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.