The Long Haul
The eloquent songstress Miranda Lambert has a song titled “Automatic.” She speaks of a peaceful time in which things were not as automatic as they are in the current society we live in. People drove a manual stick, had to wait for letters in the mail to hear from people, waited your turn in line, and did things by hand. Nowadays, everything in which we do has to be delivered to us in the speediest fashion possible; anything less is inadequate. The gym box is the one place in this day and age in which the activities and exercises we do should NOT emulate the proceedings of everyday life. In the box, we attempt to execute extremely complex, technical, and athletic movements. These may consist of Olympic lifts (snatch and clean & jerk), Gymnastics (pull-up variations, ring movements, inverted positions, etc.), Power lifts (back squat, deadlift, and the occasional bench press), all while trying to increase aerobic capacity.
With all that being said, patience and resilience are two very important traits in this sport of fitness. These are not easy feats that we are trying to accomplish (for the members and the coaches alike). One of my favorite things about CrossFit is its ability to be infinitely scaled. That is, all the workouts and movements we perform have alternative movements that may cater more to a person’s skill level, age, mobility, or comfort. These alternative movements allow the person to build the appropriate strength and skill in order to eventually progress to the actual movement.
Moving forward, there are many people in the box that are adequately strong, athletic, or coordinated to do these difficult movements, but are performing them in an inefficient manner. I always encourage people to challenge themselves and do workouts prescribed, but there is also a time and place in which people need to take a step back and examine their movements and lifts, and see where they may be able to improve. Sure it is cool to be able to lift a lot of weight, but if the technique is mediocre, you will reach a plateau fairly quickly. The same applies to gymnastics movements: if you use poor technique on movements such as pull-ups, you are diminishing your potential and will not be able to maximize efficiency and output. Not to mention doing these lifts and exercises in an inefficient manner is most likely more dangerous.
Taking a step back is a difficult thing to do, perhaps a blow to the ego, but is necessary every once in a while. Over the past 3 years as I have developed my snatch, I have made major technical changes. Several of these times when making these changes, I was forced to lift much less weight than I normally do in order to utilize the new technique that I learned. I hated it. Every bit of me wanted to revert to my old techniques and lift, what I thought, was big weight. But I stayed the path, had faith in my coaches and the insight I obtained through research, and sure enough my snatch would eventually go back up and pass my former mark. I have done this SEVERAL times though the past 3 years of my CrossFit career in all the lifts and movements, and it has paid off.
So what I am saying is, strap it in for the long haul. Don’t be short-sighted and prideful. Utilize the appropriate scales when necessary, but also challenge yourself by working on some of the more difficult movements such as kips, butterfly pull ups, double unders, body to bar contact, etc. Like I said previously, there are certain times to do the prescribed workout or a time to lift as heavy as possible, but there are also times to take a step back and refine movements. So to the newer members, I encourage you to be patient and work on the necessary skills and nuances of all that we do instead of trying to immediately lift as much as you can or attempt highly skilled movements in a sloppy and/or dangerous manner. And to the older members, I encourage you to, if necessary, take a step back and figure out some things you can work on to improve your potential and performance for the long term.