Before I talk about what class did on Thursday, I want to spend a little bit of time discussing an aspect of class that concerns our interaction as coaches with you as athletes.
As coaches, we have a lot of responsibilities, but the big two that are eminently present each and every class are these:
Funny thing about that second one – of the two, it’s the one that coaches can’t do alone. It’s the one responsibility where we actually need your help. And you do help us. When we correct your form, you make a concerted effort to incorporate the correction. When we ask you to scale, you do so accordingly and then attack the workout as if it were the CrossFit Games. When we ask you to try something new or different, each and everyone one of you give it an honest shot. But when we ask you guys to warm-up…well, that’s a bit of a different story. Not by much, and not all the time by all of you, but it’s enough that it warrants addressing. Of course, this isn’t the first time we’ve addressed the warm-up. We’ve written before about why we need to warm-up:
Warm-ups are arguably the most important part of our class work. Yes, warm muscles = more elastic muscles – we all know (or should know) that by now – but the warm-up goes a bit beyond that. It involves muscles, tendons, ligaments, respiration, blood flow, and, probably most important, your central nervous system (CNS). Without warming-up – without waking-up your CNS – you’re going to lack focus, which will lead to lack of form, which will lead to either wasted effort due to a lack of power (i.e., you won’t get stronger or fitter) or, at worst, injury. Yes, sometimes the warm-ups are hard, and sometimes they’re long, but they’re calculated to perform a task specifically geared towards the workout of the day.
We’ve also written about why we’re going to require all of you to do all of the warm-up, regardless of when you can get to the gym:
The above paragraph suggests all the things that warm-ups do for us. No where does it say that warm-ups are punishment. We don’t do tardiness punishment; hey, being late happens! In a city like DC, where nothing is predictable except the unpredictable nature of your daily commute, punishing people for being tardy would border on absurdity. That’s not to say, however, that we aren’t going to require that the warm-up be done – in its entirety! – before any member begins the workout. Early, on time, or late, it makes no difference as far as the warm-up is concerned.
So, to recap:
End of story, right? Apparently not.
You see, it’s become pretty obvious recently that a lot of you are rushing through the warm-ups, cutting corners or otherwise performing sloppy, partial range of motion, and/or un-controlled movements. Rushing the warm-up is just as bad as not performing the entire warm-up. Warm-ups are time for us to practice form in a controlled, un-timed environment. Often times, that form or skill is one that will be a critical piece of the up-coming workout. In fact, there’s a reason we don’t do the same warm-up everyday.
We construct each warm-up to prepare you specifically for the day’s workout. We do this, so that (A) you’re body will be primed and ready to execute the movements and exercises programmed for the workout that day, and (B) you won’t be bored doing the same thing over and over again (which, ironically, is often the cause of sloppy or rushed warm-ups). When you shortcut your warm-up you negate the intended benefits we discussed above. If you rush the warm-up with sloppy mechanics, you fail to reinforce critical aspects of the skill to be touched on in the workout, aspects and skills that you won’t be able to correct under load. Focus more on form and less on speed.
We had lot’s of good stuff planned for Thursday night, but in order to drive home the point about warm-ups, we had to change the program slightly, cutting short some of the workout in order to concentrate on the form. And so it was that each class found itself getting judged on the simplest of exercises which, funnily enough, seems to show up in each and every warm-up we do: the air squat.
Simple? Possibly, but go through the following check list and ask yourself, are you hitting on each one of these points with every air squat you do in the warm-up?
If you can’t check all these points off, ask yourself why – is it because you haven’t gained the mobility and flexibility necessary, or is it because you’re simply rushing through the movement? There’s a reason we all sought out CrossFit, and it’s buried in the knowledge that we all wanted more of a challenge, that deviation from the mental and physical comfort that allows us to become better, more functional athletes and people. Each and every class provides us with countless opportunities to challenge and better ourselves, from the warm-up, to the skill work, to the strength work, to the conditioning, and even to the pre- and post-workout stretching and mobility. We all chose to challenge ourselves, to forsake the mental and physical comfort that comes with bland, unhelpful routines. So why would we now knowingly try to avoid that challenge? Focus and apply that choice to everything from the time you walk in the door to the time you leave. You’ll be better for it.
End of Rant.
Post squat check and skill specific warm-up, we programmed some skill specific mobility work in order to get people’s shoulder ready for the pressing snatch balance and overhead squats to come. You can check out both movements via this video from KStarr’s Mobility WOD site, Episode 71 – Overhead Squat/Snatch Prep:
The keg drill is discussed around the 3:00 min. mark, and the resistance band bully shoulder drill around the 4:30 mark.
Of the 3 types of snatch balance, Thursday’s classes concentrated on just the pressing-version. Part of this was due to time constraints, but in large part it’s because, of the 3 versions, the pressing snatch balance is the one which really drives home the need to continuously [exert] force upwards on the bar as you descend under it. In other words, instead of pressing the bar upwards, you are pushing against the bar in order to drive yourself under the weight. Done properly, the bar should remain in the same place through-out movement, with only the body moving downwards in a controlled, even manner. To help with this, we began with the PVC, with everyone first performing a few reps on their own, and then performing a few reps assisted by a partner, who simply placed their hands on the PVC on order to stop it being pushed upwards. Following the drills, class moved to the bars to perform at least 3 sets of 3 reps of pressing snatch balance, adding weight as necessary.
Although the snatch balance is clearly meant as an assistance exercise for the snatch, the pressing version also has great carry over into bettering your overhead squat, which is convenient considering there were quite a few OHS programmed into Thursday met-con.
Weights for the OHS were RX’d at 95/65, but scaling was roundly encouraged in order to find an appropriate weight which would allow you to maintain control while executing full ROM, but also push yourself through the workout with as few breaks as possible. The bastards (side-jumping burpees) were done over each person’s respective bar.
Reminder/Announcement #1: Registration for inner-gym Smackdown on February 4th is in full swing (as is the smack-talking, it seems). If you would like to participate and are not on a team, or your team needs another participant or two, feel free to post your request in the comments. More information can be found on the CrossFit Balance Smackdown page.
Reminder/Announcement #2: This Sunday’s Element’s class will focus on the Push Press & Push Jerk, the Kettlebell Swing, and, if time, some of the theory and execution of the Kip (as used in kipping pull-ups, K2E, etc.) For a more information on the new Elements class, including determining whether it’s right for you, please check out last Sunday’s blog post.