Typically when athletes pick up a new activity or start practicing a new skill, there is a period of time when the improvement and breakthroughs come often and without all that much effort, reltatively speaking. This applies to different activities such as gymnastics, parkour, CrossFit, martial arts, or team sports. You can learn new moves, gain strength and see vast improvements and PR’s for months if not years. Later, though, there ususally are more “sticking points”. These are the periods when it doesn’t seem like you’re improving at all. You may be trying to bust your ass just as hard or even harder than ever before, but you may not see any improvements and you start wondering if you’ve peaked and whether you’re ever going to get better. These are the periods that really test an athlete’s determination, passion, and their commitment to their sport. When we first start something there are so many “psychological rewards” when we acquire new skills, see quantum leaps in our lifts or break personal records that we can’t wait to go back to practice. That’s the easy part. What differenciates the “good” from the “extraordinary” is dedication, commitment and ability to keep improving. That’s when the difference is in the details. We need to put in the “extra credit”, push through the dreary days and add the extra intensity, study master athletes and refine our own techniques and movements with theirs, dial in our nutrition and be protective of our rest times. It also helps to put ourselves in new competitive situations where we can force ourselves to perform at a higher level than we would otherwise. These are some of the things that can help you break through the “sticking points” where you might have stopped seeing improvements and may even start wondering if you have the fire and motivation to keep going or ability to improve. Of course, the most important thing is to never give up if you love what you do. If you don’t, then go find something that you do love and that you can be passionate about and don’t waste your time. Post to comments if you’ve ever had to deal with a “sticking point” and how you handled it.
Posts Tagged ‘improvement’
According to Merriam Webster’s online dictionary:
Main Entry: 1mar·gin
Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin margin-, margo border — more at mark
Date: 14th century
1 : the part of a page or sheet outside the main body of printed or written matter
2 : the outside limit and adjoining surface of something : edge <at the margin of the woods> <continental margin>
3 a : a spare amount or measure or degree allowed or given for contingencies or special situations <left no margin for error> b (1) : a bare minimum below which or an extreme limit beyond which something becomes impossible or is no longer desirable <on the margin of good taste> (2) : the limit below which economic activity cannot be continued under normal conditions c : an area, state, or condition excluded from or existing outside the mainstream <the margins of critical discourse — Barbara L. Packer> <living in society’s margins>
4 a : the difference which exists between net sales and the cost of merchandise sold and from which expenses are usually met or profit derived b : the excess market value of collateral over the face of a loan c (1) : cash or collateral that is deposited by a client with a commodity or securities broker to protect the broker from loss on a contract (2) : the client’s equity in securities bought with the aid of credit obtained specifically (as from a broker) for that purpose d : a range about a specified figure within which a purchase is to be made
5 : measure or degree of difference <the bill passed by a one-vote margin>
— mar·gined \-jənd\ adjective
Here we’re mainly concerned with definitions 4 & 5. Why are margins important? What do they have to do withfitness? When someone is “stuck in a rut” it usually implies that not only are they bored with their routine, but also that they have not improved for a long while. People who reach a consummate level of competence in their chosen vocation are those who always strive to improve. They are always looking for margins. That is why consistency is so important. One of the most consistent, hardest working people that I know of is my business partner, Roger Harrell. When he started CrossFit back in 2003 , despite having a freakishly strong core and upper body that goes with his gymnastics background, his dead lifts weren’t that great and he sucked at squating. Let me re-iterate that. He SUCKED at squatting. Now, albeit not having a spectacular deadlift or squat, you can’t really say that they are glaring weaknesses any more. Roger doesn’t really have all that much time to train, or even sleep, but he does find little bits of time here and there to squeeze in a workout, do the gymnastics which he loves so much, and also work on his weaknesses. Another area where we’ve been working on our margins is the business. Lately, you’ve seen some pretty spectacular changes in the gym. We try to put in the extra time so that we can keep improving the place and constantly make it better and better. This isn’t easy. It’s always tempting to just pay ourselves more, pocket the difference that would be profit instead of investing it in growth, or take an extra day off (or just one day off, as it were), but we’ve been dead set on improving the gym and keeping to a larger vision and thanks to those efforts, your help, and an extra bit of financial backing from one of our clients, we’ve been able to double the size of the gym and the equipment available for use in just a litte over a year. Again. There are gyms nearby that have only improved moderately in the same amount of time or have been in theier current state for years if not decades since their establishment.
An increase in margins are built in to the program. It’s pretty much impossible to come to the classes, work hard, do the programming as intended, and not see drastic improvements if you stay healthy and eat well. Nevertheless, if you notice someone who has improved quickly or maybe even surpassed you who used to be at your same level, try to figure out what they have been doing to increase their margins. Is it extra training? Nutrition? Better rest? Some of our athletes stay late and work on other areas they didn’t hit during the workout. Gloria Justen and Patricia are notorious for this. Debbie comes in for her sessions with Carlos during Optional Skill Training Night. Some athletes go out for extra running. Karen immediately comes to mind. Some try mountain biking on weekends. Martin and Rich seem to do everything. They have their own gyms at home. Be creative. Look for different ideas. Ask questions. Just make sure you don’t get over zealous and get injured, because nothing damages margins like injuries. Remember, consistency is the key.