Even if you've never competed before or your next CrossFit competition will be your ten-thousandth, it's an excellent way to keep falling back in love with functional fitness and feel the heart of the community. There's something about coming together with a group of people, sweating it out, doing multiple events in a day, just hanging out with a bunch of like-minded people. And regardless of where you end up on the leaderboard, it's a tonne of fun, and honestly, I think more people should do it. So even if you're a complete beginner, I promise you, you won't regret signing up for a competition.
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By following these five key steps, you will discover how to have the most fun and the absolute best performance for your first competition. You never know; you might just have the best day of your life.
Should You Go Team or Individual?
Team? Or Individual? It's a tough choice for sure. Both sides have their merits and, for most athletes, certainly have their preference. However, if you've never competed, you simply won't know what that is.
Personally, if I was to coach you on competing at your first event, I would recommend going team. Here's the reason why. When you're on a team, other people can talk you off the ledge, other people may have more experience than you, or, reversely, you may also be joining a team with a bunch of other complete beginners that have never done an event. And you guys have fun together!
Across the world, there are a whole host of different types of CrossFit competitions such as; female-only, men's only, CO ed, scale, RX, Elite and a whole mix of the above in between. There are so many different versions that you can do. But competing as a team is a great step in the right direction.
If you do decide to go individual, you find yourself in an event where you're unable to do all the movements in an event, or you may just be having an off day, and as a result, you might not feel that good at the end of the day. So I always say just start with a team and then move on to an individual. That's what I did.
Personally, I did a couple two-man team events and then realized how much I loved it and then started competing individually. I've always tended to have way more fun on the team. There's just something about coming up with a good team name and organizing a really adorable uniform with your team.
So that's step number one. Are you going to go team or individual? I would suggest going team.
Scaled vs RX - which to choose!
Whilst there are many divisions you can compete in, I'll stick with just the two for the purpose of this article. Scaled or RX.
My first recommendation would be to ask the event organizer to provide more details on the prerequisites. A lot of people don't do this. I know because I've run events myself.
In general, people are timid and scared to ask the event organizer, "will there be [blank] movement?". If it turns out that I'm unable to do that movement, then I wouldn't like to do that competition.
It's okay. Ask those specific questions. The worst they can say is, "Hey, I can't tell you." But most people are gonna be like, "Oh okay, yeah, there's no swimming. I know we didn't specifically say there's no swimming, so don't worry, you won't drown."
Let's say you're doing a team event. Sometimes the event will require one person on your team needs to be able to do XYZ.
So even if you can't specifically do a movement and you have a team member who can proficiently perform the movement, going team allows you to work together. Ultimately, this will enable you to enjoy the day more and even compete at a higher level.
Most events will release a minimum standard requirement for each division which you can usually find online. They'll have a list of minimum standards for the scaled and RX division, which will give you a much clearer picture of what you need to meet your standards.
Every competition is completely different, so it's well worth doing the research in your local area or going on a road trip to further your adventure. For example, many people could do RX team, but maybe not RX individual because the team allows you to flex and have certain members of your team compete at their strengths. And then you can compete at your strengths, so on and so forth.
It's time to modify your workouts leading up to the event.
Here is a shocker. I can't tell you how many people I've seen a month, two months out from a local competition, and they're already starting to modify and D load [LINK] their training to prepare for some local competition. That's ridiculous.
In fact, a lot of CrossFit Games athletes, such as Rich Froning (when he competed individually), would just train as normal all the way up until the event. Only until the week leading up to the games would he maybe do a little D load.
The bottom line is you really don't need to modify your training too much, especially if it's only a one-day competition. You just need to make sure that you fulfil a couple of requirements.
You shouldn't be ridiculously sore going into the event. And you shouldn't have ripped hands. Other than those two things.
Train as normal.
So make sure that you potentially avoid workouts the week or so leading into the event that could cause lots of hands ripping. Such as Murph, for example, don't do that. That'd be really bad.
You don't want your hands to rip because then you'll be screwed during the competition. In addition, maybe don't do 100 reps of heavy back squats or 50 heavy deadlifts in a workout leading up to the competition. If you're sensible, train as normal and skip the one or two workouts that you know will give you guaranteed DOMS, you'll be absolutely fine going into your first competition.
If you feel like your hands are going to rip or you're worried that there's a huge probability that they will, then check out this article. I have two of the world's greatest hands care content for CrossFit.
The Big Day. Competition Day.
Competition day has arrived. Fingers crossed you've slept well the night before. Here are my key points for the big day itself.
Do not modify your nutrition or try new supplements. There are so many people that are not used to eating a big breakfast, and for whatever reason, on competition day, they eat a 12,000 Calorie breakfast.
If I let you into a secret, your stomach will not be okay with that, and it doesn't end well.
Don't try anything crazy new. I would recommend eating a little more than your normal breakfast. That's about it.
You don't want to try a brand new supplement. If you've never tried to pre-workout, the day of your first CrossFit competition is not the day for that. If you've never tried coffee before a workout, also not the day to try it for the first time.
What happens is gastrointestinal things will go wrong. I promise you I've been there and done that. Quite literally, got the t-shirt.
You don't want to have an upset stomach on competition day.
Here are some tips for avoiding an upset stomach. First, try to eat simple food, items that you regularly consume and follow your normal eating schedule as much as possible leading up to the event.
My only caveat is that competition day is not the day to eat super clean paleo.
Storytime. I remember being in an event, and there were three events in one day. After event one, I saw someone eating unseasoned chicken breast and raw broccoli. That is not a performance food that will not help you consume enough calories for CrossFit competition day.
So, I give you free rein to eat delicious, calorie-dense foods on competition day. For me, I tend to eat delicious, calorie-dense foods all the freakin time. So competition day is pretty typical for me.
But if you're someone who tends to eat salads and tonnes and tonnes of greens and you know there isn't a severe calorie deficit, competition day probably isn't the day to do that. So maybe have protein bars, energy bars or some protein mixed with some carbohydrate powder. Most importantly, it has to taste good and feel light on your stomach. There's literally nothing worse than seeing it in reverse.
The final point I want to make for competition day specifically, which a lot of people don't realize, is that you need to be conscious of staying off your feet. When you're walking around and cheering other people on, it's very easy to be standing for 8 hours unbroken during your competition day.
When you are not actively warming up or crushing your workout, I would challenge you to just try to get off your feet. Find an infinity chair, find a couch, a make-shift bed, or bring a small tent if your first competition is outdoors and you also need to get out of the sun.
If you can do those two things, you're gonna feel a lot more well-rested, and you'll be way more recovered to hit each workout as opposed to someone who's baking in the sun with their shirt off.
Standing on your feet screaming and cheering for other people all day long is deceptively tiring, and it's 100% going to leave you really, really tired
CrossFit competition is to have fun
Finally, when preparing for your first CrossFit competition is to have fun. The number of people I've seen lose their minds, freak out and get over-anxious about where they stack up on the leaderboard. This is only doing more harm than good.
If your goal going into the event is to meet new people, have fun, and do your best: your best is the only thing you can control.
If there's someone else who's registered for the event, maybe there's someone who's in the scale division that might even win the RX division; you can't get angry at that. Just do your best. I repeat, just do your best.
Don't allow other people's performances to affect your mood. If it's your goal to go to the event, meet new friends, put up the best performance you could possibly do and learn from those pesky mistakes. As long as you do that and have fun, it's a successful event.
Even if you come in dead last place, you could be a winner by having a great day meeting new people and having a good time.
That is a win in my book.
BONUS - After the Competition Day
I saved the best to last. It's important to note that at the end of a competition day, you can basically do whatever you want. At least that's what I tell myself.
Have a great time eating pizza, ice cream, french fries, hamburgers, all the things I want to eat after a competition.
So I hope that you really liked these five crucial steps to help you have a great first CrossFit competition. This is perfect for beginners, and honestly, there are probably a lot of advanced athletes that could use this as well.
There's only one thing left for me to say, and that's GOOD LUCK! Go out there, have fun and smash it. Leave everything on the floor and walk away knowing you did everything you could to give your best.
So tell me, have you competed in an event? And if so, how did it go? What's one thing you learned? Give as much detail as you're willing to give in the comments below. And then other people who are maybe trying their first competition can learn from you and can say, "Oh, wow, if they did, if they had fun, that means I can too."
So leave some comments below about your first competition.