Scaling Shouldn't Be Stupid, Part 2

As said in my last installment, the views and opinions expressed here are solely those of the author. They may or may not reflect the same ideals espoused by other trainers or coaches you have worked with. This is totally fine, but they might suck, so take that into consideration as well.

I'm going to be honest: I don't like high-rep box jumps. I'm sorry. I just am not a fan. I think if risk vs. reward comes into play, the former far outweighs the latter. Now, this isn't to say that box jumps have no place whatsoever in a fitness program, but it all depends on context and appropriate application. The unfortunate truth is that box jumps will always be a utilized aspect of CrossFit's conditioning movements, so the best I can do is try to convey why I don't like them and how you can best avoid injury when doing them.

I know what you're thinking: what risk is there when it comes to jumping on a box a bunch of times? I'm kidding, of course, because if you're actually thinking that, then you're stupid. The obvious answer is combining the fatigue from other movements with the accuracy and coordination box jumps require. Which is why we often see things like this sprinkled across the blogs of many a CrossFit gym...

While many people wear these injuries as badges of honor, they're completely unnecessary and avoidable with a little common sense. Now, the smashed up shin is the more common and known box jump related injury. The one many overlook or maybe choose to ignore is the dreaded and far-too-frequent Achilles rupture. These are occurring more and more and they take months to fully recover from. Performing high-rep box jumps, particularly under the stress of fatigue, is the culprit.

The potential for a ruptured Achilles lies in the execution of the box jump. In the pursuit of speed, people do this. It looks harmless enough, but the shock absorption of the landing to immedate switch to concentric contraction puts an enormous amount of strain on the Achilles. Remember Workout 2 from the 2011 CrossFit Open? Sure, you do.

Unfortunately, this kind of injury is far too familiar to me because it happened to one of my clients. This is Eric and he is fabulous:

During a workout I designed, Eric ruptured his Achilles tendon. Luckily, since he's a baller, it didn't completely derail his training. He spent a lot of time doing handstand work, Airdyne intervals, and a ton of single-leg training. Nevertheless, it took him roughly a year until he was back to top form. His words: "After surgery I had two weeks of not being able to put my foot on the ground. From there I was in a walking boot for six weeks. Physical therapy started soon after. I went twice a week for four months. So six months after the actual surgery, I was done with therapy but I was probably at 65/70% in terms of what I could do physically since I had to rebuild my calf. It was probably a full year before I felt comfortable enough to add some serious weight to squats, but even now if I do 'Annie' my right calf takes much longer to recover." The moral of the story is that the recovery process is a long and arduous one.

If you find yourself facing a workout with high-rep box jumps, it's incredibly simple to avoid injury, be it torn up shins or ruptured tendons. These scaling options are especially important for beginners, mainly women. Why? Because a lot of women have a mental block about jumping on a box. It's very common and I get it. Here are some potential options:

1) Step-ups

2) Less height

3) Less reps

4) Step down

Number 4 is particularly important for the more seasoned CrossFitters as well. This relates back to my previous post about control. Stop focusing so goddamn much on how FAST you do a workout. How much time will you really lose stepping down rather than jumping? Twenty seconds total? I'd rather give up twenty seconds now instead of seven months for an Achilles rupture. Use your brain.

In the long run, box jumps are better used for explosive max effort training. Joe DeFranco uses them for power development for his higher level athletes:

As I stated, unfortunately box jumps are a part of CrossFit and here to stay. So if you have a workout with a lot of reps, please approach them responsibly and try to control your ascent and descent to avoid unnecessary injury.


Cancellation List!

In lieu of my popularity, or rather, the popularity of my Saturday Olympic weightlifting class, I have decided to institute an official cancellation list. Oftentimes, people pre-register for my class months in advance (likely because of my handsomeness) and understandably, things come up and people have to cancel. It happens and I don't fault anyone for it, provided they contact me beforehand rather than pulling a no-show, which would be fucking rude.

So, when you look to the right of this page and see a full class, you have the option to email me to be put on the cancellation list for that particular class. If a spot opens up, you will be emailed to see if you're available to attend. If you cannot, I will simply move onto the next person on the list.

Like normal Oly class registration, the same rules still apply:

1) First come, first served basis.

2) Don't email me asking to be put on every single cancellation list. It'd be unfair to other potential participants and I probably don't want to see you on consecutive Saturdays anyways.

3) Reserve spots via email only. DO NOT SIGN UP THROUGH MINDBODY. We may eventually switch registration to MindBody, but as of right now, I don't trust it enough. Plus, I have a lot of travel coming up and this current system allows me to set the dates in advance on my own terms.

If you've never attended my Oly class and are wondering if it's for you, just ask this guy -- he's my prized student! Other than that, we have this...


Control, Pt. 1

Let me start with something simple: Slow the fuck down. Bear with me, I have a point here. Look, nothing and no one is perfect. There are problems with CrossFit and even more with people. Sometimes both CrossFit and the people doing it focus too much on the wrong things.

As everyone already knows, a big aspect of CrossFit is finishing a workout quickly, getting as many rounds as possible, and so on. Over the years this has been responsible for both the exponential growth and constant criticisms of CrossFit. Unfortunately, I find that one of the most important aspects of exercise/fitness/life in general gets lost in the shuffle: movement quality.

This obsession with speed and finishing your workout as fast as humanly possible leads to a plethora of horseshit: poor form, bad technique, shortened range-of-motion, and an increased risk of potential injury. The simple truth is that speed is nothing without control. If you're moving so fast that your form goes right to shit, slow the fuck down.

This is why many Balance coaches will force you to decrease the weight during your workouts. Even if it feels too light, it's better to reinforce solid mechanics and technique than to let you run the risk of hurting yourself. It's better your movements be fluid and smooth than to look like some asshole flailing about. How fast you finish the workout should ALWAYS be secondary to how well you perform each individual movement.

Listen to this man; he's smarter than all of us...

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