The progress mindset is a way of thinking that I've observed is common in those that do well in CrossFit and in fact, those who do well picking up new skills, overcoming challenges and adapting quickly to succeed.
You might in fact discover that you have a progress mindset in the way you operate at work, or the way you handle chaos in your family life as a parent and it may be that you haven't yet made it consistent in your gym routine.
So what is it?
The progress mindset, is a laser focused answer to one simple question:
- What can I do right now to maximise my progress?
Truly it's that simple.
The members of our community that continue to make the fastest progress are not necessarily the most talented (although they may appear bloody talented), they may not pick up the skills and coordination the fastest (although they may appear to have all the skill in the world) and they may not have always been the strongest (although they seem to have all the strength you could ever want and some)... the single most important factor is their laser like focus on what is one thing they can do right now to progress.
Let me give you a scenario:
Coach brings up a new warm up exercise and says we are doing this to open the hips and chest to prepare us for better movement in the overhead squats. Its a bit of a weird exercise that we haven't done before, sure, so what do you do...
A/ Self consciously focuses entirely on how stupid and awkward they feel, wondering if they are the most incompetent person in the class and try to hide behind the boxes and not be seen. They get out of the movement before they've really tried it and prey for the coach to move on to the next task.
B/ Gives it a half arsed go, spends half the time joking with old mate next to them about how much of a spaz they fee and gets very little from the exericise (at least you're having fun and getting involved, Go you).
C/ Engages fully, seeks to improve on their movement and understanding, asks how am I doing, I feel really tight in my hips, is there anything I can do here to improve it? (This member is focused on maximising their learning and progress, and is still likely to have a laugh about how hard or weird it was afterwards, they just aren't wasting the opportunity to learn).
Scaling workouts is a very important part of CrossFit and it also requires a progressive mindset and the patience to at times hold back and at other to push.
What is scaling?
Scaling is another word for progressive exercises.
The Ring Row is a foundational movement where your feet are on the floor and you are holding onto rings with your hands. The position of the feet and the height of the rings makes ring rows more or less challenging. Once you can do 5-10 ring rows, you can adjust the rings lower to the floor, and walk you shoulders further below the rings to start each set. Successfully completing 5-10 ring rows with your body parallel to the floor, without thrusting your hips is as close to the demand of a pull up as you can get without actually doing one.
Also, the strength required for 5-10 ring rows of that level of difficulty may just be equivalent to the demands of 1-2 strict pull ups or chins ups.
Enter the Pull up or Chin up, another functional movement that demands core strength and upper body strength. Improving on your pull ups, going from doing 1-2 every couple of days, to being able to do 30-40 in a workout twice a week will happen over time and consistent training. When we expose our body to greater demands on a consistent basis (aka progressive overload), the body adapts to the stimulus and we become stronger and more enduring of those demands. When we go back and try more basic foundational movements, they feel easier than they used too. When we try harder progressions, we notice we are much closer to being able to do that skill than we were previously. Perhaps you've been doing 30-40 pull ups in workouts for a while... Coach might say, hey, try a chest to bar pull up. the progressive mindset is, yeah great idea, what do I need to focus on to make it happen?
Chest to bar pull ups refer to the height you need to pull yourself up to the bar. Regular pull ups is the achievement of chin over bar with a pronated hand grip. Chest to bar pull ups is the achievement of a Chest touch on the bar (defined as below the collarbone). One these are possible you are showing great capacity to elevate your body vertically, once you can get a little higher in the pull, maybe belly button to bar, we can start asking the question about whether a bar muscle up is possible.
Bar Muscle up is where you begin hanging below the bar and finish above the bar (without climbing). You utilise the powerful engagement of the lats, shoulders and arms to accelerate yourself above the bar and press to support.
Other variations of these movements include:
- Kipping which is a dynamic hip variation that requires less strength and more coordination and timing.
- Weighted variations which is more about strength and muscle activation
- Banded variations, where the band actually makes it easier to initiate the movement.
Each of these variations will lead to better awareness, strength, co-ordination and timing in each other. They are all progressive to each other, however we cannot jump or skip exercises.
Understanding the scales/ progressions allows you to select appropriate choice. If you cannot do a chest to bar pull up, you are missing significant pulling power, attempting bar muscle ups is not on the cards for you yet, you need to master the ring row and do lots of them as well as continuing to utilise the pull up attempting to pull higher and higher when you are fresh, and maintain high standards of chin above bar when you are tired. There are no short cuts, and athletes need to remember that question...
What can I do right now to maximise my workout?
What can I do to maximise my recovery?
What can I do to improve my diet?
Whats 1 thing I can do to make the most of this 15 minutes snatching?
Don't over complicate it. Getting better at 1 thing today and everyday is the fastest way to make gains.
Don't put yourself in the pit of pity. You are cool, skills and strength takes time, just get a little better everyday and then reflect on how far you've come each month.
Don't invest in the blame game. Focus on what you can do right now to make the most of right now.
Those that engage in the process and are keen to learn, continue to thrive.
Those that sulk, whing, blame and worry hold themselves back.
Progress is a mindset and an action, you cant have positive progressive action with a negative, self concerned mindset. Marry a positive progressive attitude with a positive progressive action plan and watch yourself thrive.
Remember you can change your mindset and change your outcomes with it.