If you’re feeling like you’re hitting a plateau in your training, even though you’re lifting heavy and getting out of breath, there may be a reason for it. Always moving fast and heavy with little thought for technique is not going to end well. Read on for a few reasons to focus on your movement quality, rather than your workout times and heavy lifts.
Simply put, the technique involved with completing a movement or the correct movement pattern to allow the athlete to perform the task. The ability to perform movements with safe and efficient mechanics is the foundation of your training. It also allows us to take an observable, repeatable and measurable approach to fitness.
Without proper mechanics, you fail to use the most advantageous positions in order to move yourself or an external weight, so you’ll eventually hit a sticking point in your training or you’ll get an injury. If you have correct mechanics, you will gain a mechanical advantage because you are applying force in a productive way.
The use of correct mechanics allows you to use the joints and muscles of the body in the most efficient way in order to complete the given task e.g. a Pull-up or a Deadlift. Using the body in an efficient way actually makes the movement easier than when you use poor mechanics and have to shoehorn yourself into position each time (who would have thought that?).
Using good mechanics is dependent on your knowledge of the movement and your ability to achieve the required range of motion. You could have all the technical knowledge in the world but if your mobility is shitty and you can’t get your arms overhead without looking like a banana then your overhead movements will suffer. Equally if you have all the mobility in the world but don’t listen to any technical advice then you’ll never reach your potential.
This is the ability to perform movements regularly with good mechanics (regularly meaning every damn time!). The consistent use of good mechanics will reduce your risk of injury because you are organising your joints (spine included) in a way that limits shearing, rotational or compression forces on the joint.
If you have consistently good technique over large numbers of reps with little to no load then you would be ready to start to manipulate the intensity of your training.
Doing stuff fast with heavy weights, grunting, sweating everywhere, loud music and chalk….lots of chalk. Despite the common opinion, only a couple of these things are actually anything to do with intensity. Intensity is synonymous with power, which is defined as the rate of doing work. It can be calculated using (force X distance) / time. To increase the intensity of a workout, you need to increase the force (load) and distance (number of reps) whilst simultaneously decreasing the time it takes to complete the task.
As you increase speed or load you increase the demand on your body and brain. This means that it becomes more difficult to perform the movement correctly the faster or heavier you go. Perfect technique is not sustainable at maximum output, but you can’t reach maximum output without perfect technique (Holy Paradox, Batman!).
If you go too heavy and your technique shits the bed (technical term), the simple answer is to decrease the load until you can perform the movement with consistent, good form again. If you go too fast and your technique shits the bed (again, technical term) then slow down and focus of your form, then gradually ramp up the speed again and repeat this process indefinitely. This is the concept of threshold intensity, which is the point at which your level of intensity negatively impacts your technique. If you hover around this training zone you will see massive improvement in work capacity.
No, not like a lizard. Scaling refers to decreasing the load or range of motion of a movement to make it less difficult. This may allow an athlete who lacks the ability to perform the prescribed movements correctly to still reach a high level of intensity.
All of these elements executed in the correct order, with the right amount of attention to each, allow athletes to reach a higher level in their training.
If you’d like more information or would like to book either a personal training session with myself or get started in the classes we offer at Furnace, Get in touch today!
Buford, W. Thomas, Rossi, J. Stephen, Smith, B. Douglas, And Warren, Aric. A Comparison of periodization models during nine weeks with equated volume and intensity for strength. J Strength Cond Res 21(4): 1245–‐1250. 2007.
Cook G, Burton L, Hoogenboom B. Pre-participation screening: the use of fundamental movements as an assessment of function – part 1. N Am J Sports Phys Ther. 2006 ;1:62-72.
Elphinston J. Stability, Sport and Performance Movement: Great Technique Without Injury (1st & 2nd Edition). Chichester: Lotus Publishing, 2008/2014
Glassman, Greg. “Understanding CrossFit”. The CrossFit Journal.
Henry, T. Resistance training for judo: functional strength training concepts and principles. Strength & Conditioning Journal, 33(6), 40-49. 2011
About the Author: Josh Yates, Strength and Conditioning Coach @ CrossFit Furnace. Josh holds a Batchelor of Science (hons) in Sports Coaching and Psychology, is a Level 2 ASCA Strength and Conditioning Coach, holds his CrossFit qualifications and has spent several years coaching in the CrossFit industry. Before moving to Australia Josh trained in MMA under the direction of Ross Pointon for several years and was one of the Strength and Conditioning Coaches for CrossFit Napalm. Moving to Australia saw Josh retire from MMA and move into a full time Strength and Conditioning coaching role. Josh has a proven track record, creating programs for athletes of all training levels that are graded to their abilities, and progress them quickly and efficiently towards their goals. To book a Personal Training session with Josh, get started today.