Watch Crossfit and Get Better

May 06, 2016

Watch Crossfit to get better at Crossfit.

We all love to watch Crossfit.

We watch on Instagram, on YouTube, Facebook, and on ESPN (damn it HQ! Why can’t everything be free!)

So here is some great news.  Watching Crossfit might actually make you better at Crossfit.  

Now I know what you’re thinking. “My uncle Bob watches sports all day, and he can’t lift his ass off the couch without assistance. Since when does watching fitness make you fitter?”

Here’s how:

One reason is that when we watch Crossfit we get better at visualization.  

Consider this:

You know how you catch yourself daydreaming after watching hundreds of Instagram clips of snatch drills?

Scientists have found that the neurons in the Motor Cortex are growing and developing at almost at the same pace when we imagine doing a activity as when actually do the activity.

A Study by Erin M. Shackell and Lionel G. Standing at Bishop’s University showed just how amazingly close visualization can come to doing the actual work out.

The study measured the strength gains in three different groups of people. The first group did nothing outside their usual routine.

The second group was put through two weeks of highly focused strength training for one specific muscle, three times a week. (Ugh; and yes, it is like body building.)

The third group listened to audio CDs that guided them to imagine themselves going through the same workout as the exercising group, three times a week.

And, (Are you visualizing the results yet?)

The control group, who didn’t do anything, saw no gains in strength.  So there is still no magic pill or voodoo that gives you something for nothing.

The exercise group, who trained three times a week, saw a 28% gain in strength, which some of us haven’t seen in awhile. (You know who you are, guy who over-trains and tries to beat your one rep max every day.)

But here’s the most amazing part: the group who did not exercise, but rather thought about exercising, experienced nearly the same gains in strength as the exercise group (24%).  Boom! We have mind, we have matter, and they work together folks.

Another Study

Researchers from the Cleveland Clinic Foundation in Ohio investigated the strength benefits of imagining exercising a muscle.

They split 30 healthy young adults into 3 groups. For 15 minutes a day, five days a week for 12 week, Group #1 imagined exercising their little finger muscle. Group #2 imagined exercising their biceps muscle and Group #3 acted as a control group and did no imaginary exercise.

Group #1 (the finger exercisers) increased their strength 53 percent. Group #2 (the biceps group) increased strength by 13.4 percent.

These are just a few experiments others have tested Olympic lifting, and chess playing.  Similar studies have put sensors on athletes’ muscles and asked them to think of their sport.  Once again, they could see major muscle activity while the athlete just thought of doing their sport. There is link after link to confirm this hypothesis.

When I don’t feel like working out, I know that watching a few videos, or scrolling through my Instagram, can really get the juices flowing.  I know that when I watch fighting, I can feel my entire body fire up.  

So while you are watching Rich Froning or Josh Bridges doing some fitness, here are some tips that may help you.

  1. Let your imagination play along.  Imagine you are doing the workout while watching the video.  Make it as vivid as you can.  Feel the heat of the room; imagine the strain in your lunges.
  2. Find a place you won’t be distracted.  Watch these videos with your full attention so you can get deep into the visualization. I like to watch about ten minutes before I am going to leave to do my workout.
  3. The more detailed the better.  The brain loves detail. So let your imagination fill in as much detail as you can.  What does the condition feel like? Outside or inside?  Grass or sand?  One rep all you got or endurance?

In the end, you are already watching Crossfit. Now just add a bit of imagination and visualization and watch the gains come in.

This is a guest post from Joshua Wright - trainer/coach at Colaw fitness and founder of Wrightfix NutritionIn addition to personal training, Josh has experience as a Program Director and Head Trainer of a MMA Gym. He has been involved in Crossfit since 2009. You can follow Josh on  Instagram and Facebook 

Getting better @ CrossFit = Watching CrossFit #crossfit