Whether you have done CrossFit or not, I am sure at some point in your life you have performed a workout that has turned competitive. It might have been lifting weights with a mate and trying to constantly outdo eachother with how heavy you could lift. Or something as silly as a press up competition. CrossFit tends to use the element of competition to drive people to push harder and faster and therefore make progress in their training. Now this isn’t something explicitly discussed. No prizes are given out after workouts, and I have never heard any coaches say they are looking for a winner in the WOD (Workout of the Day). However, CrossFit WOD’s are generally ‘For Time’, or an ‘AMRAP’. ‘For Time’ means everyone starts at the same time and tries to complete the workout as quickly as possible. ‘AMRAP’ stands for As Many Reps As Possible, within a set time frame. And after the workout everyone’s scores are recorded. So, as you can imagine most people want to have the fastest time or highest score on the board.
I was coaching a class a little while ago that included some pull ups within the WOD. In fact the WOD had a considerable number of pull ups. To realistically complete them all within the time cap people were going to have to perform kipping pull ups. So the workout starts and this one member is flying through the workout. They have seen the quickest time for the day and have set themselves a target to beat it. This is awesome, until… they get a few rounds in and those kipping pull ups start to look real ugly. Their legs are thrashing all over the place and they are not keeping a tight core to generate power in the kip. This member wasn’t causing themselves any harm, or going to get an injury from what they were doing so I tried not to intervene in the workout.
However, me and a fellow coach at discussed what had happened. Although the member in question wasn’t going to get injured doing what they were doing.
What impact could this have on others in the class?
What benefit are they gaining from this in the workout?
For starters, others within that class might have seen his technique and thought ‘WTF!’. Before long they might start to perform crappy reps to try and win. The desire to win is fantastic and it adds to the atmosphere of a class. However, by losing their form that member lost the opportunity to develop more strength and missed out on the intended stimulus for that workout.
I know I have been guilty of the same thing in the past. In fact I can think of a workout that included deadlift. Lazily I let the bar come away from my body and just used my lower back because the weight was light and I wanted to win. It’s human nature. However, it is also important for us to take a step back sometimes and think about the whole process.
What are we doing the workout for? Is it just training? Or an actual competition?
What is the goal in the long run? What is going to best serve this goal?
If I had stuck to correct deadlift form then I would be reinforcing and rehearsing good technique over and over. I would have utilised the intended muscles and helped improve their muscular endurance, which would benefit me more in the long run. One sentence this other coach said to me during our conversation really stuck with me and sums it all up.
”Be fast, but don’t hurry.”
Whatever your training, whatever your goal, good luck with it and make sure you enjoy the process.