Got Resolutions? Break ‘Em Up!

The sad fact is, most people fail at accomplishing their new years resolutions.  They say they’re gonna lose weight, add 30 kilo’s to their back squat, or go to CrossFit regionals

Why do they fail?  Because they only do the first part: come up with the goals!  They don’t move on to the next step which is to devise a plan to actually reach those goals. 

I’m a big believer in splitting the year into four parts.  After all, we’re already conditioned to think this way.  Every year has four seasons and the schools we all went to had (or usually had) four quarters.  Every season, every 90 days, you should try to reach an intermediate goal that helps you move closer to your yearly goal.

Below I go through a couple examples of ways to do this for Olympic lifters, CrossFit Athletes, and Team Sport Athletes.  These just happen to be groups of people I work with a lot, but the principles are universal.  Take your yearly goal, split it up into 4 parts, after you’ve accomplished each section, reward yourself, repeat.  This simple little strategy will help this be the year that you finally reach those goals!


Olympic Weightlifters


There’s an idea that a new lifter should try to add 30 kilo’s per lift per year.  Now, if you’re 17 years old, that is reasonable.  If you’re … older than that, then 15 to 20 kilo’s is more realistic.  Either way, pick a goal that is on the high end of what is doable for you, and break it up into 4 parts. 

Let’s take a 30 year old male lifter, since this a good average age among recreational lifters.  This lifter should go for broke and try for a solid 20 kilo jump on both the snatch and clean and jerk this year.  That will require a good 5 kilos every 90 days.  During each 90 day period don’t think AT ALL about your yearly goal.  Just focus hard on reaching your 90 day goal. 

Now … there are a lot of schools of thought on HOW weightlifters should set up their training to reach these goals, and I’ll get into some of those in future posts.  Personally, I’m a bit of a Bulgarian.  Here’s my primer on (realistic) Bulgarian training that you can use as a starting point.



CrossFit Athletes


I plan on writing (soon!) an article on how to specifically combine training for CrossFit AND competitive Olympic Weightlifting.  But, what follows here is for people who are not Oly lifters, whose only sport is CrossFit.

Want to kick butt at the CrossFit games/regionals/sectionals?  Then you have to plan for it.  The best athletes at the games know the importance of specialization.  The CrossFit WOD’s are great at getting you into shape, but they are too random if you have the specific goal of competing at the games to be done in isolation. 

One of the area’s the best CrossFitters specialize in is Olympic weightlifting.  If all you ever did was the olympic lifts in the WOD’s, you’ll never get anywhere. These are highly complex lifts, equally as complicated as the pole-vault.  The ONLY way to get past the rank-beginner level is to dedicate yourself to the study of technique.  That means lots of practice. 

If you dedicate 90 days to learning proper technique on the Oly lifts, you’ll end up lifting FAR more weight and get much stronger than you will without it.  Make that your first goal in the first season of the year.

Another thing you need to think about is brute strength.  You have to do specialized work on squats and deadlifts.  Heavy weight and low reps may not sound very CrossFit, but they’ll make you stronger and in turn make you a better CrossFitter.  As an example, I did a Strongman show this last year and one  of the events was Deadlifts for max reps with 315 pounds.  There were a number of CrossFitters competing.  But, the top guys in this event (I got second with 17 reps) were all people who have spent a lot of years developing brute strength for its own sake. The top guy did nearly 30 reps!!  Why?  Because he has a 600 pound max deadlift.  315 is only about 50% for him!  Of course he won. 

Do 90 days of serious strength work and watch all of your CrossFit “ladies names” workouts improve.  I’d do this in the Spring. 

Another thing most CrossFitters don’t think about is that Crossfit isn’t quite as random as it makes itself out to be.  At the games there are events that keep popping up.  Go through the records over the last number of years and try to pick out trends.  If an event has happened more than once, practice it!  If you know double-unders are going to show up with a high probability, then do them – a lot!   Practice really does make perfect. 


Team Sport Athletes


Most team sport athletes don’t spend anywhere near enough time working on strength, power, and stability training.  This is the year to change that!  Find out what the standards of strength and power are among the best in your sport.  Kobe Bryant does Olympic lifting, squats, and deadlifts.  He knows how important it is to be strong to be the best. 

If your goal is to improve your game this year, take the next 90 days and dedicate them to serious strength and power training.  Learn how to power clean with GOOD form, how to power snatch, how to do front squats, RDL’s, and push presses.  In just 90 days, you can gain a lifetime’s worth of technique that you’ll never lose.  It’s an investment in your future as an athlete.  You’re young now, take advantage of it.  If you’re an adult athlete, there’s no time like the present! 

During this Winter, focus on acquiring the best technique you can on the Olympic lifts, and pushing up the weight on squats.   During the spring you’ll be ready to get heavy on the Olympic lifts, continuing to increase squat and deadlift numbers.  By the summer, you’ll be a powerhouse.  Based on the last 6 months of work, you’ll be ready to establish new 90-day goals for yourself. 


One year is just too long for our brains to handle.  But, 90 days is perfect.  It’s just long enough that you can see measurable progress in the gym.  But, it’s not so long that you lose track of where you’re going and get bored/lazy/anxious.  This year is the year you actually WILL reach your new years resolutions, because this year, you’ve got a plan.

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