“I could have gotten a few more reps.”

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that over the last four weeks, and I’ve said it at least four times myself. It is, in fact, the most common sentence to be uttered after a CrossFit workout.

In your mind, you can always get a few more reps, but the truth of the matter is that you didn’t.

I ate that that bitter fact this week, when I posted a score I wasn’t happy with. I moped for most of a day, and of course I considered redoing the workout. But after a day of being a total suck, I came to a realization: maybe I could have gotten a few more reps, but I didn’t earn them. My score reflects the exact amount of effort I put into that attempt, and I deserved not one more rep. I banished thoughts of a redo and my mood improved significantly.

In some cases, redoing a workout is warranted, of course. Qualifying for regionals is hard and might come down to one rep. Many, many athletes redo workouts, and even CrossFit Games champ Kristan Clever isn’t above it. I’ve redone one myself (I regretted the decision), and I’ve recommended some of our athletes redo them as well for specific reasons usually related to earning a spot at regionals.

But here’s the thing: there are no do-overs at regionals or any other competition.

The four days of Open competition each week offer us all the time in the world to obsess over a few missed reps. Leaderboarding makes it worse. How many of us have looked at the leaderboard, seen a rival’s score and said, “That guy beat me? WTF?” And so we head back to the gym to try to soothe the ego with 5 extra toes-to-bars.

But there are no do-overs at regionals. It’s one and done.

Don’t misunderstand me: there’s no shame in a redo. But if you want to be a top competitor, you need to learn how to plan for a workout and then attack it one time with all the firepower in the arsenal. Launch one vicious assault, stagger out of the gym and ask what’s for supper.

I’ll take it one step further: even if you don’t want to be a top competitor, you need to learn how to plan for a workout and then attack it one time with all the firepower in the arsenal.

And that’s where everyone can learn from some of our athletes for whom 135 and 95 lb. were heavy loads indeed. We often cluster around to watch our top athletes put up huge scores as they seem to move the weight with ease, but this week I had the pleasure of judging some inspirational athletes who walked in wondering if 135 or 95 would go up even once. For them, each rep was a max effort at a weight well above a current PR.

Those athletes bent over to grip the bar and didn’t know if it would go up, and those 7 minutes weren’t spent worrying about 80 or 100 reps but rather 1 rep. Each of those athletes gave all he or she had to earn each rep. No multiples, no unbroken sets, no strategic rest, no targeting scores by leaderboard stalking. Just a final number amassed by a series of max efforts with nothing saved for later.

None of those athletes wanted to do the workout again. They spent everything they had, and when I told them their score, they were overjoyed because they knew it represented 100 percent effort. They knew they had earned that score.

You can learn a lot by watching these athletes, and you should watch them closely in 13.5, because after next Sunday, there are no do-overs. Whether you go to regionals or to our lunch class on a Thursday, you only get one shot, and you need to find a way to walk out proud rather than disappointed after each workout.

Event 13.5 represents the end of the competition season for almost all of us, and here’s my challenge to you as you step up to the Open’s final test: find a way to walk out of the gym knowing that you couldn’t possibly have gotten even one more rep.

Then take that knowledge and apply it to everything you do in life.

Special thanks go to Tom, Foden, Emily and others for teaching me about real effort. I also know several of you suffered through a flu this week but made no excuses for numbers you weren’t happy with. I respect that.

Comments closed

Tierney Jacobs

This is such a fantastic motivator, this article. I myself can take a TON of advice from what is said above and its motivation like this that reminds me of WHY I love Crossfit and the people that surround its atmosphere. I have often tried to express similar messages to friends or even strangers who look at Crossfit as “something I will never be capable of” but when it comes to my own goals and achievements I find myself in need of eating my own words. I will go into 13.5 to the best of my ability this weekend and give credit to the motivators of Crossfit for believing in my capabilities as an individual. I am from Crossfit Cadence and I LOVE my gym!

Scott Cassin

AWESOME point of view, we have athletes who PR’d on just lifting the weight, and injured athletes who had the courage to try for 7min to get one rep just to stay in the fight (the games).. They are my inspiration… thanx again

Fernando Pontaza

Excellent article. I concur with this philosophy and think redos are beneficial only if you are to try a different strategy, say… step-ups instead of box jumps in the case of 13.2. Otherwise I think you’re always leaving something in reserve thinking about the 2nd, third or fourth time you are going to do the same wod.
That and the fact that I suck at recuperating!

Trevor Folgering

PERFECT ARTICLE! Thanks for posting!

Jon Heinley

I nursed a caft pull all week from DU of 13.3. I waited util the last minute to do 13.4 giving my calf as much time to heal as possible. I knew i had only one shot and it made me put 100% effort into it. Didn’t get mygoal but totally satisfied cause i left nothing on the table. im a fan of one and done but do believe in special circumstances. How better would this world be if we all had that same attitude, and not the attitude of well, i just do it over , buy a new one, there’s always tomorrow if we dont like it.

Christiane Schuster

I am in that group of not knowing if I would even be able to lift the bar over my head once. And to find that I managed 20 reps at the end of 7 mins was a complete miracle as far as I was concerned.
I’m so glad you posted this article, because it sums up exactly how the games should be approached. You get out what you put in. And I am overjoyed at each and every single rep! BTW, I have only been doing CrossFit for 9 months.

Shannon Hart

That was very well said. I was that person looking at that 95pounds and wondering if I would get one rep. I was able to get the first three and then spent the next 6 1/2 minutes trying to get my toes to bar. I was able to get two toes to bar but that third eluded me by two inches during my 15 attempts. I was spent and went in wanting to do more but in the end I realized that I had achieved two goals previously unattained by me. My last set of clean and jerks prior to this was 75 pounds and I had never performed a toes to bar so I was thrilled with my five reps.


I agree in the sense that you should leave it all the table, and I would prefer to only do the workout once. But when we’re in competition mode, it’s usually about your strategy not that you didn’t give it everything you have. Often times, we pick a strategy and go for it. Then after, we might want to try a different strategy that will save our grip for the end or save our legs, our lungs, etc. Essentially we are trying to game the workout. Sometimes we picked the right strategy the first time. That’s great. One and done. Move on. I wouldn’t attack the same workout twice using the same strategy. The chances of getting a few more reps are slim unless we weren’t feeling our best that day. Of course, this is not the way we attack a normal workout. In a normal workout, you don’t game it, you don’t try to strategize the best way to get a few more reps. In a normal workout, you go hard from beginning to end because that’s how we get better.


I am a relatively new CrossFitter at 62. I crashed and burned on 13.4 not getting a single completed C&J in two attempts (Thursday & Sunday). The first time I was reduced to tears. The second time the results were the same but I learned to rejoice in that I gave it all I had and I was able to celebrate. The Open has taught me a great deal about myself and the CF community; they cheered me on like I was Rich Froning. When I grow up I want to be a CrossFitter.

Robin Moore

This is spot on! Thanks!

Comments are closed.