Mike at full effort AND output
In competition, mental intensity and work output are the keys to success. It is imperative that you learn how to switch on your body and mind so that you can perform at 100% capacity. With single seconds, reps, and pounds deciding placings this is all the more important.
There are many people out there though that operate 100% at 90% ... which means that they are performing at 90% output 100% of the time. Note that I said output, and not effort... these are different and your mind can trick you into believing that they are one and the same.
100% effort is you feeling like you are giving your best on that day. The trouble is that if there is underlying fatigue or lack of mental focus, your 100% effort is NOT going to be 100% output.
100% output is your maximum physiological capacity for completing work - i.e. what your body is truly capable of. This not only requires full effort but also a rested and primed physiological state.
Typically in Crossfit people tend to push themselves hard (maximally?) every workout. This can be (almost) okay if you work out infrequently and aren't concerned about performance. However if competition achievement is your game, you need to change your mindset.
You need to be able to recognize when you are physically ready to compete at your best and are also mentally tuned for peak performance. The way to do this is twofold - adjust your effort level on a daily basis and target key wods to demonstrate maximum output.
Performing workouts at 70, 80, 90% effort will reveal several things to you (more on that later) but will most importantly allow you to judge what is easy, moderate, hard, and maximal. It will also provide your body with opportunities to grow its fitness in other areas while helping avoid excessive fatigue.
By targeting 1 key workout a week and getting prepared mentally and physically for it, you will begin to be able to demonstrate 100% output. Practicing operating at this intensity will improve your ability to repeat it in other workouts and will sharpen your competitive edge.
So if you feel like you're putting out 100% but are performing at 90% or below, try the suggestions above - with training for the 2015 Open already underway, dial in your focus and work some quality.