Wednesday March 14, 2018

By Mitchell Yaffee
In March 13, 2018

2016 State of the Nation Competition
David Q.

Are You Getting Better?

As I approach 10 years as a personal trainer and CrossFit coach, I’ve seen countless people come and go in their journey to achieving a lifelong habit of physical fitness. Being consistent in the gym is one of the most challenging things that people deal with when attempting to follow any workout program. Whether that workout is CrossFit, or any global gym, boot camp, spin, Pilates, you name it type of routine. “I’m too busy,” or “I’m way too out of shape,” or “It’s too much work,” or something along those lines.  

However, the reason for this article is not how to create consistency in your physical activity. Here, I want to talk to the people who ARE consistent. The people who have several years of experience in a gym. To those of you whose attention I’ve caught, I ask you, have you gotten better every day, every month, and every year that you’ve been hitting the gym? Or, have you lost track along the way, and you just show up day in and day out because you know you have to—it’s just what you do? With that being said, let’s take a look at a few areas you may identify with—mobility, flexibility, and virtuosity—and some actions to take to get out of a fitness rut. It’s time to learn how to make 2018 the year you get better!

Your mobility and flexibility still hasn’t gotten any better: You’ve heard it about a million times from your coach to “drive your knees out!” or to, “get those elbows up!” when you’re doing a front squat or holding the bar in the front rack position. Maybe you still struggle to do an overhead squat with more than just the weight of the barbell. And, the thought of having to do a squat snatch sometimes causes you to not show up to class that day. Being physically limited due to lack of mobility and flexibility down right sucks.  It’s almost like your body is working against what your brain is telling it to do. This can become very frustrating year after year. So, what’s the fix? It’s pretty dang simple, stretch and mobilize more. It’s a tedious and somewhat boring thing to do, and you can definitely not expect huge changes right away. But with anything in life, the saying goes “Make the daily choices, that will lead you to the success you desire”. If this is you, the solution is to pick an area of your body that you struggle with the most. You’re going to go on a three-week wave with each problem area you have, such as your hips are really tight and you can’t get good bottom position when in a deep squat. If that’s the case then for three weeks, ranging from 3-4 times a week, perform the same 2-3 hip/ankle mobilizations, for 90 seconds to 2 minutes each. This should take you anywhere from 6-10 minutes. After three weeks, pick a new area of the body and repeat the process. If unsure what mobilizations work for each area of the body, ask a coach, or go to the university of

Virtuosity: Defined in a few dictionaries as, “Of great technical skill, as in the practice of a fine art” or, “Great skill in music or another artistic pursuit.” The CrossFit founder, Coach Greg Glassman, explained early on that virtuosity in human movement (gymnastics) is “The ability to do the common, uncommonly well.”  What that means is that you cannot run before you can walk, and mastering the fundamentals allows for advancement to more technical skills. Do you jam through the workout as fast as possible, with very little regard to your mechanics? Even in something as simple as an air squat, push up, pull-up, or in the set-up on your deadlift? Moving well has got to be a cornerstone in your fitness practices. Holding a high priority in the efficiency and efficacy in the way you move, can, and will be a significant change in your overall longevity at the gym. I always joke with the athletes in my class to “Make it look good” and to move as if you were getting a score on the whiteboard based on the aesthetics of your movement, and NOT on how fast you went. Of course, the intensity is important and we can’t slow down so much that we miss the metabolic stimulus that the workout of the day is looking to achieve. However, mastery of your technique will ultimately lead to success in raising the bar for your workout.

Here’s how you switch your mind to embrace the idea of Virtuosity in the gym. The first step is to become more coachable—and become the coach. The best way to approach this concept is to just ask to be coached, or really listen and try to apply the cues that are thrown at you when you’re moving. The good coaches out there care about this stuff and genuinely want to help you get better. Another good way is to film yourself when you’re moving. Most people who have continued to read this article this far probably have a fair amount of experience and can tell what good and bad movement patterns look like. Watch yourself several times, pick up on the things that don’t look right, and then try and apply the changes on the next rep. For most, a little effort in this department goes along way!

Getting better doesn’t always have to mean how much weight was on the bar, or how many reps you completed, or even how fast you went. In my opinion, getting better can take on so much more meaning if we can take a look at some of the less obvious fitness benchmarkers.

Paul Gregrow

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