The Complete Guide and Tips for your first CrossFit Competition!
Wahoo, you finally did it! You signed up for a CrossFit competition, you’re excited, you’re nervous, you’re not sure what to expect.
Congratulations on taking a big step outside of your comfort zone and signing-up. It takes plenty of guts to put yourself out there. Remember, you are doing this for yourself. Be proud of yourself for signing up and being there. You memorized all of the workouts, practiced all the movements, and came up with a game plan for yourself and/or partner. Or maybe you didn’t, and that’s OK too.
As the competition gets closer, you’ll start getting a little more anxious and excited about it, and that’s perfectly normal and expected. Everyone is anxious and excited going into competition day. The best thing you can do is focus on preparing yourself both physically and mentally. Focus on everything you can control and forget about everything else. You can’t control what the weather will be like or the music playing mid workout but you can control your sleep, nutrition and preparation for the big event. You can’t control if a judge miscounts your repetitions, but you can control your mindset and not letting that throw you off your game and ruin the rest of your workout. You can’t control how other athletes will do in a workout, but you can control your own workout and movement. Remember, we are all here to have fun and use our fitness, not to obsess over it.
When it’s all over and done with, celebrate your fitness and what you are capable of doing from when you first started.
If you don’t do as well as you wanted to on an event, reflect on it yourself or your Coach, learn from it, and move on! Don’t hang your head on mistakes or bad events.
This is your fitness journey, so celebrate and focus on you!
Here are some tips to prepare and guide you through your competition experience:
1. Pack your bag the night before.
The less things to think about in the morning the better. Check out my go-to’s from my pack list below. You definitely don’t want to forget your workout shoes, clothes and plenty of food and water.
2. Arrive well ahead of time.
I know we are all masters of time management and we like to be as efficient as possible, especially in the morning. But there is nothing more frustrating/nerve racking than running late or showing up late to a competition. Plan to arrive to the event 45-60 minutes before the first workout begins. You’ll want to give yourself time to check-in, stake claim to your hangout spot for the day, go to the bathroom, warm-up, chit chat with friends, go to the bathroom again, and hear the workout briefing.
3. Get a good night’s sleep.
This is crucial for the night before the event but also the days leading up to the event. Shoot for 7-9 hours (more if possible) of quality sleep with no interruptions in the days leading up to the event. This might just be the most important thing on this list.
4. Hydrate in the days leading up to the competition and throughout the event.
Shoot for half to one times your bodyweight in ounces each day, add 20 ounces for each hour of activity you complete. Ex: 100lbs individual working out 1 hour a day should shoot for a minimum of 70 ounces of water in a day.
5. Pack a lunchbox with plenty of recovery fuel for the day.
Examples from my pack list below: Jug of water, bananas, berries, apple, pineapple, quest bar, fuel for fire, rx bar, Ascent whey protein powder, Ascent pre workout, fitaid, UCAAN carbohydrates, a light meal that is easily digestible (usually chicken breast and starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes and squash).
6. Bring a change of clothes.
You may want to change shirts, pants or socks for each workout if they are smelly or you need different attire for different movements. You’ll also want to cleanse yourself of all the smelly clothing post competition for the ride home, your friends, family and spouse will thank you!
7. Eat a large breakfast 2-3 hours before event #1.
You’ll need the energy throughout the day. Stick to a meal you know won’t give you any digestive issues. You may need to eat it earlier than you’re used to, but make sure to eat. That is your main fuel for the day. Just don’t overdo it and go to the best breakfast buffet in town.
8. Review the workouts if possible.
Don’t obsess over them, just know what they are and what you’ll be doing in each workout. If it’s a partner workout you may want to have a plan of who will start where and who will do what. Get an idea in your head of what weights you’ll aim to complete and what your limits are.
9. Warm-up before each event.
Keep it under 15 minutes. 3-5 minutes of a general warm-up (rowing, biking, running, animals, jump rope), 3-5 minutes of a specific warm-up (movement prep for the particular workout), 3-5 minutes of WOD flow (prepare/test movements in the upcoming workout).
10. Cooldown after each event.
Even if you feel crappy, you need to gradually bring your heart rate down and flush out the lactic acid with some light rowing, biking, skiing, jump rope, yoga flow, pvc rollouts, etc. Throw in 3-5 minutes of foam rolling or light massage work. Your body will thank you later.
11. Re-fuel after each event.
You likely won’t feel hungry from all the adrenaline, but your body needs food to recover between workouts. Shoot for a 2:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio post workout and avoid excess fats. Think chocolate milk, fuel for fire, muscle milk, quest bar, rx bar, ascent protein with gatorade or other carbohydrate/electrolyte beverage. Think of eating small meals or snacks between your workouts, just don’t overdo it. If you have a long break before your next workout (2 hours or more) you could consider a light meal instead of a snack.
12. Remember that the judges are always correct, even if they aren’t.
Getting frustrated with a no rep will not make your workout any better or change things, control what you can control and have fun! And hey, it’s not easy being a judge, give them a break.
13. Bring a chair or picnic blanket to sit on.
You’ll be moving a lot, but there is also plenty of downtime in between workouts. You’ll want a chair to relax in or a blanket to put on the ground to catch some quick zzzzz’s in between workouts.
14. Accept what you can and cannot control
If you have trained hard, eaten well and prepared mentally for the competition, you’ll do just fine. If not, I’m sure things will still be fine. Just remember to chillax and have fun. Don’t freak out over the small things and the things you cannot control (bad weather, workout delays, judging no reps, bad song mid workout) roll with the punches and prepare for the unknown and unknowable. Your training, diet and attitude are things you can control, so put all focus and energy into nailing those and things will be alright.
15. Only worry about yourself
Keeping tabs on others can be fun and fuel competitiveness, but it’s mostly a distraction from what you need to do and what you can control. Don’t compare yourself to others and place unnecessary pressure on yourself, remember that you are here for your fitness only and to have fun.
16. Don’t eat anything you normally wouldn’t eat.
Our body doesn’t like last minute changes to routine. The last thing you want on gameday are an upset stomach and extra trips to the bathroom.
17. Complete an active recovery routine the day before, don’t overdo the intensity and volume the day before a competition.
Take it easy the day before, move a little throughout the day and mobilize and stretch more than usual.
Check out the competition prep routine below!
18. Don’t get fancy on gameday.
If you haven’t practiced a movement or aren’t comfortable with it, then mid workout/competition is probably not the time to try new things. It will only lead to workout miscues, frustrations and a potential injury.
19. No workout is worth getting hurt over.
Yes, we all want to push ourselves to the limit and we like shiny medals to show for it, but NO workout or weight is worth pushing past the point of no return. If you haven’t done it in training or if your mind and body are saying no, you should most certainly listen and back off, slow down, and scale appropriately. Don’t let your ego get the best of you.
20. Try hard and enjoy the camaraderie and community!
It’s a special thing to be surrounded by dozens of like minded health and fitness enthusiasts (sometimes freaks) who have made the choice to better themselves through fitness and to have fun doing it. Appreciate the fact that we have all made the decision to do all those damn burpeese rather than sitting on the couch staring at the TV all day.
21. Stay positive and have some fun!
Be proud of yourself for doing something outside of your comfort zone. Remember that you are better than everyone else not doing the competition and you are undoubtedly better just by signing up for the competition.
22. Take tons of pictures, videos, and make plenty of social media posts.
Seriously, do it, annoy your friends and family and make them feel a little guilty that you are burning all the calories and having fun while they Netflix and pizza on a Saturday.
Lastly, keep these goals in the front of your head and you’ll be alright.
Your goals should be to:
#1. Have fun
#2. Be safe and move well
#3. Work hard
#4. Kick butt
#5. High five, celebrate and enjoy an adult beverage when it’s over
What’s in your lunchbox on competition day?
Jug of water, bananas, berries, apple, quest bar, fuel for fire, rx bar, Ascent whey protein powder, Ascent pre workout, fitaid, UCAAN carbohydrates, a light meal that is easily digestible (usually chicken breast and starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes and squash).
What’s in my gym bag on competition day?
A change of clothes for after the competition, maybe one extra shirt for the competition. WOD shoes (nanos, metcons, nobull, etc), Weightlifting shoes, running shoes if a workout calls for it, weightlifting belt, knee sleeves, wrist wraps, jump rope, icy hot just in case something is nagging (not to cover up an injury of course), water bottle, shaker bottle, vodoo band, strength band, mini band, myobuddy and/or hypervolt massager (probably overkill but doesn’t hurt), ALL the food and snacks!
Competition Prep Routine:
Here is a competition prep routine for you to knock out the day before the competition. I usually do most of this stuff the day before the competition either in one session or I’ll split it up with movement prep earlier in the day and rolling and mobility later in the day. If you don’t have time for it all do what you can’t do outside of the gym and then get some of it in at home. If you’re tired or worn down tomorrow don’t overdue it, just cut down on the rounds or reps. Active RECOVERY is key. I would take a full rest day on Thursday and take it lighter in class/WOD on Wednesday if the competition is on Saturday. You can hit it normal speed on Monday and maybe 80-90% on Tuesday the week of.
Get at least 8 hours of sleep the week of. Increase your water and carbohydrates intake on Thursday and Friday (I load up on sweet potatoes and fruit). Don’t change your nutrition up too much, you don’t want to freak your system out. Be sure to pack plenty of snacks (fruit, sweet potatoes, fruit juice, protein from whole food, bars or powder). Eat, warm-down, and rollout after each workout, warm-up and complete specific warm-up activities for the next workout.
Foam Rolling: 10 passes each, more if you’re tender
- Quads (1 leg at a time)
- Adductor (inside leg) (1 leg at a time)
- Hamstrings (1 at a time)
- Glutes with leg crossed (1 at a time)
- Thoracic Spine (arms crossed then overhead)
2 Rounds of:
- 10 PVC Rollouts
- 200m row (easy)
- Spider crawl 10 meters down, reverse bear crawl 10 meters back
- 10 Wall Squats
- 20 Second forward plank
- CrossOver Symmetry Activation Protocol
- CrossOver Symmetry Hip Halo Protocol
- World’s Greatest Stretch + rotations: 1x each side Hold for 30 seconds then add 6-10 extra rotations with inside arm rotating up and out
- Cat/Camel: 1×10
- Bird Dog: 1×10 each opposite
- Sumo Squat + Hamstring Stretch: 1×10 (hold 3-5 seconds in each position)
- Beat swings: 1×15
- Barbell Warm-Up: 5x good morning, back squat, behind the neck press, overhead squat, RDL, front squat, shoulder press
1 small relatively light set of main barbell or gymnastics movements in competition:
Increase hydration throughout the day. Load up on protein, vegetables, have an extra serving of a starchy vegetables. Sleep a little extra than normal.
Kick ass, take names!