“You gotta know when to hold ’em. Know when to fold ’em.
Know when to walk away. Know when to run.”
-Kenny Rogers, The Gambler
I’m sure you have no illusions about CrossFit’s tumultuous reputation.
Everyday I see memes, rants, and digital diatribes on the dangers of CrossFit and the foolishness of those who practice it.
The overarching belief is:
CrossFit encourages people do things heavier, harder and faster than what is safe or even necessary.
It puts otherwise average Joes, middle aged men, mothers and grandmas into workouts that are far beyond their skill or fitness level with reckless abandon for form.
There lies, implicit in these critiques, that if you do CrossFit, you’re competing in CrossFit. These people see the CrossFit games and think that when they walk into a gym, this is what people are expected to do. They think we do 100 reps of everything everyday.
But there is a key distinction that many (even, sadly, many crossfit trainers) fail to make is:
Doing CrossFit as a sport is very different from doing it as a vehicle to increasing fitness.
The latter, is the approach we take towards the vast majority of our clients. It is, however not what people see or gets the viral youtube shares.
Instead what you see are CrossFit fail compilations (which btw, are HILARIOUS).
In many many ways, CrossFit has earned this reputation. Lots of trainers in this movement run people into the ground and throw people in to movements and workouts they simply aren’t ready for or don’t need to do at all. But this is a classic example of confusing the message with the messenger.
People see injuries and youtube videos and articles that provide a shocking account of what people experience in CrossFit and assume these exceptions are the rule and that injuries are inherent to the methodology of CrossFit.
It isn’t. It’s just an example of human nature. We take it too far sometimes. Which brings me to the point of this article. One of the reasons so many people get injured in CrossFit is because of an attitude prevalent among us that many the best and most experienced CrossFitters have learned isn’t always helpful.
That is, No Pain, No Gain.
CrossFit attracts ambitious people. I know that because just look at the people you workout with at Heyday. Each of them are over successful people. Highly accomplished often in many areas, driven by passion. They are doggedly determined and stubborn, sometimes to a fault. One of the best ways to get them all riled up is to tell them NOT to do something. If you really want to piss ’em off, tell them they CAN’T do something. That one really rattles their cages.
CrossFit is all about getting you outside of your comfort zone. It’s about hard work. It gets you to train with intensity and push you further than you thought possible.
It is this philosophy, that attracts motivated people and gets them to progress so much in the gym. It’s often called “Embracing the suck” or “going to that dark place”. It’s the habit of keeping on when your lizard brain is panicking telling you it’s too hard, telling you to quit. It’s the abolition of perceived limits and our “secret sauce” to getting better.
Training with intensity like this, is an absolutely essential element of doing CrossFit.
Too often, this gets construed as “I need to push myself in any and every circumstance without regards to pain and proper execution”.
There is a very very important difference between pushing yourself through the pain of burning muscles, heavy breathing and fatigue that is only a result of inching your way towards increased strength and performance….
And pushing yourself though nagging, incessant, recurring joint pain just so you can finish a WOD or put an “RX” next to your name.
It’s the “Pain is weakness leaving the body” mentality that gets many people injured.
Listen, pain is feedback. Pain is telling you something. Always.
Sometimes it’s saying:
…”You eat like crap and don’t exercise enough so you need to step it up.”
…..“Right now you are weak, you need to get stronger.”
…….“You need to stop being a baby and pick up the bar.”
Other times it’s saying:
“You are doing this wrong, and damaging something and need to stop immediately.”
“Seriously, I mean it, stop doing the thing.”
“Really? You’re still doing the thing, okay… insert [POP, TEAR, TWEAK, SNAP, or BREAK]”
Now you’ve got yourself a 6-12 week involuntary sabbatical. Not worth it.
The vast majority of injuries arise from confusing the latter with the former.
If you know your pain is because you need to push, then push. But if you know, it’s something more malign. Then listen.
What do you need to fix? What is over-compensating? What are you doing wrong? Slow it down. Listen to your body.
This is why, if you CrossFit, your desire to get better must be tempered with *Discernment*.
This means know when to push yourself and when to hold back.
When to take a rest day.
What exercises do I need to do to eliminate the problem?
When and what to mobilize. And actually doing it. Often.
“80% of your problems and limitations can be fixed on your own. “
Wait, you don’t know how to mobilize?
Why are you not at Mike Aspinwalls awesome yoga class, which is geared toward recovery and maintenance?
Why have you not spoken with us about what your problem is or how can you fix it?
It comes down to how serious are you are about healing up. You gotta be as stubborn and determined about recovery as you are about training.
If needed, schedule a 1 on 1 with us to force yourself to do the corrective work.
But most importantly, when you are injured you gotta have the restraint to not make a bad problem worse just because you’re caught up in the moment. We’ll call this the “Kenny Rogers Philosophy towards lifting”. Know when to walk away. Know when to run.
This isn’t easy. Trust me I know. But I’ve injured myself enough to learn I’d rather live to fight another day than damage something in the name of my ego.
World renowned trainer, Mike Boyle says:
“My number one goal is to reduce my athlete’s incidence of injury. Even performance enhancement comes in secondary to injury reductions. I used to say injury prevention, but in reality only divine intervention can prevent injury.”
This would have been a hard pill to swallow for my younger self. We want more performance and something as boring as “injury reduction” hardly crosses our minds. But, as someone whose been sidelined from injury before (more than a few times), there is nothing that decimates “gainz” and results more than being out for 6-12 weeks.
Ignoring injury means you are opting to take two steps forward and an inevitable three steps back.
It’d be much more effective to take a series of unbroken single steps forward. Sustainable and continuous, albeit slow, progress.
Find the middle ground. There’s definitely another side to this coin. It is quite common for people to approach training with so much caution their training never actually triggers any change. But that’s for another post.
As you get in the swing of 2015, remember to push yourself beyond your limits but smart about it and put ample energy into recovery and maintenance.
Workout of the Day:
A. segmented Clean Deadlift + Hang Power Clean + Power Clean (3+3+3) 5×1
* Rest as needed btw complexes.
B. Push Press 4×3
C. AMRAP 8
3, 6, 9, 12, 15, etC.
A. 1 ¼ Front Squat 2, 2, 2, 2, 2
Rest 2-3min (heavier than last week)
B. Segmented Clean DL + Clean 1, 1 x5 sets
Segmented Clean DL – Pause above knee for two count
C. EMOM 6- Squat Clean x4 115/75 +5-10 Toes to Bar
3 Rounds Not For Time
Ring Row With Feet on 20” Box x8-12 Reps
Single Leg DL x5 / Leg (light load)
WTD Hip Ext x8-12 Reps