Taming Goats – Why We Program “Suck Days”

At this point, you all know the CrossFit mantra: “_constantly varied, functional movements performed at high intensity_”. And then there’s the CrossFit mission statement, that maybe you’re not as familiar with: “_increase work capacity over broad time and modal domains_”. From these guidelines, we can say that CrossFit training is used to accomplish several things:

1) To move more functionally. We deadlift so we can pick something heavy up off the ground. We squat to full depth to make sure our hips can achieve their designed range of motion (and so we can sit down and stand up for many years to come)

2) To increase our work capacity. We perform metabolic conditioning workouts to push our cardio-respiratory system. We train the central nervous system by performing 1-rep max lifts. We get stronger and fitter by pushing our physiological systems.

3) To get better over “broad time and modal domains” – huh? This means we’re trying to increase our capacity not only in what we’re used to (as in, decreasing our mile time by running every day), but by learning and mastering new skills, gaining new strength, finding new range of motion.

The only way to tackle this last point is to work on things we suck at. Hence, the “goats” of our training careers. Imagine we came into the gym every day and worked on three things: rowing, back squats, and push-ups. Every day we would perform those three movements. We would vary the time domains, the prescribed intensity. We would alternate between task-oriented work (ie-3 rounds for time) and time-oriented work (ie – 10 minute AMRAP). In a month, we would be awesome – at rowing, back squats, and push-ups. But where would we be with everything else, like deadlifts, wall ball tosses, double-unders? Definitely no further than we were a month ago – and in many cases we’d be even worse. Now apply that same theory to the things you love to do vs. the things you hate to do. If you only work on the things you’re already good at and like to do, you’re not becoming a better all-around athlete – you’re becoming a better one-trick pony. You should know by now that that is not the intent of our training (and if you don’t know it, read those two statements at the beginning until you say them in your sleep).

If we want to get better at everything, we need to spend some time and effort on the things we’re not yet great at. It’s the only way to truly improve as athletes, as a human beings. A great quote from CrossFit founder Greg Glassman goes like this: “_We fail at the margins of our experience_”. So expand those margins by working on the things you suck at – your “goats” – and strive for excellence in all that you do.

Think about the movements or exercises we do in class that you don’t like or aren’t really good at. Pick your two worst, your two least favorites. And come to class ready to conquer them!****

Karen Southwick