Move Well First….

A couple of months ago I realized that my squat had subtly deteriorated. At 360 pounds on the bar I was sliding to the right quite a bit out of the bottom position. It wasn’t something that happened overnight but rather over quite a long time. Because I don’t have a trainer watching me every time I squat, this slide to the right crept up on me. When I noticed this shift, I decided it was best to reset and address the problem.

I could have ignored the problem, continued adding a few pounds a week and one of two things would have happened: One, I could plateau and spend weeks, possibly months, frustrated that I wasn’t progressing; or two, I could get injured and possibly spend years rehabbing.

If I was a competitive powerlifter with a meet coming up or a competitive CrossFitter it might make sense to press on. But that’s not me, and guess what? It’s likely not you either. We are here for the long haul, to get fitter, and frankly I want to be doing this when I’m 80. And I want you to be able to as well.

The reset involves lowering the weight and addressing the mechanical problems in a lift to retrain the neuromuscular movement pattern. We have had some success with this. Early on we wrote an article titled, “The Inherent Responsibility of Training Kids and Teens.” The article discusses the decision we made to drop the weight used for our top teens and make them earn it back with excellent movement, ten pounds at a time starting with PVC. It was a great learning experience for our kids as well as our coaches. Our kids ended up exceeding our expectations and were some of the strongest kids in their high school. More importantly, they were injury free.

Camzin relates a similar story on her blog at When Camzin came to Brand X she was a Regionals athlete who was so broken she wanted to quit CrossFitting. She also received the PVC treatment, requiring her to fix her movement to earn her weight. Two years later, Camzin is one of the strongest women in CrossFit. Here she is hitting a 235-pound jerk and overhead squat, training pain free and without injury:

Connor was stuck at 225 pounds with his snatch. No matter how hard he tried he couldn’t get to 230 and frankly it was always dicey if he would land 225. He reset and worked his technique on all of his lifts. A year later he snatched 255, a 30-pound pr. He can now snatch 225 in workouts, but more importantly he is stronger and injury and pain free.

Here is a video of Connor’s 235 x 3 thruster:

In this session, he did 6 sets of three reps, starting at 185 and adding 10 pounds every round before he hit the 235. Two years ago his pr was 215 x 1.

If these are the examples of what is possible when you reset, why all the ugliness when the trainers tell you that you need to back off, regroup and learn to move better with the lighter weight? Many CrossFit gyms have a popularized sign in their boxes: “Leave your ego at the door.” We have always felt that the CrossFit experience is so humbling to everyone that the sign would be redundant. We have reconsidered this lately.

Is it so important that your name won’t be on top of the daily leaderboard? Do you take it personally? It is personal. We want all of our clients to move well safely. It is both the ethical thing for the trainer to do as well as a sound business model. I’m pretty sure there isn’t a successful business out there that allows or encourages their longtime clients to become injured.

The truth is, in any endeavor, sometimes you have to go backwards to move forward. Invest in yourself, your longevity, and your safety and ultimately in forward progress. Keep working with us toward beautiful movement.


About the Author
Jeff brings over 30 years of coaching experience to CrossFit Brand X, which he owns and operates with his wife, Mikki Martin. Jeff has been CrossFitting since 2003. Since that time has logged countless hours attending and teaching at various CrossFit Training and Specialty Seminars; including, but not limited to, the CrossFit Level One Certificate Course, and the Olympic weightlifting, powerlifting, basic barbell, gymnastics, endurance, mobility, nutrition, and CrossPIT specialty seminars. Jeff remains a CrossFit HQ trainer and holds the distinction of being one of fewer than ten people worldwide have been accorded the title of CrossFit Coach by the founder of CrossFit himself, Greg Glassman. Jeff and his wife Mikki are Co-Founders of CrossFit Kids
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