One of the most important things we can do at Synapse is cultivate athleticism. Athleticism means having complete faith that your body can do and move in any way you you need it to. If you need to jump, it can jump. If you need it to balance, you can balance. If you need to touch your toes, you can touch your toes. Athleticism doesn’t just mean strength, or just fitness, or just agility. It’s not just physical prowess or just mental prowess. It means all of it.

CrossFit is a fantastic way to elicit athleticism. We work on our ability to jump, pull, push, crawl, and generally move better every time we come to class. One of the ways you can ensure you continue to make progress, however, is to focus on your standards and your range of motion.

Range of motion means that “below parallel” isn’t good enough if you can go lower while remaining active. Range of motion means that you descend all the way to a straight arm hanging position every time you do a pull-up. Having correct range of motion encourages you to use MORE muscles, usually resulting in more intensity (and more results), and the CORRECT muscles (keeping you safe). This is the first step of proper progression. For example, if you DON’T usually go all the way down in your pull-ups, learning to kip, even a toes to bar, is going to be incredibly difficult and most likely injurious. Learning a bar muscle up is out of the question. We must use proper range of motion to develop correct movement patterns that we can build upon.

Standards are slightly different. Standards are what you hold yourself to in a workout or skill set. For example, if you can throw a wall ball to a specific target, you should always hit that target. When you’re tired, if your wallball doesn’t make it to that target, don’t count it. If you’re doing chest to bar pull-ups and your chest doesn’t make contact, don’t count it. Having proper standards may actually slow you down a bit, but that’s ok. CrossFit is about working out with integrity so we can have some measurable results. It’s about being honest with ourselves about where we are in our fitness journey.

Let’s say Suzie’s doing a workout with ring dips in it, but she never returns to a stable position at the top of her dip. But, she goes really fast. She finishes in 5 minutes. Over the course of the next 6 weeks, Suzie works on her ring dips a lot and improves her position at the top. She re-does her ring dip workout, excited to test how far she’s come. She completes the full range of motion for each repetition, except for a couple, which she doesn’t count, and re-does the repetitions until she shows the correct finishing position. Suzie finishes the workout in 7 minutes. Which was the better workout?

One is building athleticism and one is not. One is using correct range of motion and holding correct standards, while one allows her to beat everyone in class and finish under the time cap.

It’s really up to you which workout you decide to do, but I guarantee you the best CrossFitters, the best Olympians, even the best pro NFL stars -athletes who are trying to find ways to get the most out of their bodies as possible- are never going to shorten a movement to get through it faster, or count a free throw they didn’t actually make. Being an athlete means being honest about our weaknesses and working hard to improve them by not taking the easy way out.

Move INTO the challenge, not away from it.