What does it mean to be an “athlete?”

I could give you what Webster defines it as but what matters most is your perception of what it means.
We are so blessed to have found a form of exercise that promotes leaving the gym feeling not only accomplished but utterly hungry to do better at the movements you just performed. How many times have you finished a WOD and said to yourself or other athletes, I could have gone faster on [insert movement here] or I should have done a bigger set, or I could have gone heavier.
To me, THAT is what makes you an athlete.
The pursuit of excellence and the will to challenge yourself to move better is what makes someone athletic.  When you move better, you are “athletic”. Humans were designed to be athletic – whether you believe in evolution or creation…we roamed, sprinted, lifted, carried…it’s in our DNA to move well.

Each year, as the CrossFit Games Open season finishes and you either wish you would have done it or you wish you would have done a little better in it, a new opportunity arises for us to dig deep and set goals for ourselves. And it’s a good thing to self-evaluate and make plans to improve… do not be embarrassed. We all do it!

The month of April, after the Open has concluded, is the most popular time of year for us to be fired up to train harder for next year.
Each year I have a talk with myself (Coach Paul here) and here is how it goes:

You are gonna train harder this year and be better prepared for next year’s Open.

I’ll tell you what, it works… but it doesn’t work well enough. About two or three months into this training-harder phase I get burned out. I tell myself  “Let’s get real Pauly (only I can call me that FYI)…you’re not going to Regionals, you have a full-time job, everyone is training just as hard but putting more time in so let’s just have fun with training and where you land in the Open is good enough.
There you go, now you know what goes on inside my head throughout the year.
What happens next? Well I continue training and I put a lot of effort into my WODs and when the Open comes, sure, I’m fitter than last year… BUT! It isn’t good enough for me. I am hungrier for more. I get fired up again and KNOW that I can perform better; I can be fitter.

Let’s get real. I am 100% aware that it is still statistically highly unlikely to make it to Regionals and to be frank with you, that is not my goal. I am going to keep my mind set on one thing this year…my focus. But enough about me…

Your Focus

How focused are YOU throughout the year? How quickly does your enthusiasm wane?  Do you just come in and hit the workout every day? It is what it is and I’m going to give it my best and what happens, happens?
This is a detrimental way of thinking.

Your training year needs FOCUS! And then it needs re-focus, regularly.

Here at CrossFit Rebels, we follow a few templates.  One is a blend of what CFHQ says is the best way to ensure we hit everything we need to without overtraining, and the other is our annual plan where we cycle in heavy power lifts, technique, Olympic lifts, high reps, “engine work”.  We have developed this over the years in order to ensure we use our year most efficiently.  I know CrossFit is constantly varied and ever-changing, but not having a structure is lazy and ineffective.

Each year after the Open we slow down the volume of crazy metcons and start pushing a lot more strict strength – barbell and gymnastics.
You are either the athlete sitting there rolling your eyes like, “Oh no! We’re losing our soul-crushing WODs?”, or you’re the athlete who is like, “Hell yeah! No more hard WODs and lots of lifting!”  It brings me 100% happiness in my heart to inform you that you both are wrong =-)

Soon, our programming will reflect a lot more strict gymnastics work and a ton more lifting.
Everyone (who knows what they are doing) slows down the high-volume metcons after the open. We train you guys to peak leading into the Open. Now is the time to get a crap ton stronger, better at your skills, better at Olympic lifting and strict gymnastics. Yes, you’ll still “metcon”, but our priority is no longer your engine, which is what it takes to do well in the Open WODs when we’ve run out of time in the year to “get those movements” or “make you stronger”, like February and March.  I’m almost positive you have a goal lying somewhere in at least one of those categories.

This is the perfect time to start goal setting and working towards achieving your small term goals to lead up to your long-term vision.


Motivation To Get Started

Here’s a fun quick read from the NY Times: “How to Start Working Out“.  It’s a good starter and covers goal setting!

Stay tuned for Goal Setting Part 2!



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