Crossfit: Insensity vs. Form
by Coach Seiji
|Coach Seiji works CrossFit workouts into Andrew Short's training program.....practicing what he preaches!|
The other day, some athletes were talking about a CrossFit Journal post about Intensity vs. Form. I watched the video on it and it prompted me to post about that subject. My take (which I posted on CFJ) on what is a very important basis of training.
I am fairly new to CrossFit but not new to training at elite levels. One thing to me that seems to permeate the CrossFit culture is the lack of, in CrossFit terms, scaling of any sort at the upper, elite, competitor type of levels.
By scaling I mean the planned manipulation of intensity and duration. It seems like every motivational or instructional piece has a general message of adaptation = at the limit 100% of the time.
Again, I am new to CrossFit, don't claim to be a CrossFit expert but coming from other sports, not every single workout can be done at the rev limiter. Some workouts are to maintain what you have, not try to push a limit to force adaptation. You are giving your body the opportunity to adapt from a prior stimulus. I know CrossFit teaches rest days but I have yet to see anything about this moderation of intensity.
If you take cues from the elite level training of other sports, you drive technique drills (high, high repetition of as close to perfect form as possible) to create motor engrams so that under fire, you can perform a movement without intervention of your higher brain centers. You have created patterns that you can replicate with zero instruction of your body from your brain, it's just a reaction. This is what drills are for in any other sport and are a foundation of training and the most efficient way to achieve better performance (better technique). Some training days are dedicated to this and the saying is "you can strive for perfection but you will never achieve it." It seems like once an athlete leaves Elements, this is not ever touched again.
Then there are those days, PR days, competitions, planned days of the highest intensity. Those days the purposeful thinking of form doesn't happen. You stop thinking and you just do. If the motor engrams are present, then you have great form until you hit your metabolic/central fatigue limit and maybe the wheels do fall off. But your training in correct form, the drills, etc. keep you as close as possible and the thousands of reps have hopefully readied your soft tissue, etc. to avoid injury.
Then there are the in between days. The days where you train just under threshold and practice keeping that form at just under where you fall off. These sessions hopefully enhance your ability to sharpen up form when you do near your limit and to push that limit higher. This is ideal...you lack the physical power to keep going but your enhanced technique and efficiency make up the slack. I have seen this in a few CFG competitors, namely IMO Annie Thorisdottir.
I am speaking in super general terms. Basically I am saying there is a time/place for every spot on the intensity/duration curve and that it's not just black/white. Getting better isn't just limited to enhancing raw strength or metabolic conditioning, it also includes technique and not just with PVC. It's basic periodization used in other sports, and to borrow a line I have used in other sports "intensity is like a drug. Take the right amount at the right time and you get great results. Overdose it or take it at the wrong time and you are going to crash."
One other thing I would like to say as a former outsider looking in and an affiliate owner: Most of the public perception of CrossFit, I think, is garnered from the images and culture of just what is under discussion here. An athlete, at the limit, pushing through, wheels falling off, technique going out the window. It is even applauded. I understand that this is motivational to someone that is not a trainer, etc. but to someone like me, it turned me off to CrossFit for a long time. As a trainer, I found it strange to applaud someone who was WAY out of form, doing whatever to achieve yet another rep but also hear the term "no rep" and what that means at the certification. Maybe if we showed some of the other spots on that intensity/duration curve and that we do care about form, function and all the things that make CrossFit great, the overall perception might change for the better? Or maybe we like it this way? Anyhow, good discussion!
That's it for now, until next time, good luck with your training and remember, if you have a question, log on to the Virtual Trainer Expert Forum and have your question answered by a panel of experts. In addition, be sure and check out the Racer X Virtual Trainer archive section. Your complete one-stop information zone for motocross fitness.