Last year the CanWest Games was a regional event but this season, as a CrossFit Sanctioned event, it becomes a worldwide competition and the competitors representing CrossFit Empower will take their first step onto the world stage!

Currently Sprite, Pepper and Shades are battling hard through the scaled women’s team qualifiers in the hopes of joining Mr. Fantastic, D-Knee, Mufasa, Motor, HeeHee, Shades, Doc Disc, Silk, Hard Rock, WOD Father, Smash, Sandman, Super Mario & HHH at the 2020 Games hosted at UBC in June.

To prepare them for the next level playing field our athletes will need to work with track coaches, swim coaches, weightlifting coaches and gymnastics coaches along with a host of other skills.  Luckily we have many athletic experts in our community that we have been able to call upon for assistance.  With 4-months to prepare we have set aside 11am Saturdays for focused team training so that come game day we will be ready for whatever challenges are put before us.

But more important than the physical prep is the mental prep and that is something that can benefit everyone.  So, in today’s blog I’d like to share a key piece of what we will be working on this Saturday February 15th so you can reap the benefits as well!

Ability does not equal efficiency!  RXing a movement or prescribed load is an exciting accomplishment worth celebrating.  But the road doesn’t end there.  In fact, on the path to excellence, that is just the starting point.  Developing excellent movement mechanics means becoming an efficient mover.  Crusher and I can both do pistols but a side-by-side comparison clearly demonstrates superior efficiency in Crusher’s form which is why, even though I finished the parallette HSPUs faster than him, he still completed more reps than me in Saturday’s WOD.

Competitors often want to short cut this by working harder or working more as if pushing to exhaustion or doing extra training will compensate for poor mechanics.  Supplements won’t do it, being stronger won’t do it, better conditioning won’t do it.  As my coach, former CrossFit Games competitor Andy Swartz, says: “Skill is the best fitness hack!”.

This usually means slowing down, pushing less, doing less volume but executing reps with greater care mindful of refining your movement mechanics.  Instead of 50 sloppy reps, do 30 great ones.  Sometimes less is more.

Our team training will focus on efficiency but so can you.  Every day, in every WOD, instead of worrying about speed, load or RXing, shift your focus to improving your skill!

Learning how to pace a workout is another key skill we focus on in team training.  And we insist competitors hold themselves to a planned rep scheme.  This is super hard!  Not only will it force you to develop mental grit, it also forces you to move efficiently (see how it all ties together!).  I do this for 90% of my WODs.  Instead of charging out of the gates like a wild man, I assume a calm and measured approach.  I demand that I complete reps in predetermined rep schemes.  This certainly slows me down and negatively affects my finish time but also helps me learn my optimal pacing.

If you stop worrying about the leaderboard you can create some very exciting and fulfilling games for yourself inside each WOD that will offer you plenty of personal victories, learning opportunities and satisfaction as your skills improve.

If there’s one thing that makes the greatest difference to performance, it is mindset.  It’s at the base of the Empower hierarchy of athletic development.  And it is something a lot of athletes struggle with.  The cornerstone of a champion mindset is positive self talk.  What do you say to yourself when you see a difficult workout programmed full of movements you struggle with.  Do you get challenged or threatened?  Do you drag yourself to the gym dreading the beat down you are about to receive or do you arrive excited for the opportunity to work on your weaknesses?  When your plan goes off the rails or you miss another rep, what do you tell yourself?  Do you beat yourself up about it or recognize failure as a necessary part of learning?  Are you carrying negative energy into your training or are you creating a mental space for yourself that will optimize your performance?  Everyday people let their monkey minds run rampant but champions must learn to discipline their minds in order to focus on the task at hand.  Every moment of everyday is an opportunity to harness your busy mind for good rather than for ill.  The good wolf and bad wolf battle eternally inside your mind and mine.  The one you feed the most will prevail!

Competition offers an opportunity for us to step beyond our current level of performance.  But competition doesn’t have to include participation in a sanctioned event versus other people.  It can be a game you create for yourself in your everyday training.  While our Empower team readies for the 2020 CanWest Games you can be making preparations to become your best version of you in life and in the gym!  Start training like a competitor by working mindset, strategy and efficiency into your WODs and reap the rewards!