The simplest way to define CrossFit is: constantly varied functional movements performed at a high intensity. Functional movements can be simply defined as a movement pattern done in the gym that can be utilized in real life, such as a squat, which can help you learn how to properly pick up a box off the floor. And as much as I would like to claim I defined CrossFit in these terms, I did not. You can find the definition along with a cool video here. The feeling of doing functional movements feels great to people because it works multiple muscle groups. Pair that with listening to some loud music, and getting a good sweat on, and you have got yourself a fun CrossFit class.
In CrossFit we love our functional movements and we love intensity. But what we also need to love is technique. I remember back when I was taking my Level 1 to get certified to teach CrossFit, we discussed technique and intensity in one of the lectures. It was hammered into our heads that technique ALWAYS needs to come before intensity. We need to make sure we have full comprehension of how to execute the movement with proper technique before we add intensity, which I like to think the Sweat Shop coaching staff does a great job of. Add in some very coachable members and you have a Sweat Shop community that moves well.
I like to think that I have decent technique on a wide variety of movements and retain good practices fairly well throughout my workouts. But as much as I like to think I move well on every rep, I sometimes get lost in the allure of intensity, a lot if us do. Something that I have tried to do more often recently is be very mindful of how I move. I try to think of my technique and my mechanics more often rather than always just focusing on pacing and how to achieve the best intensity. A common idea that has resonated with me lately is moving well before I move often, and this same idea is preached in the CrossFit methodology. I will give a few examples so you can employ this mindful movement strategy within your own workouts to improve your movement quality.
A perfect example of this would be this Fridays finisher. It starts off with a rowing piece then goes directly into a max rep squat, or in the beefy case, squat snatch, and then finishes with a run. On the row you can be very mindful of your mechanics to help maximize your efficiency. Think to yourself as you’re rowing: am I driving with the legs and finishing with my arms once the legs are extended? How many strokes per minute am I taking? Is my torso in a good position? Even small technical improvements can go a long way to helping you to improve your efficiency. For the squat we can think to ourselves: are my feet in the correct position? Are my knees tracking over my feet? Is my torso staying as vertical as possible? For the squat snatch we can think: is my set up correct? Am I receiving the barbell in the bottom position or riding it down? Am I keeping my hips low in the first pull? Now I am not saying forget intensity completely and make sure EVERY movement is perfect, we still want you to get your sweat on! Do your best to find a happy medium between technique emphasis and intensity. My advice would be try to mindful of your movement while you’re still relatively fresh as this tends to be the easiest time to make improvements. This is not to say that you should let technique fly out the window as you get more tired, but I would not suggest that you start try to focus on mechanics at minute 18 of a 20 minute amrap. The more we improve our movement quality, the more it is ingrained and can be retained when we are tired.
This mindful movement practice can also be utilized in our strength sessions as well. Too often we get caught up in the numbers game and worry too much about hitting new or matching PR’s. While hitting new PR’s is always great it does not always need to be the sole focus of your lifting. Instead of always worrying so much about the load, place an emphasis on technique and proper movement mechanics more often. Focusing on moving better will help improve technique and in the long run make you a better lifter, which will in turn help you hit new PR’s!
The great thing about this idea is that it can be applicable to all levels of CrossFitters. Whether you got into CrossFit to lead a healthier life or you love being competitive in a sport, we can all agree we would like to move better and in turn feel better! If you need any tips of how to improve your movement please feel free to ask any of our coaches!