Transitioning from one sport to another can be big deal. It can feel like a giant and uncertain leap when you're thinking about making the transition. If you're thinking about switching to a new type of competition or a different style of training, I wanted to give you the confidence and knowledge to move forward (or not)!
Let me give a tidbit of background before I move forward! Growing up I played very competitive club volleyball and rugby through my high school. I have always been very competitive and love trying new things! I have also participated in spartan races. After I had my daughter i quit playing volleyball, and in an attempt to pick fitness back up to a competitive degree, I started training for NPC Bikini competitions when she was 2! I have had an AMAZING experience doing these. Ive competed in 2 competitions. My first competition taking 1st in novice class B (I am 5' 3") and 2nd in first time ever coaching myself! My second competition I took 5th in a very competitive open C class.
One month post show, I decided I wanted to pick up something that may be a little more physical and competitive in nature. So I checked out my local CrossFit gym! While I can't speak for EVERY CrossFit gym out there, mine has exceeded ALL expectations! The owner, coaches, and members really make you feel like family! I have never been around so many like minded, competitive, and nice people! I do believe this community type is something that comes with the sport. But I digress.
I want to point out a few things that that are sport specific between physique competitions and CrossFit (or spartan race training).
1. Effort matters.
In bodybuilding competitions, let me be honest. No one cares about your effort. No one can see how hard you worked, what you sacrificed, or what you ate (or didn't eat). What you show up as on show day is all that matters, and that can change day to day or moment to moment depending on water, sodium, carbs (or lack of), or hormones. So many things you CAN NOT control. In CrossFit effort MATTERS. How hard you train matters. How many reps you get in the given time frame MATTERS. So if you love the grind and always strive to be the hardest worker in the room, it's an amazing switch! (or something great to try!)
2. Im not nearly as strong as I thought.
I can lift pretty heavy in isolation movements, like curls (30lb DBs for 3 sets of 12 reps) or hip thrusts (250lbs for 3 sets of 12). However, when it comes to new movements, I feel weak as heck. My cleans and snatches are light, and I physically can't do a strict handstand pushup from floor to strait arms. CrossFit has taught me there is SO much more to fitness and health than just how you LOOK, and there is ALWAYS tons of room for improvement.
3. Im great as select movements, and suck at others.
Physique competitors know there are certain exercises we do OVER and OVER. Nearly everything is an isolation movement with only 1 moving part. Doing the same exercises for months or years can leave other muscle groups (like chest for bikini competitors) and stabilizer muscles extremely under developed! When you first start new training, you'll be extremely sore in new places and struggle on new movements.
4. No one is looking at your body
No one gives a crap if you have 10% body fat, if you are striated, vascular, tan, or if your muscles are flat. They aren't looking at that! They don't care! (que happy dance) So stop worrying and focus on yourself and improving!
5. You feel like you have a normal life.
While diet is still important in ANYONES life, it isn't the grueling tedious 24/7 thing that bodybuilding is. You can actually go to brunch or out for dinner and it won't effect your performance too much (given you still eat healthy). Feeling like you have your life back was huge for me.
6. Every day is a competition
In bodybuilding, you train for MONTHS every single day 24/7 for just a few minutes on stage. SO MUCH work is put into getting stage ready. Once you're up there, there isn't really even any "competing". It is what it is at that point. But with CrossFit, every day you go in to train in a class setting you are competing against everyone else there. Every day is a chance to be the best or push yourself. If you move on to compete in competitions, every new exercise and day is an opportunity to be PHYSICALLY better than your competition and you can immediately control that! You can control how hard you work here! You can't control what the judges like on stage that day.
This is not to say I won't compete in another bikini or figure competition in the future. Now that I have already started my bodybuilding journey, I would like to continue until I feel Ive reached my absolute full potential. CrossFit is an amazing way to stay in shape during an off season, given you are still doing isolation training on important muscle groups like glutes and shoulders. (This is my opinion to be sure you are IMPROVING during off season to bring a better package next time you step on stage.) But if you are missing that real competitive atmosphere, or are looking for new ways to compete or train, I truly believe this is a great option, and is something that can be done together.
I'll end with my personal goals and plans. I do isolation training 2-3x a week to focus on glutes and CrossFit 3x a week, this way I get my cardio in via CrossFit, my isolation training, I get to let out my competitive spirit and try new things all while staying engaged and excited to train! It is currently December 2019, and the following is my hopeful plan for 2020!
-Local NPC bikini competition to qualify for nationals: May 2020
-Spartan Race: June 2020
-First CrossFit Competition: August/September 2020
-CrossFit Open: Starts November 2020
If I were to qualify for nationals, I would also be adding in nationals at some point, most likely to replace the CrossFit competition and I would move that later. The point is, try new things. See what you really like and see if something "sticks" more than another. It's OKAY to be diverse! Im excited to be a more well rounded and diverse athlete this year with also doing CrossFit and spartan races!