« »

Don’t Mess Yourself Up

Regarding flexibility and mobility’s importance in strength and conditioning, as well as the reasons we are always harping upon proper form at the expense of speed, I’d like you to check out the following blog posts:


In case you’re not familiar with CF One World, it’s run by Freddy Camacho, a pretty smart guy with lots of good experience and ideas who also used to be a CFHQ trainer. I’d recommend adding CF One World to the list of sites you check regularly. And if you read the CFSD website on any sort of regular basis, you’re already familiar with the 70′s Big crew.

The big thing I’d recommend you take away from these posts is their emphasis upon your long-term health. It’s fairly common to see Olympic or professional athletes take certain risks by training and playing hurt, which is understandable when there’s a gold medal, Lombardi Trophy, or multi-million dollar contract on the line. Last I checked, none of those cases apply to any of us at CFSD. Therefore, it’s safe to assume we’re all training to be stronger and fitter well into the future as opposed to being willing to take some long-term risks for a short-term fix like winning a Super Bowl or NBA title.

If you really want to get strong and fit, your gains are going to be measured in terms of years, not weeks or months. The way you continue to make gains over the course of years is by being consistent in coming to the gym and staying injury-free. Think about it, if you could add 2lbs to your squat every week, in two years you’d be squatting 200lbs more than you are right now. Obviously those gains aren’t doable for everyone, but you’ll get a lot closer to that kind of progress if you are able to come to the gym every week rather than having to take regular month-long sabbaticals due to injuries caused by overuse or sloppy form. If you’re the guy/girl who always shows up at 4:29 for a 4:30pm class and leaves right afterwards rather than doing the lacrosse ball rolling and mobility work that you know you need, you’re going to pay the price in terms of your long-term progress. Eventually your inability to force your knees out on a squat or get into a deadlift setup position without fighting through hip immobility is going to pay off in the form of an injury that sidelines you for a while. If you continue to kip the hell out of your pullups because you don’t have the discipline or drive to learn deadhang pullups or to work on shoulder strength and stability, you’re going to pay the price with rotator cuff problems or a SLAP tear…if you don’t believe me, take a look at the injury threads on the CrossFit message board.

Trust me, no one is so impressed by your blazing fast Fran or Helen time to make it worth you sacrificing your long-term health and mobility because you want to blast through sloppy thrusters or let your lower back take a beating on your kettlebell swings. Done correctly, squatting and deadlifting and the like will have positive effects on your strength and mobility for the rest of your life. You’ll be able to live independently and do simple things like get up off the toilet unassisted and pick up a heavy suitcase without throwing out your back. But if you make a habit of inflicting minor traumas to your joints, muscles, and discs every time you lift, you’re negating the supposedly good effects of training and making yourself more susceptible to the very ailments you’re trying to avoid.

As the 70′s Big post points out, you’re probably not going to feel any negative effects from those first 999 nasty squats. But if you spend enough time coming forward on your toes or letting your elbows drop on your front squats, eventually you’re going to pay the price on rep #1000. And then you instantly lose about 100lbs off that less-than-good 1RM that you were previously so proud of, and will have to start back at square one when you’re finally ready to start training again.

So, moral of the story–set your ego aside (heard that one before?) and focus on correct, efficient, safe movement as opposed to speed and weight. And the funny thing is, once your movement is correct and efficient, you’ll probably end up lifting a lot more weight faster because efficient movement is, by definition, the fastest and safest way to manipulate a barbell, kettlebell, or your body.

Questions about how not to mess things up? Talk to me or another coach.



  • Aush May 19, 2011 at 7:35 am

    Good stuff!

  • Ari May 19, 2011 at 1:44 pm

    Couldn’t agree more! Unfortunately, from learning the hard way! Great post!

  • Lee June 6, 2011 at 9:18 am

    I just had my 76th birthday (ugh), and after seeing and hearing the presentation about Crossfit on television this morning it peaked my interest. I’m a fairly fit male and like excercising and working out occasionally at home, but after reading some of the comments here I wonder if I would be a viable candidate for the type of training discussed here. Also what would the initial cost be?

    Thank you

  • Eric June 6, 2011 at 9:29 am

    Absolutely Lee–as Aush said on the TV spot this morning we always modify everything to an individual’s fitness level. Doing so ensures that they continue to make progress and stay healthy and injury-free. We have worked with clients covering the complete spectrum of fitness and experience levels. The elderly can see particularly nice benefits from this sort of training, given the direct correlation between strength training and maintaining bone density and basic, essential independence and mobility long into one’s life. In simple terms, getting stronger and more mobile will ensure that you’re able to do everyday things for yourself, and will minimize the kind of freak injuries that are more commonplace as people age…i.e. throwing out your back from bending over to tie your shoelaces.

    If you jump on our current offer, $44 gets you your first month, in which our main goal is to teach you all the basic movements at a fairly relaxed pace before we give you the ok to join our group classes.

    I’ve just sent you this same message in an email in case you don’t check the blog again.

Leave a Reply