“I’ve been doing CrossFit for 3 years, and I still don’t have (insert movement of choice here).”

“I come to the gym 3-4 days a week, but i’m not getting better at…”

We hear it all the time. First, the seemingly confused statement about what it is that an athlete isn’t able to do yet, or isn’t seeing progress in. Then, the “reasons:” I’m too fat. I’m too skinny. I’m too tall. I’m too short. I don’t have time. I don’t know what to do with all of my time. It’s too cold out. It’s too hot out. Mercury is in retrograde. The moon is full, again (SURPRISED?!!?). The truth is, the reason you don’t have, or aren’t significantly closer to, whatever it is you desire to be able to do, is because you haven’t put enough focused energy on learning the skill and building the appropriate strength to do just that. The bad news? You’re going to have to let go of that excuse/story you’ve been telling yourself as to why you can’t do it, and own up to the fact that it’s your choice to get that first pull-up, or not, and taking responsibility can be challenging. The great news? You get to own your epic awesomeness and work like hell to get whatever you want! Here are some tips for increasing your rating on a general scale of 1-Badassery:

Stop letting your ego get in the way. We get it, trying new things can be intimidating, especially when you know you’re going to look like a crazy person throwing yourself around in new ways that you’re not used to yet. But don’t let worry over what you’ll look like, or fear of what other people will think, hold you back. Anyone that would judge you for practicing, and failing, at something new, is not someone you need to worry about anyway because chances are, they’re not brave enough to go out and do something new either. Also, when you show up and get out of your comfort zone, you inspire other people to do the same. Better yet, grab a buddy and work on new skills together. Hold each other accountable, cheer each other on, and don’t stop until you Get it. Get it.

Don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Find someone that learned how to do what it is you want, and ASK them. We always recommend talking to a coach first, but if there is someone else thats insanely awesome at a certain skill, ask them too, then do it. Don’t google some rare technique that worked for one guy and believe it’s supposed to miraculously give you double unders in 30 minutes. Learn the key components, then turn your weaknesses into your strengths.

Foundations, foundations, foundations. You’ve got to learn how to walk before you can run. You don’t get to skip the ugly stuff in the middle between not being able to do a single pull-up, and getting to a bar muscle up. First, you must get the necessary strength, and then (or simultaneously, that works too) master the skill of timing and being able to move your body in just the right way. One key component of CrossFit is coordination, and so much of what we do requires creating new connections in the brain to make your body understand what the heck you want it to do, that takes time. It all takes time, and you’ll spend more time failing than you will succeeding; commit to mastering the fundamental parts of a movement, then the rest will start to fall into place.

Quitting is not an option, and neither is dabbling. You can’t dabble in a skill once every couple of weeks or months and expect it to get better. Increasing strength and skill needs constant hammering. If you’re not practicing at least two to three times a week, expect progress to be very slow, at best. Commit to working on it a few times a week, until you’ve conquered it, then…

Never settle on your successes, only build on them. GREAT! You did it! You can finally do toes-to-bar well enough to do them in a workout. Now just sit back and watch the gains flow… or not. Sorry to be the bearer of awesome news, but the sooner you realize that this whole CrossFit thing is a decades, or better yet a LIFELONG, journey of constantly learning and challenging yourself in new and old ways, the more progress you’ll see. Even when you’ve added new and exciting movements to your arsenal, you still have to work on them regularly in order to see them get better. This doesn’t include doing them in a WOD. It’s like thinking just because you can jog around the block, you should be able to run a marathon. Nope. You’ve got the movement, but you’ve got to build on it. More specifically, you’ve got to build more strength and skill under different levels of fatigue, including not being rushed to get it done in a workout. There’s a lot of benefit to resting between sets of a movement when you’re pushing yourself beyond your usual limits.

Of course, all of this is relative. If you’re content with where you’re at, you can keep coming in to the gym for exactly 60 minutes, crush your workout, and leave. You don’t have to feel bad if you don’t want more, but never ever, ever believe you can’t have more if you want it. Go out and get it.