{CrossFit}: Do’s and Don’ts of Competition Prep

by Katelyn Block on January 15, 2013 · 29 comments

Hi everyone! What a great weekend I had! I completed the first of a three-part series of competitions going through Upstate and Western NY.


Brutal but incredibly wonderful, like the sport always is.

I’m going to tell you about:

  • The competition itself
  • What I did this time in preparation, and…
  • How I am going to change it next time.

The Competition

We drove to Rochester on Friday, myself and three others, then stayed the night before driving to Buffalo early Saturday morning. Mistake #1: Not enough sleep. I woke up at 5:30 am, had breakfast around 6:30 am, and had 2-3 cups of coffee in me when 11am hit and it was time to compete. My only meal was breakfast, which I know for a fact was a mistake.

In past competitions, I’ve been smart and snacked every 30-60 minutes on fruit or homemade trail mix. I didn’t do that this time, most likely because of the combination of nerves and lack of sleep. When it was time to compete, my heart was beating out of my chest (stress), and I didn’t spend enough time warming up, although I felt warm enough.

During my event, I immediately felt the effects of a lack of glucose in my system, under-warm muscles and lungs, too little rest, and too much caffeine. I immediately learned from my mistakes, and realized that it was likely not that I could have lost all strength and endurance from a few days off, but rather that my body was ill-prepared to handle strenuous activity from a lack of preparation.

My event was a 10 minute AMRAP (as many reps as possible) of:

  • 20 wall balls at 10#
  • 15 power cleans at 65#
  • 10 calorie row

I completed 2.5 rounds. I should have been able to complete at least 4. Here’s what I did wrong.


Do’s and Don’ts


DO: Get a good night’s sleep. And by this, I suggest at least 8-9 hours.

DON’T: Spend the evening traveling and then get to bed late with a 5:30 am wake-up call.

WHY: I’m convinced that, because I didn’t get enough sleep, I over-did it on the caffeine and under-did it on the food. We’ll get to the food point next. My body most likely wasn’t fully recovered with the lack of sleep, which affected my performance.


This is my exhausted face, walking off the floor after my event. I wanted to collapse at this point.


DO: Eat frequently.

DON’T: Try to compete on a 5-hour empty stomach.

WHY: Your body needs fast fuel, dangnabbit. At my last competition, I made sure to bring fat- and carb-dense snacks to keep me going, and this my friends, was smart. I had a small-medium breakfast, and then snacked frequently, about every hour. According to this article, it’s best to have carbohydrates 20-45 minutes before exercise for the best insulin response. Otherwise, you risk a hypoglycemic response to your food and that’s just no good.

Good choices:

  • Whole fruit
  • Homemade trail mix with unsweetened, dried fruit and coconut, raw nuts and seeds, and a handful of chocolate chips if you’re like me and love chocolate
  • Cookies like these ones
  • Larabars or homemade Larabars
  • Dried figs with almond or sunflower seed butter
  • Bacon.


Cleans with my friend’s cool husband FTW.

warmup DO: Properly warm-up.

DON’T: Blast your loud music, jump around, do some stretches, sprint a little, and then think all is fine and dandy because your heart rate is through the roof. (we’ll get to that in more detail in the next one)

WHY: Your muscles (and your lungs) need to be properly warmed up in order to work to the best of their ability.

Suggestions for good warm-up exercises:

  • Dynamic stretches
  • Rowing
  • PVC pipe and foam rolling
  • Moderate weightlifting
  • Air squats and wall balls
  • Pull-ups
  • Kettlebell swings

It’s typically best to warm-up with exercises that complement the workout you are about to do. For example, if I were preparing to do Fran (21-15-9 of thrusters and pull-ups), I would row, foam roll, use a PVC, and then do air squats, a few pull-ups, and some kettlebell swings. You don’t want to do the workout, but you want to do exercises that warm the muscles you’re about to use.


buzz DO: Have some pre-competition caffeine.

DON’T: Over-do it.

WHY: Caffeine will help boost your performance (a cup of coffee’s worth of caffeine about an hour pre-workout), but too much increases your risk of injury, heart complications, and rhabdo. Being sure to get plenty of sleep (back to #1) will avoid being over-zealous with the caffeine, but only to a point. Be conscious of your intake, and adjust accordingly based on your body size and typical consumption. For most people, a cup will do.

NOTE: Please avoid energy drinks at all costs. They are just stinkin bad for you. If you take an athletic energy supplement, follow the directions accordingly.

wall balls 2

happy-place DO: Engage in positive and motivational pre-competition thinking.

DON’T: Get down on yourself or use negative reinforcement.

WHY: Have you ever heard of the Pavlov’s Dog experiment? People, like dogs, repeat behaviors that are rewarded. Remind yourself of times that you have worked hard and achieved a PR or knocked a goal off of your list. Create patterns for success and visualize yourself doing well in your event. Winning, even. Visualization patterns will help you to believe that you can achieve whatever goal it is you are setting for yourself and making it happen. Find your happy place, and use the visualization of success – not fear of losing – motivate you.

wall balls


Thank you so much for your patience with these sporadic blog posts. When I first started blogging, I was pretty smart and scheduled all of my posts for about 6am, which kept me on a good schedule and feeling like a happy camper. Plus all of you started to figure that out and come at this time too. So, we’re starting that again. Bright and early, these posts will be up for you.

So far, lots of great feedback on yesterday’s post about local businesses and your dolla dolla bills, ya’ll. Check it out!

Currently: Sipping on Coconut Cocoa tea and making my schedule for the week. Including: CrossFit, working time, eating time, and possibly most importantly, resting time. Fail to plan and plan to fail.


  • What are your do’s and don’ts before a workout or competition?
  • Any additions or subtractions to what I said above?
  • Are you a CrossFitter? What’s your favorite competition event? (I love anything heavy)
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{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

Meg January 15, 2013 at 6:19 AM

I haven’t done crossfit yet (except for that little thing we did at HLS ha!), but I am so proud of you! Loved this post! You’ll do better on the upcoming ones, babe xoxo


Katelyn Block January 19, 2013 at 6:38 PM

Thank you lovie!! I plan on it and hope so SO BAD.


Brittany (Healthy Slice of Life) January 15, 2013 at 6:45 AM

I think it’s wonderful that you did the competition and learned so much from it! THanks for sharing these great tips. They are pretty good “always” tips, too, not just for competition :)


Katelyn Block January 20, 2013 at 12:14 AM

Thank you lady! It’s true! They apply to nearly everything.


Danielle @ Clean Food Creative Fitness January 15, 2013 at 7:43 AM

This is a great resource Katelyn! I’ve done many of these “don’ts” in the past and have definitely learned from my mistakes. I struggled the most with eating during the competition. I just wasn’t hungry and worried about it not digesting well before the workouts so I usually stick to liquid fuel during the competition..works for me! I think it’s all about experimenting and finding what works best for you!


Angi Jones January 15, 2013 at 7:57 AM

Thank you for this. I have been CF’ing for 6 months & preparing for my first competition…I will take all of the insights I can get :)


Linz @ Itz Linz January 15, 2013 at 8:02 AM

Great post!! Glad you learned some valuable lessons!! :) :)


Gabby @ Gabby's Gluten-Free January 15, 2013 at 8:16 AM

Great post, girl. I haven’t done any competitions (yet) and I think I would definitely struggle with being nervous/not hungry. Even though having an off day is no fun, glad it taught you about what does and doesn’t work for you!


NYC Fit GIrl January 15, 2013 at 8:18 AM

Great Post! Thanks for all the tips!


jennifer January 15, 2013 at 9:03 AM

Great advice, and awesome job having the strength and confidence to compete anyway!
I just started Crossfit and looking forward to the day I feel comfortable enough to participate in a competition!


Kierston January 15, 2013 at 9:14 AM

I don’t do crossfit but this is an awesome post with great tips!


Kovas - Midwest Multisport Life January 15, 2013 at 9:18 AM

Nice suggestions — I’m nowhere near competition level, but will definitely keep these in mind for the future!


Christie January 15, 2013 at 10:00 AM

Perfect post because I have my first competition this weekend!!!!! I am nervous but extremely excited. Thanks for the great advice and awesome posts. Good luck on new PRs and goal reaching :)


Brooke @ Running In Heels January 15, 2013 at 10:20 AM

Hey! I nominated you for a Liebster Award! If you want to participate, check out my blog post here: http://highheeledrunner.com/2013/01/15/liebster-award/


Madeline @ Food Fit and Fam January 15, 2013 at 10:47 AM

Awesome post! I think you nailed some awesome tips.


Elizabeth January 15, 2013 at 11:08 AM

Everything you said was great! I concur…I make sure to eat within an hour and sometimes I even have totally NOT PALEO (non-stimulant) pre workout energizers. But real food is the way to go.

I have not competed in an event like this (only through online events) but my favourites are the chippers. I’m a chipper gal…;)


GiGi Eats Celebrities January 15, 2013 at 1:58 PM

WORK IT GIRL! WORK IT! You are a beast and I LOVE IT!


Caroline January 15, 2013 at 7:58 PM

The best way to learn is to make mistakes, right? You’ll be so much more prepared next time! I’m not a crossfitter (yet) but I think these tips can be applied to a lot of different fitness activities, races, etc. : )


Melissa Love January 15, 2013 at 9:04 PM

Awesome!! Have my first solo comp on the 26th!! Will keep all your tips in mind!! Keep rocking it sister!! Love following your adventures :)


Mindy January 15, 2013 at 9:17 PM

Nailed it! Although I haven’t competed (YET), I can say these tips are great for pre-workout, too! What you do outside of the gym affects what you do inside. I think the biggest thing I struggle with in Crossfit and my performance is emotions! I have to continously remind myself to just have fun while staying mentally focused.


Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table January 15, 2013 at 10:44 PM

I’m not a Cross-fitter, but I think these apply to lifting in general. I notice aq big differnce in my performance if I’m running on not enough food/sleep/etc. It’s funny how we all KNOW these guidelines, but when you are pressed for time, have nerves, and/or are tired you just forget. I’m definitely guilty of that!


Kaitlin @4loveofcarrots January 16, 2013 at 11:10 AM

you are amazing! I admire your passion for crossfit, I was watching the women’s competition on TV on Sunday and floored by how strong they are!


Jen January 17, 2013 at 12:25 AM

I love so much that you are willing to share your experience (even if it wasn’t what you had in mind) for the benefit of others! You are an amazing person and, even though this may not have the performance of which you’re capable, I still think that you rock!!!


Adrian January 17, 2013 at 11:18 AM

Congrats! Good advice.


Gaby@eatdrinklift.com January 19, 2013 at 1:45 PM

I absolutely LOVED this post. As someone who started competing in CrossFit within the past year, I’m always looking for ways to enhance my performance. I agree with all the points you listed, except I personally can’t handle any food an hour or so before a WOD. Congrats on the competition! :)


La Chapstick Fanatique June 9, 2013 at 8:16 AM

I just found your blog through a “what food to bring to crossfit competition” search. this post was really helpful. I will be doing my first competition (scaled) on saturday and, in addition to being nervous, not quite sure what food to bring with me since it is all day. any tips you could give would be great!



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