Coach's Talk: Creating a Feedback Loop & The Blind Alley

As you progress in your CrossFit athletic journey the first goal is often competency. Achieving the movement with decent form.. You can do it! Finally! Once you can then you do more. Often we take for granted that more equals better but this may not be the case. For many achieving competency takes much effort and time and once we are "there" we want to bask in our accomplishment and move on to other challenges without achieving virtuosity.

Moving on to new challenges is not a bad thing. Focusing too long on one movement can lead to burn out and discouragement.  But we don't want to lose track of "where we are at" and focus too much on moving forward at the expense becoming efficient.

If you have been doing a movement for months or years but it is always a struggle and never ever easy then the way you are doing it is not working very well.  Let me explain. The general progression over time is from less quality to more quality. That is doing the movement then doing it better. If your "better" is not much better given the amount of time you have been at it then you might be in a blind alley. A blind alley leads nowhere.

There are a series of simple questions you should "live with" when working out. Ask yourself was that rep hard or easy and why. You might think there is no apparently useful answer but that does not matter. What matters is reflecting on these questions sets up a feedback loop and assuming you are working and trying hard you will get better. i.e. you learn.

When this goes wrong you are in a blind alley. Without the feedback loop you go nowhere; you do not get better. The striving of the workout is pure effort with little or no learning so your ability increases slowly or barely at all. Working out like this feels like you are grinding away. Hope for getting better is minimal and you just have to keep grinding.

Avoiding blind alleys sometimes means taking a step back to enable moving forward. You will often need to return to a scaled movement since bad habits are reinforced in blind alleys and the only way to break them is to stop what you are doing. Stopping a bad habit can be excruciatingly difficult without a major change. Subtle changes usually have no effect.

I have seen athletes that refuse to take a step that causes them to scale something they can do with often the barest of competency. This is letting your ego decide and often leads to mediocre results.  Don't be that guy!

Some example movements that athletes often get stuck in a blind alley with are doubleunders, rowing and running. If you think you might be in a blind alley ask your trainer for something new you can do to break your bad habits and remember to live in the questions and you will soon start to see progress.

Coach Greg