The Do’s and Don’ts of CrossFit as a Master

Just like baby boomers were the human glut of the ’60s, so are masters the fastest growing population of grinders.


Just like baby boomers were the human glut of the ’60s, so are masters the fastest growing population of grinders. Here are a few things to remember to help make your box experience productive and keep you out of bandages and Bengay.

Don’t think you’re 20. Sure, the crow’s-feet, gray hair and relentless pull of gravity on tender parts divulge your age, but in your mind, you’re still fleet of foot and strong as a bullock. Yes, it’s absolutely critical to push yourself and stride toward your fitness goals with the unrelenting focus of a 20-something, but as a master, you should do so with aplomb. Know when your body is telling you to lighten up or take a day off and get a massage (you can do that now that you’re not a broke 20-something), and use your own achievements as a yardstick of success rather than comparing yourself to someone 20 (or 30 or 40) years your junior.

Don’t think like you’re 20. Ask yourself: Is it your priority to power-clean a water buffalo? If so, then by all means go for it (using a barbell, of course). But more likely, you’re in the box for the personal challenge, so don’t be dazzled by the 20-somethings cranking out 100 consecutive butterfly pull-ups and forget your own personal purpose. Do your own workout your way to reach your intentions and you’ll kill it every time.

Do think like a competitor. Every time you enter the box, you’re afforded an opportunity to better yourself, to go somewhere you didn’t think was possible and to do something that scares the shit out of you. The box is the perfect place to compete against yourself and toe the edge of comfort. Just because you may not keep up with the college kids does not mean you can’t still be a badass. I am continually amazed at the sheer strength and iron will of some of my fellow masters athletes, and when I grow up, I want to be just like them.

Do ask for help. Whether I thought I knew it all or was afraid to look silly, I never once asked anyone for help in the gym when I was starting out in the ’80s, even if I had no frigging idea how to do a squat or a pull-up or a crunch. These days, however, I am the question queen because I now realize that I know nothing and that my coaches know everything. So suck it up, ask the question and risk looking foolish; you’ll always be glad you did, and you’ll be a better athlete for it.

Don’t be afraid to scale. Younger CrossFitting humans can execute a staggering snatch PR, then whip through a 20-minute AMRAP of thrusters, wall balls and kipping pull-ups, then run a mile in sub-seven and barely break a sweat. If you can do this as a master, I bow to you, but for the rest of us, scaling workouts is a better plan. Scaling allows you to challenge yourself using weights, exercises and rep ranges more appropriate to your ability, and it allows you to get stronger at your own pace. Ask your coach to help scale the WODs for you if he or she doesn’t already.