If you were to ask most people, CrossFitters and non-CrossFitters alike, to use one word to describe CrossFit, it’s a good bet that most would use some variation of the word “intense.” And it’s true–intensity is an absolutely key component of what we do. It’s the “secret sauce” that gets us results.
BUT, the most important part of making sure an athlete realizes sustainable, long-term results is making sure they understand the CrossFit charter: mechanics first; then consistency; and then and only then, intensity.
What’s one good way to tell a good gym from a not-so-good gym; a good coach from a not-so-good coach? Simple: how much priority do the gym and coach place on insisting that athletes prioritize perfecting their quality of movement before increasing intensity. Remember: more isn’t better. Better is better.
Our goal at TBCF is to give you the tools you need to be fit and healthy for a long time. To be able to do this, it is absolutely imperative that we make sure our program is three things all at once: safe, effective, and efficient. To do this, we must make sure all athletes–beginner and novice alike–focus on the quality of their mechanics first at every single level.
Only after we’re confident an athlete can maintain sound mechanics and adhere to the points of performance of a given movement will we move on to evaluating step 2: consistency. Can the athlete perform the movement in a correct fashion from one rep to the next, from one day to the next? Can they do so without a trainer constantly breathing over their shoulder?
Only after we’re satisfied with an athlete’s mechanics and consistency will we increase intensity. When we do increase an athlete’s intensity, we will do it within the bounds of that specific athlete’s physiological and psychological tolerances.
We might increase load, reps, or movement technicality. It all depends on the individual athlete–there is no one-size-fits all approach to the effective application of intensity. This is what good trainers do: help athletes safely manage the line between sound mechanics and new levels of intensity.
The CrossFit charter is essentially the concept of threshold training distilled down to three concepts and it is at the heart of effective application of intensity. The rush to move past the fundamentals is the “novice’s curse” and is a recipe for burnout, injury, or both.
Our goal at TBCF is to set our athletes up for long-term success. One of the most important ways we do this is through the daily application of the CrossFit charter.
About the Author
Edward Getterman is a Certified CrossFit Trainer (CF-L3) and the owner of Twin Bridges CrossFit in Waco, Texas. If he can’t be at the gym or at home, he’d prefer to be at Walt Disney World. He loves deadlifts, hates running, and believes above all else that CrossFit is for everyone.