Lots of people come in to a program like CrossFit and assume that they should be on the floor gasping for air at the end of each workout. If we program something that doesn’t promote this result they think they didn’t get valuable training. Taking time to assure that their form is perfected is not seen as valuable.
The CrossFit mantra that we adhere to at Integral is: Mechanics + Consistency = Intensity.
Mechanics—is the movement form we’re using. Our mechanics have to be spot on in CrossFit especially if we’re doing a lot of a movement. When we have 90 or 150 air squats in a workout, poor mechanics can lead to body problems. If you’re consistently sore from working, you may want to take a serious look at your mechanics.
Consistency—is assuring that we reproduce the same movement pattern each time, and that the pattern is the proper one for the movement.
Intensity—the summation of consistency and mechanics is an ability to move faster, to move heavier weight and assure that our body is adapting appropriately.
Too often people confuse the goals of CrossFit with the desire to recreate the adrenaline/endorphin rush they get from a beat down workout. Adrenaline’s purpose is to increase our ability to perform in a fight or flight moment. We can get a clarity of purpose we may not normally have, a feeling of being alive. Endorphins have a euphoria that mitigates the feeling of pain.
We sacrifice form for speed, in the misguided assumption that this will make them better, we leave ourselves prone to injury. The addiction to adrenaline and endorphins is powerful, and like any addiction once we’ve reached a threshold the only way to find that “high” is to increase the dosage; intensity. One confuses the rush of the beat down workout with a programmed/controlled improvement in fitness. The normal exercise is not seen as enough of a stimulus—not hard enough—when it doesn’t result in an endorphin release, while it may be an appropriate exercise for the movement skill of the athlete.
Training in a fatigued state does not lead to increased mastery of the movement. In fact the opposite can be true. Continually doing a movement incorrectly will train the incorrect movement, doing this with a heightened fight or flight response will tend to push the movement pattern deeper into the nervous system, making it harder to change the habit.
Should we ever push the intensity envelope? Yes of course. However, if we’re loosing our form in the workout abandoning it for speed, ripping hands to push the pull ups, shorting the movement when fatigued, then we may be training a bad habit that will be hard to break. If you can’t see the value in doing the movement appropriately with grace and ease, with a goal of the first one looking like the 30th. then perhaps you’re chasing after the high of adrenaline/endorphins and not the high of achievement. Rather than training betterment, in this case we’re training fatigue.