Bravo!

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Jon Gilson of Again Faster wrote this brilliant article.  It perfectly echoes what we very strongly believe in -virtuosity.  Virtuosity of movement and of adherence to form first.  Doing the common, uncommonly well.  The squat, the pullup, the overhead press-all examples of common movements, but frequently performed so poorly by the general populous, hence so many injuries and knee and back pain.

I can’t encourage all of you enough to continue to strive for perfect form first, then intensity and load.  Make virtuosity your goal.

I really can’t say it any better than Jon has, so please read…  Thank you, Jon!

The Non-Negotiability of Perfection 

 

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CrossFit
is the pursuit of athletic perfection—performing difficult workouts
with technical mastery under conditions of duress.  We’re looking for
flawless form with a jackhammering heart, bursting lungs, and battery
acid-filled veins.
      
When this is accomplished with
unyielding intensity, the result is nothing short of beautiful.  When
we fall short of the mark, the result is horrifying at best.
      
Athletes often set up a false dichotomy between perfect form and
intensity, assuming that as one increases the other must necessarily
fall.  This idea is a thinly disguised excuse for athletic
complacency.  Rather than revisit proper technique through
low-intensity, low-excitement skill work, the athlete chooses to pursue
personal records with diminished form.  The unstated reason for this
choice: it’s easy on the ego to put up “good” WOD times. Taking a hit
to your “Fran” time in order to perform perfect thrusters is not going
to move you up the records board—at least not right away—and the blow
to the ego is too much to bear.
      
In reality, form and
intensity are not mutually exclusive, but the non-linearity of their
relationship leads novice athletes to the wrong conclusion.  For the
novice, maintaining form becomes a cruel joke as intensity increases,
leading to the erroneous conclusion that the two cannot coexist. 
Advanced athletes believe the opposite.  These athletes recognize that
continuous high-intensity work is nearly impossible without strict
attention to form.  The advanced athlete knows that perfect form is
perfect for a reason:  it imparts structural advantages that poor form
does not.
      
Take the thruster as an example.  Performed
poorly, the movement relies on the small muscles of the anterior
shoulder to support the weight at lockout.  These muscles fatigue
extremely quickly, leaving the athlete with reduced capacity in short
order.  When the thruster is performed well, the weight is supported by
the large, hard-to-fatigue muscles of the posterior chain, allowing the
form-conscious athlete to continue at peak power long after his sloppy
brethren have stopped to rest.
      
The advantages of good
form are not isolated to the thruster.  Clear structural advantages can
be had in the majority of our movements if one chooses to pursue
perfect form.  Most of these advantages are based on the physics of
power transmission, specifically the fact that it is easier to send
power through a rigid structure than through a limp one. 
      
Squatting provides a wonderful illustration. The squat utilizes power
from the hip to propel the torso through a complete range of motion.
If the spine is rounded and the torso is loose, power is lost and the
torso becomes difficult to move.  If the spine is kept in a neutral or
arched alignment and the torso is rigid, as proper form dictates, power
flows freely and the load is easy to move.  Nonetheless, we’ll often
see novices blasting through flaccid, rounded-back squats, heedless of
the power-draining effect of their substandard form.
      
Condoning bad form for the resulting intensity ignores the big
picture.  In doing so, we rob our athletes of their long-term
potential, artificially capping their progress in the name of immediate
gratification.  An athlete with poor form and an ugly three-minute
“Fran” will always have an ugly three-minute “Fran”, while a similar
athlete with good form will soon find himself pushing the limits of
possibility, utilizing the structural advantages of the perfect
thruster to close in on two minutes.
      
For the
CrossFitter, perfection should be non-negotiable, regardless of the
near-term outcome.  Progressing to the elite level—heart jackhammering,
lungs bursting, and records falling—depends on it.

          

The difference between a structurally solid lockout and its weak cousin is obvious.  Photos courtesy of the author.

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