Happy Thanksgiving!

The gym is closed today, we hope everyone has a great time with some family or friends, be sure to eat large amounts of meat and potatoes!

Here’s a thanksgiving coach’s corner from Cyndi Cook, enjoy:

Your only issue is between the 6” of space between your ears:

Devising Goals and Maintaining a Positive Mindset

By: Cynthia Cook

We have all done it at one point in time. We come into the gym, we lull around waiting to be told what to do, we discuss the foreboding effects of the WOD and project our performance, and we grind our teeth in anxiety and anticipation approaching the “3-2-1, GO!”  Well, we’re off to a good start; we are in the gym despite our hectic schedule, family obligations, and job stressors…but are WE really in there in a positive mindset for optimal performance? Let me take that a step further and ask all of you a very important question. I warn you, this question may be difficult to answer at first. Why do you come into the gym each day, and what are your personal goals in CrossFit?

I take this topic very personally right now. As an athlete and as a coach, I’ve forced myself to keenly scrutinize my CrossFit mindset as well as personal goals. I know that direction is critical to every facet of life, so I continue to search for answers on how to form that direction for my athletes and myself physically and mentally. To start with, I consulted the experts in our field; I did my research to hear from the best of our CrossFit icons.

It all starts in the head. Renowned CrossFitter Greg Amundson has published a plethora of material about the mental side of what we do and why we do it in the CrossFit Journal. His physical and mental prowess and fortitude have been smelted into him from long hours of training, personal reflection, and fervent optimism. His mentor Greg Glassman influenced him greatly on his athletic journey advising him “…the greatest adaptation to CrossFit is what takes place between the ears” (Amundson, 2010).  With that advice, he reached out to other CrossFitters abroad to help them devise “nutrition for [their] destiny” (crossfitgoalsetting.com).

Greg Glassman describes the foundation of a CrossFit athlete as a pyramid where the bottom tier depends on nutrition followed by metabolic conditioning, gymnastics, weightlifting, and then sport (or specific adaptation) (“What is Fitness?”, 2002).  Amundson takes that a step further. Consider, instead, that the bottom tier of that pyramid as an athlete is the constant stream of consciousness—the athletes thoughts and words. Even if subconscious, the language we use to interpret the tasks ahead of us foretells our performance to an extent; it almost becomes our destiny (crossfitgoalsetting.com). So, Amundson advises us to change our thoughts and words to coincide with what we want and towards our end goal. So consider, “What am I thinking? What am I saying to myself?”

Ok. Let me reorient you to a different mode of thinking. Consider the 10 general physical skills of CrossFit as described by the CrossFit Journal: endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, coordination, agility, balance, and accuracy (“What is Fitness?”, 2002). Those fundamental skills were painted on the walls of my first box, and are continuously reiterated by the coaches throughout lifts and WODs. Now think about those same traits as they relate to a mental, emotional, character and “Leader-Fit” trait. They take on a more complex meaning. Suddenly, that which is physical is even more mental. Endurance becomes the ability to maintain belief in oneself as well as others. Stamina now applies to one’s ability foster and maintain strenuous mental effort, focus and resilience. Strength comes from the ability one has to resolve decisions. Flexibility is controlling one’s emotional reaction in differing contexts as well as their ability to strategize various methods to accomplish a goal. Power is the positive motivation one uses for oneself as well as fellow athletes to push through grueling workouts. Speed is how well someone can think and plan on their feet—their reaction time. Coordination is balancing the body and mind in a matched productive physical and mental state. Agility is helping others as one pushes forth themselves and responding with deliberate attitudes and believes in any given environment and circumstance. Balance is maintaining one’s mental, physical, and emotional wellness while sustaining a positive state of mind despite external stimuli. Finally, accuracy is the ability to set an attainable goal and master it but also remaining intuitive about their thoughts, emotions, and perceptions. All of this is described by Amundson in his CrossFit Goal Setting Course as the “Total Athlete”, and he uses this model as a means of resetting thought and orienting his athletes to “… recognize and overcome mental and physical limitations that hinder their concentration and performance” (crossfitgoalsetting.com).

My dear friend, Mandy, constantly tells me “game face” when we are working out together. I have a tendency to get too caught up in my head and focus on the negative aspects of the workout such as exhaustion, weight fluctuation day-to-day, and pain, but that rather defeats the purpose of going to the gym in the first place. That is to have fun. I’d like to tell everyone to approach their workouts with a game face. Risk failure with a positive attitude; imagine that every set is your best set. Instead of comparing yourself to your fellow athlete, see them as a partner in your athletic journey, and encourage their improvement as they will yours. Don’t get so caught up in the final time of finishing a WOD or the weight you successfully lifted, but rather focus on how well you did it and if it was your best effort or not. Don’t wear defeat on your face. This past weekend at the Greg Burgener Olympic Lifting Certification I heard a great anecdote from Josh Everette. He has done some competitive weightlifting in the past, and he said that every time he had a missed rep, he would smile at the judges. He only had three times to master lift, so if he lost his mental control and function on the first one, he would have set himself up for disaster thereafter. I think that is a great example of the power of the mind and how it relates our abilities as athletes.

Consider this, on average, we think between 800-1400 words per minute in thought. Our words are tools that can either propel us towards success or utterly debilitate us (Moawod, 2010). Negative thinking can accumulate to become your worst Achilles Heel that inhibits your achievement which can lead to what Trevor Moawod cordially refers to as “give-up itis.” To extend beyond the “me” spectrum, also consider that your attitude also shapes the attitude of those around you. Attitudes shape atmospheres. Have you ever worked a crappy job and it felt even crappier because everyone was miserable? Not fun, right? Have you ever worked a crappy job, but everyone around you was happy so the job wasn’t so bad? It might not have paid much, but you left with some good memories and a good mindset. It is the same thing. Negativity is contagious. Don’t fall prey to making excuses on why you can’t do something. Just get out of your head and get it done.

So now you’re finally in the right head space, you’ve shed all the pollution that clogged up your perception and performance, and you’re ready to tackle any obstacles in pursuit of your goals. How do you do that though? Aside from personal evaluation, consult your trainers to help you focus your training. Say you come in day after day and do whatever…then you might not feel personal accomplishment with your gains when you don’t have a mental direction or focus. Conversely, coming in without a goal may mean that you don’t see the overall improvement you’re looking for in your physical ability because you might not be pushing yourself in the right areas. Either way, knowing where you are and where you want to be is part of “…the greatest adaption to CrossFit [that] takes place between the ears” (Glassman to Amundson). It is almost like driving your car without directions to a distant location and wondering why you never get there. Devising goals is the beginning of sketching your athletic map.

In “Coaching the Mental Side of CrossFit,” Amundson describes three primary steps to formulating goals. First, the goal needs to be concise and specific such as “I want to complete 50 double-unders unbroken.” (That would be my goal because my double-unders are still atrocious.) Next, back to the mental side of things, the goal should be expressed in the positive tense ie. “I want to safely perform a snatch locking my arms out at the top keeping the bar in the frontal plane of my body.” (On the negative side, “I don’t want to drop that weight on my head or lose control of the bar during my snatch.” That negative thought has a funny way of biting you in the butt and causing you to do exactly what you “don’t” want to happen.) Finally, as it pertains to any personal goals, they should be set within a realistic timeframe that is challenging yet realistic. So going back to my first example, say I want to diligently work up towards my 50 unbroken double-unders. Obviously that will not be a goal that I could achieve in one month, so I would need to break it down into smaller increments. Ok, then I would say, “I want to successfully complete 10 unbroken double-unders consistently by next month.” I took that goal of 50 and broke it down into seemingly manageable increments spread out over a period of time. The objective to devising goals is to “give yourself small successes to meet along the way as you work up to your ultimate goal” (Amundson, 2010).

You want the goal to be attainable, but you don’t want it to be set too far in advance that it lacks urgency…the “I can get to it later” attitude. It should also focus on your weaknesses. Don’t let yourself get caught in the loop of only working on what you have already mastered. Push yourself. Diversify your skills by choosing a goal that is motivating yet challenging. Our performance is affected by our mental state—how we think, feel, and interpret the world around us.  Negativity is a forlorn element that may stunt strides towards our goals.  They may inhibit us from challenging our abilities to master new skills and make improvement. Be mindful of your mindset before you begin your workout, while you’re working out, and how you interpret your performance once it is all done. Even after it is all finished you can still create a mental block that affects how you perceive your ability that may carry into other training days or the next time you do that specific skill. Goals should be equal parts inspiration, motivation, perspiration, dedication, and direction. Go ahead, be passionate about it; get enthusiastic. It is a never ending cycle of setting goals, formulating a plan for those goals, and achieving the goals. There is always room for improvement. That’s part of what is wonderful about being human.

I’m remarkably impressed with the athletes at our gym. Every day I see our athletes reach new personal records and share that achievement with their peers. That turns into motivation for others to achieve the unachievable. Don’t lose that. Set your mind frame from the beginning. Decide you’re going to do something, and devise the plan on how you’re going to get there. Most of all, remain optimistic. Optimism is an empowering self-talk approach to ensure best performance and improvement.

“Your thoughts will become your words. Your words will become your actions. Your actions will become your habits. Your habits will become your character. Your character will define your destiny.”—Gandhi


Amundson, Greg. (2010). CrossFit Goal Setting: Forging a Winning Mindset.


Amundson, Greg. (2010). Coaching the Mental Side of CrossFit.(Video) CrossFit

 Journal. http://journal.crossfit.com/

Amundson, Greg. (2010). Positive Self-Talk: Defining your Destiny.(Video) CrossFit

 Journal. http://journal.crossfit.com/

Amundson, Greg. (2010). Positive Self-Talk: Defining your Terms. (Video) CrossFit

 Journal. http://journal.crossfit.com/


Amundson, Greg. (2010). Positive Self-Talk: Focusing your Goals. (Video) CrossFit

            Journal. http://journal.crossfit.com/


Glassman, Greg. (2002). What is Fitness? CrossFit Journal. http://journal.crossfit.com/


Moawod, Trevor. (2010). The Mind is Primary. (Video) CrossFit Journal.



Shrago, Steven. (2010). The Mental Game. (Video) CrossFit Journal.



3 responses to “Happy Thanksgiving!

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