Benefits of Competing
The final event of the 2009 Crossfit Games was a chipper that included 10 different movements, one of which was the ring Muscle-up. Annie Thorisdottir entered that event never having done a single muscle up before, yet she managed to get her first ever muscle up in front of a screaming crowd cheering her on.
As coaches we receive a lot of feedback from members when we encourage people to sign up for The Open, competitions, or when we start internal competitions within our own gyms:
“I’ve never done that movement before.”
“Why compete/sign up if I’m not going to win?”
“I don’t want to let my team down.”
“It’s too much pressure.”
When the coaches suggest these things, we do not hate you. We do not want to embarrass you. We are not picking on you.
Although immediately there may not seem like any positives, there are actually a ton of hidden benefits from competing that could make you a better athlete that will also translate to your everyday training.
Competition Spurs Progress
It’s too often that people will muddle through things in life because they don’t have a goal or point where they will be tested. Unfortunately the same can be said about training. Having goals is essential to learning, growing and improving overall. Remember back in school how hard we would study for a test or exam coming up? (Unless you cheated on tests, then shame on you.) The competition is our test. Whether it’s weight we are trying to hit or landing your first of a specific movement, competition gives you a finish line to identify.
Competition Can Help Us Push Beyond Our Limits
When prepping for a competition or practicing on a specific event with your team, you’ll find that because of the concentration you’re putting in you’ll be able to go a little farther and dig a little more than you normally do. The extra time and focus you put into the prep for a competition can lead to some pretty big jumps in your training. Also, because of adrenaline and excitement, it’s very common for athletes to hit new PRs and complete their first movements of something they’ve been struggling with! And who doesn’t love a PR???
Adversity has a tendency to bring out who a person really is. I competed earlier this year at the Gladiator Gauntlet and there was a partner deadlift/bar over burpee workout that was straight murder. So bad. About halfway through my portion with my partner I was completely done: exhausted, grip was blown, hamstring and back were dying. In any other normal circumstance I would have stopped, and everything in me wanted to stop. But my team is screaming for me to keep going. So what do you do? Give up or pick up the weight? Do you let the pain take control or do you take control? A large portion of training is what is going on between the ears, and competition can grow your mental toughness and show you what you’re really made of.
Identify Your Strengths and Weaknesses
Think back to times in past Crossfit games competitions where an athlete is cruising along and then completely hits a wall with a movement:
– Annie Thorisdottir with the muscle up
– Rich Froning and the infamous rope climb
– Matt Fraser with the pig flips
– Josh Bridges with the heavy deadlift
Now think of later where they come back after that and completely destroy that same movement.
During a competition your strengths and weaknesses will be highlighted. And this ties into the goal setting mentioned above: these call outs will tell you what you need to work on. Set the goal to improve that movement, and as soon as that is reached, set the next goal.
You Can’t Lose
What will you ultimately lose? If you/your team don’t do well, you won’t be able to stand on the podium and you won’t get the free supplements the winners get. But just by competing you will have experienced all the above mentioned, and will be leaving a better athlete. You may not be able to see it right away because you’re bummed about the outcome, but what you gained is far more valuable.
So the next time there’s a competition or the Open comes around, sign up! You may be surprised with the results: you might find the inner beast within you that you never even knew existed.