Quick Tips: CrossFit Qualifiers for Masters and Teens
By David J. Smith, MSc., CSCS
CrossFit is a high intensity strength training program designed to improve athletic performance through skill development and overall fitness. Its popularity has grown exponentially over the past few years due to its unique approach to training.
The core tenets of CrossFit are simple – train hard, do it often, and don’t give a crap what happens. While these principles may sound like common sense, they have been proven time after time to produce results when applied correctly. However, there’s one thing that makes CrossFit different from other programs; the amount of people participating in the workouts.
When I first started working with clients, I was surprised at how many people wanted to participate in my workouts.
My initial response was “Why would anyone want to do that?”
But then I realized that most people had never trained before or were intimidated by doing so.
So why not? Why shouldn’t they get a chance to see if their new found confidence could translate into improved health and performance?
While I still had a lot to learn, that was the moment where I realized that CrossFit was for everyone.
CrossFit is great because it brings people together from all walks of life. No matter what your background is or what you do, there’s an immense sense of community when you’re doing something you don’t think you can finish. And even if you fail, you know that you’re going to get back up and try again. It’s this type of atmosphere that has helped create a unique culture and subculture within the fitness world.
The one thing about this subculture is CrossFit really prides itself on competition. While competition can be a good thing, it should also be viewed as learning experience. I’ve seen people completely destroy their bodies because they’re so focused on winning, they don’t even care if they break themselves in the process.
This is exactly why I believe that everyone, especially teenagers and masters athletes, should participate in CrossFit competitions from time to time. Not only will it help keep you motivated, but it will also teach you how to become more explosive, strong, and flexible. But I also think that the best way to introduce youth and master athletes into competition is to scale the workouts according to age and ability.
Now scaling workouts is a very touchy subject in CrossFit mainly because some people believe that it takes away from the competition itself. I couldn’t disagree more. Scaling is about making the workout appropriate for each individual rather than everyone suffering through a workout that is too advanced for their current abilities. It’s also the reason why most CrossFit boxes have “scaled” and ” Rx” classes.
So how do you scale a workout?
It’s actually quite simple. You remove any elements of the workout that are too difficult and keep those that are relative to the client’s abilities.
For example, if I had a forty-year old client who could only do double unders, I wouldn’t have them do triple unders or get rid of them altogether. I’d keep them in the workout because that’s an element they can do. However, if my client can’t do pull-ups, I wouldn’t have him do them even though he could dead hang on the bar.
Another important thing to note is that scaling isn’t a one-time thing. Depending on how they respond to a given scaled workout, you may need to scale it differently the next time. This is where being observant and attentive comes into play. The better you know your clients, the more they’ll open up to you and tell you exactly what they’re capable of and what they like and don’t like.
Now with scaling, it may also be important to keep a client’s goals in mind. For example, if I had a very overweight forty-year old client, my goal isn’t to get him or her to do muscle-ups or handstand push-ups. My goal is get them in better shape overall. So while I’m trying to help them improve themselves, I’m also trying to keep them interested in fitness because if they become demotivated, they’re going to stop coming and then I won’t be able to help them at all.
Scaling and having options for people is an important key to making CrossFit accessible for everyone. It makes the workouts more enjoyable and it allows people of all abilities to participate without completely destroying themselves. The next time you go to a CrossFit class, take notice of the different abilities of the people in the class. You’ll notice that there are a few who absolutely kill it every time while others are just trying to get through it. The goal is to keep as many people in that second group as small as possible and the only way to do that is by scaling.
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