Why is it that during the strength portion of a crossfit class we focus on correct movement, but during the METCON portion it is “acceptable” to have compromised form? This argument is stemmed from the same question that Greg Glassman answers in the CF-L1 guide: “Do you want me to move well or move fast?” His answer is often misinterpreted: yes. Coach Glassman states that he wants you to move fast and have good form. Lets dive into just what it means to have intensity and move correctly.
Let’s talk about power. Power is how much work we can do, divided by how long it takes us. Work is force times distance. Depending on the movement, force is fixed by the weight that is on the bar, or in the case of gymnastics, our own body weight. Distance is fixed by how tall we are. A 6’4 person has farther to squat than someone who is 5’2 unless we half-rep, but that is a topic for another time. So how do increase my power, aka, intensity? You go faster. Simply put, the faster I move for a given amount of work, the more power I will produce and the more benefits I will receive in my training. Additionally, if it is a fixed time workout, like an AMRAP, then I do more work in the same amount of time and will also increase my power output.
If intensity is moving fast, and Crossfit’s prescription is: “constantly varied functional movement executed at high intensity“, then I should move as fast as I can all the time right? No. Coach Glassman also gives us this answer in the CF-L1 guide:
“In a CrossFit workout, if you are moving well, I will tell you to pick up the speed. Suppose at the higher speed the movement still looks good: I will encourage you to go faster. And if it still looks good I will encourage you to go even faster. Now the movement starts falling apart. I do not want you to slow down yet. First, at that speed I want you to fix your technique. What you need to do is continuously and constantly advance the margins at which form falters.
So why is this hard to do? There are two reasons: 1) competition mindset and 2) lack of awareness. Let’s talk a minute about these. Having a competition mindset is great as long as it is applied correctly. Nothing will drive you to move faster than having someone next to you to push you to the next level. This actually drives the intensity through the roof, thereby maximizing your benefits from the workout. Here’s the tricky part, you can’t move like an A-Hole just to get 2 seconds faster than the other guy. Doing the starfish power clean is not acceptable just because you are fatigued.
The other complicating factor is lack of your own body awareness. Some people legitimately don’t know that they are doing something wrong. You think your back is straight in a deadlift but in reality it is crooked like a question mark.
You think you’re doing these sweet butterfly pullups but in reality, you’re not even close to chin over the bar and you look like the “floppy-fish” pull-up videos that give crossfit a bad name.
Here’s the secret: the best way to move fast is to move well, period, bottomline, the end.
Just remember, good form is not just something we are worrying about during the strength portion of the class. Here is a challenge to you: classes are an hour long so for 60 minutes, focus on moving correctly for every portion of the class, which includes the warm-up and the WOD. Make every air squat, every stroke on the rower, or every ring row as perfect as you can. Develop an awareness of what you are doing and move correctly, as fast as you can.
– Coach Adam