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Coach's Blog

That Doesn’t Look Hard

By Rob | In Coach's Blog | on October 6, 2011

So you may have noticed a little change in the programming lately. Things look a little different when you hit the refresh button on your browser for the 100th time and the WOD finally shows up. (Yes, we know some of you do that). Maybe you wonder why certain things are in the WOD. Or maybe you think we are crazy. Or maybe you don’t think the WOD’s look hard. Is there a method to the madness?

Many people believe CrossFit is synonymous with Strength, Speed and Cardiovascular/Respiratory Endurance. However, those are just three of the 10 General Physical Skills that define “fitness”, as advocated by CrossFit HQ. In addition to those skills, we must also improve our Stamina, Flexibility, Power, Coordination, Agility, Balance and Accuracy in order to be well-rounded athletes. So, is harder always better?

Is Harder Better?

This is a great question. The fact is, as Dutch Lowy would say, “harder isn’t better, better is better”.  Unfortunately, a common misconception in training whether it is CrossFit or any style of training is that a workout should be long and leave you dying on the floor to be “good”. People always seem to either be looking to complete or write the next “epic” workout. (For more on this check out these articles from our friends at Whole9Life, Sexy Metcon and Better is Better)

In addition to the 10 General Physical Skills, our programming also considers the metabolic pathways we are working in. Improvement in athletic performance and body composition is achieved when we work in all three metabolic pathways: Phosphagen, Glycolytic, Oxidative( and most of that time in the first two). Different time domains hit different metabolic pathways. So when we write workouts, there is a specific time range we target. The goal is for everybody to hit the time range, regardless of whether they are a beginner, intermediate, or fire breather. There will be days when times are out of whack because scaling is not perfect or a WOD is possibly more skill-heavy.  But, the intent is for every person to hit the about the same time range regardless of their fitness level, that way all receive the same training effect. This reinforces the importance of proper scaling, because trying to gut out a heavy weight can turn a workout into a different time domain than intended.

Dude, can I borrow your lacrosse ball?

The sad fact is that modern living does lots of bad things to our mobility. Our daily lives create default positions that affect our ability to get in proper positions…OH Squat anybody? Recently, a couple of us attended continuing education opportunities that reinforced the importance of mobility(CF Movement and Mobility and RKC)

For this reason, we have incorporated mobility in the strength portions of the class on a daily basis. Much of this is focused on the hips and shoulders. Poor mobility around these joints can lead to injury.  Poor mobility affects movement efficiency.

The unfortunate reality is that it is harder to regain mobility then it is to maintain it. For some of us this is going to be a long battle, so start today. We do believe mobility and flexibility is part of a well-rounded athlete. As Kelly Starrett  says “You can’t take a day off of mobility.”  (Check out moblitywod.com for mobility drills for any situation)

Does Movement Quality Matter?

The magic of CrossFit is in the movements. To further qualify, proper movement is really where it is at. As CrossFitters we are competitive and like to move intensely. However moving fast can compromise form and technique. Using too heavy of a load can also compromise form and technique. Both of these conditions result in lots of practice of bad movement.  We dedicate a portion of the class to technique and proper position and movement patterns. Practicing proper movement will help you maintain decent form as you fatigue and try to work quickly and efficiently through a WOD.

We constantly strive to improve programming and bring best practices to help you improve. We want you to be better at CrossFit and life. So when you are walking, driving or sitting at your desk, be aware of your posture. Roll out with foam rollers or lacrosse balls on your hamstrings and hip flexors daily. Focus during skill work with the PVC pipe, practice those movements with tight cores and the assumption that the PVC pipe weighs 150 lbs. Do Yoga!!! Refine all the fundamental movements, air squat, front squat, OH Squat, deadlift, sumo deadlift high pull, cleans, shoulder press, push press, and push jerk. Good mobility, proper technique, full range of motion, and appropriate load and intensity make all the difference in the world for you. All these things will make you more mobile, injury resistant and achieve more results!

One Comment to "That Doesn’t Look Hard"

  • Eric Vaughn says:

    October 6, 2011 at 8:09 pm - Reply


    Great article. I think this says alot. Especially if you want to see people over 35 benefiting from Crossfit and not becoming injured, your clients and coaches need to embrace these ideas. I look forward to hooking up with you soon.


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