Training burnout is a real thing, and it seems to especially affect CrossFit athletes. I’ve been through it myself and I’ve seen a lot of our gym’s athletes go through it, too. Sometimes people just get tired of things and want to switch it up, but here are my top 5 tips for avoiding the dreaded CrossFit burnout.
- Learn how to scale. Scaling your training isn’t just about substituting things you can’t do with things that you can do. Sure, that’s part of it, but it’s also about time and effort. Think of it this way… if a WOD is designed to take about 20 minutes, and you crush it in 10, you need to scale it up. If you spend 60 minutes on Fran, which is supposed to take less than four minutes, then you need to scale it down. Also scale so you can keep your activity relatively constant. If you have to keep stopping to huff and puff and not throw up, you need to scale it back some. Trying to Rx every WOD is a recipe for disaster, whether you’re a beginner and out of shape or seasoned and in your prime fitness. We have athletes at our gym who Rx every WOD, do a second WOD right after, and then go on a long run and they literally don’t break a sweat. Time to ramp up the intensity, ladies! CrossFit should never be easy. If it is, you need to scale up.
- You have to write stuff down to see results. A lot of people like the idea of coming into the CrossFit box, doing the WOD for an hour, and leaving without having to think about anything, and that is very nice, but it’s not that effective. When people aren’t getting stronger or aren’t losing weight or aren’t changing their body composition or whatever their goal may be, it’s almost always because they aren’t tracking the things that matter. When this leads to dropping out of CrossFit, it’s upsetting because the same problem will follow you to whatever type of training you decide to do. Get a training diary from one of the many companies that make great ones (Journal Menu is my favorite), or use apps like MyFitnessPal and Beyond the Whiteboard to track your times, weights, eating and the outcome measures you use. In order to know where you are, where you’re going, and find the problems in your training or eating, you need data and you need to know where you started. It’s simple and undeniable.
- Have fun. CrossFit should be fun. It’s basically playground time for adults. Yes, it can be frustrating and yes, it can be discouraging, so have fun with it and that counts for a lot.
- Maintain some focus. For many of us, CrossFit is a constant reminder that there is a bunch of stuff we can’t do. If you’re trying to perfect your snatch, double-unders, rowing, and get your first strict pull-up all at once, you probably won’t get very far. Even though CrossFit is aimed at general preparedness, it’s good to focus on one goal at a time. Meet one goal before you go after your next and it will limit your frustration some. “Yeah, I still suck at double-unders, but I’m working on that pull-up first…” is a way better attitude than, “This sucks! I can’t do anything!”
- You have to eat right. If you’re working out like a CrossFit pro, but your diet still sucks, then you won’t get good results. I was miserable and getting almost no gains when I was training hard four days per week and eating super strict paleo. Likewise, when I train once a week and eat nothing but junk food I don’t do too well, either! Diet is a really important fundamental of CrossFit and it doesn’t get addressed nearly enough, if at all, in most boxes. You don’t have to subscribe to some cult-diet, but you do need to eat a balanced diet of whole foods. If you can do that, you’re 90% of the way there.