Why Does It Still Hurt So Much? Reflections On One Year of CrossFit

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Cara Silverstein | April 12, 2017 | no comments |

Its been about a year since I took my Foundations classes at Wildcat.  I’m not sure what I expected when I started, except that I’d be building muscle more effectively than the ‘Muscles & More’ class I’d been used to taking at the Y.  Building muscle effectively became evident pretty quickly.   A few months into my doing CrossFit I hadn’t yet quit my membership at the Y even though I never went anymore and so I decided to drop in on that class just to see what it would be like.  It was eye opening to say the least.  Before class, I gathered the weights that I would normally gather – a set of dumbbells plus one heavy one.  The class started, we warmed up, and got working.  When we used the dumbbells for an exercise I found I had to swap out my weights for heavier and heavier weights.  When we did the pilates ‘100’ (pumping your arms at your side as your torso and legs are raised from a seated position), I used to only get halfway through before my abs would give out.

Pilates ‘100’

This time I held the whole 100 and I could have gone more.  When we did the yoga move Chattaranga (hovering close to the floor holding a pushup position) I didn’t flop directly to the floor like I used to, I could actually hold it.  And I could see how even though push presses and back squats and snatches and power cleans look completely different than dumbbell curls, dumbbell kick backs, and dumbbell chest flies I was using the same muscles.  The same, but significantly stronger muscles.

It was a remarkable realization.  I thought back at how I approached that class at the Y vs. classes at Wildcat.  For one, the class at the Y is a huge class – you just follow along at your own pace.  In that setting I wasn’t inclined to push myself.  At my own pace became anything that didn’t push me *too* hard.  Wildcat is nothing like that.  Every time I walk in the door I know I’m going to be pushed harder than I would push myself if left to my own devices.  Also, there’s really no time for one on one help in a class that size, the instructor couldn’t correct our form – the best she could do was shout to the class to watch their form so everyone in class can wonder if she was talking to them.  Wildcat is nothing like that.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told to lift my elbows when I’m holding the bar at my collarbones.  It’s hard for me.  If left to my own devices I wouldn’t try.  The nudge is good.

The results are worth every bit of physical and mental anguish I get at the number of burpees I see on the board on any given day.

For some reason, though, I thought that eventually I would get to some kind of plateau; that it would have gotten easier.

But that’s the crux of CrossFit – it never gets easier.  The blessing and the curse of scaled workouts is that they always meet you where you are and push you a little bit further.  And there’s always something further you can do.

Last week I found myself incredibly sore from my workouts.  We’ve just started a ‘Strength’ cycle so yeah, its no surprise, but this soreness has me remembering the horror of my first few weeks at Wildcat – how I would whimper every time I had to sit down on the toilet.  How I once had to use two arms to get the seatbelt across my chest because I had dead-arms.  How I would cry when I sneezed because my abs hurt so much.  So when the other day I tried to put a purse on my shoulder and my deltoids screamed bloody murder because of the heavy push presses we had done the prior day I was brought back.

For a moment I felt like I hadn’t made any progress at all if it could still possibly be this hard for me.  But I have to remember this: a year ago I was squatting half the weight I can squat today.  I could push press half the weight I can push press today. Of course I’m still getting sore.  It’s easy to forget where I started and just how far I have come.

I’d like to encourage you to look back at where you started and where you’ve become, and please share your thoughts in the comments.  As I enter year two, I’d love to hear from folks at the beginning of their journey and those who’ve been doing this for a lot longer than me.  You’re all inspirational!



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