Wednesday, 4 November 2009

WODs vs. Chores

You love to train hard. But what about those dozen other things that you should be doing? What about eating more vegetables instead of fruit? Improving your hip and shoulder mobility? Or even sleeping more?

All of these things are less exciting than Fran. Boring, even. So it doesn't surprise me that you're not doing them regularly. I know that I have been guilty of working on my hip and shoulder mobility only slightly more frequently than I go to see my dentist.

This post is not going to add to the list of things you should be doing regularly. It is going to help you accomplish more of the tasks you already have on that list.

Why do you train so hard in the gym? If you’re like most CrossFitters, you love numbers. You’re addicted to PR’s. Boiling every performance down to pounds or seconds allows you to compete every day.

Now let’s look at the stuff that you should be doing, but don’t. What does it all have in common? Sure, it’s boring. But why?

If the WOD didn’t have numbers and competition, it would just be a chore. And that’s where eating vegetables and your mobility work are right now. They are a chore.

Sure, we know that in the long run, eating vegetables and loosening up our hips is going to lead to better WOD scores. But most of the time, the long-term is too abstract to motivate sacrifices now.

Let’s WOD-ify that thing you should be doing but aren’t. All of the moralistic hand-wringing in the world isn’t going to motivate you to do your PNF work after a WOD.

How do we turn chores into things you actually WANT to do?

Here’s a simple three-step process:

  1. Measure performance.
  2. Set a goal.
  3. Compete.

Now, for a concrete example:

Remember that hip and shoulder mobility work that I neglected for so long? I work on it every day now.

I read about the hands-together/feet together overhead squat in the Crossfit Journal a few months ago. That afternoon I tried to get as close to it as possible. It was ugly.

But look at that checklist above. I found a way to measure my hip and shoulder mobility, a goal to shoot for, and I knew that other people had done this before. If they could do it, then dammit, so could I (competition.)

Since this revelation, I’ve worked on my shoulder and hip mobility almost every day. I haven’t gotten the feet-together/hands together overhead squat yet, but I’ve made a lot of progress towards that goal. This increase in hip and shoulder mobility has improved everything from my squat form to my gymnastics strength.

I did not make this progress because I became more disciplined. Instead, I turned hip and shoulder mobility from a chore into a challenge.

So what’s that one thing you’ve been neglecting? How are you going to motivate yourself to do it?


traucer777 said...

lol no joke i went through the exact same thing with the hip mobility.
i heard Russ saying he could do a feet together squat. Before this the very idea of a feet together squat had been nothing more than an abstract thought into whether or not it was even anatomically possible. this lead to the thought of, i want to do that. now i do some specific hip and ham stretches every night to work on it. ill get there :)
soon hopefully...

Aaron said...

But what have you been doing to improve your hip and shoulder mobility?

Jason Lyons said...

A good stretch that Coach B teaches is putting a PVC pipe in back squat position and putting your legs far apart, stiff legged and bending over at the hip, trying to push your chest as far down as possible. Once you do this, sit on the floor with your legs as far apart as possible and try to press your chest to the ground. Repeat a few times.

Aaron said...

I did this at his cert a few months ago. I was too inflexible to get into the position to do the stretch.

Russ Greene said...


Shoulder dislocates, overhead squats while moving my hand grip closer together each rep, overhead squats while moving my feet closer each rep, working on splits (though not coming even a little bit close), and I do a hamstring stretch similar to the one Jason was talking about.

Sarah Scholl said...

this is GREAT! I am trained under charles poliquin, whose foundation for strength training depends on the development of the stabilizers and fixators. I know for a fact that my external rotation is weak, and my glutes have trouble firing. I know this, because I struggle with simple, unilateral movements. but i always like to power through the heavy lifts, using my primary movers, and never take the time to work on the stabilizers. I will work on creating a goal and will address this starting tomorrow.

Russ Greene said...


I had similar problems. Compulsive one leg squatting helped them.

15 consecutive per leg is a good short term goal for you.

Whitney said...

I feel like this is a really great strategy that I can use to improve my kip/pullup. I need to be more deliberate in my skill work so that I can be more precise about how I'm doing my movements. It is really the only way that I'm going to get better at it. I'm noticing that I can keep doing my kip half way, muscle myself up over the bar or I can work on my technique and really make it easier on myself. Breaking down the movements and doing more of the floor exercises that got me to understand HOW to kip in the first place seems like a good place to start.