Like the many stages of grief, there are many stages of fitness. It’s also true you many not experience every single one of these stages, nor will you experience them in any particular order. But as an athlete, it is important to know where you are and to adhere to the goals within each stage. Here is a short list of the main stages you may encounter on your journey to fitness and a breakdown of goals for each. While these can be applied for most areas of fitness, it’s biased toward general physical preparedness and CrossFit.
- De-conditioned: These are the people who have not worked out in some time. They may or may not have been athletes in the past. It may include even some weekend warriors or globo gym members. For this group, their main focus is to groove good form, build perfect muscle memory, and identify weaknesses. They should ignore the clock and push when their form will allow them to. Their goal is to push beyond their comfort zone (ie legs are burning, do another wall ball shot anyways), but slow down when form breaks.
- Pre-Habilitation: These are usually the de-conditioned folks once they have gained some work capacity and have now identified potential weaknesses. By weakness, I am referring to things that stand in their way of getting to stage #5 below: inflexibility, muscle imbalance, previous injuries, fears (box jumps or handstands). This group needs to spend time outside the gym (as well as before/after class) working these weaknesses.Most of the time we coaches have already talked to you guys about what you can do. Most of you will ignore us. I know you all already have tons on your plate, but an extra 10 minutes a day will go a long way when you start hitting plateaus. Use the Mobility WOD posters in the back of the gym. Buy yourself a foam roller/lacrosse ball/car buffer. Do your extra glute or core strengthening movements, etc., or you will find yourself in stage #3.
- Re-Habilitation: Which brings us to the inevitable for some of us: Injury. What starts as a nagging overtrained shoulder may become a full-blown injury requiring medical intervention. Or a weak glute that causes knees to roll in during squats becomes an ACL injury. However it happened, the athlete is now in the stage where he is limited to a few movements AND are subject to further injury because his body is compensating for a part that’s not working. Ever feel that one injury follows another after another like a domino effect? In this stage the goal for the athlete is to do all workouts within the range of motion he are capable of safely and NOT FOR TIME. He should consider himself lucky he can still work out. Most likely if an athlete in stage 3 is in stage 2 simultaneously.
- Strength Building: Once they’ve worked out the kinks in the previous stages and their work capacity has increased, they can really focus on getting stronger. This stage is for the people who have the work capacity to finish a workout as programmed but maybe at a scaled weight (or with bands for pull ups/dips).Focusing on building strength requires more than just getting your lifts in the gym. This may mean eating more to allow your body to recover from strength building. Or it may mean focusing only on lifting for a while and cutting back on certain types of high intensity workouts.
- Increasing Work Capacity and Pushing Recovery: Think CrossFit Games athlete or the likes of them. These people can do all the movements and at the weights required. Now they are just pushing their recovery both during a workout and between workouts. This group can do 150 wall ball shots and not be sore the next day, partially because they have built the capacity for that volume, and also because they have their recovery routine down.Think foam rolling, ice baths, hot baths, hydrating, proper nutrition, sleep, the whole shebang. Their goal is to maintain or increase strength, keep fine tuning their skills, and continue to push the envelope. They may even specialize in Olympic lifting, gymnastics, or power lifting and periodize their training.
Good Morning 3×5