Why is it that the best athletes all train together?
Simple: A competitive training environment brings out the best in athletes.
All natural life is based on the principle “survival of the fittest”, and in CrossFit there’s no exception.
If you want to be the fittest you have to know exactly what you’re up against and so, if you want to be on top it’s in your best interest to surround yourself with like-minded athletes.
Even if you train recreationally, the Darwinian idea holds true.
Working out in pairs or groups helps you to train at your highest capacity. Here are some reasons why:
Misery Loves Company
We all have those days where working out is a struggle.
You don’t feel like going to train and even if you manage to talk yourself into going, you feel extremely out of it.
You’re keeping us in smooth, you keep tripping up your double-unders, and even the empty barbell feels heavy.
The beauty of regularly training with a partner or in small group is that even when you do have those “off” days, you’re in the company of friends.
Odds are that at least one of you will be able to lift the spirits of everyone else, and if not, at least you can complain about it together.
Burden is always better when shared.
Integrity & Accountability
Let’s face it, even the most hardcore CrossFitters like to be a little comfortable sometimes. Although it’s human nature to cut corners sometimes, it’s also a terrible habit to get into.
When you’re training alone, it can be all too easy to let a few “no-reps” slide or to skip the training blocks that you don’t feel like doing.
These behaviors put us on a slippery slope to sloppy training and stalled progress.
On the other hand, training with others encourages you to hold yourself to a higher standard.
It helps to give more strength to the little voice in your head that tells you not to skip your skills and accessories, to scale up or scale down as necessary, and to be honest with yourself about the effort you’re putting in.
Get a Second Opinion
Not sure how to scale an exercise, or if you’re moving correctly?
Need someone to remind you of the points of performance, or what you have next in the training session? That’s where your partner comes in.
At best, a training partner can double as a coach and at worst, they can at least give you a second opinion.
Having an extra pair of eyes to help you clean up your technique never hurts.
Besides, you also learn a lot by picking up on how your training partners move, or execute WODs
Sharing is Caring
It might seem trivial, but having a training partner or training group elevates the feeling of the session.
CrossFit is all about community, but when you’re grinding your way through workouts alone every day, it’s easy to lose sight of that.
There are simple things that help us to commute to the unique, collective feeling of our sport, like having someone to cheer you on during the WOD or someone to fist bump when all is said and done.
Feeling extra pumped to find a 1 RM or having someone to spot you are just some ways training together improves the experience.
Not to mention, many hands make light work: set up and clean up go a lot faster, meaning that you and your squad can spend more time on more important things like arguing over whose playlist to use.
The Drive Factor
Perhaps one of the more known advantages of training in a group is the drive factor: the extra effort you give that can only be unlocked when you know that you’re being watched or sized up by someone else.
The drive is instinctual.
No one ever wants to be the weakest in the pack, and so you make yourself perform better to avoid it at every cost.
Be aware that self-imposed pressure can be a dangerous plaything.
On one hand it can bring out your strongest performance, on the other it can lead you into a shame spiral of constantly comparing your weaknesses with the highlight reel of your peers.
Having a healthy perspective on this is very important in our sport. Remember that competitive drive should only be used to bring out your best and not make you focus on who is better than who.
At the end of the day, the only person you’re truly competing with is yourself.
Keeper of the Pace
Training in a group can be an extremely practical way to keep you on your game and develop a competitive mindset.
When you always train with the same people, you become aware of their strengths and weaknesses as well as your own.
Having that consistent point of reference, lets you understand your own pace and how it relates to that of your training partners.
From there, you can use others to pace off of, especially in the exercises or types of WODs where you’re weakest.
For example, knowing who you need to keep up with in the run or barbell cycling portion of the WOD will help you to maintain a steady pace that’s relative to your teammates’ who are stronger in those domains.
Though it might be dangerous trying to hold the same pace as other athletes, you can still use them as reference to how far ahead or behind them, you need to be.
You can also use this knowledge to your advantage by knowing when you can overtake them or when to hold on for dear life.
After a while, you know more or less how you’ll stack up against your training partners in a WOD long before “3,2,1. GO!”
Training in groups brings out the best in an athlete.
While it may not be possible to train with other people all the time (click here to read about how to make training alone more manageable), you should definitely make an extra effort any way you can.
Do a class, sign up for an online league, or get involved with a great online community centered around a training program.
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