5 Tips to Get Better at Fitness Competitions by Paul Nobles

5 Tips to Get Better at Fitness Competitions by Paul Nobles

People getting ready for the Open each year leave a lot of the end-result up to chance.  They want to get better, but there’s so much to worry about.  “Will I get a muscle up this year?” “Should I do scaled or not?”  There’s a lot of unnecessary mystery.

This is my seventh year being a part of all this craziness so I thought I would give you guys some tips that will make a big difference.

#1. Let progress be your guide.

Get better. Make progress. Don't rush the process.

I remember my first Open it like it was yesterday.  I literally hadn’t worked out seriously since 7th grade and when I started I was forty years old.

But as most of you know, when you first start off you make crazy improvements.  No joke, my deadlift went from NOTHING to 405 pounds. Otherwise, I wasn’t very strong.

My strength was  in body weight movements; I went from pull-ups giving me tendinitis to basically never having to get off the bar. At that point I only weighed a spry 149 pounds.

I didn’t have any dreams of getting to the Games but I KNEW I could make it to Regionals.  This might sound absurd but back then, we all thought we’d make it.  Remember that two years before this, if you brought a check and a six pack you could compete at the Ranch.

The next year, MANY people made it to Regionals that wouldn’t stand a chance now.

If I devoted my life to working out I certainly might have had an outside shot at making it but early on I started realizing just being better than I used to be was my destiny.  This was possibly the best thing to ever happen to me as it related to my fitness journey.

Now I prepare to get better and set realistic, incremental goals.  Now I get what I worked for; that is both humbling and a matter-of-fact.  I like it that way.

#2. You don’t have to lose 10 pounds to get better at pull-ups

Get better at pull-ups by gaining strength, not losing weight

There is a gal as my gym that weighs 240 pounds (she doesn’t mind anyone knowing).  She can do both strict and kipping pull-ups.  Trust me, it ain’t your weight that is holding you back; it’s your brain.

That said, losing 10 pounds certainly helps you get better at bodyweight moves but its HOW you lose them that matters.  If you just jump into the next “paleo challenge” and “chicken-and-kale-it-up” don’t be surprised if a lot of that is water and muscle and not fat.

You might get that pull-up or muscle-up but your strength will take a hit and you aren’t going to be happy if this is one of Dave’s crazy HEAVY years.

READ NOW:  7 Reasons You’re STILL Struggling With Pull-ups

#3. Don’t under-eat!

athletes train and eat, get better by eating and training like it matters!

I can already hear it now and I’ll hear it 100 times a month (if not more) for the next eon! “I don’t really care how I perform, I just need to lose weight” OK cool but seriously, why now?  Let’s analyze this…

Yeah, you had too many of Grandma’s cookies.  You indulged in a few too many Hottie Toddy’s but to get better at athletics you need two things.  First, stimulus for change, meaning you need to be able to push yourself beyond your workouts into new territory now and then.  Second, you need the ENERGY to both recover and adapt.

You think you have it all figured out, but you don’t. If you decide to CUT yet again before the Open, you will end up dealing with the same nagging injuries as last time because you weren’t prepared. Remember you read it here first.

People need to think long-term about weight loss and how it impacts performance.  The best time to cut is as far away from a competition as possible. Why not just wait until it’s over? I know most people won’t listen to me but I know you will, and I know you’ll thank me in the long run!

#4. You probably had the muscle up three months ago but you never tested it.

It’s easy to get caught up in the hype each year.  People think that the muscle up they finally got was a result of all the hard work they put in (which is obviously partially true).

The Open workouts are simple in nature.  They CAN’T throw a lot of new stuff at you because it’s hard to judge.  What this means is that you already know a movement variation of what you are going to see by looking at past workouts.  Many end up being repeated anyway.

Let me give you an example of what I mean. This year was my first time trying a peg board. I had no idea what I was doing and failed miserably so I went home and looked at a few tutorials.  I decided that I would go up one at a time, week by week, gradually progressing, in theory it would take me 8 weeks.  It only took me 3.

If I’d tried it the first time without preparing at all and my whole year was riding on that lack of preparation, that would have been very frustrating.  Instead I now know that I can do it though it won’t be part of the Open.

#5. Be proud of your abilities.

get better, be proud

I CAN Rx virtually everything within CrossFit but I don’t because frankly that’s not what the competition is about – it’s about testing skills you have earned and potentially modifying the skills you haven’t acquired yet.  I get it, this year like every other year there will be loads of people trying to get that one “whatever-it-is” but then they don’t…endless celebratory high-fives await the 4 people who do.

While the rest of the gym is cheering for those 4 people, I’ll be competing with other athletes at my skill level across the world and getting in a good workout.  I am not saying this as a judgment of all of those people that want to know if they finally have double-unders or ring rows.

I am saying this because I KNOW I have double-unders but I don’t have them well enough to compete YET.  When I make it a priority to get better at them I will move up to the next level.  Until then I’ll enjoy the camaraderie and do what I’ve prepared for.

BONUS: #6. Follow a program

Do you want your Fran or Grace time better in time for the Open? We created this FREE 9 week program with retests so you can work on progressively getting better.

Click here to download your template!