Reader Question: Overwhelmed By CrossFit Technique

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Hi, I'm Tina!

I’m the owner of Carrots ‘N’ Cake as well as a Certified Nutrition Coach and Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner (FDN-P). I use macros and functional nutrition to help women find balance within their diets while achieving their body composition goals.

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Good morning! Happy Hump Day! Thanks for all of your comments on my previous post about the Paleo Challenge. I have to admit, the comment section got a little heated at times, but it was still interesting to hear everyone’s thoughts and opinions. It left me with a lot to think about and even more questions to ask my doctor today at my appointment, so THANKS!

I received a great CrossFit question the other day, so I wanted to share it and my reply on CNC:

Hi Tina! I have been reading your blog for awhile and first let me say I love your approach to health and fitness. I recently started Crossfit (I did the 6 on-ramp classes and then 3 regular ones so far) and am feeling overwhelmed by all the technique. I was curious if you also felt this way when you started? Also, I used to be big into cardio and sometimes feel because I have to focus so much on form that I’m not “working hard enough.” Any insight you could give me would be awesome! Thanks so much!

It’s great you’re focusing so much on technique. It’s so important in CrossFit, but I totally understand where you are coming from. When I first started CrossFit, I felt the exact same way””totally overwhelmed and frustrated that I wasn’t always getting a super tough workout. I’m competitive and like to work hard, so I wanted to be a sweaty mess by the end of each workout, but, sometimes, it didn’t happen that way, especially if class was more focused on strength with a short WOD. But, thanks to my coaches, I learned that I couldn’t go all balls-to-the-wall until I had my technique consistently down.

When I asked Mal for his coach’s perspective (he’s CrossFit Level 1 certified) on this question, the first three words out of his mouth were:

  • Mechanics
  • Consistency
  • Intensity

Especially in CrossFit, where your goal is often to do things harder, better, faster, stronger, it’s really important to operate in this sequence because they’re so closely related (and, of course, for your own safety). Basically, you want to properly perform the movements on a consistent basis before you increase your intensity. Here’s a quick explanation of each from the CrossFit Journal:

Mechanics refers to technique””your ability to move properly through our core movements. For us, this means moving yourself and external objects in the most
efficient, effective, and safe manner possible.

Consistency has a two-part application: 1) That you are consistent in performing the mechanics of the movement; and 2) That you are consistent in CrossFit workouts. Both are necessary! CrossFit workouts are very potent medicine; too much too soon and you can severely hurt yourself. Luckily, the body adapts quickly, and before you know it, you will be hitting each workout with maximum personal intensity.

Intensity, as Coach Greg Glassman, founder and CEO of CrossFit, formally states, is the independent variable most commonly associated with the rate of return on favorable adaptation. More simply put, intensity brings about all the good results from working out. However, we also have to realize that intensity is relative to our physical and psychological tolerances. This is a process, and one that takes an indeterminate amount of time, so be patient. Elite-level athletes may be ready to ramp up their intensity in a couple of weeks, while de-conditioned athletes can take months or longer. The goal of CrossFit is to improve your fitness for life; no one ever got in shape overnight. If you gradually exceed what you have done before, soon enough you will be doing the main
site workouts “as prescribed.”

Of course, it’s important to train this way in order to decrease your risk of injury, but it’s also important because proper technique will allow you to lift heavier weights and perform more reps faster, which is a more intense workout and gives you better results.

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My best advice is don’t despair! It might take a few months to really get into and feel comfortable with the movements, but you WILL get there! Lots of people start out in the same place; it just takes some time and hard work to progress to where you want to be with your fitness. Hang it there and just keep truckin’!

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If you’re really looking for a cardio workout, chat with your coaches about some exercise modifications. They will probably have some ideas for movement with less weight, so you can pick up the intensity during a WOD. Also, keep in mind, the programming at your box is designed to include all kinds of workouts (metcon, strength, skills), so you might not get to do a super-duper-cardio-driven workout one day, but, later in the week, you might have a 40-minute chipper that will leave you totally exhausted!

I hope this helps and happy CrossFit-ing! I’m so glad you decided to try it!


Yesterday’s breakfast was “Oatmeal” Minus the Oats with a little bit of pumpkin pie spice and ground flaxseed meal thrown into the mix. I made this batch with one whole egg + 2 egg whites and added a scoop of sunflower butter.

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On the side, I drank a glass of Dandy Blend with a splash of almond milk.

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Question of the Day

What’s the most frustrating thing about your workouts? How do you overcome it?

P.S. IBD peeps: Have any of you heard of or tried UltraInflamX Plus 360°? A reader emailed me about it the other day, so I’m curious to learn more about it. Just wondering if anyone had experience with it. I’m going to ask my doctor about it today too.

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