Training for Health vs. Training for Competition

There is a big misconception that CrossFit is only for the super fit or for uber competitive athletes. This is fundamentally wrong. Yes, there are a lot of really amazing competitive Crossfit athletes, but CrossFit is also for us “regular” people.

I’m a 42-year-old mom of two with chronic back pain from a childhood injury, as well as a shoulder and a knee that decide to hurt just because. I never participated in sports growing up. I started CrossFit because I was overweight, tired of hurting all the time, and, after working with seniors for 12 years, I developed a healthy fear of not being able to wipe my own butt when I’m eighty. That is why I do CrossFit.

I will admit that I got caught up in the competitive side of CrossFit for a little while. Once I burned out on that, I realized you can do CrossFit without killing yourself in every workout. In fact, the intention of CrossFit is: functional fitness for the “regular” person.

CrossFit movements are meant to help you move properly when you lift your laundry basket. It’s meant to help your arm and grip strength so you can carry all your groceries in on one trip. The intention of CrossFit is to give us a quality of life for as long as we live.

So, if the competitive side of CrossFit doesn’t appeal to you, and your goal is to improve your quality of life, that is totally okay. You’ll just want to approach your workouts a little differently.

Instead of doing those deadlifts as fast as you possibly can and sacrificing your back to beat your buddy, Joe, take your time and keep your belly tight, back flat, knees out and bar close.

If you are so sore after every workout that you can’t move the next day you should take off a little weight and slow it down. If you’re supposed to do 90% of your 1 rep max and you know that your body isn’t up for it that day that’s fine. Decrease the weight and do what you can. 

I’m not saying that all competition or setting a new Personal Record is bad. PR setting is fun, and competition pushes you outside your comfort zone. A local competition or a little trash talk with Joe before the workout is fine. Just check in with yourself and make sure you aren’t pushing yourself past the point of improvement and into the injury zone.

A very small percentage of CrossFitters do this sport competitively. As a result, they train differently than the everyday CrossFitter. They push themselves to a point that is not healthy. They run the risk of injury just like any athlete in any other competitive sport. They dedicate their life to working out and pushing themselves to the breaking point in every workout. They dedicate every minute of their life outside of the gym to recovering from that day’s workout. They focus on nothing but train, eat, recover, repeat. 

If you are trying to make it to the games your workout is going to look a little different than if you are training for life. There will be similar elements, and that’s why a Games athlete can workout in the same class as you or me. That is the beauty of CrossFit. It is scalable for anyone at any point in their fitness journey.

So, don’t get caught up in the Tia Toomey’s or the Justin Medeiros’ weights and pacing. You don’t have do what they do to appreciate what they do. Run your own race. Train to train another day.



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