Yvonne Ferg, CrossFit Coach, CrossFit Copenhagen.
So in CrossFit men and women fight their way through the WODs side by side, the only difference being the weight mounted on their barbells. Or is there more to it?
Here are 5 areas for female CrossFitters to improve on when wanting to take their performance to the next level:
Embrace your competitive nature
Just like men, women have a competitive streak, yet it is not commonly considered a female trait to show this openly. However, every single day we do compete with colleagues, peers and partners just in a more hidden and subtle, and truth be told not very productive, manner. Luckily, CrossFit forces you to bring out your competitive side. And channeling your competitive energy away from your personal life into your training will not only help you become a more succesful CrossFitter but a more balanced and well-rounded human being outside of the gym, too. So, don’t be shy to admit that you like winning and unleash your inner warrior for good!
Challenge your definition of beauty
If you are used to working out for appearances and for keeping your clothing size down, chances are you’ll question what CrossFit will do to your body. Form follows function, and when you are training functional movements your body will adapt accordingly and become strong, fit and healthy; all attributes of true beauty. As a side effect you’ll notice that your clothes might fit tighter in places, where they used to be loose and vice versa. Accept those changes for what they are – the unmistakable proof of your hard work and dedication. Buy clothes that fit your improved body and wear them with pride. Strong and empowered is the new black!
For further reading here’s a link to my all-time favorite article on this issue, written by Jon Gilson of Again Faster: http://www.againfaster.com/articles/from-the-archives-you-are-beautiful.html
Nourish your body
CrossFit is a taxing sport. Therefore you need to help your body recuperate by providing it with the nutrients it needs to refuel and to repair the damaged muscle tissue. After each workout, get your mix of carbs and proteins right away in order to replenish glycogen stores and facilitate muscle growth.
Also, if you are like most women, your diet probably consists mainly of carbs, moderate amounts of protein and little fat. Change that up! What you really need for optimal health is plenty of high-quality proteins (meat, fish, eggs and dairy), good fats (nuts, seeds, avocados, olive and nut oils), some unprocessed carbs, preferably from vegetables and fruit and plenty of water. Cut down on the amount of stuff your body doesn’t need (processed foods, sugar, alcohol). Along with that make sure to get your zzz’s, and you are already on your way to stellar performances.
Track your progress
As women, we are likely to have a qualitative approach to measuring our training experience. We feel the workout was good when the new sports top looked cute on us, our girlfriends were there to share the latest gossip or the handsome trainer complimented our squat technique.
However, when it’s time to hit the weights, we do not remember the amount of weight we push jerked the last time or how long it took us to do Annie two months ago. If you really are interested in stepping up your game, make sure you note all this down so you have a base to start from and can push yourself harder.
This will also make it easier for you to see small improvements on the way … you might still not be able to do kipping pull-ups but going from one strict pull-up using a black rubber band to ten consecutive ones with the green band is an improvement and needs to celebrated!
Train with the guys
Sure, they can seem intimidating with their grunting, sweating, grimacing, cursing and their tendency to take off their shirts any chance they get. But remember that CrossFit workouts are just another possibility for men to determine the who’s who in the pecking order. And that is harmless. So don’t shy away from mingling with the stronger sex as there are quite a few aspects of male training behavior, which are worth copying. Just to name a few:
1. Men don’t multitask. When they are in the middle of a workout, that is exactly what their focus is on. Often times women try to do well at their sport and solve the problems of the world at the same time. Channel your energy and concentrate on one thing at a time only!
2. Men believe in themselves and their abilities. We have a tendency to know that there are things we simply cannot do, rope climbing or handstands for example, before we even tried them. Men come, see and conquer, and if not the latter is true, they keep trying until they do. So ladies, a little more self-confidence and perseverance please, and you’ll be seeing improvements in no time!
3. Men compete as if it were a matter of life and death, but when the game is over, it’s really over. Afterwards, there are no hard feelings, no dwelling on successes or failures. Women on the other hand sometimes have trouble making this distinction between game time and real life outside of the training environment. From personal experience I know that this is a very energy-draining situation to be in. It wears you out, both mentally and physically, and is detrimental to long-term success. So fight your fellow CrossFit amazones as long as the clock is running. And afterwards, no matter what the outcome is, thank them for pushing you to heights you wouldn’t have been able to reach by yourself.
That is the spirit of girl power!