’21 Fitness Pitfalls to Avoid,’ According to Pat Sherwood

November 5, 2020 by
Photo Credit: CrossFit, LLC
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We’ve all been there. You’re spending hours in the gym, but seeing almost no improvements in your fitness. 

That’s where Pat Sherwood, owner of CrossFit Linchpin in Tacoma, WA, a long-time employee of CrossFit LLC, and well-known media personality, comes in, with a list 21 common fitness pitfalls to avoid. 

  • “If we wanted to have more of a straight talk kind of a session,” Sherwood says in an Instagram video, “It could be called 21 common mistakes, or, more of a bit of straight talk would be 21 reasons potentially why your fitness is not improving, and you’re blaming the wrong thing.” 

The pitfalls:

  1. You’re doing too much
    Do less, but do it better, Sherwood says. 
  2. Not enough intensity
    Intensity leads to the “good stuff.” Too much volume –  a link back to number one on the list – leads to less intense workouts. 
  3. Relative intensity
    Everybody is different, and intensity is individual to a person’s physical and psychological tolerance. Don’t try to murder yourself with every workout.
  4. Not taking rest days
    Sherwood calls this the “evil cousin” of doing too much; every person needs time to decompress, both mentally and physically. Rest is critical for intensity.
  5. You don’t respect the heavy days
    Dedicate a day to heavy lifting, and give the lift the respect it deserves. Heavy days typically get rushed, Sherwood says, which leads into an evil trap of feeling like you’re not doing enough, because you aren’t seeing strength gains. 
  6. You haven’t mastered the basics
    “Your air squat is not that great, but you want to add lots of load to it,” Sherwood explains. Don’t rush to advance before the fundamentals are rock solid. 
  7. You’re in need of some extra conditioning or gymnastics, but you decide to lift more
    In the CrossFit hierarchy, metabolic conditioning and gymnastics come before weightlifting and throwing. It’s really easy to jump to weight lifting before you’ve nailed a foundation.
  8. Cherry-picking
    There are so many wonderful things associated with variance,” Sherwood says. Cherry-picking workouts can lead to overtraining or bad recovery, because you’re wearing yourself down in one area. 
  9. You fear the 5K run
    “Don’t fear this, it’s good for you, you won’t lose your gains,” Sherwood explains.
  10.  You aren’t sprinting enough
    Those track days might sting, but Sherwood assures that sprinting is worth it, calling sprints “profoundly beneficial and critical.”
  11. You’re not scaling frequently enough
    Scaling is cool, scaling is your friend, scaling leads you to becoming a monster beast of fitness,” Sherwood says. It goes back to intensity; scaling keeps you from feeling too bogged down with RX weights.
  12.  Not giving your midline enough attention
    The midline is a critical piece of power transmission. It’s not a flashy thing to work on, but will pay huge dividends. 
  13.  The improper warm-up
    Sherwood lays out an example of a five-round workout: if you’re not feeling good until the end of the second round or beginning of the third, you’re probably not warming up enough. “Allow your body to walk into the workout actually prepared,” he says, “and things will most likely go better.” 
  14. The improper cool-down
    This can negatively affect your training for the next day, or even week. 
  15. You haven’t mastered the strict movements
    Always have a “little basket of strict movements” to back up your kip. 
  16. You’re not dedicating enough time to practice
    “Regular practice leads to wonderful things,” Sherwood says. It’s another one of those non-sexy things and is easy to blow off, but practice is linked to mechanics, consistency, and more. 
  17. You’re impatient
    Not all of the fitness will arrive today. It’s a long road. 
  18. Sleep
    “Nothing is going to go well if you’re not getting the sleep you need,” Sherwood points out. 
  19. Diet
    “Maybe, potentially, just maybe there’s just a little bit of room for improvement,” he says. 
  20. You link your performance in a workout to your worth
    Sherwood gives the example of former competitive athletes, who transition out of having their world revolve around training. “If they start to see a decline from any lifetime PR,” he explains. “They don’t feel good.”

    But, he points out, that this added stress and expectation makes the time at the gym less fun. “You’re just working out,” he continues, “It has nothing to do with if you are a good or bad person.”
  21. You are comparing yourself unnecessarily
    “You are just trying to be a better version of the you that you were yesterday, or last week, or six months ago,” Sherwood says. Unnecessary comparison might not be as motivating as you thought. 

The bottom line: Sherwood is quick to disclaim that he has made a number of these mistakes, and he’s not here to tell anyone what they’ve done wrong in training. 

  • “I hope these are taken as a list of 21 things that I think will help people enjoy their time in the gym more, get on a track to faster, healthier, better long term fitness, avoid some pitfalls ” he says, concluding the video. 
  • “Plenty of these things are mistakes that I have personally made, beyond a shadow of a doubt, and if I can help somebody be a bit more efficient with their learning curve than I was, then that will make my day.”

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