CrossFit is based around the idea that all human bodies function relatively identical to one another. The physical needs of the Olympic athlete and the needs of the elderly vary by only a few degrees. It’s a beautiful thought — the hip and knee move in exactly the same fashion in all humans, and incidentally, the same muscles are used to complete a proper squat by either one. However, this idea sometimes becomes misinterpreted as “Grandma needs to test her max height box jump every three weeks while she’s on this Bulgarian squat cycle.”
No. Please, no. While Gertrude has a hip and a knee (regardless if it’s made of organic matter or plastic), she is still quite a different person than, say, Kendrick Farris. She’s using her knees and hips to bend down and pick up her grandchild or to be able to squat down and check the oven to see if the cookies are done. She is not doing a 29551.7kg squat jerk. Obviously, we don’t need to train her exactly like an Olympian.
The Issue: Range of Motion vs. Quality of Movement
Consistency of mechanics is part of the foundation of quantifying strength.
The problem lies in the literal interpretation of the idea that everybody should be doing the same things for General Physical Preparedness (GPP)
. The issue is exacerbated by the strict range of motion requirements in regular, day-to-day CrossFit classes that have gained popularity since the advent of the CrossFit Games
. All too often, the only coaching that can be heard throughout the gym is “Open your hips on the box!” or “Get lower!” But is that really what we need to be cueing for? Is that the most important part of the exercise? Or should the cue be this: “Get lower… if your mobility and body awareness allows it”? Definitely the latter.
Range of motion standards are important; we can all agree on this point. How else can we quantify how much work an athlete has done? This scientific way of measuring an athlete’s output is a defining aspect of CrossFit, and it is a big reason why it is so effective. We’re all about numbers, and that’s part of the reason why our style works. How could you know if you got stronger during your last squat cycle if you cut your depth every time you add weight to the bar? Consistency of mechanics is part of the foundation of quantifying strength; thus if the weight has moved less distance than the standard of the movement, it would not equate to strength gain.
It is up to the coach on the gym floor as well as the coach writing the programming for the gym to collectively understand the population that they are working with in each class, and plan accordingly.
CrossFit gym members are paying upwards of $300 per month at some locations to train and take group classes. I consider a CrossFit class “semi-personal” training. These people could just as easily get a membership at any “globo gym” and do the same workouts, albeit not under the watch of what is supposed to be a skilled trainer who cares enough about their movement, well-being, and overall health to act as a reliable guide. Without question, the trainer should be able to prioritize which is more important – the range of motion or the quality of the movement, depending on the individual athlete.
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