With thanks to the awesome person who inspired this post, I wanted to write about a topic near to my heart: virtuosity, or doing the common uncommonly well.

In each rep we do, I believe the goal is to do it perfectly, and if not perfectly, then as well as possible for that day given whatever limitation may prevent perfection (whether that be strength, skill, flexibility, etc.) If nearly perfect isn’t possible, it’s recommended (and really necessary) to go light and slow enough that the weakest link in the sub-optimal chain doesn’t become overstressed and eventually injured.

Despite the many (many, many, many, far too many many’s) times I hear that the reason someone’s form broke down was because they were tired, the truth is that this is even more true under fatigue. Once you are tired, and especially if you’re also operating under the influence of adrenaline, it’s very difficult to feel pain until it’s far too late. Don’t rely on pain as your guide for whether you are moving properly. Stay present, and stick to the fundamentals. Move as fast as you can under this constraint: nearly every rep (at least 8/10) should be as close to perfect as possible.

Now, back to the perfect push-up.

This all works great when your joints and muscles are working properly, and the only reason you don’t achieve perfection is that you don’t have enough skill, or you weren’t concentrating. This gets complicated (super duper complicated sometimes) when things aren’t working properly.

Most of us have at least one (if not many) of the following:

  • Injuries that weren’t fully rehabbed at some point in the past

  • Muscle tightness stemming from poor posture at work, driving, sleeping, etc.

  • Muscle weakness stemming from poor mechanics in everyday things like walking, carrying a purse, typing, etc.

  • Overdeveloped muscles stemming from bodybuilding, sports, repetitive work, etc.

  • Unfortunately, some of us also have tweaks as a result of our training

And the list goes on.

It’s highly likely that at least one foundational CrossFit movement - like a pushup, pull-up, air squat, strict press, deadlift, double under, or burpee is hard for you because of something “strange” going on - lack of muscle activation, a bone spur, an unhealed injury, a fundamental lack of understanding about how the movement is supposed to feel, etc. In this case, it’s usually not enough to just go light, or even to go slow. In this case it may be necessary to become a student of yourself - to seek help in the case of a suspected injury (like a bone spur, etc.), to ask a coach for corrective exercises to restore full mobility to a joint, or to activate sluggish glutes, scapula, etc.

If you know that a movement doesn’t make sense to you, or intuitively feels sketchy, or you get the same feedback from coaches no matter how hard you try to correct it - seek out extra help. I personally would love to help, as I’m sure all of our AR coaches would.

In short, never settle for less than perfect. If it isn’t perfect today, that’s ok - scale accordingly, but don’t settle for less than perfect in the long run. Pursue virtuosity, understand the basics, try harder, and then try smarter. Sure, most of us don’t have any interest in participating in the CrossFit Games, but we all want to be the best possible versions of ourselves, and it starts with the perfect pushup (and air squat, and deadlift…)

WOD For 09-24-18:

Alternating EMOM For 5 Rounds (10 Minutes):

1) 12 Double Kettlebell Single Leg Deadlifts @ pick load (6 R / 6 L)

2) 12 Single Dumbbell Overhead Squats @ pick load (6 R / 6 L)

This is “For Quality of Movement” (not time or max weight) so choose your loading accordingly.


4 Rounds For Time:

300m Row

13 Chest-to-Bar Pull-ups

26 Alternating Dumbbell Snatches 50/35 lbs