I was approached by an athlete the other day who was inquiring about realistic goals as a Masters athlete. She was frustrated by recent plateau in performance, even a slight decline. Was this just a losing battle she was fighting? Would her performance continue to decline with age? I’m not sure there is an exact answer, but I’ve got a couple points I’d like to make that may help shed some light for our other master athletes as well as those in their 30’s and 40’s.
It is absolutely possible to see athletic performance improvements as we age, we see it on a daily basis. Performance plateaus are normal for athletes no matter their age. There are so many factors that come into play for CrossFit athletes as they get 2+ years into their CrossFit journey. Nutrition, sleep, stress, hydration, recovery, technique, and consistency all play a factor into performance. Some of these things are easier to control or adjust and can quickly produce results. Others, like technique or mobility, may take much longer to improve.
Another major factor to consider is that progress should be measured across all of our CrossFit Benchmark workouts. It’s not fair to gauge progress just based on your 1-rep max numbers. Remember, the goal for 99% of CrossFit athletes is an improvement in GPP (general physical preparedness). We are not specialists. We want to be strong….but not at the expense of our endurance or body weight movements. If your goal as an athlete is to PR all your weight lifting movements, you will need to devote consistent weightlifting time every week. Don’t be surprised if this comes at the expense of a lower ‘Cindy’ score.
If you are frustrated by slow changes in weight lifting numbers, take a look at how you have performed in the past year in the named or benchmark WODs that we do. We are willing to bet they have all improved. Realize that at some point the daily PRs you saw as a CrossFit newbie will slow…but when you take a broad look at your progress, hopefully you will see improvements. Are your times faster, is your squat deeper, your chest more upright in the bottom? Are you increasing your capacity to perform new or unassisted body weight and gymnastics movements? Is your overhead position improving or are you in better position during your snatch pull? There are so many variables to look at when assessing athletic progress. Don’t forget to take in account your health markers! Since starting CrossFit, how has your blood pressure been? Is your bone density or your cholesterol improving? Have you seen a decrease in body fat, or an increase in lean muscle mass? All these measures can also indicate the overall effect CrossFit is having on your fitness.
Obviously, my athletic capacity at 76 will not match my capacity now at 36….but I plan to continue to train using CrossFit’s methodology of constantly varied functional movements at high intensity. This way, at 76, even though I probably won’t deadlift 275lbs… I will be living a fun and healthy INDEPENDENT life, getting up and down from the floor unassisted, and running around with my grandkids!
Please don’t ever hesitate to talk with any one of your coaches here at 203 about any plateaus or goals you have in the coming year. Stay tuned for some specific individual goal setting meetings with us this January!