Posts Tagged ‘Slow Down’

In over 20 years of coaching individuals, I’ve used several motto’s or catch phrases to try and deliver a consistent message to my athletes. One of the early ones, that I still think about to this day, is reminding my athletes to move with purpose. Don’t flop your way through air squats just to get them done. Instead, realize that each rep, no matter how boring it may seem at the time, has the opportunity to make you stronger. Focus on your breathing when holding a mountain climber, and be aware that by driving through the heel of your front foot, you’ll get a deeper stretch. When you’re running, keep your chest up, shoulders relaxed, and find a rhythm that will help you control your breathing. You get the point. Moving with purpose is important, and I always want the people I work with to remember that!

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Lately, my new favorite phrase to say is, “When in doubt, slow it down!” What does that mean? For one, in this crazy sport of ours, moving faster is usually associated with being better. Get through the workout in less time, complete more rounds in the same amount of time, go, go, go! Unfortunately, what that also means a lot of the time is that athletes will move faster at the expense of good form. Most people I work are going to the gym in order to be healthier. If the focus is rushing through movements in the interest of going faster, technique typically suffers, increasing the likelihood of someone getting hurt. If they get hurt, they’re not necessarily getting better, are they?

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My advice, specifically on movements that are more technical, is to move a little bit slower than you think you should. Controlling the “down” portion of the squat and exploding up not only gives the athlete more time under tension (more gainz?), but also more time think about moving safely. I’d rather go 15 seconds slower on a workout and be safer and clearly complete full range of motion. Keep in mind that I’m not an elite-level competitor, I’m merely a recreational exercise racer. That said, for those who are training to compete, if they trained with full range of motion every day, and got to a competition with a “lenient” judge, they could maybe shorten each rep and get away with it. And what a treat that would be for them! On the other hand, if that same person always sprinted reps, and never fully locked out a single push-up during training…. and then they showed up to a competition with a strict judge who no-repped everything they did, it would be a lot more difficult for them to adjust. It’s a very similar concept to training heavier than you’ll need to compete (using a heavier wall ball for example) then going down to standard weight on game day and being able to move faster.

Practice typically doesn’t make perfect. But let me tell you, the people I know who practice with intention, move with purpose, and focus on slower and deliberate movement all the time almost always perform better when it matters most! Don’t base the value of your performance and training on the scores you produce or the times you get on workouts. Instead, focus more on moving with virtuosity, and the condition of your body. Most of us are in this thing for the long haul. If you want your body to serve you for years to come, treat it that way. If you’re ever wondering whether or not you’re doing something quite right, just remember… When it doubt, slow it down!

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“Hey, maybe knock that down 10 lbs and focus on staying tight at the bottom of your clean.”

“You could go Rx, or you could go a little lighter and finish in the suggested time domain.”

“Sorry, I know you thought it was a PR, but you didn’t stand all the way up before dropping the bar.”

Just a few of the examples of things I say on a regular basis to athletes in class. Over time, I’m able to create pretty meaningful relationships with most of the people that I coach (thankfully), but there’s always a certain few who refuse to take advice or listen to the suggestion of the person directing the group.

I’m sure there have been times where a coach is jealous that an athlete can out-perform them. Or times where athletes feel like the coach is insulting them by suggesting a lighter weight, or requesting and increased range of motion. I, however, am not one of those coaches who participates in either one of those games. The eye rolls, the weight or movement selection out of spite, the sighing and being bitter for a few days… it doesn’t help anyone!

My job is to help you get better. My goal is to keep you healthy. My responsibility is to not let you do something that could get you hurt. So when I’m leading a class and make a comment to you about slowing something down, or being more in control, please don’t be offended. Talk to me if you have any questions, ask me to video a rep or two and show you what I’m talking about (I’m a very visual learner), or respectfully tell me you’re going to do it anyways. But please don’t think I’m ever trying to hold you back. I’ve been doing this for a long time (in comparison to a lot of people in the CrossFit Game), and have one thing in the forefront of my mind each day… to be able to walk out of the gym and say, “Nobody died!”

As a rule, I’d always rather you go a little lighter and practice perfect form in workouts than “going for it” and risk getting hurt. Besides… almost none of us are going to the Games. We’re doing this fitness thing for fun, to stay healthy, and to look better naked. Get a time that’s 20 seconds slower to put up on the white board, but walk out of here on your own, knowing you did everything right!

Help me, help you!

Safety first. I’ve got your back. I’m here for YOU!

-Smashby