Everyone’s seen that video of the guy lifting 400 plus pounds as you watch with one eye closed hoping his spine doesn’t shoot out the back of his shirt because of terrible form right?
It’s the thing that makes people who appreciate sound movement want to vomit.
But we’ve all seen it, right? Most of us have even fallen prey to it ourselves in the face of getting a faster time or those coveted two letters “RX” on the whiteboard at the end of the workout.
With CrossFit, it’s easy to fall into this mentality. It’s a competitive sport at the end of the day that’s dictated by work capacity across modal domains (time). The more weight you can move in a given time frame, the better your score will be and the more famous you’ll be among your classmates—so the story goes.
But what about the guy or gal in the back that’s moving a little bit slower, but his or her movement is spot on. You look at them as a coach trying to muster something to improve the way they’re moving and you have nothing other than, “hey see if you can smile or something while you’re lifting that bar, that would be great.”
Does the fact that they initially produce a lower score make them a worse CrossFitter somehow?
Absolutely not. In fact, the argument could and should be made that in the long-run, they’re the ones who are going to prevent injuries and succeed. The long game is in the forefront of their minds, not the score they get on a single WOD.
What you don’t see is that the person who’s moving fast but doing so inefficiently has a ceiling on their scores. They might be good now, but that’s, for lack of a better term, as good as they’re going to get. The thing about someone who moves poorly is that, yes they might also have a higher work capacity currently than the person moving for form first and speed second, but they also are working harder rep for rep. What may require little force production from the person with perfect movement requires near maximal force production from the CrossFitter who’s movement is ugly and inefficient.
The person who chases excellence of movement first is going to be the one who’s around in 20 years and is still feeling and training properly without injuries. They’re the ones who are able to work faster the more they come into the gym so their work capacity actually increases and knows no bounds.
The other important point to know with moving more efficiently is that it’s safer for your body to do so. You’re firing the right muscles at the right times and not overworking muscles that don’t need to be utilized during a specific movement.
For example, if you’re doing double-unders and are jumping six inches off the ground and are raising your heels to your butt every time, you’re working much harder to complete each rep than the athlete jumping two inches off the ground who keeps his knees nearly locked out on each rep. What that translates to is the latter athlete being able to move into the second movement a lot less tired. If it’s for example a deadlift, they’re able to move to the bar quicker and have more energy to complete the given set of reps to finish the workout. The other athlete wasted energy moving poorly.
This example translates to virtually every other movement and workout. If you can move efficiently with good form first, speed and a heavier load can come after. At that point, you can gradually increase speed to the point where your form will allow.
Work in the margins of your capabilities and your skills and abilities as a CrossFitter will improve. Work for a superficial score beyond your movement capacity, and fight the cycle of mediocrity forever.