Session: connection failed

Perfect Form and Intensity by Rob Orlando - CrossFit Journal

In Strongman, Videos

June 11, 2012

Video Article

Losing control is the road to adaptation, Rob Orlando says.

In this video, the Hybrid Athletics owner has a Q&A with a group of nine Israeli CrossFitters who visited his box late last year. Among them is Moshiko “Mo” Sameach, known as an athlete with near-perfect form on every rep.

“If it’s flawless, it’s not fast enough,” Orlando tells him. “If the question is, ‘How do I get from a five-minute Fran to a three-minute Fran?’ … you don’t need to be much stronger. You need to be more willing to hurt.”

The change amounts to a mental one, not a physical one, Orlando explains. Good adaptation happens in intensity, he adds.

“You can’t do a two-and-a-half-minute Fran under control—it’s full speed,” Orlando says.

8min 16sec

Additional audio: CrossFit Radio Episode 202 by Justin Judkins, published Dec. 14, 2011.

Free Download


47 Comments on “Perfect Form and Intensity”


wrote …

I get what he's saying in the video, but I think it's dangerous advice. "Wrecking the Car" as he puts it, could be a blown knee. That isn't something that I want to "learn" from.


wrote …

When he says "crash the car" he doesn't mean blow out your knee, or be stupid about it. He's saying that sometimes you just have to push the limit even if it means slightly sacrificing technique. If you just keep going you may burn yourself out but you learn from that.


Nigel Gordijk wrote …

As much as Rob is one of my favourite crossfitters, I don't know how much I agree with this. I do get what he's saying, I could do air squats letting my heels come off the ground and knees tracking away from my toes often and most likely not get hurt. But that's a simple low risk exercise, it does however promote that bad form for weighted squats. The odds of me blowing out a knee are slim on air squats, but using that same bad form on back or front squats is asking for an injury and many experts agree with that.

I don't get why you cannot keep good form and move fast, once you've done it enough times you don't need to think about it anymore you just do it naturally. And even if for some reason you are moving slower so be it, I'd rather train for many years than hurt myself in one workout. In competitions, like the regionals or games, sure bad form I could care less but when doing your own training, like when he brought up Jason Khalipa, it's a bad idea to promote that kind of form on a regular basis just for a faster time. Why does perfect form equal less intensity, if it's what you always do you aren't thinking about it like he said that gentleman was in the video.

I love debates so I'd love to hear more thoughts about this.


wrote …

With all due respect, but that is some really horrible advice to broadcast as a CF video.
In private, I can see having this conversation, " come on dude push it to the limits..."

Keep your form as perfect as possible, isn't that what HQ looks for in Level 2?
No rep.


wrote …

A few weekends ago I was at Kelly Starrett's Movement and Mobility course and he was telling us not to wreck our bodies long term for short term results.

Then, at my Level 1 certification last weekend, they talked about Threshold Training and how you have to risk "wrecking the car" if you want to win the race.

But Glassman also talks about virtuosity in the fundamentals and I've heard over and over that better technique is more efficient and being more efficient is going to make you faster.

I understand you cannot have perfect form all the time, especially in competition, but it doesn't seem like telling people to push to the degree that form breaks down in their training is a good idea?


wrote …

To the above commenters who don't agree with his advice: Keep it in context.

Who was that advice for, why was he saying to do that, when and what circumstances is it appropriate?
He wasn't just making blanket statements for the entire CF community. New people, non-competitors, those that don't want a sub-three minute Fran, etc, need not he said, or implied, by who he was saying it was for.

P.S. You can hear Coach Glassman offering much of the same. Have you seen the Journal vids of him discussing intensity and comparing it with typing on a keyboard, playing the violin, shooting a gun at a target or driving a race car...


wrote …

I for one know that I sometimes use having perfect form as a good excuse to not push myself 100%... Emptying the tank brings you to "the bad place" from which you emerge stronger, with a newfound knowledge of what your limits are.


wrote …

Everybody has their own training style. I'm more in line with Kelly and Carl on the whole perfect practice makes perfect ideal. You can grow and adapt in all 10 areas of fitness without over pushing yourself. Think of all Louie's powerlifters and he he talks about always pulling up a little short. I also find this funny coming from Rob who said in one of the strongman videos on tire flipping, "Slow is smooth and smooth is fast". I also believe in that motto. I bet if this guy with the 5:30 Fran kept perfect form with a good pace but not balls to the wall and went unbroken he'd have a sub 4 minute Fran. It's all about being efficient. Think about Olympic athletes. Whatever sport they do, they train to be efficient and fast, and I'm pretty they don't ever crash the car in their training. I do get where Rob is coming from and I think he's an incredible coach. We just have different opinions on this one.


Russell Berger wrote …

Rob is not advocating doing this 100% of the time. This is a common misconception related to CrossFit. Let me throw a quote at you from this video:

“...The next time you come back to that workout or movement, you know how uncomfortable you’ve been, and you can throttle it back and still go fast...”

In other words, If you can get to that failure point, learn where it is, and master it, then by simply slowing down a bit you will be able to perform workouts efficiently at speeds that were previously a hot mess (fast is smooth and smooth is fast).

"crashing the car" itself is not what results in a faster workout time. the errors in technique are not the goal, but a necessary side-effect of training at your threshold. Also, I think you (and a few other people on this thread) are misinterpreting Kelly's legendary Gaso-brakeo car analogy, which isn't about how to train but how to take care of and maintain your body so you can train.


wrote …

At first I thought "Losing control is the road to adaptation" was a referral to several of Rob's posted CF vids where he spectacularly loses his temper after missing lifts! Now THAT would be an interesting discussion! :)

Gotta chime in here. As Mark Rippetoe would have said, this is silly. Yeah Greg Glassman, Dave Castro, Tony Budding etc etc etc have banged on about form vs. intensity and it's been all over the forums and journal for years. But personally I'm with Mo. He's clearly a technician and this is probably a major reason why he has escaped injury while training hard. He should be applauded for it. It's a great pity that he is (almost) criticized for this. Only in CrossFit it seems - where it appears that the only thing that matters is going faster.

The magic in CrossFit is in the movements, correctly executed. Always has been (it's true! Dave Castro even said it at my L1 cert way back when!). That's what attracted many of us to it in the first place. It's really unfortunate as CF has grown that it's now become even more about quantity than quality. Maybe it's the increasing emphasis on the CF Games and competition, I don't know. The problem is that with the obsessive pursuit of faster times as somehow directly representative of "increased fitness" we are seeing an increasingly "hammerhead-esque" approach to training. That will catch up with every athlete sooner or later. Sure you'll gain "fitness" for a while but long term the wobbly foundations (asymmetries/previous injuries/imbalances/postural problems, etc) will come to the fore.

Ultimately of course the final responsibility for how hard to push lies with the athlete. Many (most?) CF coaches will not stop you or correct you when things go south precisely because they think that "losing control is the road to adaptation". And there comes a point where every Crossfitter eventually has to take a good long look at themselves and ask "how important is a [insert workout with faster time here] to me?". If you plan to compete in CF, sure you gotta take the risk & push there. But, like most CFers, if you're doing it for fun and for increased resilience & quality of life, you would be wise to filter and think about this type of information and recommendations very very carefully.

PS. BTW my comments are in no way meant as criticism of Rob Orlando personally, never met him. I know he's an amazing athlete.

Tony Webster, PhD, CSCS, RKC, CK-FMS (and I also have 5 CF certs).


wrote …

I get what he is saying. Great vid.


wrote …

Just after the Open finished this year, we had a Monday morning WOD of 21,15,9 heavy back squat and KB swing.

I was pushing hard and my low back curved a little on the 13th rep of the 15. I didn't want to stop and put the bar down so close to finishing it unbroken.

The consequences for me were not "adaptation". What I got was low back strain and a herniated disk. You know, those never really heal back to the way they were before the injury. I wish I had known that before.

For two months I haven't been able to lift anything over 45 lbs. I had qualified for the Regionals and could not go.

Worst of all, I might never be able lift heavy again. I have had back pain every day for 10 weeks now. I had to drop out of my Crossfit gym since I can't do most WODs. I went from doing two WODs a day to doing a lot of cardio and physiotherapy. It really sucks.

Lesson learned: Keep your form 100% perfect if your back is involved.


wrote …

Sorry to hear about your back Torrey.

The attitude/approach being espoused in this video is what leads to this:

It's amazing what people will do when they are told to do so by "coaches" and that it will improve their work capacity across broad time and modal domains.

Select your gym and your coach very carefully.


wrote …

Time will tell if CF maintains this same approach toward intensity. It is too early to know the long term results of this. Years later, will we see 30+ year CFers receiving knee replacements and spinal fusions at an alarming rate?

Even when form is slightly compromised, such as when the back begins to round or the knees become unstable, there can be microtrauma to these structures. It is insidious in that it is often not incapacitating. Rather, you may leave your WOD with knee aching that lasts a few days, or a minor ache in your lower spine. We push through it. It's our culture. Yet we notice that these aches recur, and begin to recur with higher frequency. The joints do not heal like muscles. It sucks. It's a harsh fact. I've grown to respect this.

I've been doing CF since 05. When I started, I was balls to the wall. After a few injuries, and with growing awareness of my body, I no longer am willing to sacrifice form for a better WOD time. In fact, perfect form has become almost the entire focus of the WOD. I am especially careful with certain movements when I am gassed; cleans and snatches, front squats, and to a lesser extent, even lighter movements that involve squatting like wall balls or thrusters. These movements absolutely punish poor form. I consider any WOD which leaves my joints aching to be an epic fail regardless of whether I got a good time. Your joints should NEVER hurt from working out. That's just foolish bravado which leads to knee replacements, etc.. F- if that's me when I'm older.

I respect Mo's approach. There should be room for people with his approach to be respected for it. He is not interested in competing. Neither am I. I'm interested in being able to do shit, other sports. Not be so sore or hobbled from my WODs that I am reduced to a sore limping 90yo man in between each WOD. So lower intensity works for me, too. And that's fine. Crossfit is awesome and life-changing even when done at lower intensities. I totally get what Rob Orlando is saying in this video. It's a matter of whether or not the need to be elite is worth the risks involved when you "crash the car". If some people want to tone take a safer road, at the expense of fully maximizing their potential for work capacity, they still get massive results from Crossfit. My fitness is way beyond where I ever could have imagined it would be at this point in my life, thanks to Crossfit. I've just learned to tailor the program to my needs.


wrote …

I've been doing CrossFit since 07 and have long since abandoned compromising form for any achievement. There's just way too many injuries and I hate the constant, nagging mini injuries.

At my box, I emphasize form over everything. It's funny watching the difference between those who push the envelope, and the CrossFitter doing it for fun. The ones that push the envelope actually have better form and spend a lot of extra time trying to get better. But, ironically, they're also the ones who have to see a chiropractor once a week, have massive KT Tape on their bodies, and spends hours rehabilitating just to function.

Is this the price to party? Not sure. Also, what long term damage is this causing? Time will tell. Always complaining about knee, shoulder, and elbow pain is not the price I want to pay for CrossFit.


wrote …

It is what it is. You wanna die for those points? Some (not all) tech will be sacrificed. You don't care about points and all that other stuff...well hip crease, full extension and activate those shoulders all the way. Dusty Hayland from Dogtown CF did Diane today with Free Standing HSPU...awesome form....slower Diane time...but damn was that shit legit.


Russell Berger wrote …

Rob did a great job of explaining the concepts of technique and intensity in this video, but unfortunately this subject requires a lot of unpacking before it is clear to everyone what CrossFit is teaching, and the misconceptions are running wild here already, so let me address a few.

First, the "Wreck the car" analogy does not refer to injury- ever. Rob is not saying "Go until you get injured or you aren't training hard enough". He is asking you to go until you see breakdowns in technique, and then work to fix them. There is also a basic element of common-sense that should be applied right along side threshold training. Torrey gives a great example of exactly what Rob is NOT saying, in that a relatively high-risk fault like a round lumbar spine under significant load is first and foremost a safety concern, not an acceptable degradation of technique to most coaches.

Second, the idea that "Perfect form" even exists is questionable. The concept is almost theoretical, as some of the best athletes in the world can tell you mistakes they made on world-record performances. Our goal is to practice until we are perfect, and then stress the system until we see breakdowns. this is where adaptation occurs. Travis Haley (formerly the CEO of Magpul industries and an amazing firearms instructor) summarized this concept beautifully- "Amateurs train until they get it right, and professionals train until they get it wrong".

The fact that there is risk involved in this type of training is not really up for argument, threshold training is without a doubt riskier than staying comfortable and never pushing your limits, but CrossFit has always taught that these limits are highly relative to the individual tolerances of each and every athlete. Assuming we want everyone chasing headlong after fitness like a CrossFit Games competitor is therefore not only a misinterpretation of our training principals, but isn't supported by what we teach. My grandmother utilizes threshold training during squat therapy when I push her to move faster and the added stress causes her to rock her weight ot the balls of her feet. The fact that this looks drastically different for an advanced athlete like Mo should be no surprise. We want to maximize results, and the best results only come through stressors (moderated by common sense) no matter what level you are at in your fitness.

Look at any other sport or endeavor worth achieving in life and you will see the accepted requirement of tolerating risk. Most of us have been seriously injured competing or practicing football, soccer, track, climbing, biking, wrestling etc... and yet most of us would also let our kids play the same sport because we know the benefit is worth the predictable risk. CrossFit (arguably far safer than the sports I just mentioned) should be no different, and if you want results you need BOTH technique AND speed. This isn't about competition, it's about improvement.


wrote …

I think Dave Castro explained a little better what Rob is trying to get at.


wrote …

Finally someone addressed this.

Thank you Rob.


wrote …

I first want to say I respect Rob O. I understand he is just telling the truth, but this video is unfortunate. It can easily be taken out of context. CrossFit "Virtuosity" was written back in '05, when the goal was to bring fitness to the masses, make people bullet proof, slow the aging process, et cetera (at least IMO). If it's considered a sport now, people need to understand that's what this advice is intended for. Accordingly, athletes who complete at high levels understand the scarifies (some do not I suppose). Generally not sustainable and most definitely not with longevity as any major goal.

The wheels don’t need to fall off for progress to be made. Maybe short term progress is sacrificed. Saying the goal of perfect form is not an absolute priority, not obtainable, theoretical…if we start with that mentality, where do we end up? When you begin a sentence with “the problem with perfect form is…”, that’s the problem. Speed is not a lone factor in stress/adaptation.


wrote …

The ones who understand this and that have applied this concept, have what it takes to persevere and achieve results faster than those who are against it and choose not to apply it. But only always.


wrote …

It's funny, this was a pretty brilliant discussion from Rob. I was anticipating reading 20 comments about how inspiring it was! I assume most responding in contrary to this video do not have issues with perfectionism and being overly technical! I assume also they were not following Rob's argument accurately.

CrossFit, Rob, and most any of the respectable coaches in the community do not want you to hurt yourself, not at all! Better technical instruction is near impossible to find outside of the CrossFit community! Rob's comments were meant for the thinking man, the sensible man, who can understand a context where over-thinking "precision execution" can TAKE AWAY from intensity. I'm someone just like Mo and I can tell you it damn sure slows you down.

This is great advice, at the right time for me, and excellently articulated. I remember Coach's videos on form vs intensity but it wasn't delivered as clear to me as here. Makes great sense now. Take the wheels off once in a while, then dial back and get the form back together. Surely it's the only way. You cannot preoccupy yourself with form without sacrificing intensity. It's one of the most meaningful statements I've ever gotten from Coach and, now, Rob.


wrote …

Well the world would be a boring place if we all agreed on everything wouldn't it? Each to their own!


wrote …

I have been doing Crossfit for ten months and I would agree with Rob's point. I instruct racing and a great F1 driver (Senna) once said, "you know you are not at the limit when you go into a corner and think you are going to crash, but you don't." The Hope WOD was a perfect example for me. The 75# Snatch and Thrusters were below my one rep max by 35 and 45 pounds, so I was able to move the wieght quickly for 14 reps a minute. Other guys in the box were going for form and treating the weight like it was heavier than it really was for them, they did less, better form, marginally, but much slower.

To me Crossfit is about pushing your physical and mental boundries. There are four/five stages to learning: unconscious-incompetent (don't know and don't know you don't know), consciously-incompetent (know you don't know) consciously-competent (you know how to do it but you have to think about it ) unconsciously-competent (can do it with out thinking about it), finally unconsciously-competent with awareness. This final stage is where any top level athelete should be preforming when they are at their max. This is the Zone.

By pushing yourself beyond your precieved limit, and note that Rob said that Mo is strong enough to do the WOD faster, but the is operating at stage 3 he is consciously going through the movements, but by not letting go to trust in your ability to get into the zone you hold yourself back.

Everything in moderation and you have to know youreslf and your physical limits, but sometimes you have to let go and push. You may be surprised at what you can achieve.


wrote …

I can bet if you get injured by going balls to the walls, then visited a PT guru like KStarr, he would ask you, why the F... did you not check your ego at the door....form, function , then comes speed . Love watching you Rob, but I respectfully disagree with this point.
I tweaked my back a few months back, and it was with light weight and poor form. Luckily I'm back to training, with new respect to technique .


wrote …

Russell - very well stated.


wrote …

Ummm what? Russell argues as if there is only one side to the discussion. And brings up irrelevant (occasionally wrong) points.

Kelly Starrett's point about "gas o break o" was that using muscles to max power and full ROM while extremely tight with poor sliding surfaces is inefficient, like slamming the gas and the break pedals. A "legendary", but not really relevant analogy that no one discussed.

And deciding a point of order that "perfect form" is a mythological beast for the books? Who teaches people 'so-so' form? Athletes who set records and mention lapses in their form, generally do so implying that they could have done better. Not recognizing that they made a mistake and deciding their training didn't matter...

Have you measured the injury rates of Crossfit across the board? Unless you have some evidence, you are relying on faith/making false statements. I can 'arguably' say anything.

Look, I agree that you once you get beyond the formative stage, you need to 'push the limit'. Mo's and many other people's tolerance of risk level is different to what Robb, Russell and others are implying. If Mo wants a 3-minute Fran, he might need to change his training. If he is comfortable doing his thing, never getting hurt, and very slowly improving his 5-minute Fran, so be it. His risk tolerance is low, just like grandma's out there. They have "risk", but the value of pushing it to anywhere near 'wrecking the car' is likely not worth it. That doesn't make it less worthy or a failure. Just different.


Brett Poulos wrote …

I know very little of Rob Orlando as I have never met him... I have however seen/read a lot about him. He doesn't seem to be a dumb guy and Im sure he's not.

This video is pretty controversial. In part because of the message conveyed and in part because of the great potential for misconception. When someone says things like "wreck the car", it's easy to see a car losing control, running off the road and hitting a tree, crumbling the hood and ejecting air-bags... So the metaphor is easily interpreted as break someting or get injured by losing control in a WOD.

However, I don't think this is what Rob meant. He just conveyed the message poorly. As stated above, it's about pushing thresholds. If you can do every rep perfectly, are you pushing yourself enough? Probably not. What Rob probably meant was to push that envelope to the point of a "no-rep", not because you're being an idiot and unknowingly utilizing crap technique, but because youre literally pushing yourself so hard that you reach that threshold (like a PR but mid-WOD) in speed and intensity which forces you to correct yourself. I don't want to put words in Rob's mouth, but this is what I got out of the video and only assume my interpretation is correct.

CrossFit HQ knows that one of the biggest arguements against the program is injury due to crap from because of the speed factor. They want form to be precise (as seen in regionals: "No Rep") because in order for this to work there has to be "standards" for universal judging, and injured CrossFitters are non-paying CrossFitters. Nobody wants either of those.

Utilize the best form you have at the fastest speed possible. Ex: when performing hang power clean you need to come to full extension. Do you have to stop and pause at the top or just hit that point drop yourslef and re-explode? Another example is Annie on deadlifts at regionals. She was controversially no-repped because she was going so fast and didnt hit extension. When you get no-repped, adjust whatever is needed, get pissed, and keep moving. As Ron said, let the wheels come off and go.

- CF'er who use to weigh 360, doesn't have the L1, and is entirely unqualified to publicly interpret what Rob meant or not.


wrote …

OK I was there when Rob answered the question and let me explain what I took away from this answer and my time with Rob.
As we push the envelope forms falls apart that is a given. While we want to push th envelope we know form will suffer but this does not mean that you should get to the point where you can severely hurt yourself.
Will you suffer some injury ? Yes you will but if you have some common sense this will be limited to soreness and some sprains.
There is a band of error here and the results versus injury factor is individual but at NO TIME would Rob advocate someone doing anything way out of there skill or strength set .
I have done Fran before and then had to do it again at the cert by Rob I hurt my hands from the stress and they hurt for a while afterwards but I learned that what I thought were my limits was wrong and that I had a greater capacity for work than I realized.
That was a risk I took pushing myself well beyond my limits as a skilled crossfitter but hey that was a calculated decision made while I trained under rob Russel Austin Jen Keith and Allison at the cert . There the instructors saw we were way past technique at the end and....they pushed us to go a little bit harder.
Pushing the envelope is what I do and yes every once In a while I crash the car but even then I do so in a way that allows me to walk away.
If you have the chance take Robs seminar .really


wrote …

After watching this I pr'd my fran time by 2:30! went from a 6:43 to a 4:13 =) i didnt purposely break down my form for speed, but I did have the thought in my head to try go faster and push harder. Thats what i got from Rob, a good cue from a great guy.


wrote …

I don't think Rob was saying anything new. Rob is awesome, and an inspiring athlete. This was covered in the L1 cert I attended in 08. He is espousing CF methodology. I'm sure there are older journal articles discussing this that I'm too lazy to look up.

When I think of "wrecking the car" a few examples come to mind. I think of Nicole's cleans at the end the original Nasty Girls video. I think of that old video of Annie Sakamoto, Nicole (I think) and the tall and slender blond girl doing Grace in the parking lot. I think of Kallista Pappa's absolutely EPIC heavy Grace in the Games a few years back. Each video showed elite CF athletes giving legendary efforts, pushing themselves way beyond the point most athletes would have quit - truly inspiring. But when intensity had pushed them to the brink, their form went to absolute shit, wobbly knees under heavy load, spine bowed or curved to the side, fighting with all they had to save reps. Not quite as bad as that video Tony Webster linked above, but close. When I started doing CF I was all for going for it like that. Now having injured my spine and knees with bad form when gassed, it makes them ache just watching others put themselves through that.

I guess I'm just getting old, or more in tune with my body. But I avoid anything that will make my joints ache, period. Joint injuries don't heal well, if at all. When you haven't been through joint injuries, it is natural to be cavalier. I used to think Olympic lifters who shook their heads at CF for doing high rep OL's were just assholes who didn't get it, but now I understand where they were coming from. Heavy Grace, Elizabeth, these workouts are extremely dangerous if you do not have great OL form, and/or push yourself into failure zone. If you want to be an elite competitor, you have to assume this risk. But that should be each person's informed decision and I respect people who are less risk adverse in these movements. There is a big difference in risk between, say, a failed bench press or a failed Clean. Maybe this is why we see so many powerlifters performing at elite levels into their 50's and very few elite Olympic lifters in their 30's.


wrote …

Probably not advice a novice, casual or even intermediate Crossfitter should follow. If you watch the Games, those guys and girls are all out every rep and some look ugly but its not like they havent done that movement 1000 times, they know their limit. One of the first thing you learn in Level I is not to sacrifice form for intensity but when you are talking top 60 in the world, thats a different story. Elite athletes in all sports train like this, not sure its something the general population should train like.


wrote …

Rob Orlando's video speaks to me. I am physically and mentally built for long and slow workouts where I always attempt to find a pace. I need to crash more cars (safely) and if I fail so what. I occasionally may gain more from red lining for two minutes on a 4 minute workout which ends up taking me 5 minutes to complete for the sake of adaptation and growth. I don't think Rob is suggesting this operandi on a Wod with big weights or risky movements. Remember you can't make an omelet without cracking an egg once and a while. Now I just have to remember that myself when I'm in the middle of a (suckfest Wod).....which is easier said then done.

Semper Fi


wrote …

Rob Orlando's video speaks to me. I am physically and mentally built for long and slow workouts where I always attempt to find a pace. I need to crash more cars (safely) and if I fail so what. I occasionally may gain more from red lining for two minutes on a 4 minute workout which ends up taking me 5 minutes to complete for the sake of adaptation and growth. I don't think Rob is suggesting this operandi on a Wod with big weights or risky movements. Remember you can't make an omelet without cracking an egg once and a while. Now I just have to remember that myself when I'm in the middle of a (suckfest Wod).....which is easier said then done.

Semper Fi


wrote …

Jean-Claude Killy, the second skier in Olympic history to win gold in three events - said you can’t practice skiing down the hill at 80% and then compete at 100%. Killy would crash often during practice trying to push the envelope and improve his times.


wrote …

When I envision Rob's words of "Crashing the Car" firstly I think ok in order to crash the car I have to go fast, but I don't crash the car mid workout, I crash the car on my last rep of the workout when I fall on the floor in a mangled heap with all my energy pathways fully exhausted.
So my take is every now and then if im not falling on the ground wrecked after a workout then I'm missing pushing some of those pathways, not to mention increasing my mental strength by purposely crashing the car.
I also think that with perfect form comes perfect setup and perfect execution, so next time I'll try and cut down on the setup which takes time within itself and not over think the movements.


wrote …

I liken it to the fast and the furious. There is going fast and there is going furious. For example take the end of a race like a 800m run (especially at lower levels like high school) the kids with the greatest capacity and ability to maintain their form the longest tend to prevail but as you near the finish line form tends to get tossed out the window. This is where fast is smooth and smooth is fast comes into play, but don't count out the athlete with that furious no holds barred attempt to win. In an idea world we could say that we will maintain perfect form and the seconds will just come off but I believe you have to push beyond that point of comfortable to achieve that level of fast that comes off as smooth.

In this context though I believe Rob is specifically referring to the workout Fran. To make that jump to a 3:00 minute level he needs to go faster, which may mean, he needs to go furious first so the next time he can go fast. Also though the coach must take some responsibility to see the wheels come off and immediately pull the athlete from the car like when rob said you go til you burnout on pull ups then you take a 2 minute break. I believe Dan John said to keep the goal the goal. If you want to compete at cross fit or any sport you have to look at it different then if your goal is health and fitness. And maybe the next time he does Fran his 4min version will look technically the same as his 5 min version.


replied to comment from Matt Solomon

Amen to you Matt Solomon. I wouldn't go to any gym where they teach me to sacrifice form for speed, even if it is just to "learn from it" or improve my fran time a minute or two. No way! Form is key, then speed.

Mo does need to push it, but at his own pace and keeping the form 100%


wrote …

The idea of form at 100% is a fantasy. Watch any group of olympic level Oly lifters and the technique or form will be different across the board but the weights go up. Consistent and safe is the goal technically perfect doesn't happen at speed and varies from one lifter to another. Mo needs to think less and do more. I played Judo for ten years in a competitive arena and we would practice the technique until it became second nature and we could execute without thinking, just reacting. Mo needs to get his crossfit to that point. Once the form is ingrained you can open the throttle without being unsafe.


wrote …

Torrey...combining heavy back squats and KB swings in volume is NOT a good idea, especially if it is for time. I'm guessing that you didn't wear a belt, which probably would have saved your back. I would NEVER max out in volume or weight on a lift where my back is the weak link. For 21-15-9, I wouldn't go above BW squats. Check out Crossfit Football for examples of heavy volume without over-doing it.
That said, hope you get back to normal soon. I know it sucks to be out of commission.
As for Rob's advice, I get what he's saying, but you have to be careful how that message is received.


wrote …

I think a lot of folks are getting caught up in the language Rob used. The gist of what he was saying was, if you are like Mo and already have excellent form and enough power, the only way to decrease your Fran time is to increase the speed and intensity. You do that by loosening the form a bit, not tossing it out just stop focusing so much on it, and kicking the speed up. That is basic. I am not sure what all the fuss is about. The form is there so think less and bring it!!


wrote …

I think we need to use more caution, in the way of more concise/explicit commentary when it comes to matters such as this where athlete safety is involved. I get and agree with the underlying concept that Rob is conveying as it relates to highly trained competitive athletes. The problem arises from the fact that the VAST majority of the Crossfit community is not highly trained competitive athletes, but rather average folks trying to get a bit fitter. For this large majority Rob’s commentary, presented as a sound bite, is too easily misinterpreted and then subsequently used as a basis to engage in dangerous training habits that will often lead to injury. The vast majority of those that I train are fringe populations, i.e. youth, elderly, obese, etc. and for these populations perfection in mechanics is a training standard which cannot be compromised. EVER.


wrote …



wrote …

I think the problem that needs to be addressed is placing too much emphasise on one method over the other.

Train at all-out intensity all the time and you're probably never going to perfect your technique, and the further along you are the more important that becomes. Train at a comfortable pace all the time and you'll never make what is currently an unsustainable effort sustainable, you're body simply won't feel the need to adapt.

What Rob is advocating is that once your technique is dialled in you can stop thinking about it and go hell for leather, even if that does mean "crashing the car" once in a while. I always took that to mean finding out mid-workout that I've been using a pace that I can't sustain, have truly found my limit and no matter how hard I push I can't hang on to it. I've also never found this to be an ideal situation. It's like running the first 200m of an 800m race at max effort only to put yourself at a disadvantage for the next 600m. Your overall time will suffer. There's a sweet spot to target for maximum reward, but if you don't aim high enough you're not going to hit it.

I can see why there is concern that this could increase the risk of injury, but from personal experience I've never felt that the increase in risk is that high. Peculiarly, I often find that when I'm fatigued my technique begins to sharpen up, I assume as moving more efficiently is the only way to keep the work-rate high with a rapidly diminishing supply of energy. I'd be interested to know if anyone else has found this...


wrote …

Rob is talking about the concept of threshold training. That is going beyond the comfort level with a coach watching to ensure you aren't going too far. That's the key. Someone even-headed who can tell you to back off.

It's a potientally dangerous way of doing things. Injuries hurt right, and can permanently alter the way you train, as well as lay you off of training for months or years, and nothing is getting done then. But with proper coaching it is achievable every work out. Without proper coaching or a coach willing to back you off, it should be used cautiously if at all.

Pushing boundaries is how you get better, but you need someone to reel you in if you are going too far and are risking serious injury. Hard to do that on your own.



wrote …

I am fairly new to CrossFit but not new to training at elite levels. One thing to me that seems to permeate the CrossFit culture is the lack of, in CrossFit terms, scaling of any sort at the upper, elite, competitor type of levels.

By scaling I mean the planned manipulation of intensity and duration. It seems like every motivational or instructional piece has a general message of adaptation = at the limit 100% of the time.

Again, I am new to CrossFit, don't claim to be a CrossFit expert but coming from other sports, not every single workout can be done at the rev limiter. Some workouts are to maintain what you have, not try to push a limit to force adaptation. You are giving your body the opportunity to adapt from a prior stimulus. I know CrossFit teaches rest days but I have yet to see anything about this moderation of intensity.

If you take cues from the elite level training of other sports, you drive technique drills (high, high repetition of as close to perfect form as possible) to create motor engrams so that under fire, you can perform a movement without intervention of your higher brain centers. You have created patterns that you can replicate with zero instruction of your body from your brain, it's just a reaction. This is what drills are for in any other sport and are a foundation of training and the most efficient way to achieve better performance (better technique). Some training days are dedicated to this and the saying is "you can strive for perfection but you will never achieve it." It seems like once an athlete leaves Elements, this is not ever touched again.

Then there are those days, PR days, competitions, planned days of the highest intensity. Those days the purposeful thinking of form doesn't happen. You stop thinking and you just do. If the motor engrams are present, then you have great form until you hit your metabolic/central fatigue limit and maybe the wheels do fall off. But your training in correct form, the drills, etc. keep you as close as possible and the thousands of reps have hopefully readied your soft tissue, etc. to avoid injury.

Then there are the in between days. The days where you train just under threshold and practice keeping that form at just under where you fall off. These sessions hopefully enhance your ability to sharpen up form when you do near your limit and to push that limit higher. This is lack the physical power to keep going but your enhanced technique and efficiency make up the slack. I have seen this in a few CFG competitors, namely IMO Annie Thorisdottir.

I am speaking in super general terms. Basically I am saying there is a time/place for every spot on the intensity/duration curve and that it's not just black/white. Getting better isn't just limited to enhancing raw strength or metabolic conditioning, it also includes technique and not just with PVC. It's basic periodization used in other sports, and to borrow a line I have used in other sports "intensity is like a drug. Take the right amount at the right time and you get great results. Overdose it or take it at the wrong time and you are going to crash."

One other thing I would like to say as a former outsider looking in and an affiliate owner: Most of the public perception of CrossFit, I think, is garnered from the images and culture of just what is under discussion here. An athlete, at the limit, pushing through, wheels falling off, technique going out the window. It is even applauded. I understand that this is motivational to someone that is not a trainer, etc. but to someone like me, it turned me off to CrossFit for a long time. As a trainer, I found it strange to applaud someone who was WAY out of form, doing whatever to achieve yet another rep but also here the term "no rep" and what that means at the certification. Maybe if we showed some of the other spots on that intensity/duration curve and that we do care about form, function and all the things that make CrossFit great, the overall perception might change for the better? Or maybe we like it this way? Anyhow, good discussion!


wrote …

Something implicit to Rob's argument is that you must have a sufficient base of strength.

If I can C&J 250, I have alot more leeway for bad form (i.e. inefficiency) in Grace than someone who's max is 185.

Good form is still more efficient than bad form but the gist of what I think Rob and some other elite Crossfitters are trying to get across is to not be so dogmatic about enforcing good form than you waste alot of time trying to achieve it.

At your limits, good form will save you so you probably want to be more deliberate about achieving it... within your strength limits, you've gotta trust that you've either built the muscle memory from previous repetitions to get into an efficient position effortlessly or you're strong enough to work in a bad position.

Leave a comment

Comments (You may use HTML tags for style)