As the saying goes: jack of all trades, master of none. This phrase is applied to individuals that attempt to excel in several fields and instead end up being just mediocre in them all. Occasionally, this is a criticism levied at CrossFit but I don’t get the impression that CrossFit is marketed at making you an expert in every venture you try. Rather it is an excellent GPP (general physical preparedness) program that can expose you to a variety of disciplines that may catch your interest. This is why we have opened up the Intrepid WLC as well as Powerlifting so you can have the training and support in these specializations.

These are not easy fields to master, so if you try them you need to be patient and realize you will not likely qualify for the national team in three months! That’s why one of the guidelines that Ruth posted was to at least dedicate 2-3 months to your journey. CrossFit is a new shiny toy almost every day in the form of a new WOD and that feeds some peoples’ fitness ADD (attention deficit disorder). When you are attempting to specialize, you will need to practice the same lifts — OFTEN — to improve both your form and strength. The best athletes realize that sacrifices must be made to obtain their results. You will likely have to fight the impulse of chasing the daily shiny toy (metcon) you see others doing. I was inspired to write this post after reading an article Mike Robertson wrote on his site, specifically this portion:

2. Stick with Said Training Program For an Extended Period of Time.

The other issue we see with newer lifters is their inherent ADD.

Little Johnny is serious about powerlifting.  He’s following a basic routine, and making steady gains in all of his lifts.  This is awesome, right?

But wait! It’s the new year – he’s got 1 pound of extra fat on him, and he’s really dying to see his abz again.

So what does he do?

Time to jump programs!

I see it all the time. One month people want to get strong.  The next, they want to put on size. The month after that, they want to lean out.

If you can’t pick a training program and stick to it, it’s no wonder you aren’t getting the results that you’d expect.

So much like is mentioned above, it’s very important to make sure your goals are aligned with what you are truly working towards. If you want to Olympic lift, you will likely never see the bench press and will probably not deadlift often. Likewise, if you’re powerlifting, don’t expect to overhead squat or do Filthy Fifty. These are contrary, or at the very least conflicting, with the goals of those disciplines. Mike Robertson also spoke about setting realistic expectations and avoiding conflicting goals.

“The goal is to keep the goal the goal.” – Dan John

Unfortunately, these people are destined for mediocrity.  The body isn’t built to adapt to all things at once.  You need to focus on one goal, achieve it, and then working on maintaining those gains while shifting the emphasis of your program.

Remember this: If you are serious about one goal, you need to stick to that one goal.  Anything else is gravy.

Sometimes, two goals work well together – in other words if you’re serious about getting stronger, adding a little size never hurts. Dave Tate has talked about this numerous times, how adding body weight and improving his leverage improved his powerlifting total.  These goals do not conflict with each other.

If you want to improve your relative strength, you might be able to get a bit stronger, or at least maintain your strength, while shedding some bodyfat.

But don’t sabotage your goals by having way too many of them, all of which are going in different directions. The perfect example is the 150 pound kid who wants to put on some muscle and size, but doesn’t want to lose his 6-pack abz.

Keep in mind, this same concept of conflicting goals can be applied to someone trying to lose weight. Don’t expect to get a 6-pack from showing up to 2 CrossFit classes a week. As I’ve said before, diet is going to be your biggest catalyst for change. Accordingly, if your goal is to drop bodyfat but you also have a goal of finishing a case of beer every weekend, you should expect to be disappointed. (Remember what I said about sacrifice?) Keep your eye on the prize and we trainers will do our best to help you get there!

WOD 1.20.11

Make Up Day

10 Responses to “Jack of All Trades”

January 20, 2011 at 8:27 AM

My Goal: Kick Marcus’s butt for telling me I can’t get a 6-Pack and drink a case of beer every weekend. What WOD should I do for that!!

Question….why did you put Holley’s picture on a post titled…. “People Can’t Master Shit”. That’s just rude!! She and Nick certainly mastered the Paleo BBQ!

Maybe you’re trying to knock her down since she’s on cloud 9 with her Packers marching to the Super Bowl while the rest of us cry about what could have been. Why Tom Brady? WHY?!?!

All kidding aside, nice post Marcus.

January 20, 2011 at 9:14 AM

I really like this post. In the past year I have changed up my goals to frequently. At first it was to be lean and mean and rule the metcon world, then it was lets get 70′s Big and make a 300 back squat work set feel like nothing and now its Oly training. Now Im thinking my goal is try everything and then after I will stick with something. Im glad CFI has a lot to offer for my ADD. We need to offer a running, swimming, and basketball club. Ill try those too:P

January 20, 2011 at 9:39 AM

Haha Jake you commented too fast! I read this post and thought of you… Tempted by metcons and complain about losing your abs!

Good one Marcus, it always helps out to remind us to get focused. Now I need the magical recipe to get the abs without cutting the carbs. Ready set go…

January 20, 2011 at 10:25 AM

i can’t tell whether or not that last paragraph is aimed directly at me or not… either way, i know for sure that my focus could use some work. good post, homeboy. :)

January 20, 2011 at 10:50 AM

Ahhh, ADD. It’s funny how we all complain about it. We humans just love the excitement of new ventures. Think about it, how excited do you get when you have a new phone, new job, new shoes or even move somewhere new. It is all very exciting, but when you have it (or been there) for some time, the excitement fades a little. CrossFit attacks that interest because it is always offers something different (and competitive, another human favorite). It was (and still kind of is) difficult for me to commit to one mindset of training (power lifting), but the more I think about it, the more I realize I love lifting heavy weights. Marcus is right, you have to mentally convince yourself to stick to a goal in the CrossFit world. Besides, the worst thing that could happen is you excel in one area of CrossFit, lose some time in your metcons, then jump back into classes for a month and kill the WODs because you are twice as strong. I guess it can’t be that bad :) .

PS, join the power lifting club.

January 20, 2011 at 10:58 AM

@Scott – Tom Brady lost because his effeminate long hair and Ugg boots scream 90′s Small, which = FAIL. Tom Brady with beard = 70s Big and he wins Super Bowls.

@Melissa – This post was written because I think a lot of people in the gym could benefit from the subject, not just one or two. I didn’t name names since this wasn’t meant to shame anyone. It seems from comments so far that not only you, but also Anna and Scott found something impactful within that last paragraph. Hell, I am just as guilty of previously not sticking to my program when the going got rough and complicating things by trying to achieve conflicting goals.

Michael H
January 20, 2011 at 12:11 PM

Nick I’m with you, I will be joining the power lifting club after UTC.

January 20, 2011 at 1:58 PM

@Nick, you’re post is very ironic because I just mentioned this week in the box that it seems like you’re metcon times are getting faster since you started the power lifting.

@Trainers…if you could please find the magical recipe that Anna mentioned I would be ETERNALLY grateful. Until that wondrous day I guess I’ll keep experimenting with this “paleo” diet everyone talks about ;P

January 20, 2011 at 2:18 PM

Holley – you buff doe!

Marcus – What thinkest you about zone instead of paleo?

January 20, 2011 at 2:39 PM

@Xuan – Keep dreaming buddy. Even if you could get a 6-pack while still scarfing bowls of pasta, there’s enough deleterious effects from all those excess carbs to prevent us from recommending them.

@Kathy – Whew… that’s actually another post in and of itself. I will queue this up for Monday, but if you want an answer sooner hit me up in the gym.