Reflections on Testing and Training
by Becca Lee
The past few weeks of strength testing at the gym got me reflecting on my own CrossFit journey which I wanted to share with the CFA community. Testing and assessment can be fun, exciting, motivating and daunting. When approached with an open mind it can be a wonderful learning experience and can provide an opportunity for personal growth and development as an athlete physically, mentally and emotionally.
When I first starting CrossFitting (joined group classes in Jan 2010, after On Ramp) I was an outdoor athlete. I relied on the activities I enjoyed and my work as an Outward Bound instructor to stay fit (trail running, backpacking, rock climbing and whitewater paddling). I found that I was quickly able to learn the CrossFit movements and do relatively well in WODs.
Just before starting CrossFit I began to have nagging shoulder pain that I simply learned to live with. Yes, I could do pull ups when I walked into the doors of CrossFit Asheville but I soon found that the nagging shoulder pain began to get worst. Why? I was so greatly imbalanced in my pulling strength relative to my pushing strength from the years of rock climbing and whitewater paddling (both of which are essentially repetitive pulling motions).
What I was unaware of then and now understand is that when the muscles surrounding a joint, the shoulder in my case, become imbalanced they place an unnatural and unneccessary strain on the joint which can cause impingement, greatly limiting the stability and range of motion. This imbalance became exaggerated with my development in CrossFit and it was only when I took the opportunity to assess my strengths and weaknesses that I was able to eliminate my shoulder pain and start down the road to strength balance.
I decided to do an individual assessment with Shanna in early 2011, from there we identified areas of growth for me as an athlete. In addition to an imbalance in pulling and pushing strength we also found weakness in squatting and single leg strength. While still actively attending classes I worked on building up my weaknesses and in little over one month of consistent work I re-tested and made gains. Most exciting of all, my nagging shoulder pain began to lessen over time – ultimately this is what motivated me to work on my weaknesses.
It is enjoyable and comfortable to work on the areas where we already excel, it is difficult and uncomfortable to work on areas of weakness. That spring I continued to work on imbalances and went on to compete in the 2011 Open physically stronger and in a lot less pain. After sometime off of CrossFit in the summer of 2011, I took the opportunity to re-assess where I was at as a CrossFit athlete in the fall of 2011. Based on this I undertook an individually designed strength and conditioning program to continue working on building strength and balance for 2 months and continued to make gains as a result. While there is always room for growth, I went into the 2012 CrossFit competition season feeling stronger, more conditioned and in ever decreasing amounts of shoulder pain.
As the strength testing wraps up I encourage each of you to reflect on your goals (be it improvement in strength, skills, mindset, balance, dealing with physical pains, competing, etc) and use the testing information to help guide you in reaching them. I gain inspiration from everyone in the gym and SAC clinic through watching your efforts, consistency, and hardwork; Keep kicking butt!