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I’m gonna go on record saying I’ve never been stronger in my entire life. At one point in 2014, I thought I was at my peak (which by the way, isn’t impressive) but today I’m 100% sure I’m stronger than ever — and feeling awesome about it. Also, if I keep it up, this is not my peak either.
It’s like, I go to bench press or squat and all of the sudden those old weights feel easy. Now, don’t get too excited, because I still am on the low end for someone that does this as much as I do but…it feels amazing to see and feel real, true strength gains.
I spent over 3 years prior to this doing CrossFit, so what changed? I’ve now PR’d my back squat, clean, bench press and more than that, I just regularly choose higher weights for standard workouts. I’m better at double unders, can now do A REAL PULL-UP, and fly through kipping pull ups with real strength (like I did 12 good ones in a row the other day in round 1 of a workout and could have done more.) Pull up video:
This is a video of me on the day I accomplished my very first strict pull-up. I have been attempting to get strict pull-ups since I started doing CrossFit in 2011. It was something I thought might never happen. Since I started going to my new gym this year, I’ve had a renewed spirit and have been practicing and working to attain this goal for probably now almost 5 months. That means every week, I spend 2-3 days focused on arm work, practing pull ups with a strap and doing negative pull ups down from the bar. I knew one day I would walk in and it would just happen. That day was today! It took a lot of work but proves to me the power of consistency and believing in yourself! Strict pull ups are easy for some but it has been a lifelong goal of mine to get them — and today, I did! Thanks @3kingsnoblesville for helping me each my goal! #crossfit #goals #fitfluential #pullup
Yesterday, when I went to do accessory work on the bench press after a WOD, and my third day in a row at the gym, I thought I’d barely be able to lift. But I surprised myself that my arms held out for a higher weight than they could have in the past. It kind of feels like someone is helping me but..it’s not someone, it’s me. It’s me helping me. Making these strength gains a bit comparable to crossing the finish line at a marathon I actually trained for.
Perhaps you have struggled with frustration in making strength gains. Here ‘s what made the difference for me:
- Adequate preparation. We spent a good 15 minutes doing mobility and stretching out appropriately before we do a workout at my gym. I hate it sometimes because I just want to get moving but preparing my body for the moves makes all the difference. I can’t just do a pull up cold. I have to warm my body up appropriately and doing plenty of squat mobility before I add the weight I want to get to.
- Appropriate programming. The coaches at my gym plan the workouts, seemingly down to a science. I may not understand but I see there’s strategy behind it — and I trust it. You should do things in a certain order at a certain weight for a reason.
- Accessory work. Most days, after the workout, there is recommended accessory work to strengthen muscles — something like negative pull-ups, incline bench press, lat pull downs, hollow holds, dips, etc. That’s the kind of stuff that really builds all the muscles to increase gains.
- Consistency. I’ve focused much more on upper body and don’t let a week go by without at least 2 good focused, arm workouts — but usually more. At times I’ve wanted to skip, I remind myself nothing will change if I keep being inconsistent. Having been consistent now for months and months, it’s worked.
- Less Cardio. As time has gone on, I just value strength training more than cardio. I’d rather spend 20 minutes strength training than running. Ideally, you are doing both but more of my time is spent on the strength than straight cardio.
- Eating/Drinking. I haven’t changed my diet that much but I have incorporated a lot more protein, always have protein ready right after a workout and trying not to eat “filler” snacks like chips and instead sub something with actual nutritional value. I also cut my alcohol consumption by a LOT — and I think this contributes to feeling better all around and also I eat less junk at night. There have been times when I was actually worried I would lose too much weight and look too skinny (I know, insane) so I’ve actually had to remind myself sometimes that it’s okay to eat more — and that I should eat more healthy food. I don’t know how much I weigh, btw, but am curious because I think I’ve lessened the fat and upped the muscle so it might have evened out.
Those are the main things that stand out to me on strength gains. Otherwise, with the pull ups, I was just determined and focused — and eventually I got there. Watching other women at my gym lift heavy weights (women that don’t look much different than me) also gives me the hope and confidence that I’m not too far off. Of course, I must be safe and listen to my body. Thank God I have been having no back issues lately. I’m not sure why but perhaps a stronger core, learning better form, practicing wisdom in taking days off, etc. I pray my body will continue to reward what I’m putting into it.
I hope this is an encouragement to anyone who has felt the frustration of “no progress” for years. I thought I may never get any stronger, but things have changed. I AM stronger — it just took new tactics and practices to make it happen. Looking forward to seeing how far I can go with all of this & other new tools I’m looking into!
Do you relate to my story? Have you made any unexpected strength gains? I love to hear from fellow “average” CrossFitters like myself 🙂