In the world of competitive exercise, this is an important question that most people should be asking themselves at one point–why compete, and should I compete?
First: Why compete?
Competition lights a fire. It gives you something to train for, makes you put yourself on the line, forces you to focus and be in the moment. Do you shine under pressure, or do you crack? Life is not kind enough to tell you when you’re going to be put in a fight-or-flight situation, so it’s pretty useful to practice and know how to keep your cool. There is not a better feeling than to go into a competition with the knowledge that you are as well-prepared for it as you could possibly be, and to give it everything and know at the end of the day that you did your very best. I’ve competed in many different sports and athletic endeavors, both individual and team, and CrossFit competition is my absolute favorite for the same reason that it’s my favorite physical activity. The events are varied and interesting, it’s a supportive environment, and you’re not battling against other people that may or may not have a good day–it’s just you vs. you. Yes, there are rankings, and winners, and prizes, but it’s not a zero-sum game like…well, like a “real sport” with offense, defense, and points. Everyone can have a good time, and that’s what we’re all there for.
TL;DR version: Competition gives you the perfect opportunity to perform at your best and to keep a cool head under pressure, and it gives you purpose and direction in your training.
Second: Should I compete? There are a few schools of thought on this.
One group thinks that you should totally compete as soon as possible, regardless of your age, ability level, goals, mobility, coordination, and discipline. These people are stupid.
Another group thinks that exercising for points is completely retarded and not worth the injury risk, and the only acceptable outlets for athletic competition are ones involving a ball, unpredictable collision forces, and maybe some pads. These people…aren’t quite as stupid as the first group, but still stupid.
And then there’s the third group, or as I think of it, people who don’t have their heads jammed up their asses. I’m in this group, as you’ve probably guessed, and here’s how we feel. Some people should compete as soon as possible, others should wait a little while first, and still others will probably never use CrossFit as anything other than an exercise regimen (which was the original point of it anyway).
For people looking to compete on a larger scale (like the NLI–a decent-sized local competition with hundreds of entrants–or the Open, which has thousands upon thousands from all over the world), you need to be strong, skilled, and well-conditioned for me to endorse your entry. Men need to snatch 185+, women need to snatch 100+, and pull-ups and double-unders need to be consistent. [If you’re thinking of Regionals…you won’t make it. Sorry. For that, men need to snatch 250+ and rep out 10+ muscle-ups, women need to snatch 150+ and rep out 5+ muscle-ups, and you’d also need a sub-3 Fran to even have a chance.]
If you haven’t built a good fitness base, don’t compete yet. Keep an eye on what competitors are capable of and required of in competition, and chase them relentlessly. Get strong, work on the things you’re worst at, and be patient. I waited almost three years to start competing in CrossFit in local competitions and in the Open, and it may take you a similar length of time even if you train your ass off.
If you would like to compete and you’re reasonably strong and well-conditioned but your skills are inconsistent…sign up to compete in an event a few months out, work on what you suck at every day to get it up to speed, and prepare as best you can. Get your feet wet. Don’t have any expectations, just do it for fun. Get experience. If you’re scared, good. Do it to get over the fear. Eventually you won’t get any butterflies until you step up to the platform, and then it’s BEAST MODE ENGAGE. Awesome feeling!
If you hate competition and just want to show up to the gym and exercise, you probably shouldn’t compete…although it might not be a bad idea to try it just for the experience if you’re at a high enough level. You might find that you actually like the dynamic.
In four weeks, we are doing a very fun, low-key competition right here at RWS. I’ve designed it so that everyone can do it. There will not be crazy competitive-exercise skills in it like muscle-ups, snatches, or double-unders. It’s going to be a very well-rounded GPP (general physical preparedness) competition. If you’re decently consistent with your clean & jerk (can hit 85-90% on any given day), you’re ready. There will be prizes for winners, and any proceeds will go towards getting new bumper plates (our 25’s have seen better days…). If you want the experience of competition in a familiar setting, DO IT.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up!