CrossFit…a technical failure
In CrossFit, everyday you have the chance to improve on something. Whether it’s your time on the workout, a new deadlift PR, or finishing the 2000m Row before your buddy who always seems to crush you. A lot of the movements done in CrossFit have a high level of skill involved when learning them. When these two mix, many make argument that the olympic lifts and other high skill movements along with competing against yourself and others on the leaderboard is destined to result in injury. Here’s why you should not have this concern and feel safe about your decision to come to a CrossFit box.
In CrossFit, we are known for giving out “no reps” as coaches. Many of you may have been, “no repped” by a coach before. A no rep is given when an athlete can no longer hold the standard of a movement that makes it a “good rep”. Some examples of this would be failure to get your hips through on a squat, not getting your chin above the bar on a pull-up, or not locking your elbows out overhead on an olympic lift.
These standards are just the bare minimum of what it takes to move with good form on many of these movements. Really, coaches and athletes should be holding themselves to an even higher standard while trying to move with the best technique that they possibly can.
When an athlete can no longer move with their best “form” due to fatigue, they may still be able to perform a “good rep” but it is in their best interest to not. We call this point a technical failure. If your goal is to improve as much as possible and remain as healthy as possible, when you reach this point you need to take a break. Sometimes it take :10 sometimes it takes 2:00 but in order to continue building better movement patterns and stay healthy this rest is necessary.
To negate injuries while still improving and even being competitive, we need to be able to recognize this point of technical failure. Allowing yourself to only participate when you can keep proper form will stop your body from picking up bad habits, stop your body from compensating, and ultimately, help prevent injury.
Overtime, as one improves the amount of time that they can avoid technical failure in workouts, their fitness will improve as well. The athletes many of us aspire to be like and admire, are the best technical movers. They move in the most efficient way possible, and are able to maintain that standard for the longest amount of time possible. We just don’t think of it in these terms we just usually say, he/she is, “super fit”.
If you take a look around your gym, you’ll notice that the people who are performing the best in workouts day in and day out, have the best form consistently throughout their workouts and this is what is allowing them to compete and move safely. If your form is breaking down and you are trying to compete against someone who is moving flawlessly, you don’t stand a chance.
Choosing to sacrifice your form for speed or for weight in any workout modality, not just CrossFit, will result in injury overtime. A bodybuilder who performs only “cheat reps” on the bench is destined for a shoulder impingement or rotator cuff problem. A bootcamper who constantly lets their knees cave in when they squat is destined for knee problems, and yes, a crossfitter who deadlifts with a rounded back will eventually have back problems. If all of these people instead took the time to move with good form consistently and focus on their technique the majority of the time; they would develop much better habits, have better muscle memory and be able to compete, if they so choose, at a much higher level.
To excel at CrossFit and stay safe in the process, your goal should be to compete with yourself and others (if you choose) daily while consistently avoiding technical failure. Competition pushes us to be our best and gives us something to strive for day to day. Competition allows us to go where we wouldn’t otherwise, and get results we wouldn’t without it. Prioritizing good movement and technique will allow us to push the threshold we can work at while avoiding technical failure; you’ll notice improvement in your speed, strength, and times at a faster rate while feeling better. The two of these together allow us to get the most out of CrossFit and certainly allow us to train without the constant stress of “am I risking injury here?”. The mix of high skill movements with class competition is a recipe for amazing, life-changing results, not injury!