By Joe Black
There comes a time in your CrossFit journey when you begin to realize that if you want to step your fitness up to the next level, it is going to require focusing on areas where you may be deficient. Since we touch upon so many different areas of fitness inside (and outside) the walls of CFP, it can be overwhelming figuring out where to place your focus and which personal fitness trainer to work with.
Let’s begin this discussion by re-thinking the way we view these deficiencies. The word “weakness” has a negative connotation to it. Re-frame your thoughts about weaknesses. From this point forward, view a “weakness” as an  “area of opportunity.”
This simple re-framing goes a long way.
Weakness implies something that is fixed or static, which makes overcoming it that much harder. It is a state that lacks something, namely, a strength. It points to shortcomings.
We don’t need that negativity!
Area of opportunity has a much more positive connotation. Opportunities are sets of circumstances that you can create. You have control over these circumstances and, by taking control, you can make progress.
So how do we know which areas of opportunity we should focus on and prioritize?
In the context of a CrossFit fitness gym, there are two great ways to approach this.

The CrossFit HQ Way

CrossFit identifies ten general physical skills that determine one’s fitness level:

  1. Cardiovascular/respiratory endurance
  2. Stamina
  3. Strength
  4. Flexibility
  5. Power
  6. Speed
  7. Coordination
  8. Agility
  9. Balance
  10. Accuracy

You can look at this list and determine which of these are areas of opportunity for you and you fitness trainer to work on.
Improvements in endurance, stamina, strength, and flexibility come about through training. These are elements of fitness that will improve with consistency. The more consistent you are with your training, the more likely these will improve.
Improvements in coordination, agility, balance, and accuracy come about through practice. The more you practice these elements, the more likely you will develop the neural adaptations to make improvements.
Improvements in power and speed come about through a combination of training and practice. They require consistent training and practice.
From here, you can further break down your areas of opportunity based on CrossFit’s “Theoretical Hierarchy of Development,” which reflects foundational dependence, skill and time ordering of development. Your personal CrossFit journey does not necessarily need to follow this order (ideally, you are working on many of these things all at once), but it is surprising how deficiencies at the lower levels can lead to issues at the above levels.

Nutrition is a very important component of fitness. It is your foundation. There is a saying that goes “you can’t out-train a poor diet.” Properly fueling your body will set you up for success and lead to continued development.
If your nutrition needs to improve, start there. CFP has a great nutrition program to help you out!
Metabolic conditioning development will be your next focus. You want to have cardiovascular sufficiency. Improvements can be made in endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, and speed. You have three metabolic pathways that provide your muscles with energy: phosphagen, glycolytic and oxidative.
Phosphagen and glycolytic pathways are used for anaerobic activities. Phosphagen pathways kick in when activities are short in duration (10 seconds or less) but require a great deal of power. Think a 100-meter sprint or a heavy 1 rep max back squat. Glycolytic pathways are used when activities range from 30 seconds to 2 minutes and also require high power. Think Grace, Fran or a Tabata workout.
Oxidative pathways are used for aerobic activities. These activities require your body to produce energy over an extended period of time and require less power. These are your longer, less intense workouts, like Murph.
Make sure that you continue to develop your metabolic conditioning and get in a balance of workouts throughout the week that develop these pathways.
Gymnastics follows next. The aim of gymnastics is body control. Strength, flexibility, coordination, balance, agility and accuracy can all be developed here.
Gymnastics movements include: pull-ups, push-ups, dips, rope climbs, muscle-ups, wall-walks, handstands, handstand walks, handstand holds, hollow-holds, L-sits and more.
If there are areas of opportunity here, focus on these next as the general physical fitness skills you can build from these movements are incredibly beneficial.
Weightlifting follows gymnastics. Weightlifting focus on external object control (and let’s be honest, is easily the most appealing part of CrossFit in this writer’s opinion 🙂 ). Weightlifting develops strength, speed, power, flexibility, coordination, agility, accuracy, and balance.
Proficiency in the snatch and clean and jerk will have tremendous carry over to your overall fitness and are incredible movements to watch when done correctly.
Weightlifting is very technical and requires a lot of practice and patience, so there are always areas of opportunity here.
Sport is at the peak of the pyramid because it is the application of everything below it in a competition atmosphere. Sports are more varied and have less predictable movements than a class you might get at our fitness gym. It allows you to use a combination of the 10 general physical skills all at once.
Competition can be extremely beneficial in identifying areas of opportunity. Every year, after the CrossFit Open, everyone realizes the area of opportunity they need to focus on in order to improve their performance next year.
Use sport for fun and as a test to determine the areas of opportunity further down the pyramid.
By understanding the 10 general physical fitness skills and the hierarchy of development, you can begin to get a sense of where your area of opportunities lie and take action to make improvements.
This approach can seem a bit overwhelming because of the lack of a clear set of steps that you can follow.
Luckily, CrossFit Prototype has a great way to help you prioritize your areas of opportunity and improve your fitness.

The CFP Way (Much Better, Duh!)

CrossFit Prototype has a unique system to help you achieve your fitness goals and work on areas of opportunity without having to put so much thought into it: the CFP Virtuosity Program.
This program is truly one-of-a-kind. It takes its name from an article written by the founder of CrossFit, Greg Glassman, in which he discusses the importance of virtuosity, defined as “doing the common uncommonly well.” Movements, exercises and workout are arranged in levels, with each level represented by a band, similar to the belt system in martial arts. By completing the prescribed numbers at each band level, you are rewarded for your progress by moving onto the next band.
The CFP Virtuosity Program combines the 10 general physical skills and three of the major components of the hierarchy of development into one easy to follow plan for continued success.
Getting started is easy:

  1. Download a copy of the CFP Virtuosity Program here.
  2. Fill in your numbers at each band level to check to see what band you are on. If you have questions, talk to a fitness instructor. 
  3. Review those areas of opportunity to focus on to improve your fitness.

Within the CFP Virtuosity Program itself, you can figure out the best way to approach areas of opportunity:

  • Running, rowing, Assault Bike and jump rope numbers not up to par? Work on your metabolic conditioning!
  • Pull-ups, push-ups, toes to bar and muscles-ups not up to snuff? Work on your gymnastics!
  • Squats, Olympic Lifts or deadlifts lacking? Work on your lifting!

If you have one or more areas of opportunity, you can refer to the hierarchy of development by focusing on conditioning, then gymnastics, then lifting. The great thing is that each of these elements will provide carry over into the other elements. A rising tide lifts all ships!

Next Steps

Remember, we cannot stress this enough: take action! An inch of action will bring you closer to your goals than a mile of intention. Pick one area of opportunity to work on – today!
If you would like help with deciding which area of opportunity you would like to work on, reach out to one of your fitness coaches. Every one of our physcial trainers is happy to help!