Here’s a re-post from Coach Fred . He's also a physio over at CFNZ. Tap into his vast knowledge of rehab, prehab and movement drills to ensure your body is running optimally.
My CrossFit journey began about 3 years ago. It was 6 months before my wedding and I thought I should do something about looking good for the big day. Like a lot of CrossFitters out there I loved it as it gave me a tough workout every day – you know the ones – where you finish in less than 45 minutes and feel like your lungs have collapsed. You have done everything as quickly as possible - you are just trying to get to the end and it doesn’t matter how you get there.
About a year ago I started taking CrossFit more seriously. I started working on mobility very hard (still needs work) and looked at the technique of how to perform each movement correctly. Outside my WODs and MetCon I worked hard at mobilising – I still do – and practiced proper lifting techniques and if I couldn’t do an exercise I scaled appropriately. However when it came to my WODs I would still thrash through as fast as possible. Form and technique went out of the window – I just wanted to finish. I assumed that as I worked on form and mobility outside my MetCon, then my form would eventually start to look like Froning’s when he is WODing. It didn’t – and I was starting to pick up niggles. My ankles and hips were sore post workouts. I had hit a plateau.
Recently, I was talking to another coach, who mentioned that she was a slow CrossFitter. Needless to say I found this intriguing, given that this woman had competed at Regionals and is stronger than me despite being less than half my bodyweight. I asked her what she meant. She said that she has her own goals and knows how she is going about completing them. When she trains she performs every movement as she would want to in competition. She is not worried about coming in last. Her competition is herself.
Something clicked with me. I have goals – which don’t include winning the workouts. I felt this was going to help me as well. So I tried it. It is TOUGH. Guys and girls who I have finished in front of for all of my workouts have started overtaking me. There are times when it feels easier to cheat reps than push out the last 2-3 jerks or squats. However, my mobility is improving – I can now get hip crease below parallel in squat for the first time ever – and my ankles and hips are no longer sore after mobilising.
Because I have slowed down I am working into my new ranges and developing strength in those areas to support my extra mobility. I find that I have more strength on the bigger lifts. Again due to improved mobility I can get into correct lifting positions and have the ability to create more torque through the big engines that are my hips and shoulders. My body is beginning to know what it feels like to be in the bottom of a squat or how to get a triple extension during an Olympic lift and how to perform a double under.
I am in no way the finished article (have you seen some of the pictures?!) but I have found something that works for me. If you are struggling with niggles/plateaus, try slowing down. Give yourself time to concentrate on form and completion of the full movement. Are your big muscles switched on and working for you?
This change of mindset takes time. And effort. The point of being a slow CrossFitter is that you will ingrain the correct movement patterns into your body. Then when you are tired and your lungs feel like they have collapsed (remember that?) and you can’t think of anything but the finish your default will be to move correctly. Stick with it – your CrossFit will only benefit and your body will thank you for it. Your WOD times will improve again and you will reduce your injury risk dramatically!! And when you want to give up and go back to the old way – remember I am doing it with you!
Top 5 Tips for becoming a slow CrossFitter
Remember why you do CrossFit. It’s for you, not to prove anything to the other CrossFitters in your gym. Believe me they will respect you when they understand what you are doing.
Study and practice the movements you are trying to master. Book a PT with a coach and practice outside class time. Use the massive resource on the net (try Kelly Starrett’s mobilityWOD.com). Practice until the correct way becomes your default.
Ask people to watch you. You need feedback. What I thought was parallel for the last 12 years was about 6 inches above.
Scale appropriately. If you cant overhead squat consider the front squat. If you can’t perform at least 5 strict pull-ups your shoulders probably aren’t strong enough to be kipping. If you cant handstand consider wall walks. Use the scaling tools available at the box (band, steps etc) and ask the coach for help. The point is not to force your body into movements and positions that are beyond you because you saw Annie or Khalipa doing it and it looked cool. Remember they were once where you are now.
Think between each rep. Are my big engines switched on? Are my hips/shoulders externally rotated to create torque through my movement? Eventually this will become a default pattern. Until then, think it every time.