The Run Up to Game Day: Your First CrossFit Competition

It’s your first individual CrossFit competition. You’ve enjoyed a few in-house competitions, maybe entered a local scaled comp, but you haven’t yet felt confident enough to go all in. You’re wondering: am I ready? Is this going to hurt? Will it be fun?

The answer to all of the above is yes.

This is the first of a three-part series written to demystify the two weeks prior to your first competition. We’ll look at how to approach training beforehand and how to prepare your body to hit Game Day in the best possible condition. In part two, Sam from GAIN Nutrition will give you some tips on eating around and during your competition. In the final piece, we’ll look at what to expect on game day, how to approach the workouts and mindset – , as well as the best warm-up and recovery strategies.

Many competitions will release the workouts one-two weeks before the competition. Some choose to keep everyone hanging. Bear in mind that whilst it is nice to know what you’ll have to suffer through, remember that no matter what, your fellow competitors are all in the same boat with you.

If the WODS are released, you get an opportunity to practice the WODs; but if the workouts aren’t released, you will still be prepared, because GAIN programming is designed to prepare you for the unknowable. GAIN programming includes the most common movements seen in competitions such as thrusters, box jumps, burpees, kettlebell swings, pull-ups and other staple gymnastics movements, and engine work via rowing or the assault bike. You’ve been exposed to a variety of different time domains from short quick workouts to long chippers.

Beyond that, there’s a few things to keep in mind:

The week before the competition should be about maximising your fitness and practice.

This is the week to work on your “race” pace. Have a plan going into your workouts and try to stick with it. Think slow is smooth, smooth is fast: this means going out a bit slower than you are capable of, and allowing your pace to build at the end. Your first round should be your slowest, with your last round being your fastest. Think about the quality of your movement standards, hitting depth on your squats, fully extending the arms in overhead movements, getting the chin over the bar on pull ups, and hitting the target on wall balls. Don’t be afraid to no-rep yourself, forcing yourself to complete an extra rep if necessary. If your competition’s workouts have been released, this week is a good time to practice them.

You will see a maximum Olympic lift or barbell complex, so get ready. The week before the competition is a good time to test your lifts to get an idea where your top numbers are. Knowing your capabilities prior to the competition eases the pressure when you are in the middle of a three-minute time cap to find your max thruster. The GAIN coaches are available for one-on-one sessions if your technique needs fine tuning or you’d like to work on your lifting strategy to hit that competition PB.

The final week of preparation is all about deloading, recovery, and peaking for the competition. You will be exposed to an intensity that is above and beyond what you experience in a normal WOD in competition. For this reason, it is extremely important that you are fresh, recovered, and well fed.

Here’s a basic outline of how your week should look for a weekend competition:

  • Train as normally on Monday.
  • Make Tuesday your last “intense” workout.
  • Make Wednesday a moderate to light training day.
  • Thursday and Friday: rest. If you feel you need to move a bit of foam rolling, yoga, or ROMWOD will do.

Try to get at least eight hours of sleep every night at a minimum. Remember you can’t gain any more fitness in the last week before a comp, but you can lose it by over-training.

If you are dealing with pain, book in with the appropriate professional.

Your favourite massage therapist, Joni Lambert, is now at GAIN, as is your favourite chiropractor (me) if you have been suffering with an injury. Over the last few months you’ve likely been ramping up your training and have developed some aches and pains, or may be nursing an injury. These niggles or injuries have a tendency to get worse with an increase in intensity, fatigue, or load. It’s always best to see a therapist who understands the demands of CrossFit, and we’re situated right on your doorstep if you need help.

I hope this blog post helps. Look out for the next posts in the series on nutrition and a guide for what to expect on Game Day!


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