If you want to get the most out of the time you spend at the gym, learn to train with intention. More training is not better, better training is better. There are 3 approaches you can take to your workout - practice, training, and competition.
Practice is done with low heart rates, at light loads (under 60% 1-RM), and relatively low intensity. The objective of Practice is to improve technique. Every movement we do in CrossFit is a skill. Learning to move with better technique will make you more efficient in the long run. In order to improve technique you need to practice under the right conditions. If your heart rate is too high, you are fatigued, or the loads are too heavy you will not be able to focus on practicing technique.
An example of practice “workout” that we often do in class would be the dowel/barbell warmup, where we move through different positions of the Olympic lifts with a focus on proper positioning and speed under the bar. Another example of practice would be working on double-unders by trying to do them without tripping up or failing, not for time. Practice can be challenging, but more mentally than physically: it shouldn’t leave you on the floor gasping for air. If you are interested in being a CrossFit competitor, approximately 45% of your training time should be spent Practicing.
Training is performed a high heart rates, heavy loads (70%+ of 1-RM), and relatively high intensity. Training is done with the intention of improving your engine and strength. To improve your engine and strength you need to train at the limits of your physical and psychological tolerances - threshold training. At the limits does not mean 100% of you capacity, it means at the limit relative to the adaptation you are trying to create. If a workout is 20 minutes long with the goal of improving our aerobic capacity, it means working at a hard but a sustainable pace for 20 minutes. If you are trying to get stronger, it may means doing multiple sets of 5 Back Squats at 80% of your 1-RM.
Most of the workouts we do in class are training focused. If you are training to compete in CrossFit, approximately 50% of your training time should be spent Training.
Competition is game day. Pushing yourself to the absolute limit of your capacity. If you are trying to beat another athlete, or set a new record then you are competing.
Competition does have its place: if you are testing a lift, a benchmark workout, or participating in a competition then you need to Compete. However, many athletes make the mistake of competing too often in training. Approximately 5% of your training time should be spent competing. If you are trying to beat other athletes in class, or set a new record for more than 5% of your training time you are competing too often.