“There is more opportunity to improve your fitness, to improve the likelihood of you surviving combat and completing your mission in pursuing headlong that thing you don’t want to see come out of the hopper than you will find benefit in pursuing further that thing for which you feel you are most capable.” – Greg Glassman
Greg Glassman is the founder of CrossFit and almost everything he says is quotable. This specific quote says we can improve our fitness by improving our weaknesses (i.e. tasks you aren’t good at (i.e. tasks you don’t like to do because you aren’t good at them)).
“Surviving combat and completing your mission” sounds like he is speaking about the military but you can replace that with just about anything.
I would like to breakdown and analyze this quote and provide some of my input on why improving our weaknesses is so important and why our desire to head in to the box on any given day should be inversely correlated with our ability to complete the tasks of the WOD that day.
See below for a graphical representation of that statement.
If you haven’t attended the Level 1 Seminar or if you aren’t familiar with the CrossFit methodology there are a few CrossFit fitness models that I think would be beneficial for you to understand.
I will do my best to explain them quickly and efficiently.
The Hopper Model
The hopper fitness model is quite simple. Take an infinite amount of tasks and throw them in a hopper (think bingo). These tasks can be anything.
- 1RM deadlift
- baseball throw
- 100m sprint
- basket weaving
That hopper is spun around and tasks are pulled out at random. The fittest person is the person that performs best overall at the tasks pulled out of the hopper. (The 2007 CrossFit games workouts were actually chosen this way)
Finishing 5th place out of 20 in all of the events would yield a better final result than someone who finishes one event at the top and the rest towards the bottom.
In CrossFit we specialize in not specializing.
Our preference is to be well rounded and good at everything but not great at any one thing.
Now how does this relate to the quote above? Well, your weakness is that workout or task that you absolutely do not want to come out of the hopper. The one that would make you cry a little inside if it were to come out.
That is what you need to work on the most.
Task Accomplishment and Work Capacity (Completing Your Mission)
CrossFit’s aim is
“to increase work capacity across broad time and modal (and age) domains”
Work capacity is everything.
Decrease your Fran time and you have increased your work capacity. Get 10 more reps in Fight Gone Bad and you have increased your work capacity. Hit a new 1 rep max and you have increased your work capacity.
You would never take an increase in any of the 10 general physical skills:
- Cardiovascular/Respiratory Endurance
in trade for a decrease in work capacity.
Task accomplishment is one of the methods we use to measure this increase in work capacity.
Your weaknesses offer you’re the greatest opportunity to increase your work capacity.
Increasing your work capacity in one of your weaknesses is essentially broadening your fitness which is exactly what CrossFit aims to do.
What Greg Glassman is trying to get at with this quote is simple.
Work on your weaknesses.
You will receive far more benefit to your overall fitness by working on your weaknesses than you will by further improving one of your strengths.
It is easy to hate that which you are not capable of performing. It’s also easy to hate that which is difficult.
This is why so many people hate running, burpees, thrusters, wall balls, etc. If you hate it, most likely it is one of your weaknesses. There are exceptions but this is generally a true statement. That means when something comes up that you “hate” or can’t perform, you need to make an even greater effort to make it to class and improve upon that weakness.
One of the greatest senses of accomplishment lies in improving your weakness and turning it into a strength.
This takes time and effort though, which means showing up when you don’t want to, but I can promise you will not be alone. Many of us have the same weaknesses and working on these weaknesses together will allow you to push further and faster than you would by going at it alone. Your weakness might be someone else’s strength and vice versa. You can share tips with each other on what helped you improve in the specific movement or maybe you can learn something from someone with the same weakness that is a few steps ahead of you.
None of this can happen if you don’t show up though.
Life happens and there are days where making it to class is not easy. We miss a huge opportunity to improve our fitness, when “life” coincidentally happens on days when running, burpees or ring handstand push ups are programmed.
Remember these key items:
- Everything can be scaled
- Everyone starts somewhere
- Whether you believe it or not, someone is looking up to you…you are someone’s inspiration.
Now go out there and improve those weaknesses!