Rep Shaving...WTF Mate?

Rep Shaving...WTF Mate?

I’ve been around CrossFit for a good while. I did my first WOD in the fall of 2008 and had never heard the word CrossFit at that time prior to the day before my first workout. Now everyone has heard of CrossFit (and most have opinions even though they have never stepped into a “box”). Some things feel like they have changed in our little world since then and one of them is “rep shaving”.

 

When I was “just a CrossFitter”, I didn’t think much about the fact that someone could be intentionally doing less reps than the workout called for and honestly, it would have really confused me if I somehow knew someone was doing that. I think it was just part of the unspoken agreement CrossFitters had “Prebok” (before Reebok). I know that is certainly not the case now. The “Sport of Fitness” has made it cool to win a workout and thus we have things in the community that I don’t think we had much of then (PEDs, shady judging/videos for The Open, and rep shaving in the class). I still would venture a guess that the vast majority of us “hold the line” and do the reps. While many CrossFitters want to “win” the workout, they only want it on equal terms because, by and large, CrossFitters are people who want to be better people and the mental fortitude it takes to endure through a {insert poop emoji} workout helps forge your mind and body.

 

Fast forward to me as a coach of a few years now. My stance on rep shaving has changed some. It has gone from, “Nobody would do that. And that’s a terrible thing to do” to “Ehh…”. That might sound like blasphemy but here’s why:

  1. You’re an adult. If you want to cheat some reps, I can’t stop you. More importantly, I won’t waste my energy trying to stop you when I can devote it to helping folks get better.

  2. As a member of our gym says, “If you get richer, I don’t get any poorer”. Our progress in the box is individual. Your fitness level doesn’t change mine. So if you write that you did 10 more reps than me on the board, if I did all I could do, then I am happy with my results. Additionally, you didn’t win, you just wrote that you won.

  3. Fitness is a long game. If you rep shave and cut the metcons down to 75% of the reps, well, you’ll only get 75% return on your fitness investment. So while you are posting faster times and more reps, the person who you are “beating” is improving relative to you more and more every day. Eventually you’ll have to rep shave so much it’ll be obvious to everyone.

  4. Everyone you workout with KNOWS YOU REP SHAVE. So a) you aren’t fooling anyone and b) if you actually DO “win” legitimately, nobody will believe it. Everyone already adjusts your score by like 25%, so…

 

While I will have a conversation with you about shaving your reps, if you choose not to address it then I leave that up to you. So while as a coach, I don’t care as much about rep shaving as I used to, you as the rep shaver SHOULD CARE a ton about it. Why?

  1. You’re leaving “gains” on the table every WOD. Those 3 reps you shave for 5 rounds add up over the course of the 200 WODs you do this year.

  2. You’re just making it easier to shave next time. Each time it is mentally “OK” for you to make Fran 19-13-7, you dig deeper into that hole and it’s harder to get out. Plus how do you know if you are getting better? Do you remember exactly how many reps you shaved the last time you did Karen? Did you do 134 wall balls or 129? If you beat your last time by 7 seconds, are you fitter or did you just forget what you actually DID last time?

  3. I’d argue if you cheat on a WOD you’re more likely to cheat in other places in life. You probably leave your shopping cart in the parking space next to you instead of walking the 97 feet required to return it to the corral. Our motto of #everydaybetter applies to more than your fitness. We want you to be everyday better as a citizen, community member, husband, and employee.

So while I won’t hound you time and time again if you only do 83 pull ups during Murph, just know that everyone around you knows and only one person loses because of it...and it’s you buddy. It’s you.

But CrossFit (or Fitness) is Too Expensive!

But CrossFit (or Fitness) is Too Expensive!

This is one of my favorite statements. I am not saying $100 or $200 isn’t a lot of money (it is to me), I am simply interested in why people say it is “too expensive”. That seems to imply it is not worth what you would pay for it, so let’s take this a step at a time.

The US median household income is ~$54,000. That income would put you in the 15% tax bracket, leaving you with $45,900/year. Divide that into 12 month blocks, you have $3825/month. While obviously there are some expenses you need like food, mortgage/rent, gas, utilities, insurance, etc. there are plenty of places where we spend money that is either completely unnecessary or could be reduced to a fraction of what we currently spend. Here are some examples of those:

Cable TV - $103 (http://fortune.com/2016/09/23/average-cable-tv-bill/)

Cable is not a “need”. Sure it is nice to have but I am sure there is an option that at least cuts this cost in half (that’s already $51.50 you’ve saved). Sure, you won’t have 300 channels (275 of which you never even watch) but you’ll have more money and maybe more time to hit the gym, go for a walk, or read a book.

Cell Phone (per line) - $73 (2012 JD Power Study)

Everyone loves having the newest phone and the plan that gives you 16GB of data (or whatever) but using an iPhone for 3 or 4 years won’t kill you. And cutting your data down to like 2 or 4GB probably saves $10 or $20 a line.

New Car Payment - $493 (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-lazar/the-average-american-auto_b_9405176.html)

Most people have cable and a cell phone. Less people have new cars. However almost all of us have a car that costs more than what we needed. So buy the 4 year old one with 40k miles on it and save yourself $100 or so a month.

New Clothes - $141.67 (http://www.forbes.com/sites/emmajohnson/2015/01/15/the-real-cost-of-your-shopping-habits/#4a7e218821ae)

I actually was a little shocked at this number. The odds are you already have TOO MANY clothes. If you’re like me, you take a trip to Goodwill like twice a year with an industrial trash bag full of clothes. Yeah, every once in awhile you’ll tear a hole in your favorite jeans or your shoes get to beat up to run in or whatever. But we all know this number could be lower.

Eating Out - $219 (http://lifehacker.com/how-much-money-do-you-spend-on-food-every-month-1696492352)

The “Average American” now spends more money eating out than they do on groceries each month. I love hitting up the local taco joint as much an anyone but this is a number we have complete control over. And if your health/fitness level/self-esteem/vanity isn’t worth the $150 going to CrossFit costs you then how do you justify spending substantially more than that on food you could make at home for half the price?

Coffee Outside of the House - $80 (https://consumerist.com/2012/01/20/most-american-workers-spend-more-than-1000year-on-coffee/)

Bro...Go to your local coffee roaster, buy whole bean coffee, a burr grinder, and a Chemex and make that junk yourself. It’ll taste better than what we buy from the Mermaid Coffee place and the one that also sells average quality donuts. This saves you money and upgrades your life. Double whammy!

Soft Drinks - $70.83 (http://business.time.com/2012/01/23/how-much-you-spend-each-year-on-coffee-gas-christmas-pets-beer-and-more/)

That’s half your “expensive CrossFit membership” already. And you are getting healthier by just removing the sugar you’d consume from these anyways. Double health score!

OK, so it is at least reasonable to think that you might be able to cut spending other places to find that $100-200 CrossFit might cost you. But why would you spend that much money on CrossFit when you can get a “globo gym” membership for less than the cost of seeing a movie in the theater? There’s a few reasons you’ll spend $100 more a month at a CrossFit gym.

  1. “Globo gyms” count on you not coming. That’s how they make money. If half the people that had memberships showed up in a day you’d not even be able to walk around, much less use the equipment (that you might not know how to use unless you spend $50/session to work with a personal trainer). The International Health, Racquet, & Sportsclub Association reported that, on average, gyms sell memberships with the expectation that 18% of the folks with memberships come on a consistent basis.

  2. The globo gym makes money if 82% of the population doesn’t come (and then obviously aren’t achieving their fitness goals). A CrossFit gym works the other way. How is that? Because you aren’t going to spend $100+ a month and not come, right? So the gym has to earn your continuous business by helping you reach your goals, creating an environment you enjoy coming to, and keeping you injury-free. Our gym doesn’t do contracts for this reason. It keeps us honest to help you to the best of our abilities and it helps you keep showing up because you have skin in the game.

  3. The “community” in a good CrossFit gym is the real deal. You automatically have built in accountability because your classmates expect you to be there (and will text you if you don’t show up)! They won’t let you slack off because they will be encouraging you to keep pushing when you want to give up. They give you emotional support as you start this new journey, as they all were in your shoes at one point. That’s worth the cost by itself.

  4. You receive coaching at a CrossFit gym. Someone who knows when you should add more weight, or when you need to take some off the bar. Someone who can help you learn new movements and continually improve on them. Someone who can make sure your movement patterns are going to keep you safe.

  5. Programming. This is the fancy word we use to mean we design the workouts for you, so you just show up and get after it! It takes the onus off of you to determine how often you need to “do legs” and it keeps you balanced so you can’t just do bench press and curls everyday. If you’re a busy person, having an hour class that gets you a great workout without you having to figure out what to do really helps you fit fitness into your day.

  6. The results are awesome. How many people do you know who have a gym membership? How many of those people are making progress towards their fitness goals? At a CrossFit gym, that second number is much higher (due to reasons 1-5).

Maybe after all of that, you still decide CrossFit isn’t worth it for you. That’s OK. Find something that is worth it for you and helps you move in the direction of your goals. Are you a graduate student living off of $100/month (after you pay rent and utilities)? Been there. Start walking or running. Find a place with stairs and climb those a bunch. Push ups. Sit ups. Squats. Lunges. Those are all free. Find some yoga stuff on YouTube. Spend $50 and get a jump rope and a set of dumbbells and your options grow even more.

The point of this isn’t that you need to do CrossFit (though, we do think that is the best way to get fit). The point is that you need to take money off the excuses list. Find what you can afford and work hard. Let’s make things happen in 2017!

What's Good Technique?

If you've been training at our gym (or have a personal trainer or coach who watches you lift), I am sure you have heard that we care about your "technique" but what does that mean and why is it important?

The way I would describe "good technique" as something that meets all of these criteria:

  1. The movement pattern minimizes the risk of injury. Nothing requiring movement can have a 0% injury rate but we want to reduce the risk to as close to 0% as we can.
  2. The movement pattern moves through the complete ROM (range of motion). At times we need to decrease the range of motion for certain clients because they do not have the mobility/strength to go through a full range of motion for a specific exercise but we are always trying to make progress to get there.
  3. The movement is pattern is "efficient". There is minimal wasted movement and the weight of the bar/weight and lifter is in the best place to complete the movement. 

While that is somewhat vague, essentially we want to keep you safe, have you move through the areas you should be moving through, and be able to control the weight in a manner that allows you to move the heaviest weight the fastest you can.

OK, so why do we care about those 3 points? 

The first one should be obvious. We don't want anyone to needlessly get injured. Being injured is no fun. Also when you are injured, you can't make as much progress towards your goals (and you must have goals or else why would you be working so hard?!?).

Number two is a little more nuanced but still is somewhat "common sense". We want you to be able to move through a maximal (safe) ROM so that you can do movements that require that ROM. This matters more and more as you age. If you can get into a good overhead position now and have full ROM, as you age and lose some of that ROM, you will still be able to accomplish putting things up on a shelf or throwing your grandchild up into the air when you are playing in the pool. Squatting below parallel now means getting out of the car, off the couch, or off the toilet seat will be easier in the future.

The third point is more theoretical. We want you to learn to move as efficiently as possible. This helps you learn new skills. This allows you to take a vacation to Vail and hit the slopes even if you have never skied before because you are still "learning how to learn" new movement patterns. CrossFit has always been about taking your fitness outside of the gym and learning new things or learning more efficient movement patterns helps you take that to the beach when you want to learn to surf, to the trampoline when you are trying to show your kids you still have it, or to the driving range as you try to dial in your swing.

Here's a 5 minute video from a guy I really respect explaining why he thinks technique is important and how to know if you have good technique. Some of his points will be similar but he also has a few other points that really help illuminate this topic.

 

 

Have a great rest of your Wednesday!

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