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Self Reflection after Benchmark Testing by Coach Matt

Another benchmark testing has come and gone… so now what?

Whether this was your first or fifteenth round of benchmark testing, these two weeks give us a chance to assess our performances and identify our strengths and weaknesses. By looking at your performance across workouts, you can identify patterns that reflect strengths and expose your weaknesses, giving you the opportunity to fine tune, formulate goals, and make plans for Open Gym sessions to not only improve your daily workouts, but help prepare you for the next round of benchmark testing and the October CrossFit Open.

CrossFit programming strives to address the ten general physical domains of fitness:

  1. Endurance

  2. Stamina

  3. Strength

  4. Flexibility

  5. Power

  6. Speed

  7. Coordination

  8. Agility

  9. Balance

  10. Accuracy

While all CrossFit workouts incorporate most, if not all of these domains, each workout has a different intended stimulus, or purpose. Some focus on max intensity like quick sprints; some test endurance through longer and moderately intense workouts; and some focus more on technical skills such as gymnastics or the infamous double under.

When assessing your overall performance, you can take a look at each programmed day to get a good idea on the biggest gaps in your performance. Think back on the past two weeks: where did you PR, where did you struggle? What did you find easy, what did you find challenging?

A good start would be to look at your performance during cardiovascular endurance and stamina workouts that require you to have “an engine”. These benchmark workouts include FGB, Karen, Helen, etc.. You may not be the strongest athlete, or even the most skilled, but having a quality engine will make it a little easier to breathe during your workouts. This the foundation of your fitness. Learning how to manage your rest, reps, and breathing are all part of mastering these workouts.

The second area to assess would be your strength. For some athletes, strength can be a limiting factor in performance. Theoretically, if your 1RM is higher on a particular lift like a thruster, cycling a lighter barbell during a high intensity WOD such as Fran should feel “easier”. To improve your strength, make sure not to rush the programmed % work that we program during the next 3 months and be sure to stick to the percentage progressions. It’s also important to make sure you’re resting enough between each set, getting quality sleep, and eating sufficient calories daily as these all play important roles in building strength.

Lastly, take a look at your technique and skill set. Do you struggle with the higher technical movements, such as the snatch & OHS? Mobility could be a key hinderance here and this can be fixed with consistency over time. If you struggle with something like DU’s, this will take practice and drills outside of a class. If you decide to always scale away from DU's and never practice on your own, it will forever be one of the skilled movements you will hate to see pop up in a workout. Just think about how good the feeling will be to be able to look forward to them! If you struggle with gymnastic skills such as HSPU, pull-ups, etc., working on strength development or technique drills will make a huge difference.

I have listed a few of my suggestions/recommendations to close the gap in any areas of improvement before the next benchmark testing in August below.

Area of Improvement: Endurance/ Stamina

Example Benchmarks: 1 Mile Run, Helen, Karen, Kelly

Suggestions / Recommendations:

  • Plan rep schemes ahead of time

  • Create boundaries for yourself (i.e., planned rest time, stay within your mat, do not walk around or get chalk if you don't need it)

  • Practice syncing breath with movements (i.e., inhale while squatting during a wallballs, exhale at the top)

  • Practice EMOM's to identify rep schemes (i.e., can you maintain 7 t2b every 30 seconds?)

  • Running/Rowing intervals

Area of Improvement: Strength

Example Benchmarks: CrossFit Total, 1RM Lifts, DT

Suggestions / Recommendations:

  • Time your rest between sets; 1-3 minutes between sets. Less time for lighter weights, more time for heavier.

  • Stick to %s,

  • Don’t skip a squat day

  • During skill sessions, challenge yourself (ie., try to increase reps or decrease resistance band)

Area of Improvement: Technique & Skill

Example Benchmarks: Annie, Nancy, Randy, Diane, Fran

Suggestions / Recommendations:

  • Mobility work

  • MobilityWOD


  • Come to OG and practice

  • Ask for coaching or skill specific drills

  • Watch videos, it may be easier to see and apply

  • Don’t cherry pick around technical workouts

  • Video yourself

  • Break movements down and drill parts of them (i.e., work on snatch pulls, or snatch drops versus the full movement)

If you need any help identifying areas of improvement or ways to attack them, don't hesitate to reach out to me or any of the coaches directly. And remember, practice makes progress.

Coach Matt

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