In December 2019, YouTuber Laurie Shaw wanted to set himself a tough fitness challenge that would force him well out of his comfort zone. So he decided to take on 30 consecutive days of infamously hard CrossFit sessions, with the help of CrossFitter Axel Schurawlow.
In addition to pushing himself to the point of exhaustion every day, Laurie made sure that for the entire month he was also eating well (and not eating past 7 p.m.), getting enough sleep, and always warming up and cooling down properly.
“I had to learn to start light, improve the technique, and only then to add more weight,” he says. “I used to try and go all in, and see how heavy I could do straight away, but I learned through experience that the best way to get the most from each of my CrossFit sessions was to perfect the technique so that my body knew how to do the exercise, was comfortable and capable of the movement, and then when I was confident in my technique, adding more weight would be far more effective for me, as my body would respond the right way, and give myself the strongest chance of building my strength and fitness.”
A typical CrossFit session is split into two components: strength and conditioning. Laurie learned quickly to go 100 percent hard in the conditioning, but only 90 percent in the strength. “You can recover relatively easily from conditioning training, it doesn’t leave you dead and sore the next day,” he says. “But if you go 100 percent every day in the strength component, you’re often super sore the next day and it means you don’t get the most out of your CrossFit session the day after.”
As the month went on, his excitement around the challenge began to wane, and he had to come up with new ways to stay motivated. So he started doing the workouts first thing in the morning, waking up at 6 a.m. It wasn’t a notion he relished, but that was kind of the point, he says. “I began feeling comfortable with being uncomfortable, and I actually started looking forward to waking up early.”
At the end of the 30 days, Laurie acknowledges that he’s not actually put on much in the way of muscle mass, but that he has felt a noticeable change in his personal fitness.
“It never actually got any easier. In fact, I’d say if anything the sessions got harder and more intense,” he says. “This is when I felt myself slowly becoming stronger and fitter. As I became more comfortable and familiar with the movements and techniques, I was able to increase the weights I would lift, shorten the time between sets, and become a little faster in the conditioning. So in essence I was lifting more, resting less, and becoming faster.”
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