Fundamentals: Developing perfect technique

What does your squat look like?
Is the movement pattern for your shoulder press, push press, push-up, handstand push-up and bench press the same?
Can you deadlift without a change in spinal alignment?

These are all questions that we consider to be more important than. How heavy do you squat? How much do you bench? How many pushups can you do? How fast can you do your deadlifts? This second group of questions is only relevant if you haven't mastered the fundamentals.

Is your squat a train wreck? Yes. Then we don’t care how much weight you can lift. Does your spine move around like a limp noodle when performing a deadlift? Yes. Then we don’t want you to pick up anything heavier than a PVC pipe.

Insist foundational pieces are rock-solid.
— Greg Glassman

In CrossFit we are always trying to push ourselves to lift more, move faster and lift more while moving faster. This is intensity and it's what gets us the results we want. But what is only emphasized in the best gyms is that increased intensity is secondary to moving better.

Some of todays auto manufacturers put governors/speed limiters on their cars. This is mostly for safety reasons. Most people don’t have any reason to go that fast, and if they do the damage done in an accident is catastrophic. So putting a limiter on the engine helps keep people a little safer.

Think of your basic foundation movements as governors over your intensity. As your get better at the technique then push the intensity until your technique starts to break down and don’t go any faster.

This means the more time and attention you spend on improving your fundamentals the higher your governor will be set. If you want to move faster, you must first move slower and perfect your movement. If you want to move more weight you need to first move less weight with more precision.

Here’s a helpful way to think about it. Instead of chasing a heavier weight or faster time, chase after personal records in quality. For example…

Last month you did a 5 x 5 back squat with 225lbs but it was kind of sketchy.

This month you could probably do a 5 x 5 with 235 lbs but still sketchy.

Instead do your 5 x 5 at 220 lb and make each rep perfect. Work really hard to keep your knees tracking over your toes through the entire range of motion. Having your hip crease reach below parallel with and shift in your lumbar spine and keep the barbell directly over the mid foot throughout all 25 reps.

If you are successful in that you’ll actually be working harder than if you had increased the weight and you’ll be better prepared to increase the weight next time.

Don’t be in a hurry to lift more weight. Be eager to move more beautifully.

Now go move better