Top 10 Training Tips for Your First CrossFit Competition

Top 10 Training Tips for Your First CrossFit Competition

CrossFit is a big part of fitness culture these days, and those who really get into the practice of CrossFit might be considering a competition. There are a number of competitions held throughout the country, including the famed CrossFit Games.


Preparing for any fitness competition can be nerve-wracking, and when you add the popularity of CrossFit with the preparation for a competition, you have a big job ahead of you, indeed.


Competition is a far cry from heading to your local CrossFit location to work on your WOD, but learning how to effectively prepare both your body and your mind for competition. Just like most sports, the competitions for CrossFit are difficult and intense, and it takes a lot of training and preparation. Remember, there are millions who also know the ropes of CrossFit, so you won’t necessarily stand out unless you are exceptional. When you add the sheer number of athletic skills a person needs to be competitive in CrossFit, however, you are dealing with something very different from the typical athletic competition.


CrossFit competition can include any number of workouts from swimming or deadlifts, and since there is such a wide range of possibilities in CrossFit competition, your training will take some thoughtful strategy.


If you think you are doing well with your house WODs, and you believe that you are ready for your first competition, you must start training as soon as you can. Here are the top 10 things you should know about training for your first CrossFit competition:

10. You Should Start By Looking at Your Strengths and Weaknesses


Examine your strengths and weaknesses prior to competition. Be self aware.
Examine your strengths and weaknesses prior to competition. Be self aware.

Training for a CrossFit competition should start approximately 12 to 16 weeks before the competition date, and the first thing you should do is take a good, honest look at where your strengths and weaknesses lie. Not all of us have the same strengths, and you will always find someone who is better at certain things than you are. The opposite, however, is also true, and you will be better at some things than the other competitors.


So, you must know what you are good at, and what you could use some improvement on. Training for a CrossFit competition is not only about learning the movements of a particular workout, it is also about learning about any mobility issues you might have as well was any weaknesses that we often have when we begin training. It can take months, or even a year or more of work to get your body to learn how to work as one, cohesive unit. When you take a look at your strength, skill and conditioning levels, and find out where you need work, you will be able to better focus your training on those areas…just make sure you don’t totally neglect your strengths, as they can weaken over time.


Measure your skills against others in your local CrossFit gym, and see where you stand compared to others. Also, take these strengths and weaknesses and apply them to the movements you are likely to see when in competition. These include box jumps, Olympic lifts, burpees, wall ball, and pull ups.


9. You Will Need to Add More Training Time Into Your Schedule


You'll need to increase your training
You’ll need to increase your training

Training for a CrossFit competition is time consuming, so if you don’t have enough time at this point in your life, you might want to put off the competition until you do have enough time. Remember, a CrossFit competition will require that you are good at everything, and it takes a lot of time to do this. Experts and past winners of CrossFit Games suggest training approximately 2 hours a day, but this can vary depending on how much time you have and how much work you have to do.


If you want to compete, the regular CrossFit classes are simply not enough. There are too many movements and unknown factors that occur during the competition that preparing for all of this will take more work than a simple class. So, what should you do? If you are really interested in a CrossFit competition, talk to the coaches and get suggestions on time and schedule. They are more familiar with competition than you are, and they also are aware of your strengths and weaknesses. For instance, if you are lacking in strength, they will give you an idea of how long it will take to improve and how much extra workout time you should add to your schedule.


Elite CrossFit athletes are extremely efficient in the movements they make, and they will always have a leg up on their recreational CrossFit competition. If you want to truly compete in a CrossFit competition, you must put in the time every day instead of being a weekend warrior.


8. You Will Have to Train With People Who are Better Than You


You'll need to train with a team that includes people better than you.
You’ll need to train with a team that includes people better than you.

Odds are, if you are considering training for your first CrossFit competition that you are fairly confident in your CrossFit abilities. But, guess what? You aren’t good enough, and there is always going to be someone who is better than you. What does this mean? It means that you should be training with someone who is better than you because it will push you to be as good as them. Make sense?


Though normal CrossFit classes are typically done in a group setting, you likely will not be challenged enough by the amateur CrossFitters, as there is no telling who will be there on any given day. If you are seriously training for competition, it is going to be no help to you if you are competing against retirees and housewives. So, take a look at your class and if you are constantly beating everyone else, you must start training with people who will be more of a challenge to you. Ideally, you will want to compete with those who are at the level that you will be competing with. It can be difficult to recreate the competition intensity that you will see when you compete on your own. Additionally, the more you work out with people who are better than you, the better you will get. Keep in mind, if you can keep up with these people, you should be OK when it comes to competition.


7. You Will Have to Train Your Mind As Well As Your Body


It's just as important to be mentally strong
It’s just as important to be mentally strong

Serious CrossFit athletes know that it is just as important to train your mind in addition to your body. These competitions are stressful, and they are much more challenging than the WOD you will do at your home box.  In fact, there is evidence that the designers of the competition level WODs build them in such a way that many people will be unable to compete. In other words, this will separate the best from the rest.


One a normal day, at your local CrossFit location, you might just have an hour WOD that includes everything from your warm-up and skill work to your MetCon and cool down. In competition, however, since they are longer and more difficult, you might be doing three WODs a day, over the length of two days, and your mind must be ready for this.


There are a number of things you can do to train your mind for competition. First, understand that you are more likely to believe things that you tell yourself, so saying things such as “The bar is light” before you lift it will help you become less intimidated. Along the same lines, you also want to tell yourself positive things, such as “you are ready,” “you can do this,” or “you are a winner.” You should smile, too, because smiling creates positivity, and you definitely want to have a positive attitude when you go into your first CrossFit competition.


6. You Should Start to Taper Your Training Before the Competition


When you're close to the competition date, you'll need to taper and work on technique
When you’re close to the competition date, you’ll need to taper and work on technique

As you get close to the date of your first CrossFit competition, you should know that you will have to taper your training to be prepared. Since your first competition will likely only be a day, you don’t have to have an extreme tapering. Instead, you should slowly start lowering the intensity and the load of your workout. Tapering is an important part of any athletic competition as it helps your nervous system adapts and recover right before competition. When you begin working out again, as in your competition, your nervous system will run at full capacity.


Tapering gives you the opportunity to lower your weight, decrease your reps and put more focus on your technique. If you are training for strength, for instance, you should cut your load and start doing empty bar work. This helps you to save your body’s strength, helps you to recover, but allows you to maintain your skills.


If you are someone who is new to competition, you likely go to the gym 5 to 6 times a week, and do 3 to 4 days of strength training. During your tapering time, you should go to the gym 3 to 4 times a week with the same strength, yet a lower intensity. Most people taper for anywhere from 5 days to about three weeks, depending on the duration of the competition. If you are unsure about how long or when to start tapering, talk to people who have gone through competition or to the coaches at your local box.


5. You Should Know the Importance of Nutrition


proper nutrition.
Eating right is huge when it comes to being at your best on competition day!

As you train for your first CrossFit competition, you know the importance of training your body and your mind as well as tapering your workout, but you should also understand that nutrition is also an important factor.


Most people are fairly serious about their diet when they get into the CrossFit game, but there are just as many of these serious people who give themselves a free pass to cheat on the weekends, or one day during the week. Though this is perfectly fine in most cases, when it comes to competition, cheating when it comes to competition is a no-no.


You may have heard that you are what you eat, which is true, but there are other worries that come into play when you fail to keep up your competition standards. Let’s say you eat something you shouldn’t on Friday night, such as cheesy, pepperoni pizza. Did you have a couple of beers, too? Let’s say you did. Now it’s Saturday, and you head to the box to train. You probably don’t get a great workout, right?


In most cases, this is no big deal, but when you are training for competition, this could have some severe ramifications, and your results will reflect this. Instead, in the week or two before your first competition, cut the bad foods out, and keep the good foods in. Stick to lean meat, nuts, veggies, seeds and a little fruit and starch. Keep the fats, sugar and alcohol out of your diet.


4. You Should Make Sure You Are Getting Enough Sleep


man sleeping
Get more sleep. Your body will need it.

If you are not getting enough sleep, you can seriously hinder your performance in the gym, and competing in CrossFit is no exception. Too little sleep will leave you unfocused in your workout, and will make your workout much more tough than it needs to. In addition, if you are not getting enough sleep your body will not repair and recover as it should, which can lead to the feeling as if you have over trained. Lack of sleep can also bring about depression, weight gain, memory loss and a lower immune system…and the last thing you want during competition is to feel sick.


So, how much sleep do you really need?  Well, that depends. You should start by getting a solid 6 to 8 hours of sleep. Do this for couple of days and see how you feel. If you are waking up before your alarm clock and requiring no caffeine to wake up, you are probably getting a good amount. However, if you are struggling to wake up each morning, you should increase your sleep time in 15 minute increments until you discover where your sleep threshold lies. Some adults can get by with as little as 5 to 6 hours of sleep, but others require 9 to 10 hours of sleep.


Since your sleeping patterns will have a direct influence on your performance during your first CrossFit competition, you should make sure that you are getting enough.


3. You Should Start Holding Yourself to Competition Standards


notepad with words higher standards.
Raise your game in order to compete at a higher level.

After you get back from your first CrossFit competition, you will notice a few things. One of these is that there are certain standards that are adopted by those who compete. As you get to know these standards, you will likely want to add them to your training for the next competition, so why not before?


There are a number of standards that judges look for in a CrossFit competition, and you can usually read about these standards before you go to the competition. There is typically a listing of what the judges will be looking for at the competition, too, and if not, talk to people who have gone through the competition previously.


Some of the standards that you will find in a CrossFit competition is a big focus on locking out the elbows when doing pullups, hitting a full depth on your squats, fully hitting the target with wallballs, and extending the hips when doing box jumps. The best way to do this is to partner up with someone who is aware of these competition standards, and someone who will be honest with you if you don’t quite hit these standards. If you can hold yourself to these standards during your training, there is no reason you cannot keep to these standards when it comes to competition time.


2. You Should Know Where You Stand Before Going to the Competition


You need to evaluate your progress prior to competition to know where you stand.
You need to evaluate your progress prior to competition to know where you stand.

Weddings have dress rehearsals before the ceremony, businesses have dry runs before introducing new equipment and drug companies have trials before releasing medications to the public. These practices help people to prepare, but also gives them an idea of where they stand before a big event, release or launch. Doesn’t it make sense that you should do this with your first CrossFit competition? It does.


Doing a run through of a typical CrossFit competition can tell you a lot about your level of fitness and if you are ready to go as the date creeps up. Experts say you should do a trial run of a CrossFit competition at the start of your training, in the middle of your training, and in the end of your training, right before the competition.


The first run through will give you an idea of where you stand when it comes to your fitness level, abilities and strengths, as well as where your weaknesses lie. The second run through, which should be able half way through the training period. This should show you how far you have come and where you need to go with your training. Finally, the last run through should be done in the days leading up to the competition. This should give you a good idea of how you should perform on competition day.


1. You Won’t Be Perfect, But That’s OK


Don't let perfect be the enemy of good. Train hard, perform well and have fun. Rinse and repeat!
Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good. Train hard, perform well and have fun. Rinse and repeat!

We all have to learn how to crawl before we walk, and that’s what you are essentially doing with your first CrossFit competition. You will make mistakes, you will likely feel intimidated, and the odds that you will come out on top are slim to none. However, all of this is OK. It’s your first time, and it’s fine to make mistakes. You will make mistakes in your training regimen that you will correct the second time around, and you will make mistakes in competition that will lower your score. Again, this is OK because you will learn from these mistakes, and in your second CrossFit competition, will do even better.


You will see how the judging works during your first competition, and you will see how they score. Though you might go through a judging process before the first competition, it won’t be anything like the judging that will go on when you are there. Remember, the judges are always right, and you shouldn’t argue, as it will get you nowhere. Instead, again, see this as a learning experience and take the judges suggestions to heart. Incorporate them in your training for the next competition and move on. Tom Brady didn’t win a Super Bowl ring in his first season, and you won’t win first place in your first CrossFit competition.




Preparing for your first CrossFit competition should be fun. It should be something you do for yourself and a way to see how far you have come since you first entered the box. Nerves are common, and you should expect a nervous excitement as you enter into your first contest.


You have put in the hours of training, you have a desire to succeed, and at a basic level, your only real competition here is yourself. It’s going to be hard, and there are going to be times when you probably want to give up. You will get a T-shirt, that will make you feel better about it. Your limits will be tested, and you will be challenged no matter how hard you trained. This is CrossFit, and if it were easy, everyone would be doing it.


Take these tips as you consider the training for your first competition, but don’t take yourself too seriously. Your first CrossFit competition is an excellent time to get to know what your body can take, and you will certainly find that there are milestones that you will meet. Perhaps you will get a PR on your lift, or you will get high marks from the judges on your techniques. These are all things that you should celebrate. Of course, you should also feel proud that you are doing something that only about 10 percent of the population can do. Keep a positive attitude, learn from the experience of your first CrossFit competition, and go into the next one as the warrior you are.