Front Squat


Monthly Goals by Heather Bergeron of CrossFit New England

About four months ago, Ben got tired of looking at the same old stuff that was clogging up the side white boards in the gym: a laundry list of typical goats and sample workouts on how to fix them, random CrossFit quotes, brainstorming on potential workouts for our injured athletes. So, he wiped the longest board down spot-clean and at the very top wrote, “July 2009, Monthly Goals.”

I watched suspiciously from across the room and thought to myself, “Cool. I’ve got goals.” Sure, there’s plenty of things I want: a bigger dead lift, better muscle-ups, faster box jumps. I walked my goal-oriented ass right up to that board and made sure I was the first one to get my name up there. Now, I’m not totally oblivious. I knew that just writing those words up on the board wouldn’t REALLY get me anywhere. So, I made sure I went into more detail. “300 pound dead lift, 30 muscle-ups in under ten minutes, and…well…just faster box jumps.” Yeah, that should do it.

Well, all of a sudden, the end of July came around FAR too fast. My dead lift was still arguably my weakest lift, I believe my muscle-up time got slower (considerably slower), and my box jumps were as mediocre as ever. Saturday morning, Ben erased the month of July and wrote, “August 2009, Monthly Goals.” I must’ve just had an off month. I’m much too goal-oriented to have bombed something THAT badly. Being as persistent as I am, I marched myself right back up to that board and re-wrote the exact same goals. I wasn’t going to give up that easily.

Unfortunately, for the next three months I did just that…only worse. Instead of figuring out why I kept failing, I just knocked muscle-ups and box jumps off entirely. Surely, THAT would give me enough time to get my dead lift up. And, I suppose it’s possible that I just happened to improve by a couple of pounds, but I wouldn’t know since I didn’t even make a SINGLE attempt at a one rep max, let alone do anything to improve the lift in the first place.

At some point in October, having realized that only one lonely person in our entire gym actually hit their monthly goals, Ben came up with one of his best coaching solutions ever: instead of just putting the end goals up on the board, we should be posting our game plans for hitting those goals. In other words, instead of just setting my goal for 30 muscle-ups in under 10 minutes, I should shoot for 75 muscle-ups in the month. Even better, try to get as many of them as two back to back reps as possible. Similarly, to improve my box jumps, I should set my goal at completing 25 sets of 15 unbroken box jumps (unbroken meaning they must all be done with a rebound off the ground) on the 24” box. Next month, I’ll increase the reps to 20.

I’m not sure why it’s taken me THIS long to dive into the whole monthly goal thing, but I can’t quite explain just HOW glad I am that I’m finally in it. It’s had a huge impact on my training. I’ve gone from literally avoiding heavy dead lifts and box jumps to being psyched to see them show up in WOD’s. These movements that I knew were holes in my game are now things that are potentially giving me that edge I needed to pull away from the pack.

The selling moment for me was at our recent Team Throw Down Competition. The third event involved 30 box jumps, which despite having had improved on them so much still left me terrified of that particular event. Because of the previous month’s worth of box jump training, I was able to move through them pretty quickly. After the event, a handful of people commented to me on how I must’ve been psyched that there were box jumps in that event since I was so fast at them. Had they only known where I was a month earlier, not having been able to string even five lousy reps together. Those monthly goals saved my team in that event.

There’s something about walking into the gym every day and seeing those goals up there with all of the hash marks beside them. Poor Derek and Mat have to watch me roll through my 15 box jumps, then walk over and put up a mark, walk back to the box, do 15 more, walk back over and put up more marks…and, so on. Why those little marks keep me so disciplined is beyond me, but I don’t waste energy questioning it. I just keep marking them up.

What would we do without those whiteboards?

3 Responses

  1. Speaking of goals…i was looking through my workout journal and although i’ve improved in my pullups, they still are BY FAR my weakest link – (goodbye)I was doing blue bands 10 months ago. I think kippping in a band isn’t really making me stronger, i am using the elastic too much and my arms too little. From now on i am going to do strict pullups with whatever band i need. Every time i am at the box i am going to do 5 sets of 5. That’s my goal and that’s my plan. Feel free to ask me if i have done my pullups yet when you see me, i am hard(in a good way i think) on everyone, time to be hard on myself.