How to Become an Advanced Crossfitter

August 11, 2018


So you’re a Crossfitter and you’ve stopped making progress. I’m going to guess that you’ve been doing 
CrossFit® for about a year or so and you’ve made some drastic changes since then, but in the last few months you’ve barely made any gains.  Well don’t worry, this is super common, and there are some pretty straightforward methods to clear this intermediate phase of your CrossFit® career. Keep reading for the three most common ways to get back on the progress train.  

Maxed Out Beginner Gains

Being a beginner does have certain advantages, namely your ability to drop fat, gain muscle, and become way stronger in a short period of time.  Like all good things, they come to an end. The beginner gains period generally last 6 months to a year or so depending on how hard you’ve been working out, and your own personal life factors.  

This period is marked by the ability to get better with any type of training.  You’ll make great progress even with the worst written programs, and suboptimal diets, but as you know this doesn’t continue forever.  

This brings us to our first method to get out of this funk.  

Work on Consistency

This is the biggest downfall of someone who is at an intermediate stage, looking to become more advanced.  The average gym goer does around 3 classes a week, with a decent percentage doing 4 classes. This isn’t going to cut it if you want to make more progress.  

This means you’ll have to go 7 days a week with three workouts per day. Just kidding!

You need to keep it simple.  Try and add one extra day a week at the gym, and see where that gets you.  Make your mind up to do this for a month, and I promise you’ll start to feel some noticeable differences.  

You’re Probably Not Strong Enough….Yet!

This is a big difference between an intermediate and advanced crossfitter, and it makes a huge difference during your metcons.  After crossfitting for about 11 years and coaching for 4 years, I can confirm the rule of thumb that until the weight in your WOD is 30% or less of your 1RM, you’re better served to work on strength rather than conditioning.  

If you are a solo show, then I might recommend the Tier Three Competitors Program.  I did this with my gym and the average strength gain was 13% in 12 weeks.  If you follow your boxes programming then you should ask your coaches for some modifications to make the strength work harder. You can also add in some accessory work before and after your WOD to increase your strength.  

Work Your Weaknesses

This is the bane of all intermediate crossfitters, and it really holds them back.  Athletes oftentimes hide from movements, WODs, or modalities that they aren’t as skilled in.  Big guys avoid running and gymnastics, ladies will avoid pull-ups, etc.

You will find as you continue to progress that your deficiencies hold you back much more than your strengths help you.  I recommend picking just one of these problem areas and attacking it like crazy.

If you can’t run for crap, then try some extra jogging on a recovery day.  Make it easy, and don’t time yourself. Just get used to doing it. Gradually transition to this aerobic capacity program, which will continue your progress.  

If you have some technique deficiencies then see if you can go work on that during open gym with a coach. I always tell my athletes this, and only a few take advantage of what is essentially free personal training.  

Final Thoughts

Realistically the muscle you’ll be working on the most in your intermediate/advanced portion of your CrossFit® career is your patience muscle.  You will still make progress, but it comes at a much slower pace. This is normal!

We all have physical limits, even if most of us will never approach them, and as you get closer to these limits it takes more and more effort to make progress. Be patient and understand this is how progress is made. Now get out there and start working!

This is a guest post from Jake Jackson, a lifelong fitness enthusiast, former Marine, and current police officer, as well as a 
CrossFit® coach at Crossfit Annandale. And the owner of Tier Three Tactical.  He writes about Crossfit, fitness, as well as a variety of topics for the law enforcement, military, and tactical community.  He maintains that the mullet haircut was originally designed to keep the back of your neck from getting sunburned. You can follow Jake on Facebook or Twitter.