Thursday 150122

As many rounds as possible in 20 minutes of:
10 Burpees
1 Rope climb
40 Double unders

Post rounds to comments and BTWB

Mike Cain and James Bautsch are accountabilibuddies during Verve's "Change your habits, change your life" Challenge. Have you checked in with your buddy lately?

Mike Cain and James Bautsch are accountabilibuddies during Verve’s “Change your habits, change your life” Challenge. Have you checked in with your buddy lately?

 

Here’s a little story I got to tell. . . . about Mechanics, Consistency, and Intensity. By Courtney “drops mad beats” Shepherd

Well folks, the last time I wrote a blog addressing Mechanics/ Consistency/ Intensity (MCI) I started off by saying it wasn’t my first MCI blog and it wouldn’t be my last. I’m here to keep my promise, while also saying, this still will not be my last. Most of the blogs I bring to your attention are spawn from experiences had inside Verve, be it my own follies as a coach or an athlete or from shared moments with some of you. Enter today’s blog and the actual story I really have for you. We recently snatched in class, working up to a 1RM power snatch followed by some lighter accessory work. During the heavier portion of the work I watched an athlete struggle with the movement as weight was added to their bar. The snatch is the MOST TECHNICALLY DEMANDING lift, so I do not look down on anyone who has issue with this lift. . . . I’m 5 years into CrossFit and I have issue with this lift. I do commend any and all who show up at Verve on a heavy snatch day and put in the effort to become more comfortable with this movement. However, back to my story, this individual and I spoke, several times, about their inefficiencies with the lift. I gave coaching cues and feedback to help mend these inefficiencies. This individual listened, but continued to add more weight to their bar. At some point in the class, this person approached me and told me they were stuck, they could not seem to move this weight anymore, something must be wrong. This person was quite accurate, something was wrong, their technique. They had reached the end range of the weight they could move using their inefficient technique. “No, that’s not it. I just lifted the weight before it and I only added 10#. How could 10# make that much of a difference?” ALL athletes reach a plateau in their lifts, most of these plateaus are due to inefficiencies in technique. That is why those who specialize in Olympic lifting continue working tirelessly on their technique in the Olympic lifts. Their training never ends. The difference is where their plateau is compared to that of a 4 WOD/ week CrossFitter who may only really see the snatch once/ week at best.

So again, back to my story, I expressed some of these sentiments to the athlete. The athlete continued to not fully agree with me, so I had them snatch in front of me. If I’m going to argue about the problem here, then I should probably see it. This athlete was trying to muscle snatch heavy weight. There was no comfort level with pulling themselves underneath the bar. It would not have mattered if they only added 2 1/2 pounds from their last lift, they had maxed out their abilities unless they started getting under the bar. This is absolutely something I wanted this person to now work on, I wanted them to spend some time taking some of my cues and putting them to use to build the skill of snatching. Before I finish this story let me stress that I did not want this skill to be built at their current or previous weight. Please, please tell me you get that is not a good idea or even a reasonable one. Mechanics is not refined with maximal loads, our body will not suddenly understand how to correctly perform a movement under heavy loads that it has never practiced or refined under light ones.

Enter the accessory work, power snatching at 50-60% of the 1RM recently attained. This my friends, is the perfect time to work on some technique. After urging the class to abandon their heavy loads in exchange for their lighter ones, I returned to the athlete to find 85# on the bar, their load for the accessory work. This was a problem because 85# happened to be 75% of the 1RM this athlete just got. When I pointed this out to the athlete my hope was they would simply say “oops, my math bad”, instead I got, “Seriously? I can lift this.” I am a passionate person, especially about CrossFit. I’m passionate about making the people that come into Verve happy, healthy, functional, strong people. I’m passionate about progress free of injury, which is why my answer to this athlete was “No you can’t lift it. You’ve just proven to me that this is a difficult movement for you. You have not earned the right to put that weight on your bar.” Harsh? Perhaps. One of my jobs is to keep everyone in this gym safe. Lifting heavy weight with improper mechanics is the exact definition of unsafe. Henceforthy me allowing this current lifting situation to happen would be me not doing my job. Aside from the part related to my job, I guess my question is why? Why do we find ourselves wanting to push to do/ achieve something to the point we would risk injury to say we lifted more? Where is the urgency? Or is it that we don’t see that this situation has the potential for injury? In the words of Dr. Kelly Starrett,

“Our bodies will put up with our silly movement and lifestyle choices because they have a freakish amount of functional tolerance built in. We shouldn’t however, make the classic error of confusing this miraculous genetic inheritance with a tacit rationalization for eating, sleeping, or moving however we please.”

CrossFit is defined as “constantly varied, functional movements performed at high intensity”. CrossFit’s mantra however is Mechanics, consistency, intensity. . . in that order. Before intensity we want to see that movements are performed mechanically sound consistently. This is why we drill movements with PVC, and after PVC comes light weight. As we are able to consistently maintain good form we can begin to add more weight or add complexity to movements, thus increasing our intensity. Trying to do this in reverse, putting intensity before consistent mechanics, has consequences. Those consequences include at their worst injuries, and at the least excessive soreness that causes us to have to take a rest day rather than return to the gym, or taking 20 minutes to do a 10 minute WOD thus compounding the loss of intensity.

I have been told several times by athletes, while demoing a movement, that I make it look easy. I’ve been doing CrossFit consistently for 5 years. I started off scaling WODs, I disregarded weight for form, I listened to cues/ corrections, I worked on weaknesses to make them strengths, I focused on my own performance rather than that of others. I can look back over the 5 years and see progress. I can see myself going from banded pull-ups to unbroken sets of 12 kipping pull-ups. I can see the technique of my spit jerk improve to the point that it allows me to lift the heaviest weight over head. I can see my improvement across the board. . . . can you? I’ve had people come to me and say they have been a member for years, they feel like by now they should see an improvement in their cardio/ respiratory endurance. I agree with them, we should see that, but I know why we don’t. Because the concern for an “RX” by their name trumps lightening the load, cutting some reps, and moving faster, getting a greater intensity from the WOD in order to build that endurance. The same goes for lifting heavy weight. Spending time lifting lighter weight with better form builds the adaptation to later lift more weight. Constantly lifting heavy weight with bad form will never lead to lifting more weight better. Practice does not make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect.

As you progress through your CrossFit career and you push yourself with new challenges, ask yourself “do I have the mechanics, do I have them consistently?” If the answer is yes then increase the weight, increase the reps, increase the rounds, and move at a level of intensity that matches your abilities. Then, and only then, will you be stronger then yesterday.

 *The body fat truck is returning in February for our re-tests, you can start getting signed up now. It’s available to those who are doing it for the first time too!!

Click here for Wednesday February 11th (All day)

Click here for Thursday February 12th (AM only)

Comments

  1. Kacey :

    These are the exact words I needed to hear tonight. Thanks for the reminder, Courtney!!

  2. Matt :

    +1

    This is why Verve is a top 10 CF gym in the country.

Speak Your Mind

*