Standards, Progress and “No Rep”!

November 7, 2011
November 9, 2011

Our blog posts are usually reserved for cool stuff like reviewing the previous workouts, posting a few fun pics, and occasionally making announcements. This particular post is a different story, and I’m posting between workouts to get an important point across, something that I feel really needs to be addressed immediately.  Before I get too far, however, I want to give you a little background on our approach to coaching.

Both Chris and I have at times trained under the type of coach that revels in brandishing power. This often is manifested in an attitude that any chance to point out a fault or weakness in an athlete should be taken. Such “coaching” is often done as publicly as possible to both belittle the athlete and accentuate how great the coach is. Even in the realm of CrossFit, we have come across coaches who feel that athletic prowess or technical knowledge allows for a demeaning nature. That is not us, nor will it ever be.

We have made a conscious choice about what kind of coaches we want to be. Actually, it probably wasn’t a “choice” per se, but an affirmation of what we already knew and desired: we want everyone who comes through CFDC to be treated respectfully, motivated through our genuine concern for their well-being and progress rather than some arbitrary system of cutthroat competition. We have a lot of pride in CFDC. It’s not about the building, or the logos. or even the workouts. Its about the community – it’s about YOU! So what’s the point? Why the long-winded blathering?

In short, we’re being too nice…and its not fair to you. Of course we’re not going to try and come in next time and coach with some fake gruff attitude – honestly, who wouldn’t break down and laugh at us anyway – but we do need to hold everyone to a higher standard. Our side of the bargain is to not only believe that you all can do more than you can imagine, but to encourage you to get there. Part and parcel of that is not allowing people to cut corners. Every point we go over on each movement has a purpose. Standards are set for a reason, and there is no justification for accepting anything less.

Progress comes from wholeheartedly applying yourself. Its no secret that CrossFit works, and we have had a lot of success with our programming. Conversely, you can get caught in a vicious circle of ego and regression if you don’t give everything you have while simultaneously trying to maintain an image of success. First you start to cut corners to get ahead and you stop improving, then you resort to lowering your standards just to keep up with the rest of the group. Things just keep getting worse and worse – it’s a sinking ship that will never right itself, doomed to go under. So make the conscious choice to hold yourself to the highest standard. Really, no one cares how many reps you do, or your time on the met-con, or your weight versus theirs. What they care about, what we’ve striven to ensure they care most about, and what ultimately should matter the most to you, is how you carry yourself.

Finally, that brings us to the “No Rep“. One of the best things to come out of last year’s CrossFit Games was the standardized approach to judging. In years past there was a lot of calls to “get deeper” and “extend off the box,” but these didn’t mean that the rep was disallowed. This is similar to what we see in class; I’m often calling out “lock the elbows,” “chest all the way down,” “stand all the way up,” or just plain “deeper!” But how many people, even when they know it’s directed at them, discount that rep? As a result, the judging standard at this last year’s Games was a universal “No Rep,” and guess what? The rep didn’t count. So next time you don’t fully lock your elbows or squat below parallel, know that your rep doesn’t count. We won’t count it, but more importantly, you shouldn’t count it. Put your nose to the grindstone and get it legit. If you can’t, accept that and scale down to a movement or weight that you can master. Work that version so hard that you know you’ll be able to improve and move up, because we know you have it in you. All we ask is you try your hardest and hold yourself to the highest standard.

(Warning: any and all comments may be met with harsh reality)



  1. edgy reggie says:

    Pastor: “Let the church say ‘Amen’.”

    Congregation: “Amen!”

  2. Tom Brose says:

    Reggie, we don’t want “Amens”! In fact, I was hoping that this post would pass with silent understanding that it is A) in everyones best interest, and B) born from a frustration in not seeing everyone hold them self to a standard.

    Posting a comment is one thing, but when the words are contradicted with action (or lack of)they ring hollow. We don’t want people to talk a good game, especially when the reality is plain for everyone to see. The only thing that counts is the performance- again, not the reps, weight or time, but the commitment to actually do it right.

  3. Dan Samarov says:

    My 2 cents… as I am guilty of not having the cleanest form in a lot of my lifts and movements I say this being one of the guilty parties… CrossFit (to me) is primarily about one (kind of two things), having fun (and) getting fit. That being said the things we do, from oly and power lifting, to gymnastics, running and other exercises have inherent risks associated with them, e.g. back rounding on deadlifts (two thumbs pointing at me here… working on it, good way to slip a disk though), coming down hard on pull ups (another two thumbs and a great way to injure your shoulders), etc… not taking care of these things can lead to stupid injuries which take away from the whole point of CrossFit, having fun getting fit. So, when someone (the coaches, your friends) are saying something critical, it’s not personal, they just want to keep you safe, fit and having fun.

  4. SaltyHat says:

    Dan, very valid points, and your self assessment says a lot about you as an athlete and a person. However, I would add one more thing.

    Part of the fun – part of the community feeling – is knowing that everyone is on equal footing and is held to the same standard. When that holds true, people are free to concentrate on achieving the best results that they personally can. Otherwise, you run the risk of having double standards, where some athletes are held to one standard, others athletes to another.

    Double standards are similar to inner-gym cliques – both breed an air of inequality that is counter-productive to the ultimate goal (i.e., ensuring that everyone is achieving their personal best). I believe that’s what Tom was driving at in his closing: that your reps/time/weight compared to mine aren’t as important as how you got them. Only in a program where everyone is following the same rules can we ensure safe progress, as you mentioned, but also a fun and rewarding community atmosphere.