Sunday, May 25, 2008

Mindful, Purposeful Work

I encourage anyone who has the privilege of teaching, coaching or leading others in a workout to be mindful of how they program. Why do you do what you do? Why now with this person? Random application of exercise can be beneficial to the mind and body, if it is a novel stimulus. But there should be a "big picture" plan in the end.

I understand there are clients who thrive on the "more is better" mantra. Part of our job is to help these people understand this is not the most beneficial training plan. Better is better. More is not necessarily better. Those who criticize endurance athletes for doing a bunch of garbage mileage when running, biking or swimming are falling into the same trap with doing hundreds and thousands of repetitions of bodyweight exercises. Is what you are asking your client to do beneficial or just busywork? Look at the volume of reps over one week, one month, one year, and multiple years. Look at what is happening to the body. Do you know what the long term implications are? Are the adaptations really beneficial for that individual?

That which doesn't kill you might make you stronger in the short term; but if you go there often enough, it will eventually wear you out, physically and/or mentally. You might think a "mess you up" mentality is hip and cool now; in a few years, you might have a different perspective. The benefits of exercise are cumulative; but so are the stresses. Don't forget that.


Anonymous said...

you sound like you have an example in mind.

I'd be curious to hear your thoughts about what I think of as "competitive" form olympic lifts vs. what I think of as "football" form or "wrestling" form. That is, people who aren't going to necessarily do max singles on a platform, but who want the athleticism of the movement, and who might not have the beautiful high elbows and deep catch of a great clean, but have the basics down enough to be safe.

(I learned from competitive lifters; videos of crossfit olympic lifts often make me cringe. But form follows function.)

I know you don't answer anonymous posters, but I'm still curious.

overtime said...

I know there has been some concern about the effects of Kipping on the shoulder and the frequency of high-rep kipping pull-ups in CrossFit programing. But the only cases I know of are self-inflicted by trainers or independent CrossFitters on themselves, not a trainer inflicting this on a client.

Ultimately I think the varied programing of CrossFit has the effect of preventing over-training induced injury. I think this makes it much safer than more focused programs.

All the CrossFit trainers I know personally see their clients four days a week at most and do a great job varying the movements.

Can you give us some examples of this? I'd really like to know, so can recognize these issues in my clients.



The Iron Maven said...


A few examples that you asked for:

Be careful with Wall Ball / Thrusters/kb swings (2 hand) with clients with a kyphotic tendency--and just bodyweight squats--force the hands behind the head and don't let them flail like they are having a siezure. Modify these movements to put people in the best t-spine position possible while using the legs.

If you can't rack the bar properly for a front squat or to receive a clean, use DBs with thrusters or light barbell behind the neck (if tolerable) and work on non-ballistic overhead movements to promote scapulohumeral mobility. I would change to dead hang pull ups and try to have a ratio of 1:4 of pulling:pressing (overhead) work; or avoid pull ups for a few months.


Anonymous said...

First of all, Love your site! Excellent advise, but exactly what most crossfitters ignore. Learning the move and developing the necessary flexibility... these are the things that crossfitters espouse but almost religiously ingore in their zeal to get on board with the posted-wod program. I have one heck of a time getting people to stick with what they can do properly and "drill" the new stuff, avoiding intense use of exercises for which they just aren't ready. Shoulder issues, primarily acromioclavicular joint problems seem very common around here, (from high-rep overhead work from guys who used to bench 4xweek...) which increased shoulder flexibility has been the most common fix.