Common CrossFit Mistakes

The Grip and Rip

For those who have been doing CrossFit for a few years, you’ll remember the first time that you did 17.1/21.2 (High volume DB Snatches and Burpee Box Jump Overs). Or more specifically, your lower back will. If last year was your first CrossFit Open, you may remember more emphasis being placed on dumbbell snatch technique from your coaches. While we don’t expect this same workout again this year, there is a high probability that hinging movements will make an appearance and they could very likely show up in high volume.

Now, don’t get me wrong…your back is inherently STRONG, but your muscle’s capacity to handle heavy and repetitive loads is based on how you’ve loaded your back in the past. While we need to overload our tissues, back included, in order for them to adapt and get stronger, we can also make them angry if that load and/or volume is more than they’re ready for.

At the end of the day, we all want to have a good workout the following Monday, right? Soreness that lasts >48-72 hours or pain that lasts >12-24 hours is indicative that we could have loaded ourselves a little more optimally. So here’s what I want you to think about when those repetitive hinging movements show up:

  • Lift with your legs (I bet you’ve never heard that one before). But seriously! If you find yourself doing dumbbell snatches or dumbbell clean and jerks, take the extra second to bend your knees a little more in your set-up and drive your heels into the ground as you stand.
  • Keep the weight right underneath you (physics, yay!). The shorter the distance between the weight and your center of gravity, the less force it will require of your muscles.

The “Ehh I’ll warm up in the first round”

We like the Open, so I like to think that we take our warm-ups relatively seriously. However, if your gym has a “Friday Night Lights” sort of scenario, sometimes your warm up can be cut short. Or you may end up judging a fellow athlete and having minimal time to feel fully warmed up before it’s your turn.

Two of the most common areas that get aggravated with workouts are the lower back (see #1) and the shoulders. Let’s cover a quick back and shoulder warm up that you can complete right before you hit the floor to try to keep your body as happy as possible both during and after the workout.

Lower back – 2-3 rounds

Shoulders – 2 rounds

10-15 reps of all there, with minimal rest between each

Double Under Not-So-Wonder

You either love double unders or you hate them. And even if you typically love them, sometimes you hate them. Under the stress of going faster and in an attempt to not break a set, we often tense our shoulders more than necessary, which causes more fatigue. Knowing that we tend to use our shoulders a lot in CrossFit, I would do your best to see double-unders as an opportunity to “rest.” Key points of performance include:

  • Jump slightly higher than single-unders
  • Keep your arms by your sides
  • Concentrate on movement coming from your wrists
  • Consciously “relax” your shoulders
  • Deep breaths!

We still have a couple weeks until go time, so I would take the opportunity before or after class to work on your double unders with these tips in mind. I suggest picking a number of repetitions that seems doable for you, but will leave you feeling fatigued after a few sets. To challenge the endurance of this movement, plan something like this:

30 double unders, rest 30 seconds, repeat 3-5 times.

In some cases, we see double unders in a high volume. In those circumstances, if you’re relatively efficient at double unders, it can be tempting to hit big sets at the get-go. I would encourage you to break before you need to. As fatigue metabolites accumulate, we change the way we perform movements, and don’t perform them as efficiently as we could. Fatigue is welcome, and encouraged, of course, but if your workout starts with a big set of double unders, or is overall extremely shoulder dominant, put some quick rest breaks into your plan of attack.