Realistic Goal Setting in CrossFit

crossfit goal setting

CrossFit at its inception was completely unique in that it was an “any man’s sport”.

As long as you put the time in, and you were regularly willing to visit the pain cave, you could easily enter the realm of  being an elite-level athlete.

Now, as CrossFit continues to grow, so do the stakes and the capacity of the sport’s top contenders.

Each year, it becomes increasingly difficult to be a competitive athlete, however our idea of how “easy” it is to get there hasn’t evolved to reflect the reality of what it takes nowadays to compete alongside the big boys.

Ambition is a great quality to have, but to achieve a sense of fulfillment with your training, it’s important to set measurable, achievable goals.

achieving crossfit goals

Here’s how to set realistic goals in CrossFit:

Think about where you’re coming from

We all know that one guy or girl in class that goes from 0 to Rich Fronning in a matter of months.

Maybe it's their first week or month, and they’re already starting to creep up on the best in the class.

Their improvements and PRs come in leaps and bounds, and all you can help to do is think about your own progress.

It’s a lot easier for someone to get their first muscle up if they could already do strict pull-ups before they had started CrossFit.

Running 400 m in a 4-round WOD is child's play for someone who regularly trains for triathlons.

Not everyone starts from the same place, and it's important to recognize that what one athlete may find challenging isn’t necessarily the case for another.

For someone who has recovered from a significant injury, or an athlete of advanced age, being able to perform a body weight squat is right on par with joining the 300 lbs club.

The Takeaway: Respect your own process.

It can be fun to compare sometimes, but your evolution isn’t going to be the same as Mat Fraser, Annie Thorisdottir, or that one guy in class that went Rx just after two months of training.

Reflect on how you started, where you’re at, and how far you’d like to go and train accordingly.

Think about how much you’re putting in.

Your body can only do so much if you sleep 4 to 6 hours a night, eat a poor diet, and only train the exercises and types of workouts that you like.

Whether your aim is to learn double unders or to make the podium at a competition, you need to be honest with yourself about your commitment to the cause.

crossfit goals

Going above and beyond the recreational level of training sometimes requires athletes to prioritize their training, nutrition, and recovery over other more “fun” parts of their life.

Are you willing to skip after-work cocktails so that you can get a full 8 hours of sleep and crush tomorrow’s chipper?

If the trade-off isn’t worth it to you, that’s okay, but it’s unreasonable to believe that results will come without compromising once in a while.

If you want to lift heavy and be proficient in advanced skills, you're going to have to work for it.

The Takeaway: If you expect to perform at your best, you have to put the work in.

Results don’t come only from training, you’ll have to dial in your recovery and diet too.

Think about what’s most important to you and find a balance of enjoying the things you love and doing what you need to see results.

Think about how long you’ve been going.

By the time you’re a “veteran” Crossfitter, you’ve probably witnessed the life cycle of a newbie quite a few times.

The confusion and discomfort that they feel in the first few weeks, the gradual build of confidence after the first few months, and the boom of “firsts” and PRs that happen within the first few years.

At the beginning everything flows regularly, but once you spend a few years in the game, PRs become more scarce and achieving new “firsts” are few and far between.

Unfortunately, most of us are ignorant to this reality until we make it to that point for ourselves.

a crossfit athlete

It’s completely unreasonable to believe that your numbers will continue to go up forever, and it is impossible to always make new gains at the same rate as a novice.

The hard increase in numbers begins to stagnate and although progress is still there, it shows up in forms that are a little more difficult to quantify. 

The Takeaway: The longer you’ve been training, the more difficult it can be to see progress in the ways you did as a beginner.

Instead of constantly trying to look for bigger numbers and better scores, focus on perfecting the form and technique of your exercises.

Besides, there are other ways of making an exercise more challenging which will stimulate gains.

Try using tempo training, varying your rep sets, or focusing on improving a specific skill set like your aerobic capacity or weightlifting.


If you want to feel successful as a CrossFit athlete, identifying your “why” and setting objectives are only part of the battle.

Whether your intention is to feel fit or you’re attempting to go professional, being conscientious about your evolution will help you to appreciate how far you’ve come and prepare you for what's ahead.

Find a training method that will get you there (Click here for more information about The Progrm courses) and work diligently.

Achieving your goals is all about celebrating your successes, but staying hungry.