New Year's Resolutions. Some people live by them, swearing at the start of each new year that:
This year will be the one.
This year will be different… this is the year I finally turn it around.
New Year, new you!
That last one always makes me cringe a little bit…
So whether you’re crafting New Year’s Resolutions - or just crafting goals for the week, month, quarter - it doesn't matter. You must have systems in place for CrossFit goals, work goals, life goals, or all of the above.
You can’t just write down a goal, walk away, and expect it to magically happen.
If only it were that easy. So, let’s take some time to walk through exactly how to nail down some awesome CrossFit goals, and set yourself up to make them happen.
Yes, this is contrary to what I just said, but it’s only step 1. Don’t just stow those goals away in your head. Jot them down in a journal, or better yet on your chalkboard at home or on a sticky note that’s on a mirror. Make them visible, so that you see them often, as a reminder of what you’re going after this year.
If anything, the act of writing down the goal will help make it more concrete, rather than having some vague concept floating around in your head.
This may seem obvious, but it’s important: when crafting these goals, craft them for YOU, and craft them realistically.
Don’t set a goal to get a ring muscle up because Suzie at the gym is doing the same. Don’t write down that you will train to run a 5 minute mile by July if you’re currently at a 10 minute mile pace. I hate to break the bad news, but it's highly improbable to take 5 minutes off of a mile time in 6 months.
If you can’t do a single strict pull-up, then it’s probably unrealistic to make unbroken bar muscle ups a goal… not yet at least. Think progressively, what makes sense for the path that you’re on… what is the next major step?
Please, don’t just declare something vague like, ‘I’m going to get better at CrossFit’, or ‘I want to work on gymnastics.’ That’s not specific. If you want to work on gymnastics, where are the current holes? Pinpoint those movements, and then write down how to improve them.
A good way to guide goal setting is to take a look at other CrossFit benchmark goals. If you want to be able to ‘Rx’ certain workouts… what are the weights that are programmed for those workouts? For example, let’s say the goal is to be able to Rx “Linda”:
10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 reps of the triplet:
To start, write down where your weights are currently at for bench press, clean, and deadlift weights. Then sit down with a coach and make a plan for how to increase those lifts, to make Linda a manageable workout.
At this point, you have a specific CrossFit goal to get excited about. Great. Now we have to actually start measuring and tracking the progress. This doesn’t have to be super complicated… let’s go back to that Linda example from above.
Odds are, you will be benching, deadlifting, and cleaning, at least once per week in order to increase strength over time. So create a chart, and when you take the time before or after a workout to specifically work on those lifts… check off that box. It’s a similar concept to what Ben talks about here:
The idea is actually derived from James Clear’s “What we measure, we improve” post that can be found here. It’s a concept that is also very transferable to tracking nutrition as well…. which if you don’t know what I’m talking about, check out this article.
Back to Linda...
Instead of focusing on “I want to ‘RX’ Linda”, which is an “outcome goal”, you want to focus on a “process goal” to actually see results. An example process goal would be “deadlift, clean, and bench once per week for the next 12 weeks.” It’s very specific, measurable, and attainable. Put in the work weekly and check off the boxes.
Literally, check them off just like Ben shows in the video above.
And as weights increase, you’ll start to see progress and feel closer and closer to finally achieving “Rx” on Linda.
So you’re chasing after a new goal? Fantastic. Tell people about it.
Ever heard this joke?
“How can you tell if someone does CrossFit?”
“Don’t worry, they’ll tell you.”
This makes me laugh, because it’s absolutely true in my case. A lot of my friends and family don’t do CrossFit and don’t have any idea what a Muscle Up is. But you better believe they all knew I was working on it, and were supportive about it… and then excited for me when I finally got one.
If you’re not the type to make a sign that says “I’m going to Rx Linda this year” and wear it to the grocery store, that’s fine. At the very least, cue in coaches, a few gym mates, maybe your dog. Because in all seriousness, the more people who know, the more likely you are to stay on track, be held accountable, and get some extra tips and coaching along the way. Which brings me to my next point….
CrossFit goals are going to remain goals, and not achievements, if you’re too scared to ask for a little extra help. It’s much easier to climb a mountain with a team, rather than alone. Even though everyone still takes each step separately, there’s something about working with a team that makes all the difference.
This doesn’t mean that you should approach your CrossFit coach and fitness friends expecting for them to write out a year-long customized training plan…or a fully customized macro breakdown with detailed nutrition advice.
(Which by the way, we have a brand new video on CrossFit and Weight Loss if this happens to be a goal for the year - check it out here.)
Odds are, most of the traditional CrossFit coaches don’t have time for extra programming - they've got gyms to manage, classes to coach, and lives to live.
If and when you’re feeling stuck, which is almost-certainly going to happen, approach a coach, or maybe even one of the more seasoned athletes with specific questions.
DON’T pull a coach out of class mid-workout and ask how you can do better on pull-ups.’
Instead, try something like this, before or after class:
“Hey Coach ________, I am currently stuck on getting out of the bottom of my pull for my pull-ups. Do you know any great drills for this? Can we work together during Open gym tomorrow?”
And of course, we have free courses and paid programming that are specifically designed to help you with different movements. Our accessory programming could be the perfect fit for attacking your 2019 goals.
Let’s go back to the example of nutrition, since it’s a common New Year's Resolution. Just like so many CrossFit-movement-specific goals, patience and identifying the major wins is going to be key to success.
Identify the most important factors, and then focus on them first. Don’t try to change everything at once.
So if the goal is to start tracking your nutrition, and lose 10 lbs in order to finally get a strict pull-up (which… by the way… a lot of time gymnastic goals often require some body fat loss, depending on your current body composition) please don’t expect this to happen within a month. Or even two.
Acknowledge and celebrate each pound that drops off, or each day that you accurately hit your macros. And in return, you will FEEL those changes when putting in pulling efforts on the bar. While a visible change might not be immediately apparent after 5 lbs have dropped off… your body is going to reward efforts on the pull-up bar when there is less mass to pull.
Most goals have a lot of boxes that need to be checked, and work that needs to be put in to finally get there. Pat yourself on the back for even the smallest of progress, no matter how small that step may have been.
So it’s nearing the end of 2019, and you FINALLY snagged that bar muscle up? FANTASTIC, bravo. Take a look back at all of that hard work, the checked boxes, and be proud. Celebrate it with friends and coaches… and then start thinking about what you’re hungry for next.
Remember, the best CrossFit goals are the ones that are tailored for you, and maximize happiness and contentment as an athlete. Don’t just set random goals just because it feels like an obligation, set goals that are going to make you PROUD when they are finally achieved.
Have more questions about goal setting, or aren’t sure how to go about working on a goal? Comment below! One of our coaches will get back to you with some pointers.
Disclaimer: WODprep is not associated with CrossFit® in any way and these opinions are separate from the CrossFit® brand.
Kait is the Editor-in-Chief for the WODprep blog, a long-time CrossFit athlete, and lover of pretty much all things fitness. She's been on the WODprep team now for three years, and received her CF-L1 in 2017. She lives in Annapolis, MD with her husband and two huskies.
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