The focus of today’s Coach’s Corner is technique. This is something that, in the gym, we spend the smallest amount of time on; but is potentially the most important for life-long fitness and longevity in the gym. The goal of this post is to bring to light that although our style of fitness is a race against the clock or praises the “prescribed version”, our number one priority in the gym should be attaining the most efficient technique.
Let’s take a look at this graph:
The graph here tells us that if our technique is more efficient we can actually complete MORE work while expending LESS energy. That seems almost too good to be true, so let’s take a look at some real world examples to get a better understanding of it.
Example 1: When we are learning to type on a computer we start off very slowly only using our 2 pointer fingers. Moving this slowly, we make very few mistakes so we begin to increase the speed at which we type. As we speed up we make some more mistakes but we begin using the rest of our fingers. Eventually we are typing using all of our fingers and making less mistakes. This progression continues where we begin making less mistakes so we start typing faster. We’ve now gotten to the point where we are typing more words per minute, typing larger paragraphs in a shorter time, and making less mistakes doing so.
Example 2: A violinist is practicing a new solo piece. They already know how to play so they don’t need to learn the notes, but they do need to play the solo fast and error free. They begin by breaking the solo down into smaller pieces and playing them slowly and smoothly to learn how their hands and fingers need to move to hit the appropriate notes. Once they’ve completed these smaller, slower parts error free they begin to combine parts of the music together and slowly pick up the speed at which they play. Once they’ve completed it faster and error free they again put the piece of music together and try to play it faster. And this continues until they can play the full solo at the appropriate speed error free.
Now, let’s take this and apply it to the gym. We have a workout called “Grace” which is 30 Clean & Jerks for time at 135/95. Now with this there are 2 things we need to consider; first is learning the movement, second is the stimulus of the workout. When we first start out, we don’t grab a barbell, throw the plates on and start ripping out clean & jerks. We need to practice our technique. We start off with a PVC pipe, learning the deadlift, clean, and jerk. When we’ve gotten those 3 movements down with the PVC we then start putting them together to make the full clean & jerk. Once we’ve gotten comfortable with that we then increase the weight we’re using. Step 1 done.
Now comes the workout. Grace is meant to be done in just a couple minutes. So just because we know how to clean and jerk doesn’t mean we put 135 on the bar and do slow singles completing the workout in 16 minutes. Instead, we put on 65 and try to complete the 30 reps within the couple minutes. We continue at this point until we reach our intended stimulus. When we’ve done that, just like the typist or violinist, we make it more difficult. We increase the weight on the bar and work to get that new weight into the stimulus time. And we repeat this until we’ve mastered 135 Grace in the intended time frame.
Although the CrossFitter, violinist, and typist are all practicing something different they all started out the same way: slow and steady. To get to the top of their task, they had to start off at the beginning, learn to do things correctly, then progress faster as they minimize mistakes.
Over these next few weeks when in the gym think of practicing this. Break down every movement, make sure you’re extremely comfortable with it before progressing to that next step. The more efficient our technique becomes, the better our movements become, and our fitness will reap the rewards of this efficiency. HAVE FUN OUT THERE
*Graph taken from https://www.crossfit.com/essentials/technique