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Training against the Whiteboard

I can’t believe it has taken me this long to write a blog on this topic: the mentality of many CrossFit athletes.  I am not attacking the sport aspect of CrossFit, this is my sport after all.  Too often, however, we see athletes that will sacrifice everything to hit a new PR or go faster on a workout or even take too long on a specified workout all for the sake of going RX.  Let’s dive into this a bit more.  

First let’s start with strategizing workouts, STOP!!! When you are “training” (which is what you do everyday) you should not be overly strategizing.  The goal should be to go as unbroken as possible.  When you are competing that is where your should strategize.  Many times people will come to me before a competition and ask how they should strategize the next workout.  The answer is simple, don’t strategize until you try the workout one time first.  Your goal should always be to go unbroken, obviously that is easier said than done but it should be tried.  You never know what you are capable of until you go for it.  Another big problem is when people do interval type work and intentionally rest early during certain movements in order to do better at other movements.  This one here crushes me.  An example of this would be during a tabata-style workout where an athlete works for 20 seconds and rests for 10 seconds in a duration of 8 intervals.  I routinely see people stop at 15 or sometimes even 10 seconds in order to get more rest.  At that point we are worried too much about our score than the training value of the particular workout.  Not every workout needs a score.  Some workouts were designed to be a workout,  that is all.  The workout will then make you better at other movements in the big picture.  

Next let’s talk about movements themselves.  I read a quote from Kelly Starrett once, and I’m paraphrasing here, “Great, you did a handstand walk, and you’re wrecking your motor patterning for your pressing motions”.  For whatever reason people are ok walking on their hands with a rounded back but are quick to point out incorrect movement patterns on a deadlift.  One is not more important than the next.  If you handstand walk with imperfect form, your pressing movements with a barbell will suffer.  On the same token I see people with barbell movements with a rounded back back squat or an extreme wide stance power clean.  Yeah be proud that you hit a PR but you should also be upset that your movement sucked.  Your movements will never be perfect but striving toward perfection should always be our goal.  You may not hurt yourself today but a catastrophic injury will always be around the corner until you perfect your movement pattern.  

When it comes down to CrossFit, I still believe it is the best methodology for creating elite athletes.  It is not a fad and it isn’t going anywhere.  I do feel some athletes however over think movements or workouts and over strategize.  Know the difference between training and testing.  If you are testing, you should strategize but when you are training, the goal should be to give an all out effort in order to maximize the training.  Life isn’t all about the white board.  Learn to look past it and strengthen your weaknesses and don’t only focus on getting the best times.  

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