They say it takes about 10,000 reps of a movement for the brain to re-pattern itself. 10,000 reps may seem like a lot, but in CrossFit you can reach that number quicker than you think. This means that good AND bad habits can be developed quickly that will have a big impact on your training and fitness goals. BoxLife Magazine breaks down 5 Bad Workout Habits that you should focus on fixing.
1. The burpee/push-up nap
A common fault employed by even the most seasoned athlete, the burpee/push-up nap involves taking a prolonged rest in the prone position on the ground instead of bouncing straight back up for the next rep. While you are sure to experience a good deal of fatigue during any workout—and enough burpees can drive anyone to bury their head in the ground—the WOD is not the place for a nap. If you need a rest, rest on your feet. Besides, you want to use the momentum from ‘rebounding’ your chest off the floor to propel you upwards. If you take a nap on the ground, you lose that bounce, making things just a little tougher for yourself.
2. The gentle jog
Many athletes often use the run portion of a workout as rest—and there’s nothing wrong with that. However, when people disguise the run as a leisurely stroll down the road, there’s a problem. You still have to work in a workout, and how can you ever hope to increase your endurance and aerobic capacity—not to mention your running form—if all you do is treat it like a break? If you’re jogging, you can run—so run.
3. The cha-cha-cha
Many Crossfitters engage in a dance with the barbell when they start to fatigue and the weight gets heavy. They’ll take a step towards the barbell, think better of it, and take two steps back. This back and forth can go on for several minutes until they finally ‘grip and rip’ the barbell and get to work. Essentially what’s happening is that athletes are psyching themselves out, and letting the intimidation of the weight get the better of them. You should compose yourself before stepping to the barbell, and when you do, there’s no turning back. You show the weight who’s boss, you chip away at the reps, and you shave time off your score.
4. The shallow depths
Any athlete who has seen their rivals fail to squat to depth but post their ‘impressive’ weight on the whiteboard knows how infuriating this flaw can be. Hey buddy, I can squat 400lbs too if I stop a couple of inches above parallel! It can be maddening, but you need to stick to your own game and trust that you are building better habits, better muscle memory and far more power by squatting ass to grass. Why? For one, it’s better preparation for receiving weight in a clean or a snatch in the bottom position. For another, squatting to depth puts your muscles under tension for a greater period of time, which means that they will be getting stronger. Full squats also help build stability in the lower back, help to improve flexibility, and are safer for the spine and the knees.
5. The non-existent reps
Arguably as damaging a habit as failing to squat to depth, counting no-reps as successful ones instills ‘no-rep muscle memory’. The more you practice something (i.e. the more reps you do), the more you build up the procedural memory in the brain (a memory for the performance of particular types of action, also known as muscle memory), which will allow you to carry out a movement quicker and more naturally with increased practice. However, many athletes have a tendency to accept partial squats, toes-to-bar where no contact is made and pull-ups where their chin doesn’t clear the bar as full reps. The reason for this is usually straightforward—athletes are tired and they don’t have the energy to break parallel on their squats or get themselves over the bar. And because their rival is ahead of them or they want to ‘win’ the workout, they’ll choose to ignore those phantom reps in attempt to gain an advantage. Of course, the problem with this mentality is that you’re cheating—cheating in the workout (and pissing everyone off in the process), and cheating yourself from progressing. Counting no-reps as good ones tricks your body into thinking that its faulty movement patterns (not locking the hips out, not squatting to depth, etc.) are ‘natural’. If you ever hope to improve as a CrossFitter—not to mention compete in the Open or any other fitness competition—you have to ensure that the reps you perform in training are legitimate.
About the Author:
William Imbo is an Associate Editor at BoxLife magazine, CrossFit Level 1 Trainer and holds an MPS in Sports Industry Management from Georgetown University. He is an avid CrossFitter and loves film, music and travel, thanks to having grown up across Europe. A fan of the New Orleans Saints and Newcastle United, Will's favorite CrossFit girl is Helen-least favorite being Isabel.
Chris Spealler is not only a CrossFit legend, but he's arguably the best bodyweight specialist to ever compete at the CrossFit Games. Watching him fly through muscle ups or handstand walk his way past the competition was truly amazing and inspiring to watch.
With over a decade of CrossFit experience as both a coach and athlete, and with 6 Games appearances, Chris Spealler has racked up a wealth of knowledge on proper movement and technique.