Written by Tim Crough, Fitness Entrepreneur | Performance Coach |Wellness Evangelist | Husband/Daddy | Striving for Humility | Ski Bum Wannabe
I left off on Part 1 of this blog series (So Tim…What Do You Think of CrossFit?) praising CrossFit coaches who are educating themselves in strength training beyond what’s necessary for certification and finding methods to help athletes train effectively, reduce injury risk and recover well.
Great resources can be found by: Mike Robertson, Bill Hartman, Eric Cressey, Grey Cook, Mike Boyle, Ron Hruska among others.
There’s a Growing Problem
The general population and athletes alike are entering the weight room totally unprepared to strength train. We see the statuesque bodies of elite athletes and crossfitters and we want the same thing…and we’re led to believe we can have it NOW.
We have to recognize that to achieve bodies like “that” — to look and feel “that” good, we’ll have to put in a lot of hard work, maybe to a point of working yourself to death. We read quotes all over Instagram about hard work, sweat and sacrifice and how we must embrace the pain in order to achieve. But what’s wrong with the hard work mantra?
“Work smarter, then work harder” is less exciting but it’s essential to actually achieve our goals.
The trick is…in order to do this, we must have some knowledge of what smarter actually is. And despite the “you can have it now” attitudes we’ve all adopted, to stay healthy and get strong in CrossFit or any other form of fitness, means more patience and consistency than we think we have time for. You must make the time if you don’t want to deal with dysfunction for the rest of your life.
The best coach in the world can’t create good form from an athlete who can’t physically get into the proper position.
If you lack the ability to move through a range of motion and control that range of motion, there’s a reason behind it. Forcing it, like far too many coaches encourage, will surely get you injured. The good news is that with proper movement fixes and intelligent training, it can be fixed and injuries can be avoided.
A trustworthy foundation of posture and core stability are what we need to work on first and foremost…but that’s just not sexy.
You won’t see rib and pelvis positioning in a Nike commercial anytime soon. Not sexy. Learning to turn on deep core muscles can take weeks of focus and breathing practice. Fun, right? How’s that for “hard work”? Bore you to death? Maybe, but if you can’t take the 5-15 minutes of sacrifice to reset before a workout to prevent injury, I guarantee you’re NOT optimizing your gains while simultaneously encouraging compensation, which can lead to future injury. (P.S. – A good coach who knows how to bring the boring stuff to life doesn’t hurt either.)
A good foundational support system generally looks like this:
- Neutrally aligned and functionally stable core and pelvis
- Mobile ankles
- Stable knees
- Mobile hips
- Stable lumbar spine
- Mobile thoracic spine or good rotational thoracic capacity
- Scapular stability with the mobility to glide properly along the rib cage
- Glenohumeral mobility and stability working in concert with the scapula
If these things aren’t to an acceptable level, the likelihood of injury significantly increases. Refer to Mike Boyles’ thoughts on the Joint by Joint Approach.
The list notwithstanding, there’s still a right way and a wrong way to lift heavy weights. It’s called good form. However, form in and of itself will not save you from injury. In fact, even if you’re a good athlete demonstrating good form, good form itself will not save you. You will fake out the best coach because your athletic ability has in essence figured out a smooth looking “cheat code”. This is called hidden compensation.
Good form won’t save you, but a properly moving body added to good form will.
It will eliminate the cheat code and will save you from injury, increasing your potential for massive strength gains. I’ve created an Injury Prevention Pyramid infographic to illustrate what one needs in place to prevent injury. Training at the elite level looks and feels cool, but there are huge costs unless your body has a rock solid foundation of proper movement.