Why some CrossFit Athletes Dominate the Open and Fail Regionals
The first question that comes to mind when I hear the name “CrossFit” is: What does it mean? Is it a cult or something like that?
I have been following the sport since its early days, back in 2002. Since then, I’ve seen many changes in how the sport was being practiced. From the original “Iron Man” workouts to the “Bodybuilding” type workouts to the more extreme methods of training.
In my opinion, there are three main reasons why some athletes dominate at certain levels of competition while others do not:
1) Genetics – There is no doubt that genetics plays a role in determining success or failure in any endeavor.
However, it’s worth noting that some individuals simply have an advantage over other competitors due to their genetic makeup. For example, if one were to take a group of 100 competitive weightlifters and train them all the same way, only 10 would be able to lift more than 90 pounds. These 10 lifters would all possess different physical attributes that make them superior to each other.
2) Training Methodology – Another factor that may play a part in determining success or failure is the training methodology used by an athlete.
As the sport of CrossFit has grown, so have the methods used by coaches to train their athletes. While the “old school” CrossFit methodology involved things such as heavy Olympic lifting and high-rep metcons, some coaches (like myself) have created a new type of training that relies more on the use of sub-maximal repetitions and special types of accessory movements designed to target specific parts of the body. While this may not increase an athlete’s 1RM, it does increase their work capacity, leading to an improvement in the athlete’s ability to perform more reps at a given percentage of their 1RM.
3) Equipment – Finally, some would argue that the equipment used also plays a role in determining success or failure in CrossFit.
While this may have been true in the early days of CrossFit (and while some older affiliate still use dated equipment), it’s simply no longer a factor. Most CrossFit boxes now have great equipment that is regularly inspected for safety.
While there are undoubtedly other factors that contribute to success or failure on any given day, I believe that these are the three most important ones.
One of the easiest ways to improve performance is to lower the amount of reps required for a given percentage. For example, if an athlete can deadlift 300 pounds for ten reps, then that means that they can probably pull around 3,000 pounds if you made them lift for one rep.
However, not everyone has the time or resources to employ this method due to the costs involved with building a facility large enough to accommodate all this. This is where the use of specialty bars comes into play.
One such specialty bar is the “trap bar”. This is a specialty bar that looks like a squat cage with a grip placed three to four feet away from one end. This enables an athlete to stand inside the cage and bend over to grab the bar before standing up and lifting the weight.
This type of specialty bar is excellent for teaching athletes how to pick things up off the floor without using excessive spinal flexion. This helps to improve work capacity by decreasing the amount of time your athletes spend on the ground picking heavy objects off the floor.
Another specialty bar that we have recently introduced at my facility is the thick bar. Unlike the trap bar, which has a single grip on one end and a plate-loading cage on the other, the thick bar has the same diameter along its entire length. The advantage of this is that an athlete can perform the same movements as they would with a regular barbell but with decreased range of motion. This decreases the amount of shearing force placed upon the spine while increasing the amount of weight that can be moved.
The use of specialty bars such as these can save time and money while increasing work capacity.
Sources & references used in this article:
Strong is the new sexy: Women, CrossFit, and the postfeminist ideal by JC Herz – 2015 – Harmony
‘We’re In This Together:’neoliberalism and the disruption of the coach/athlete hierarchy in CrossFit by MS Washington, M Economides – Journal of Sport and …, 2016 – journals.sagepub.com
The lived experience of CrossFit as a context for the development of women’s body image and appearance management practices by L Heywood – Sports Coaching Review, 2016 – Taylor & Francis
Let’s work on your weaknesses’: Australian CrossFit coaching, masculinity and neoliberal framings of ‘health’and ‘fitness by M Podmore, JP Ogle – Fashion and Textiles, 2018 – Springer