Reader Question: Overwhelmed By CrossFit Technique

Mastermind Weekend 1/16

Hey there!

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.


An in-depth, 4-week reverse dieting course for women who feel like their metabolism has slowed down, think they might have hormonal imbalance and can’t lose weight no matter what they do.

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’!

[image source]

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.



  1. When I started crossfit, I definitely feel overwhelmed by techniques but really working on my technique & form paid off. I’ve been crossfitting for a little over 2 months now (5x a week) and I added 65lbs to my deadlift max and 20lbs to my snatch max. I’ve also reduced my kipping pull up assistance by nearly 80lbs. It feels frustrating to drill technique but it really does work wonders!

  2. I’m so envious of everyone who gets to enjoy crossfit! I looked into trying some classes locally and the only independent places that offered classes charged $200 for the basic package. It looks like such an incredible workout!

  3. I don’t mean this in a rude way, just wondering, are you ever going to catch up? Or will you be a day behind from now on? I was sure you’d be back to normal after your weekend away.

      1. @Tina: I really like your blog, and don’t mean any offense but am just curious…. if the blog is basically your full-time job (you said Friday was last day at NuVal), why are you a day behind in posting?

        1. It works for me and it’s easier to have all of my pics and content together, so I can put them into a post instead of waiting for something to happen.

          1. Then where’s the rest of your day? If, as you say, you’re waiting a day to post to have all of your pictures and content together, why not post once a day rather than delay multiple posts?

          2. It’s tina’s blog and she can do what she wants…. I’m just glad she posts so often! 🙂

          3. @Tina: I agree with Mel! I don’t care if it’s the previous or current day! She posts frequently and it’s much appreciated!

          4. @Tina: I agree with Mel! I think the others are jealous because you are fabulous and they’re just people who lurk the internet posting unnecessary pitiful comments 😀

  4. Holy smokes, I just read yesterday’s comments! I read the post in the morning (didn’t comment, didn’t feel like I had anything to add) and didn’t check back. I wish people would stop being all judgy. It’s a 60 day challenge for YOU. Not a new government regulation that nobody can eat grains ever again. Me personally? I really thrive when I nix all grains and refined sugar from my diet. I feel a ton better and I lose that squishy look.

    Anywhoooo I just started CrossFit (finished my foundations classes last week) and have done WODs Monday, Tuesday and today this week. I agree with the whole “I don’t know if I’m working hard enough!” thing but I figure that technique first, then I will get stronger in each of the exercises. The WORST thing that could happen would me getting injured right off the bat. But tomorrow is certainly a rest day. I’m sore!

  5. When I first started CrossFit I was overwhelmed with the idea of technique. There are SO many different exercises it’s hard to master them all. I have been trying to focus on a different skill each month to try to get better at them all. Keep trucking – it does get better!

  6. I’m not doing CrossFit, but as a workout newbie, I just started Jamie Eason’s LiveFit plan, and just this morning, I was thinking, “I feel like I’m not working out hard enough.” So, on my last circuit, I switched from the 20 lb barbell to the 30, and from 10 lb dumb bells to the 15 (I was doing leg work, and my gym doesn’t have a calf machine, so I improvised). Just enough additional resistance, but I know I won’t feel it until tomorrow. I totally agree with learning basic technique before you can forge ahead. I’m petrified of injuring myself.

  7. I get anxiety about trying new workouts, especially if they are in a group setting. I just did my first bootcamp this week and dreaded it all weekend….then of course loved it and had a great workout. Not sure why this happens, but I need to cut it out!

  8. Thanks for introducing me to dandy blend! I bought 2 single serving packets to see if I would like it, and I do! I was suprised how easy it mixes! This will be great for cutting back on my caffiene consumption and hopefully eliminate some of my stomach issues.

  9. Your oatmeal minus the oats look amazing. I am scared at attempting to make them because I am not a great cook at all. The most frustrating thing for me in a workout is my planter facisits. I am training for my first 1/2 marathon and 10 mile race and my has been acting up like crazy. Also the most frustrating thing for me is increasing weights for weightlifting and feeling like my arms are going to fall off. Have a great day 🙂

      1. @Christina: Try the blue superfeet orthotics and the Strassberg Sock – both helped my PF. Oh and rolling on frozen golf ball and/or juice can plus stretching. Good luck! Mine still acts up occasionally but switching from my old orthotics to the blue Superfeet really helped.

  10. Great post! Quick question: Any advice on doing CrossFit on your own? The CF gym near me is completely out of my budget but I can afford a regular gym. I know they post the WOD on their website but I often feel overwhelmed and confused by it (even after reading through the dictionary of terms). Any tips?

  11. Hey Tina!

    Just wanted to say, I read the comments from yesterday, and I found them to be a bit heated as well, yet interesting. You sure do have a lot of followers! Anyway, I consider myself to be a major lover of food, and when you switched to Paleo and started showing those food choices/menus instead, I HONESTLY thought I would stop following your blog. However, I still find myself visting it everyday, so something keeps me coming back! I am motivated by your daily workouts and your commitment to eat right for yourself, and I do get some meal ideas from you. For me, your blog has helped me have a more ‘balanced approach’ when it comes to food. So even though I personally could never do the Paleo lifestyle, parts of what you have to offer have been incorporated into our daily lives. So I think that, even though some people may disagree with you and seem a little judgemental, everybody can still take away SOMETHING from what you’re doing here, even if we don’t 100% agree. I am living proof. 🙂

  12. I can totally relate to the women who asked the questions in your post. When I started CrossFit a year ago, I really just couldn’t grasp the fundamental movements and I have to say, that was hard for me to understand because I am a pretty coordinated person from being a dancer growing up. My advice is to really work on your movements and start slow, listen to what coaches are telling you – you’ll feel behind and left out in the beginning but then all of the sudden it’ll just HAPPEN, like it will all click. I hated having to do things like cleans with just a bar because I couldn’t quite get the technique but now I can clean 85lbs and do it correctly, and I know all that time I took to perfect my movements was worth it. In the end, its for your safety and to make sure you are doing the movements correctly so its worth taking the time.

  13. I totally understand your reader’s frustration, I don’t do crossfit but I’ve lost a lot of my strength and speed during marathon training and I know I’m going to have to be patient getting it back, especially when I can’t start until after the marathon! (This weekend!)

  14. I kind of skipped over the CrossFit part of this post because I’m not a Cross-Fit-ter, but I think I might try that “Oatmeal” Minus the Oats. That looks pretty good! I’m looking for something a little more nutritious to eat rather than my normal blueberry bagel slathered in cream cheese every morning!

    My boyfriend and his friends do CrossFit, and though my boyfriend could NEVER do Paleo (he loves ice cream too much), he is looking really ripped from the CrossFit. He’s in the military, and it really helps his endurance and stamina.

  15. Perfect timing, one of my girlfriends and I were literally just talking this morning about trying CrossFit for the first time and how silly we probably will look and feel 😛 I’ll have to share this with her!

  16. Well, I guess you know you’re big in the blogging world when people start questioning why you are doing what you do! lol How dare you do something you think is good for your body! 😉

    And now you blog a day behind? Holy paleo pumpkin pancakes!

    Just keep your head up and keep doing what you are doing if it works for YOU!! 🙂

  17. I drink Ultrainflamx plus, the chocolate flavor. It’s part of Dr. Junger’s Clean Program, Metagenics manufactures his supplements (Ultrainflamx is very similar to his Nourish powder) and Dr. Junger relabels them under the clean program, last time I checked. I add a scoop to my smoothies on some mornings and it’s really tasty and it makes me feel great.

    Love your posts! I truly believe you should post about what you’re interested in rather than what will please the reader, because it’s your personal blog. That’s also what makes a post interesting, with your personality shining through. Not everyone’s into Paleo, for example, but if you are then there’s nothing wrong with that.

    Now if you’ll excuse me it’s still early in the west coast and I’m gonna make me some oatmeal minus the oats. Love that recipe.

  18. With any type of ‘intense’ workout or move, it is of UTMOST important to get the form correctly. Unfortunately not all gyms/trainers/fitness personnel/coaches truly understand & grasp this fact. Way to bring in the right info! 🙂

  19. Just like there are a gazillion of books that YOU can chose to read, there are a gazillion of blogs that YOU can chose to read, or not to read.

    While everyone is entitled to their own opinion, I find commenters kind of annoying sometimes. Like they are “looking” for a reason to be critical.

    I do agree that Tina’s blog content has changed in recent months. But what hasn’t changed is that she writes about what SHE wants to write about HOW she wants to write about it. Just like in the beginning. Everything changes in life – from when she was trying to lose a few lbs, to maintaining, to exploring what else is out there.

    I have a hard time seeing the comments about this blog is promoting unhealthy behaviors or dissordered eating. I’ve never seen a post saying, “Do this! I’m doing it and you should too!!” Of course, she has the ability to influence, but that’s what got all the readers here in the first place.

    While, I personally am a little…over reading so much about Crossfit and Paleo, I find other content on Tina’s blog that I like reading (maybe even a paleo recipe or two!). And if I didn’t like it, I’d move on.

  20. I would say consistency is the hardest thing for me when it comes to strength training. For running, perhaps the intensity is the challenge (I like to settle into a more comfortable pace).

  21. Tina You ROCK!!!

    Holy Guacamole that post and comments were crazy… What alot of people don’t understand is that Paleo is still very new. I love the fact that Tina says she eats like Paleo without the label. As a person who does eat Paleo I can say this. IF your curious do your research and try it out. Every body is different and reacts to foods in different ways. I feel better more satisfied and feel like I control my eating much better. We shouldn’t judge. If you have a question ask away or do your research.

    Knowledge is Power!!! Keep up the good work Tina!!!

  22. I hadn’t heard of that product before, but it sounds great for IBD.

    Have you seen that Sarah is hosting a gusty virtual digestive book club on her blog? It just started on Monday and we are reading No Guts, No Glory this month. It’s a really informative book so far and I think you would enjoy learning more about digestion since you were just recently diagnosed. Check it out:

  23. LOVE this post.

    The most frustrating thing for me is that I feel like I need to be drenched in sweat to feel confident that I had a great workout. I’ve also had to overcome that, especially when it comes to strength training, it is a different game.

  24. Form, uber important and yes, time consuming.

    Focus on the long-term pay off of the new moves you have learned that will last a lifetime, not to mention, save your limbs.

    One of the most frustrating things about workouts is when you are all revved up for a group class and then you walk in and the music stinks.

    Lesson Learned: Talk to others and find the instructors you know who will challenge you and pump you up!

  25. Tina, I just want to say I love your blog! My roommate got me reading it before you ever started crossfit and I just got hooked. i’ve been doing crossfit for 2 1/2 years now and since you’ve started I’ve been so stoked to read how you are liking it and how are are growing and progressing! I am level 1, gymnastics, and mobility certified, and coach at my local gym; and if there is one major key point that i have learned through doing crossfit is Technique technique technique ALWAYS before intensity! People are so confused as to why they dont “feel” like they got a butt kicker workout if their just practicing with a pvc pipe and want to ramp up the pvc pipe. But trust me the intensity comes after your body has some muscle memory from those movements that you can ramp up the weight and intesity withOUT ever sacrificing form. I f we through you into an intense workout without the ability to maintain good form while you are tired, you would just get injured which is 🙁 no fun!
    So I just wanted to give you kudos because you did a great job explaining that!
    Happy Crossfitting and PALEO! 🙂
    btw i just finished a month long challenge at our gym and went from a 205 back squat to 235! Paleo is amazing, feel better, look better, perform better, and crave less!
    Ill keep my biased opinion about paleo to myself 🙂 hehe

  26. I totally agree with this approach to Crossfit! Take your time with mechanics and the rest will follow! I took the L1 cert this past weekend and all the HQ trainers emphasized that if you start bad habits on your form early, it will cripple your success in the long run. The intensity options are always available through endurance WODs (which should be programmed regularly) 🙂 Great job outlining this for your readers!!

  27. I think the most frustrating thing for me with all workouts is always just getting over the initial mental barrier of doing it. I LOVE working out, but for some reason I always have some sort of mental resistance to doing it. I think it must be millenia of evolution telling us to rest when we can.

  28. It took me a while to fully appreciate the less intensive (in my mind) days over the full throttle days at crossfit. I love them both now :). And yes, it takes a while to get the terminology and push yourself without getting hurt (did that too).

    Tina – just this morning I made oatless oats – first in months. I had forgotten how difficult the pot is to clean after cooking them. Do you have that problem??

  29. Wow i just read the comments from yesterday and I can’t believe people were so rude to you about your diet choices! I know what you are going through, my boyfriend had UC and has been on the Maker’s Diet since July and I personally know that everyone reacts different to foods especially with an IBD No one should judge you based on your personal goals and choices.

  30. I do 2 classes at the gym that, when you put them together, kinda make a Crossfit, so I’d love to try it! It does seem intimidating though…

    I don’t think I’d be impatient with technique because I’m sure having better technique in the past would’ve saved me from a few injuries!

    My biggest workout frustration is when the time drags in a group class or when it just doesn’t feel fun

  31. Hope you feel better soon! I took the Metagenix quite a few times, not for UC but I had a 6 month period where anything I ate gave me a gastrolic reflex that made me feel like my colon was an errupting volcano.

    To detox I was prescribed the metagenics and vegetable broths/pureed veggies only. It definitely helped A LOT and after a few weeks I was able to introduce some solid food back. It did NOT cure me though it just helped ease my symptoms. It’s been years of torture with digestive issues but I’m finally feeling better with a specially prescribed outline of food combination by another doctor. She also took a special blood test and found I had an Igg response to a lot of foods I was eating (think daily gobs of almond butter & eggwhites galore)
    Also, eating a more alkaline diet has helped. I know this is a ton of info but if you’re interested e-mail me. I truly hope you feel better soon!

  32. It can be tough explaining your dietary choices to people. I’m studying abroad in Moscow right now and just had a discussion with my host mom about why I only eat certain things. If you think “healthy lifestyle” is a difficult topic to explain in America, try doing it in Russia!

  33. I know you posted his quite awhile ago, but I thought I would still respond… UltraInflamx Plus 360 is an excellent product from Metagenics. We sell may Metagenics products in the Chiro office where I work. The Inflamx is used primarily as part of a detox program and is one of many different Medical Food Shakes that may be prescribed, depending on the individual patients needs. Typically, people who deal with inflammation would be prescribed the Inflamx. It is an excellent product, as are all of the Metagenics products! Let me know if you have any other questions about it!

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