I’m not sure what it was with Episode #33 of Robb Wolf’s Paleolithic Solution podcast, but it seemed to me it was even more loaded with good stuff than usual. Robb had a lot to say about using CrossFit workouts to become more efficient at the exercises and movements. This really got me thinking…
I hadn’t thought about it like this before, but a lot of what we do as athletes and martial artists – and probably in life too – is work at becoming more efficient. Speed isn’t really what we’re after. It’s efficiency. And with efficiency comes the speed and power we want.
Robb makes an awesome point when he compares learning CrossFit exercises to learning martial arts. I often said that my own martial arts background carried over to my coaching when I got into CrossFit. I was also lucky because most of the people I was coaching weren’t “CrossFitters.” They were people who wanted to get into shape. This meant they were a blank slate for learning technique on the various exercises and I took a lot of time getting everyone’s movement right before upping the intensity of the workouts. I teach kettlebells the same way. Learn the technique first then increase the intensity.
I say I was lucky the people I was coaching weren’t already exposed to CrossFit because no one was really worried about speed. They didn’t have the “spank it hard every time” mentality with their workouts so I was able to ramp them up slowly. I spent a lot of time teaching exercises and techniques and gradually ramped up the intensity and speed. They were already efficient in the basic CrossFit exercises before the intensity was ramped up. I also continually drilled the fundamental movements in our warm-ups to keep refining technique.
One of Robb’s prescriptions for a question about how to spend a year of training so the listener could advance through the sectionals next year was to spend more time on efficiency. The guy who asked the question was doing Wendler 5,3,1. Robb recommended working snatch variations on squat days: hang snatch, hang power snatch, etc. in a 10X2 on the minute format to get some volume worked up. Robb recommended push press and push jerk work in the same format on the pressing days. The 10X2 format sounds familiar to me since I just did the CrossFit Powerlifting cert with Louie Simmons. Robb also recommended getting really efficient on running.
- Get strong and get technical!
- Incorporate Periodization and De-load periods
Robb on Tackling the “sport of fitness” from a “skill” standpoint
During the podcast, Robb used a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu analogy:
“You can’t roll hard every day and make that the whole thing. You have to work positional sparring, drill specific techniques, get ‘wickedly’ efficient at it, do tons and tons of reps and THEN progress it to a live, full speed setting.”
And there was another great point Robb made – one I rarely hear addressed – that dropping the competitive element gives your psyche a rest and lets you recover mentally. Sort of a “de-loading” for the mind. I think this is a highly overlooked and underrated factor in recovery.
Robb also mentioned actually getting better at your chosen sport by shelving the ego, slowing down and being self-critical. “Volume first, intensity second.”
All great stuff.
Coach Glassman wrote an article a while back called: “Fundamentals, Virtuosity and Mastery.” In it, he talks about “performing the common uncommonly well.” Sounds a lot like efficiency of movement, right?
In the end, Robb puts forth a different prescription for progress in CrossFit and Sport of Fitness: “Get strong, get technical THEN build capacity.”
Sounds like a great plan.
Excellent and thoughtful post, as always. Most people want the “fast-track” to fitness, and martial arts success. But like you said above, it doesn’t work that way. The “fast-track” to CrossFit success is understanding the bare elements of the basics.
Looking forward to your next post!
All the best,
Thanks, Travis! Not everyone is up for the “slow down to go faster” thing, but I believe it’s the way to go for the vast majority..
Having a MA background as well, I firmly believe that before you can do something fast, you need to be able to do it right. However, when working out, this mentality often falls to the wayside, most likely due to ego and competitiveness. I can only speak for myself, but as much as I love motivation of having others around me, I feel the need to be just as good as someone else.
While I have not yet tried CF, I have taken some circuit classes where the trainer as CF experience and will have the class due a number of three different exercises for a certain period of time that slowly decrease as you continue. I would get angry that my time was so slow compared to some others because I would watch them do push ups and not get to the floor (they do that weird jerking motion were you only moving your elbows). I would rather do it correctly with build my form and shape and be slower but I would be embarrassed that I would not be able to finish within the allotted time.
This was a great post and one that I hope more people acknowledge.
Thanks a lot, Jennifer! Glad you liked it!