In this blog post Coach Mike eloquently reinforces several vital points that we have covered in our blog….
People have referenced Crossfit as a strength and conditioning, a GPP (general physical preparedness) or a fitness development program. Ultimately, Crossfit IS a comprehensive fitness program. There is truth to the reference above, but they don’t completely portray what Crossfit represents to its current members, potential clients or the public. The thought came recently when I had a conversation with a friend about what Crossfit is. The way he defined it was interesting. When asked, he paused, thought to himself, then said “you know, it’s super fitness man, with crazy gymnastics movements, lots of olympic lifting, and people falling all over the place.” As a coach and an athlete who is dedicated to the craft, I was disheartened because he couldn’t be further from the truth. Allow me to explain with the diagram below.
What you’re looking at is one of several original continuums created by Greg Glassman (founder of Crossfit) to define an athlete’s progression of reaching his/her highest level of fitness. What my friend described were the elite athletes, the top of the pyramid, who represent about 0.012% of our Crossfit community (from a poll done by Crossfit HQ). Hardly the majority. As you can see, at the bottom of the pyramid is nutrition, which is crucial. The idea is each component on the pyramid is built on the one below it. Bluntly put, if you are doing Crossfit without proper nutrition, you will not get the best results of our program. You will get some results of course, but they will be limited and ultimately you certainly will not thrive in this program.
Your mission should be to absolutely thrive!
Too often coaches see a member come into the gym, work hard for the first few months, make fantastic improvements in their fitness, then suddenly plateau, regress, and burn out. What is happening is something called, Failure to Thrive, which is is a nutritional based issue. Crossfit, as a comprehensive fitness program, would crumble and be useless if diet wasn’t the most important aspect the program.
A balanced diet of meats, vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch, no sugar will get any human on the path to wellness. Suppose I gave you a graph 0-100, 0 being extremely sick and 100 being elite fitness. Wellness would come in at about 50. Eat a balanced diet and you will be healthy. You will be able to fight off diseases, avoid the nursing home, and be able to carry an active lifestyle. Eating the right foods is suitable for most athletes; however, if you expect to optimize performance in the gym, you’re only halfway there. If your goal is to improve your times and break your fitness limits, you also need to get in the habit of weighing and measuring your food. For someone eyeing the elite level of fitness, I’d go as far as saying it is more important to weigh and measure what you’re eating than what you’re actually eating.
Eating quality food and the right amount is imperative if your goal is to maximize your fitness potential. Is it simple? Yes. All you need to know is your lean body mass, your activity level and appropriate diet plan. Activity level means the amount of work out you do in a day. As for diet plan, I work with the Zone Diet, but there are several other programs available for consideration.
The reality is that for many it’s not easy. It is not always fun. You will not get a 6 pack in 2 weeks, or a month, maybe not even in a year. Remember a six pack may look good but it’s certainly not always an indication of performance. A flat stomach for most people is far more realistic and achievable. It requires a ton of dedication, sacrifice, and patience. Will this hard work focused on your food quality and quantity increase your performance? Without a doubt!
Living in a culture that overeats, I see a repeat of this cycle over and over again. A person may eat a balanced, healthy paleo style diet but dismisses the weighing and measuring. Invariably they overeat, then feel like crap, and as a result progress stops. That person will then start stacking on more volume with their workouts, but they aren’t improving their basic white board status. And so they get frustrated and blame the gym, coach and or program, community…anything but themselves. Athletes need to start looking at their diet as much as they do with their workouts. Have fun with them, experiment with them (those that know me, know I do this a lot, sometimes in extreme ways) to find out what works for you. When you find a diet that is in sync with your body, you will be amazed by how amazing you will feel. You will flow through the workouts.
I want people to understand that the secret to more reps, faster times, more pullups, quicker 5ks, better Fran’s, Grace’s, Dianes, Jackie’s and beating their friends is NOT about what you’re doing in the gym. It’s what you’re doing out of it. Two-a-days, three-a-days, 4-hour sessions, skill and accessory work, strength cycles, custom periodization, hatch programs and linear progressions are NOT the secret sauce. They can help in building upon the layers of fitness you have developed, but ONLY if the foundation is solid. Most people who do extra work they have programmed themselves in fact avoid their weaknesses and end up doing the stuff they like rather than the stuff they suck at.
Once you start adding in elements, it becomes even more imperative that weighing and measuring is essential. This doesn’t apply only to maximizing performance. If you’re working out more than once a day, it is critical to weight and measure just to maintain a normal homeostasis (which I will touch on in a later blog).
To learn more about this speak with your box owners and Crossfit coaches. They should be preaching this.
A good coach will be asking you about your nutrition if they feel you need it as readily as they give you advice on how to get your first pullup, muscleup, 5k under 20 mins, first 10 unbroken ring muscleups etc.. These skills are all the more difficult to accomplish if you ignore your nutrition and don’t do anything about it. If a coach does not ever mention the importance of nutrition and measuring it and if they are not, I question their guidelines in helping people develop their fitness. If you’re new to Crossfit, have fun with the workouts, enjoy the community. It is like no other, but don’t forget to educate yourself about what our gym, coaches and program presents. When deciding on the right fitness program for you, not taking diet and nutrition seriously will make it difficult for you to meet your fitness goals.
Coach Mike P
The CrossFit Brit website has a huge nutritional resource available.