I’ve just spent this past weekend completing my CrossFit Level 2 Training Seminar, and I feel compelled to communicate a thought that I’ve have for some time, but that was strongly reinforced over the course of those two days. We literally spent two days drilling the basics and refining each movement as a coach (and as a mover by default) to a place of perfection. When you move well and you engage in something like this, it goes to show you that no matter how good you think you are, there’s always something to improve.
I enjoyed refining my skills as a coach, and I’m not blowing my own horn here, but all of you have at some point commented on how well I move. I can tell you that this weekend I walked away with a list of at least a dozen things that I need to refine in my own movements. They’re subtle, probably not visible to most, but nonetheless they are there.
This is the overall theme that quality outweighs quantity. One can apply this idea across the entire span of their life and actions, but lets just speak about it in relation to training.
I have my own views on training that have been refined over the course of my training lifetime, and the various systems I’ve studied. You’ll find other coaches are much the same, each with their own flavor of methodologies, none of which are necessarily better than any other (though each will try to convince you that theirs’ is best). As coaches and trainers, we may or may not agree with the entirety of a system, but some sections may stand out to us, and we may use those as part of our own compilation.
CrossFit has a hierarchy for movements in relation to intensity that I really like and agree with. It is:
It’s fairly straightforward. First, you must have good mechanics (technique) with a movement, and be able to show mastery over all major faults and most minor faults, thus making the movement safe for you to do. Second, you need to be able to do that consistently; its great if you can do one perfect deadlift, but can you do 10, or 20 with the same, clean technique? Finally, you add the intensity. If you are missing the first two components in any manner, or your form over time has become sloppy, what you should do is go back to step one, and follow the process.
Because were here to train. Being able to lift a large load is rewarding no doubt, but if you aren’t paying attention to the quality of your movements, there are two major roadblocks you will run into:
2. Plateau of your strength/speed/endurance due to movement inefficiencies
Getting stronger/faster/better seems linear; just work harder. Though working hard is important, I’ve just addressed something that will improve your strength/speed/endurance (depending on the movement) without even improving one of the mentioned three metrics; your technique. If your technique improves, your ability to create force improves, as well as the economy of your movement. It’s much easier to Clean and Jerk a maximum if you apply the correct principles of strength, and dial in your technique. Its also much easier to do 150 wall balls if you refine your movement, and make each rep methodical and near identical to the previous rep.
What we’re getting at here are really two fine points: Cultivate quality in your training, and don’t underestimate the basics. I you are struggling with your back squat, go back to your air squat and see if there’s anything you can refine that would catalyze improvement. If your handstand push up feels impossible, return to your strict press and refine your strength and mechanics; they’ll most definitely assist you in your HSPU pursuit.
Drill the basics and Cultivate Quality, and in time you’ll realize as I have that how you do one thing is how you do everything, and that when your mechanics improve in one movement, like the roots of a tree its influence will spread far beyond itself.