Regionals start this weekend and we’re lucky to see Mat Fraser and Katrin Davidsdottir, the fittest man and woman on earth respectively, compete in weekend one.
For those that don’t know, the sport of CrossFit is the tip of the spear when it comes to what we do in the gym, leading the way and smashing the boundaries of what we thought humans were capable of. After The Open (which you hopefully took part in) the best move on to Regionals, a three day/six event competition to determine who is worthy of heading to The Games.
Personally, I’m excited to watch this year’s Regionals. Normally when the workouts are announced, you can easily see what they’re testing. While it would be awesome to have each event test the ten physical skills of CrossFit, it’s not really possible. So we knew last year the snatch ladder was testing our proficiency with the barbell. Not just fresh, but under time pressure. Strict Nate followed, seeing who really had gymnastic (bodyweight) strength and a hell of a lot of endurance.
Castro – the person, not the dog – has determined that this year not a single barbell will be at Regionals. I personally believe this is a statement about the biases we put in our training and programming. We all favour the barbell. Why? Well, it’s fun. The barbell allows us increment progress (fractional plates anyone?) and so we can pick a weight that allows us to succeed.
Bodyweight work is always tougher, as you’ve to deal with failure, and missing, and it’s frankly harder to see your daily progress (even if it is there).
Dumbbells and sandbags pose yet another challenge. Some examples include imbalances (between left and right for an easy example), flexibility and muscular recruitment that you won’t get with a barbell. In essence, they find weaknesses that may be hidden with just the barbell. And this isn’t the sport of what’s the most fun, it’s the sport of finding the limits of our capacity, and going beyond them. While this mightn’t be the most fun at the time, afterwards we’re happier we’ve taken on a new challenge, and become fitter too.
Really it shouldn’t be a shock that we’re shocked by Regionals. The sport has always levelled up at Regionals. And this is precisely the reason why we should try our hand at Regionals events, scaled to just outside our ability. (In CFI, we’ll have Regionals week starting 29th May).
For a start it gives us a real appreciation of what the best in the sport are capable of. Seeing Katrin smash through snatches up to 79Kg is impressive. We can really appreciate the effort and ability it takes when we challenge ourselves by doing the workout, and a comparable version for us is using 50/60/70/80/90% of our one rep max.
Sure, the “traditional” CrossFit workouts are easier to understand. Have we forgotten that the barbell was once unfamiliar to us? There was a time when no one could do handstand push ups (or maybe even kick up to a wall). These movements inspire us to believe that we’re way more capable that we initially thought.
Let’s not forget that what was once only for the truly elite eventually becomes mainstream. Back in 2009 Annie Thorisdottir couldn’t do a muscle up when she got to The Games. Now strict muscle ups, bar muscle ups, and I’d say soon weighted muscle ups will be expected of anybody going to Regionals. If we look at last year’s Regionals, the burpee standard was over the box. What happened in this year’s Open? Burpee Box Jumps! We’re simply getting ready for what’s coming!
Many of us “compete” in CrossFit for fun, and our fitness aspirations extend to feeling better and enjoying our workouts. When a workout is announced that makes us a little uncomfortable, and is outside our current capabilities, we have a huge opportunity to challenge ourselves outside our comfort zone, and then celebrate the effort and achievements when we’ve done our best at the seemingly impossible nature of CrossFit.
After that, we can crack open a beer, and marvel at the best of our sport and how we do, inspired to get back to the gym Monday!