When a coach stands in front of a room of athletes performing Olympic lifts, the last thing they are looking at, if at all, is the amount of weight on the bar. They are looking for commitment to, and application of correct technique. Mastery of the movement being performed, which can be defined as virtuosity.
The founder of Crossfit, Greg Glassman, discusses the importance of virtuosity (defined in gymnastics terms as ‘performing the common uncommonly well’) and the compelling tendency among novices developing any skill or art, to quickly move past the fundamentals and onto more elaborate, more sophisticated movements, skills or techniques.
What stands out to coaches, even more so than athletes executing lifts with perfect technique, are athletes with poor technique. We see athletes lacking the fundamental positions and movements to successfully perform a lift.
For example, commencing the first pull with a rounded back, not keeping the bar tight to the body, not fully extending at the hips, failing to drop effectively under the bar, trying to muscle their way through a lift…. The same errors occur every lift as they continue to load up the bar.
More often than not the athlete is physically capable of lifting more weight, but max out at a given weight due to incorrect technique.
The problem with incorrect technique is that it develops bad movement patterns, which in turn results in new or aggravated injuries. Additionally, if you practice a lift with incorrect movement patterns, you will only improve lifting with incorrect movement patterns.
If you want consistent gains and to minimise injury, you need to seek mastery of the movement. How is this achieved?
The 3 Keys
- Embrace a beginners mindset – Be open to learning and be “coachable”. Standing in full view of an athlete performing a lift gives the Coach a vantage point of movement pattern errors that you can’t see and/or feel yourself. Accept feedback and the cues offered, and if you don’t understand seek clarification.
- Put in the time and the work – This is as easy as spending ten minutes daily on improving mobility in areas that you’re lacking, which affects your ability to hit the correct positions. What are you doing to offset the effects of sitting at a desk all day? Commit to ten minutes a day of mobility work for a week and notice the improvement. Likewise don’t complain to the coaches in the gym you are sore from the weeks workouts if you haven’t done any mobility work.
- Leave your ego at the door – Don’t let your ego get in the way of correcting your technique. This includes taking on board coaches feedback and spending time on an unloaded barbell. When was the last time you walked into the gym for a lifting session and focused on perfecting your movements rather than the weight on the bar?
The Adapt culture fosters pursuit of perfection in movement and an environment of self improvement. The coaches bring a willingness to assist you in the technical aspects of the lifts.
What you must bring as the athlete is the desire and commitment to use the tools available to you and to keep working at your own pursuit of virtuosity.
Do this and the gains will come thick and fast.
~ Coach Sarah