What makes a good crossfit partner?

I’ve been doing crossfit for over a year now and one of the things I love about it is the community aspect. My gym, Crossfit Naptown, has cultivated an environment where everyone is encouraging, motivating and supportive, especially during the WOD (workout of the day). I realize not everyone likes this type of atmosphere but I feel like it’s kept me accountable and made me push myself harder.

One example of this is when we partner during a WOD. Typically, one person is completing the workout and the other is counting repetitions and/or rounds and making sure standards are met for each movement. You are essentially coaching each other through the WOD. If you have a good partner, this format can really help you power through and maintain good form.

But what makes a good partner? Everyone is different and what works to push you might not be the same for who you’re paired up with. And every WOD is different so what motivates you on one type of WOD may be completely different than another. Having a quick conversation before the workout can go a long way to make sure you are helping your partner perform their best.

Here are a few questions you can ask before the clock starts:

  1. What’s your goal? Are they aiming for a certain number of reps or a specific time? Are they focusing on decreasing their scale and getting closer to Rx-ing a movement? Do they want to have really clean reps every time?
  1. Do you have a strategy? Are they breaking up reps/rounds into smaller sets? If they rest, do they want to keep it to a certain number of seconds before getting back into it?
  1. How do you want to be pushed? Some people want you to yell at them to pick up the bar and go. Some people don’t want you to comment and they will start back up when they’re ready. Some people love the rah rah cheerleading and others hate it.
  1. How should I update you on your progress? Do they want to know how many rounds they have left, how much time is left or what percentage of the workout they are through? Or do they just want to churn it out and not think about it until the clock stops?
  1. What are your scales for this WOD? “Relative intensity” is an important crossfit term. It basically means that you need to scale workouts appropriately based on a variety of factors: skill level, injuries, mental/emotional state that particular day, etc. For example, if the workout has push ups, you shouldn’t no rep someone for doing knee-style push ups if that’s their scale. 
  1. Do you want me to take pictures of you in beast mode? Half kidding 🙂

How your partner answers each question will give you guidelines for coaching them. This is especially helpful if you’re paired up with someone you’ve not worked out with before at the gym. It’s better to be upfront about each other’s needs than be annoyed during an entire workout because your styles are different.

For my fellow cultfitters, how do you like to be coached during a WOD? Are there other questions a good partner should ask? Share your thoughts by commenting below! 

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