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6 Tips to Make Every Workout Awesome

Posted 24th January 2016 by Josh Schouten

A training or practice session should leave you feeling refreshed and able to go again the next day, rather than sore and unable to move, like a destructive workout might.  A great training session is one that leaves you feeling energised and ready to take on the world; it is as much physical reward as it is mental reward.  We want should all want our workouts to be enjoyable and leave us wanting to do more.

I’ve written about the importance of a positive attitude in a pervious post  and there are certain strategies that can be used to help everyone stay motivated and feel great about their training sessions.

BeAwesome“You’re only competing against yourself” is common phrase we hear a lot in the CrossFit community.  The competitive aspect of CrossFit is a fantastic part of CrossFit and it has the potential to bring out the best in our performance.  However, it can sometimes get the better of us and potential lead us to a poor performance because we can get a little carried away by put to much weight on the bar, not scale the movements to our ability, or by try to compete against someone who is fitter, faster and/or stronger than us at the moment.  This can leave us feeling a little flat after our workouts and make us think that we are not progressing, we have lost strength, or we have lost fitness.  This is often not the case and hopefully the following 6 training tips can you make every workout AWESOME.

Tip 1. Stop maxing out and start building strength –

A well-designed training programme will cycle through different phases of training protocols to help improve your strength, speed, power, fitness and overall performance.   It impossible to train all aspect of fitness at once and you will see greater results from targeting certain aspects of fitness for a period of time.  By using percentages on you lifts you are teaching the body good movement patterns and motor control, you are eliciting gradual overload parameters designed to make the body adapt and want to grow stronger over a period of time.  You are limiting the chance of injury and making sure the body is not learning to move with bad form, lets be honest max loads are often performed with questionable form. Strength takes years to build and there are no shortcuts. Gradual increase in percentages, time under the bar, and hard work will always deliver results in the long run. 

Tip 2. Know your numbers –

This goes with tip number 1 above, if you don’t know your numbers how can you follow the percentages?  It also important to work off your current numbers and not the 200kg deadlift you did 3 years ago.  If you miss training for a couple of week due to holidays/illness/injury start back gradually and take 10% off you numbers in the first 2-3weeks back. 

Tip 3.  Know your strengths and your weaknesses

Some athletes can squat until the cows come home, others have incredible bodyweight endurance and can smash through gymnastics elements. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses and it helps to know yours.  We all need to work on our weaknesses and do our best to turn them into our strengths.  “I hate workouts with pull-ups because I can’t do them.”  Where did that positive “can do attitude” go?  Grab this opportunity to improve yourself and set it as a challenge this year.  My SMART goal is to be able to do x-number of pull-ups before the end of 2016.  Get in the gym and ask your coach how you can start to work on your pull-up strength?  If they say anything about using bands (this is one of my BIG hates and something I will be writing about in the future), find another coach who has a clue about strength training and get some solid advice.

Tip 4.  Maximise each element of your training session

There is a time to lift heavy shit, there is a time to train to practice you skills and technique, and then there is a time to focus on moving quickly and training your fitness (energy systems).

There are certain times during a training session where you can focus on your weaknesses and continue to build on your strength,, and then there are times to take weight off the bar, scale the movement appropriate to your ability and get your sweat on.

You may have noticed that many of the CrossFit Hackney workouts lately have not prescribed Rx weight.  Instead we have put heavy, moderate or light on the program to allow athletes to choose a weight that suits their individual level.  The “W.O.D” is not the time to build your absolute strength, or the time to swing like a monkey on a pull-up bar.  Each W.O.D should have a particular goal and it should no simple be some random mix of exercises designed to kill you.  This comes down to the CrossFit box you train at and the designer of your training program, so ask them to explain the workout and its intension?  This should give you a clear idea of the weight and movements you should be using to achieve the desired response of the W.O.D.

Tip 5. Compete against yourself –

What does this actually mean and how do you know if you are improving or going backwards?  Strength is the easiest thing to measure, but fitness is a tricky one.  Tip number 2 is an important one here are you should also be recording your numbers for your workouts, especially those workouts that are going to appear more than once in the training program.  Lets take the following workout for example:

7 rounds for time:

10 Deadlifts (moderate)

12 Push-ups

14 Wall Balls (moderate)

The question you should be asking yourself before you start this workout is “how long will this take me?”  You should be able to look at a workout and have an idea how long it will take you, or how many rounds and repetitions you should be able to achieve in a give time domain.  How long will 10 deadlifts take [15sec]?  How long for 12 push-ups [15-20sec] and how long for 14 Wall Balls [25-30sec]?  The numbers in “[]” are simple suggestions and you need to insert your own values here, if you struggle with push-up and you know they are going to fatigue you need to take this into consideration.  Once you have a fair estimate you need to add these values together to figure out how long 1 full round should take? 15+20+30 = 1:05 per round.

Depending on your fitness and your ability to perform these movements back to back, you are going to start to fatigue over the 7 rounds and there will be some small breaks between exercises/rounds, or even intra-set during the press-ups.  Be realistic here and plan the rest time you may need.  If your good at these movements and your feeling good today you might set yourself the goal to only have 20sec rest each round, meaning 1 round should take you 1:25 and 7 rounds should take 9:55 (this is work:rest ratio of roughly 3:1).  This is your goal; this is you competing against yourself and the expectations you have set.  This is you teaching yourself how to pace a workout and how to compare your expectation to your current fitness capability. This is one way to make you training session more motivation and more positive.

Tip 6. Support your community –

We do a great job at CrossFit Hackney supporting the people that we train with.  Everyone can benefit form some positive encouragement and constructive feedback, especially the new faces in the gym.  The community is what bring people into CrossFit gyms and it’s the community that can determine if these members stay or leave.  High fives, chest pumps and sweaty hugs are always appreciated right?… maybe not the hugs?


These are just some tips you might like to try and see if they make a difference.  Having a positive outlook on life and on your training simply makes life more fun and enjoyable.  Nobody life a grumpy training partner and it is counterproductive to always punch yourself in the balls.