“Why Is This So Hard?”
We all have movements in CrossFit that we hate. While the WODs themselves never get easier, most movements within the WOD do start to feel more intuitive over time. But all of us have some movements that no matter how much we do them never get easier. With these movements there are elements to them other than strength or conditioning that make them harder to perform. Here is a list of the most common movements that feel more difficult than others. With a little more understanding of the movement and how to approach it will hopefully be less daunting the next time you do them!
With many movements in CrossFit adding power or more momentum will get you through it. If you are struggling to lift a heavy weight the more power you can put into it, the better the lift will be. Even if your form isn’t perfect you can power through and at least be able to finish the lift. This is not true for double-unders. For double-unders the more power you add in order to force the movement the more likely you are to fail. When you fail your double under there is no completing the movement with questionable form, you just fail. It’s binary, you made it or you didn’t. From there you have to restart and fail again, and again, and again. It is a test of your coordination, not your strength, speed, or even your conditioning. You can not muscle your way through it. Jumping harder than what is natural or spinning harder will make you miss. In order to get a Double Under you HAVE TO PRACTICE. You have to find your rhythm while having proper form and technique. You have to be relaxed and patient, intensity is not rewarded. For some this comes quickly, for most it takes a lot of repetition. You’re training your brain, not your body. If you ever tried to learn to play an instrument you know it takes more than just practicing it once a week. It is going to require more practice and patience than you might want to put in. If you really want to improve, you must practice more than when it comes up in a workout of the day.
Running and rowing with better technique and practice will start to feel less difficult. You may still not like them but they won’t feel as taxing. The air bike however, will always feel just as difficult as the first time you use it. By design the harder you pedal, the harder it is to pedal. The bike will always match your effort, so the stronger you are the harder it will be. As you grow stronger and more fit from all the other exercises you do, the bike will also get stronger. The bike however will never fatigue, you will. You will eventually reach a point where you can’t pedal with the same intensity anymore. Hopefully at that point you are already finished with the distance or the amount of calories you were supposed to hit. You’re basically in a perpetual Tug-of-War with yourself. The bike also rewards larger, longer bodies. More Mass= More Force, so for shorter, smaller people the Bike will be harder. The key to better, more sustainable cycling is the pacing. If you start off on the bike in a full sprint you’re going to fatigue much faster than you would with any other form of cardio because you’re creating the resistance that’s exhausting you. Instead pick a constant pace and try to hold it for the duration, especially for longer distance efforts.
If you have ever done a foundation session with me, one of the first things I tell you is that I can see your life story in your overhead squat. An overhead squat is one of the tools we as coaches use to assess mobility issues. The more mobility issues you have the harder an overhead squat will be. Having poor mobility in one area will make it hard enough, having poor mobility in multiple areas will make it incredibly difficult. When you perform a Back or a Front Squat the weight is being supported by the bones and muscles in your torso. When you perform an Overhead Squat the weight is being balanced by just your wrist, making it not only a strength exercise but also a balancing act. Like the game JENGA, the more unstable and misaligned the lower levels are, the harder it is to stack. You must have a stable base of support to do an overhead squat with any considerable load. The more areas in your body that are not properly in line, the harder it is to balance the weight. With other movements you can learn to work around limitations your mobility creates. With the overhead squat you can’t work around them as well. To improve the overhead squat you must improve ALL areas of your mobility.
The most hated and feared of them all. The combination of a hip hinge, plank, push-up, and a jump. Why do we do these so much? Functionally, it is how you get off the ground if you fall down. We want you to effortlessly be able to go to the ground and get back up quickly and we want you to carry that ability throughout your life into old age. From a mental or emotional aspect it tests how many times you can fall and pick yourself up. What’s the number before you give up and stay on the ground? Is it 5? 10? 500? There shouldn’t be an answer. You should always fight to get back on your feet no matter how many times you get knocked down. It doesn’t have to be fast or even that pretty, but you have to get up. If you go in burpees with the mindset of “Nothing is going to keep me on the ground!” they will feel much better and be less mentally draining than if you go into it with the mindset of “This Sucks! God, Why am I being punished???” Also breathe! Every rep. You’re doing 4 movements at once. You need air in your lungs or you’re going to get dizzy and fatigue fast. Pace your burpees with your breathing. It will feel like you’re going slowly, but you won’t tire out near as fast. With big sets, slower constant reps will take less time than a few very fast reps and then long breaks to catch your breath.