One of the biggest mistakes I witness in beginner or intermediate crossfitters that want to improve in CrossFit(CF) do is to solely train a basic CF program. The many components and diversity of CF prevent an individual from focusing on the most important aspect which is strength.
If you are serious about your CF training and want to improve or to compete on a local level in fitness competitions, or you want to challenge yourself to be in your best physical state, then following the normal programming that most local boxes provide won’t be the most efficient way to do it. A short “skill/strength” training and then a WOD/METCON (METabolic CONditioning) is not a great way to become good at CF.
If you look at the best Crossfitters in the world, it is not the way they program their training. They spend more time on getting strong and they practice CF skills like Olympic weightlifting and gymnastics.
The most important thing for a beginner or an intermittent Crossfitter is to get strong! How strong you need to be, it depends on how good you want to be. The reason why it’s so important to be strong is because the stronger you are the lower the relative load on each repetition compare to your one rep max will be. This translates to better endurance at lower weights. Strength will also protect you from getting injured.
Good conditioning is of course important but if you are doing a metcon that involves, say for example, multiple repetitions of front squat @185 lb and your 1RM is 200 lb then it doesn’t matter how good cardiovascular capacity you have, you will struggle.
One of the best examples of this is when the best Crossfitter of all time (Rich Froning) and Dmitry Klokov did the workout Isabele (30 snatches for time) @225 lb. Fronings max snatch is somewhere around 300lbs Klokovs somewhere around 455lb. Some of you might say well Klokov is a weightlifter and has way better technique then Froning. Well that is true for maybe the first 5 reps. But he is not used to doing 30 reps in a row and towards the end Klokovs technique was terrible, he even missed a couple of lifts (Froning didn’t miss one single snatch). For all of us that have seen the video, we can agree that Froning’s technique over all was much better. Froning was working on above 70% of his 1RM and Klokov on less then 50%. There was no question who was the more tired of the two after the workout (Klokov looked like he was about to die and Froning probably just rested for an hour or so and then did another workout) but Klokov was faster than Froning and he won just because he is stronger.
My recommendation is that you find out what level you are at and get yourself a strength program that is right for you. Practice skills like olympic lifting and gymnastics in the beginning of your sessions then get to work with our strength program. Do short metcons twice a week to maintain cardiovascular capacity.