Workout contexts

Zuzka ZavodnainstructionLeave a Comment

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No matter how long you’ve been coming to the gym, every time you hear “Starting in 10 seconds!”, you feel nervous, the adrenaline starts flowing through your blood and your heart is pounding. Your daily workout is as much a physical effort as it is a mental one. That’s why it is important to have the right context going into class. You cannot attack every day as a competition day. What that would do to your fitness is a huge spike in the first 6-18 months that are eventually followed by a burnout or an injury. CrossFit methodology is supposed to be a lifetime fitness program. The movements we perform on a daily basis are hard and very technical, and they usually take a very long time to master. In fact, developing mastery of the basic skills takes a lifetime. Add intensity to it – doing workouts for time or for the maximum numbers of repetitions – and you will get a very powerful, but also very tough fitness program. Intensity without the foundation leads to undesired outcomes. It is very tempting to go hard and be on top of the leaderboard every day, but the true wisdom lies in the ability to step back sometimes and just focus on yourself. Lately, with the introduction of SugarWOD, I feel like people are trying even harder just to see their name in first place. Although this is the objective on a “competition” day, your regular training day shouldn’t be focused on that.

To have the whole class on the same page before the workout starts, we’re working with 3 coaching contexts:

“Practice” (60% of the time)

What the coach says: “Don’t ruin yourself for the rest of the week, it’s practice day.”

Focus: perfect form, more difficult progression, bringing your technique one step further, thinking about movement mastery, appreciating the process of building strength/skill.

Practice day doesn’t mean you’re not putting any effort into your training. It means putting in about 80 % of your energy and deliberately trying to improve a particular aspect of your fitness.

“Competition” (30% of the time)

What the coach says: “It’s showtime!”

Focus: speed, doing a movement as fast as possible, knowing that will mean a compromise in your technique.

This is the day when you go at full throttle. You have a strategy in the beginning of the workout and you even might want to have someone next to you who pushes you to go faster. It is a good time to improve old scores or find the edge in a workout.

“Mental Toughness” (10% of the time)

What the coach says: “You can achieve the (seemingly) impossible.”

Focus: going to that dark place where you have to fight your urge to stop moving, going for unbroken sets, using a heavier weight in a workout, sticking with a difficult movement throughout the whole workout

This is the mindset you want to have when you’re going for a new max in a lift, or going through a workout like Filthy Fifty with the shortest possible breaks. You’ll not only need to give it your 100 %, but probably a little bit extra to achieve what you thought you’ll never be able to do. These are rare days because they take their toll on you both, physically and mentally.

See you in the gym!


Barbell Shrugged Podcast: Programming for CrossFit Classes w/ Kenny Kane of CrossFit LA,

Kenny Kane’s Positivity Project Podcast: Jeremy Jones and Sean Manseau,

CrossFit Sudbury: Context Coaching – AKA How to best approach the WOD,

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