20 Ways to Improve Your WOD Times
There's no "big secret" when it comes to improving your WOD times. You will improve when you consistently show up and do what's asked of you. But there are plenty of small changes you can make along the way to help out. Here are 20 of them:
1. Quit cherry-picking
There aren't many people who enjoy burpees, but they're in the program for a reason. When you constantly avoid movements you don't like, you won't benefit from them. Show up when you say you're going to show up, and get on with it. Unless you're injured, or need to scale for other reasons (e.g. limited range of motion), you shouldn't be swapping out movements.
2. Warm up properly
We all have those days where nothing goes to plan, and we arrive at the box just as the warm-up is finishing. But if this happens to you at the start of every session, you're holding yourself back.
The warm-up is an important part of the class. Not only does it help prevent injury, but it prepares your body for the WOD to follow. When you miss it, you miss out on the mobility work that will improve the score you're putting on the whiteboard.
3. Stop focusing on the whiteboard
Whilst we're talking about the whiteboard - stop focusing on it so much! Although you're training in a competitive environment, it doesn't matter what everyone else is doing - as long as you're giving it your all.
When you focus on the whiteboard, you're paying more attention to other people than your own self-improvement. Strive to be a better version of yourself, and the results will follow.
4. Listen to your body
Your body knows when to push harder, and when to take your foot off the gas. Learn how to zone in to what your body is telling you, and listen to it!
Rest when you need to, and push harder when you can. Learning how to listen to your body is as much mental as it is physical. Your mind will tell you to give up way before your body does. Learn how to tell the difference.
5. Ditch the comfort zone
Your comfort zone is boring. It's safe. It's choosing to never fail a lift, going for comfort over progress. It's about holding yourself back, because you care too much what other people would think if it all goes wrong.
Recognise when fear is getting in the way - and tackle it head on. Challenge yourself to regularly step out of your comfort zone - whether that's going for a new PB, entering a competition, or trying a new skill - who knows what you might be capable of, if you give yourself the chance?
6. Stop restricting carbs
We can't believe we're still having to tell you this: carbs are not the enemy.
If you're training intensely, your body needs the appropriate level of carbs to recover. When it comes to diet, you have a choice. You can eat to improve your performance, or you can deprive yourself in the hope you'll drop fat and find abs. The choice is entirely yours - but, if you decide to keep cutting carbs, don't expect to smash every WOD.
7. Listen to your coach
Your coach has committed hours/days/weeks/months of their life to helping you get the most from training. Why would you ignore their advice?
Everyone thinks they're an expert - and perhaps what you've read online is different to what your coach is telling you. But you're paying for their time, so respect it.
When you find advice online, it's always going to be generic. Your coach has probably taken the time to understand you and your body. They want you to succeed. When your coach offers you advice, and you don't take it, you're missing a huge opportunity to learn from them.
8. Learn when to scale, and when to RX
When we first start training, going RX can quickly become an obsession. You watched the regulars in awe as they smashed workouts RX, and couldn't wait to join them.
But RX isn't everything.
In fact, sometimes you're missing out when you don't scale. When your coach programs a workout, they usually have a specific intensity in mind. Some workouts are designed to be heavy, putting your strength and technique to the test. Others are designed to be short, fast and intense.
If you're unsure how the WOD has been designed, ask. This will help you decide when to scale and RX, and get the most from every workout.
9. Train your grip strength
You will use your hands in pretty much every WOD you take on inside the box. Over time, you'll naturally develop your grip strength through training - but results can be slow.
If you want to improve your WOD times, dedicate some time to developing your grip strength each time you're in the box. It doesn't have to take long - but can make all the difference. A stronger grip will improve your endurance when performing high-rep, grip-heavy movements, such as pull-ups or kettlebell swings.
10. Quit your negative self-talk
How often do you talk yourself out of something in the box? Negative self-talk can catch you out at any point, whether it's a PB when you're lifting, or an extra round in the WOD.
Become conscious of the way you talk to yourself when you're training. The first step to overcome your negative-self talk is to become aware of it - then you can start to replace the thoughts with something more constructive.
11. Work on your technique
We've said it before, but we'll keep saying it until in sinks in: technique is everything. When you're doing a WOD, it's important to use the correct form to reduce the risk of injury.
But there's more than that. When you perform movements with the correct technique, you perform them more efficiently - which means faster WOD times.
12. Track your workouts
If you don't track your workouts, how will you know if you've improved? Whenever you repeat a workout, you should be able to reference how you did last time, and aim for a better score.
As well as keeping a log of your workouts, and your scores, include some notes about how you felt - and how you could improve next time. This will help you get more from the WOD next time.
13. Eat more food, not less
Restrictive diets don't work - even if you're trying to lose weight. When you deprive your body of the nutrients it needs, you won't fuel yourself appropriately to train.
Most WODs are pretty intense - and you need lots of energy to get through them. Focus on eating food that makes you feel good - and don't hold back. Eat when you're hungry, and stop when you're full. It sounds simple, but nutrition doesn't need to be complicated.
14. Manage your stress levels
Life is stressful - and everyone has to deal with stress in one form or another. Not all stress can be avoided - and sometimes it's even good for us.
Training, for many of us, is an awesome way to release stress at the end of a long day. But sometimes, too much stress can be detrimental to training.
Be mindful of your stress levels, and actively try to manage it. Eliminate any unnecessary stress, and watch your results in the gym accelerate.
15. Take injury seriously
Do you regularly train through niggles? Keep going when something doesn't feel right? Rip your hands?
It's easy to keep pushing when something doesn't feel right, but this is always a risk. Sometimes niggles sort themselves out, and sometimes they turn into big injuries that will put you out of action for months.
Take your body seriously. If something feels off, get it checked out - and adapt the workouts if you need to. It's much easier to train round a niggle before it turns into a serious injury, than it is to recover from something major. Be smart about it, and get professional advice whenever you're unsure (in person - not online!).
16. Upgrade your footwear
The right shoes can make a massive difference to your results. We won't bore you with the science, but a lot of work goes into creating footwear for the different demands we place upon our feet during a WOD!
We know this can get pretty expensive - so start with the type of workout you have the most difficulty with, and upgrade your footwear for that specific purpose.
If you dread olympic lifting WODs, upgrade your lifting shoes. If your agility sucks, get a responsive shoe designed for fast-paced workouts. If you always get knee pain when you're out on a run, sort out your running shoes.
17. Build your core
Pretty much every workout you will ever do relies on your core strength in one way or another. Yet, this still seems to be a neglected part of the routine for many.
If you want to build your core strength, chucking in a few sit-ups isn't going to cut it. In fact, this is one of the least effective core movements. Focus on variety, to build all the muscles in your core - not just the upper abdominals.
You don't need to do this every day. A few times per week for 10-15 minutes should be enough, given you're already working your core when you perform compound movements in the box (e.g. squats and deadlifts).
18. Stay consistent
Nothing makes up for a lack of consistency. Train regularly, and find a routine that works for you - and you can maintain long-term. Training every day for a month, and burning yourself out, isn't going to get lasting results.
When thinking about consistency, it's important to remember that ups and downs are part of the journey. Some months, life will take over and you won't make it to the box as often as you'd like. This is normal - so don't let it get to your head. Make it when you can, and train when you say you're going to train.
19. Follow the program
If you're the kind of person that jumps from one program to the next, you're holding yourself back. Stop looking for the quick fix - and embrace your current program with everything you've got.
Unless you know what you're doing, your best option is usually to stick to your coach's programming. Trust the process, and the results will follow.
Remember, just because a program might seem random, this isn't usually the case. A lot of thought and planning goes into a successful program - so you can just rock up and get on with it.
20. Have fun
Why do you train? Is there much point if you're not enjoying it? When you're training in a competitive environment, it's easy to put yourself under an enormous amount of pressure.
Don't take it too seriously. Training is supposed to be enjoyable - so try to have fun while you're doing it! What's the worst that can happen?