Friday, December 22, 2006

It Still Doesn't Count

This morning, I witnessed one of the most piss-poor examples of virtuousity ever exhibited during a Crossfit Boston session. My exhortations to use a complete range of motion fell on (mostly) deaf ears as my colleagues pushed for "Chelsea" PRs, and it reminded me of a little article I wrote back in May. Rather than rephrasing an old truth, I thought I'd give you the original. Chest to deck, maggot!

"Doesn't count."
"Doesn't count."
"Doesn't count."


The competitive atmosphere of the Crossfit gym encourages speed. You want to win. You want to beat every other person in the room and post some outrageously low time, proving that you are (as if it wasn't obvious) the best athlete.

The problem comes when we sacrifice form for speed. Evidently, we've been doing a lot of this lately. Neal came back from Crossfit HQ with a newfound emphasis on form. Somewhere between ring dip 30 and ring dip 40, I started hearing this:

"Didn't go deep enough. Doesn't count."
"Didn't lock out. Doesn't count."
"Hahahahaha. Doesn't count."

The last one might have been in my head.

I came in dead last. Five other Crossfitters, subjected to the same scrutiny I was experiencing, beat me to the finish line. Humiliating.

Despite my overwhelming urge to see if I could pile-drive a 250 pound man, I think I learned a thing or two. When you're working with near-perfect form, everything gets a hell of a lot harder. The difficulty ramps up quickly toward the end. Form degrades as fatigue sets in, and you have to try twice as hard to maintain the integrity of the exercise.

This level of effort is hard to self-enforce. When you're working out alone, it's easy to give yourself credit for a less-than-perfect rep. It's an ego check to realize that your poundages fall and your times increase when you strive for perfect form. Odds are you're not going to set a Cindy PR if your pullups are full-extension, your pushups are chest-to-deck, and your squats are ass-to-the-grass.

You know when you're striving for perfection and when you're just going through the motions. Don't let your ego get in the way of progress. Time doesn't mean sh*t if you've got the form of Kermit the Frog on valium.

I'm going to make sure I hear "doesn't count" a little less in the future. I'm also making sure I don't spend any more time in last place. Last place sucks.

Picture courtesy of Gym Jones. Twight would be livid at the sh*t form I saw this morning, and he carries ice axes.


Blogger CrossFit Cape Fear & Designs In Fitness said...

Merry Christmas to you and Sammy!!!! Miss you guys alot... 8-(

SO TRUE on form!!!
I will be passing this on to everyone. Can I also use it for my January newsletter to exprss what a buch of form Nazi's I expect to see?

We'll be doing both a client AND trainer contest soon. I'll pass on the info for you as it's develped!

12/26/2006 02:31:00 AM  
Blogger Craig said...

Ok, this was hilarious in a painful way. Jeremy Jones of Diablo CrossFit busts my balls about form and always rolls his eyes when I talk about new PRs posted on the CF site. He's a stickler for full squats and p/u's and worst of all: full box jumps (stand at the top!!).

Great post. My times and counts are pitiful when form is true. But, I have lots of room for improvement.

12/26/2006 03:26:00 AM  
Blogger Jonathan Gilson said...

Merry Christmas, John! You're always free to republish my stuff! Your ongoing support is awesome.

Let me know how the contest goes. We have a trainer-client contest every day--I post a score, and everybody tries to beat it!

As a post-script, I did "Chelsea" with perfect form in an attempt to illustrate the point. I got 9 rounds. 9.

This compares to 25+ for folks who half-ass it. It turns out that extra 2" of range on every rep actually matters. A lot.



12/26/2006 02:58:00 PM  

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