrossFit Power Cleans

I’m best at the long game.

Any WOD (workout of the day) under 10 minutes is not my cup of tea. This is why I often don’t place at CrossFit competitions because due to time constraints most of the workouts are under 10 minutes. Any workout over 20 minutes I do good at and if it’s a competition, I usually win.

Today’s Workout was a 20 minute AMRAP (as many rounds as possible) of power cleans, burpees, and a run. This WOD was fun! It was light enough weight (95 lbs) and a good number of reps (7) to keep you moving. Naturally, when 20 minutes came, I didn’t want to stop. So I didn’t.

And because I was working out by myself and there’s no class after mine I didn’t have to. I just kept going.

The Best Part about Working Out Alone:

  • I set the time.
  • I start when I want.
  • I finish when I want.
  • It truly is my workout.

CrossFit Competition: Monster Mash

CrossFit Sanitas in Boulder, CO

held it’s 4th annual Monster Mash

CrossFit Fran

individual CrossFit competition. I did this one last year and had a blast, so I signed up for it again.

This CrossFit competition did not disappoint. The day began with Fran (thrusters and pull ups), which normally I’m really good at, but for some reason I was a whole minute slower on Fran. The 8 am-10 am workout times are hard for me.

Then I had the floater which was a bike and snatches. This took place outside, and the weather was gorgeous, sunny and warm.

I won the second event of burpee box jump overs, toes to bar, and dumbbell deadlifts.

The third event had a lot of dumbbells, heavy cleans, and a row. The row slowed me down. It was fine.

I ended up second place overall in this CrossFit competition. CrossFit Sanitas is a great host. Great people. Awesome workouts and great Crossfit programming. Good day for competing!