Exercising versus Training: Why are you here?

The first time you walked into the gym, you came here for a specific reason. Most likely, you had a goal; a specific goal. Today, I challenge you to ask yourself, not why you first came in, but why are you still here? Why do you workout?

I can tell you why I workout. I need some form of exercise in my life to keep my personal life on track. If I fall off the exercise bus, a lot of my healthy habits tend to go by the wayside as well. I eat more potato chips and less sweet potatoes; I watch T.V. rather than read a book; I drink less water and more beer. You get the idea. Ultimately, that’s why I exercise. From time to time, I’ll set a goal. To be honest though, I only set goals to break up the monotony that exercising can bring. When I set a goal, my mindset shifts from exercising in the gym, to TRAINING in the gym. There is a difference. Anyways, lets get back to you:


I think that one of the most important things that you and I can do for ourselves is to consistently evaluate where we currently are, and where we want to go. For a lot of folks, simply coming to the gym a few times a week is all they want and need. The aim of our CrossFit class something called General Physical Preparedness (GPP), or exercise. This means that we will work towards getting you to be able to run a mile without stopping. It will likely take some time, but we can get you there. On the flip side of that, class not likely get you to the point of running a 6:00 mile. Sure, some people may be genetically gifted runners and attain that level of performance, but those people are few and far between. The same thing goes for strength training. If you’re in CrossFit classes for long enough, a 1.5x body weight back squat is attainable. Once again though, not too many people are going to be able to get to the point of squatting twice their body weight by simply coming to CrossFit classes.

There is a harsh reality of CrossFit that most people do not have the foresight to see. CrossFit classes will only get your performance so far. Eventually, your performance will plateau at some point and this varies widely from person to person. The stimulus delivered in classes will eventually not be enough to improve your handstand pushup capacity, pull-up ability, Olympic lifts, power lifts, run times, or row times. CrossFit workouts are a three-headed monster. Generally speaking, there are three different domains that prevent you from being able to set new personal records. We are usually limited by either general strength, aerobic base, or mobility or a combination of these (in many cases, all three). I say this because, if your goal is to do more pull-ups (just one of many examples), it would behoove you to step aside and address the underlying strength requirements to perform more strict pull-ups. If you have always been a strong athlete, but want to improve your Cindy score, your time in the gym would be best spent focused on broadening your aerobic base so you don’t “bonk” on minute 12. If you’ve always struggled with maintaining the positions to perform the Olympic lifts, we suggest that you dedicate a portion of the year focusing almost exclusively on the lifts themselves.

Exercise is great, but training is better when we're approaching specific goals. If you notice that you aren’t improving as well as you would like in a certain modality of CrossFit, talk with one of your coaches to identify what area you could focus on to raise your “ceiling.” To raise the ceiling, we often have to step away from the GPP that class delivers and have a singular focus. Basically, it's a shift from exercising to training. It will be frustrating to feel your conditioning fade away while you focus on developing your strength for a few months, but remember your goal. It will be equally frustrating to feel your strength deteriorate a little bit while you focus on expanding your aerobic base, but once again, remember your goal. Once you achieve your goal - to be stronger, to have greater aerobic capacity, to have pull-ups - you can go back to GPP, implement your newly developed strength, skill or engine and start to work up your other areas that may have been neglected. See how your improvement shows up in CrossFit class and then, when you're ready, set new goals.

-Coach Tony