Sunday 1.16.11

Dave Walsh...both tough and sensitive!
This month marked the retirement of Sgt. Dave Walsh.  Dave is one of our original Compound athletes from when we opened our doors early last year.  Dave finished his 30-year career as a sergeant with the Fairfield Police Department.  He served on the SWAT team, as an entry team member, sniper, and team leader.  It was there that he was introduced to CrossFit.  He has also held positions in patrol, traffic, major crimes, and crime suppression units.  Congrats, Dave, on reaching retirement!  Now you can use The Compound to keep your fitness up to enjoy all that retirement golf and motorcycle rides!

Intensity and Virtuosity

Intensity is all about work load in a given amount of time.  Let's say you do a hypothetical workout with 100 pounds in 10:00.  To up the intensity you could do the same 100 pounds in 9:00 (work  load stays the same, time is decreased).  Or you could do 110 pounds in 10:00 (increase the work load, time stays the same).  Or for the highest increase in intensity, do 110 pounds in 9:00 (increase work load and decrease time).  CrossFit teaches that intensity is the variable most commonly associated with favorable adaptations to exercise.  Put more simply, the favorable adaptations to exercise (fat loss, strength gains, better health, etc.) are all achieved through intensity.  But does that mean we should look for intensity 100% of the time?

Another concept in the CrossFit world that would seem to be at odds with intensity is the concept of virtuosity.  Virtuosity is defined as doing the common uncommonly well.  I often think of the simple air squat.  We know that the air squat is not as simple as it looks.  You have to remember chest up, neutral lumbar curve, sit back, weight on your heels, knees tracking over the toes, depth below parallel, full hip extension at the top:  there's a lot going on there!  Virtuosity is achieved when you take all of that, and do it consistently while making it look easy and effortless.

Then there's the concept of "CrossFit Slop" floating around out there.  CrossFit Slop suggests that in an intense metcon, it is acceptable to have some minor form degradation so that you can work harder.  I understand this principle, as in a set of 21 cleans like in "Elizabeth", rep number 21 will probably not look as technically sound as rep 1 did.  This is acceptable as long as two conditions are met:  1) The form breakdown is not a dangerous one, and 2)  there is no cheating the range of motion.  This means no rounding of the back, no funky knee stuff, or anything else that could cause injury.  If on rep number 21 I pull a little early and the bar drifts out in front of me a little and I have to move forward to catch it, it's okay in a metcon because while not technically correct, it's not dangerous to the athlete ia long as the back, knee, and elbow positioning is solid.

Where form degradation is not acceptable is in the range of motion.  If pull ups are in the metcon, I have seen athletes who don't get all the reps with their chin over the bar, but count them as reps anyway and move on to the next movement, all for the sake of "intensity" and getting that better time.  But what about virtuosity?  Who is the better athlete, the one who does 25 rounds of "Cindy" with some missed pull ups, short range of motion push ups,  and poor form on the squats, or the one who only does 18 rounds, but all pull ups were chest-to-bar, all push ups were chest-to-floor, and all squats were executed perfectly.  The second athlete hands down!

CrossFit is about "constantly varied functional movement executed at high intensity" for a reason:  Intensity is important!  But there is a reason that CrossFit also teaches "consistency before intensity."  Learn to master the movements before trying to do them at world record pace.  Evaluate your personal performances at The Compound and be honest with yourself.  Are you only after a better time, or are you trying to get stronger, faster, or more technically proficient.  Don't accept a faster "Fran" time because you found a way to cheat your pull ups or you don't lock out your thrusters.  Get a better "Fran" time by becoming stronger and better conditioned!  Have a great training week!  bc


  1. CFE#3. 45 min 3.67 miles. Took it slow shins did good! Back on track tomorrow!

  2. CFE# 3 45 min. 4.9 miles

    CFE Recovery wod: subbed out bench press for incline bench on a "bowflex"...yes I have a Bowflex, dont laugh. Abmat situps and suitcase dead lift with 18# KB 15 reps each side for back ext. Pullups and kb swings 3x15 on all 5 exercises.