Another WOD in the bucket…

Some of you were curious and anxious about the programming changes that we’re implementing, so allow me to explain further.

Parts of this rant were inspired by our friends at CrossFit North Alpharetta


Another day, another WOD at CrossFit South…


You hate double unders. You never practice double unders because they’re hard. You’d rather do single unders and get it over with. You come in and see that the WOD on the whiteboard has double unders in it. Damn it, you knew you should’ve checked the WOD beforehand and skipped out today. The most double unders you got in a row were 6, and that was a miracle because you can barely get 2 in a row every other time. This workout wants you to do 30 at a time! Are they out of their minds?! Rather than struggle through double unders in the workout and try to improve, you decide to scale down and do more single unders so you can finish at the front of the pack. To hell with double unders.

Is that winning?

You’re doing a couplet of front squats and wall balls as RX. There are a lot other athletes in the class and only one coach on the floor. The coach is supervising the WOD and giving each athlete the attention needed during the workout. The coach is yelling, correcting form issues and encouraging those who need it. If he asks you what rep you’re on one more time, you’re going to scream. You have a goal in mind. You looked at the whiteboard before the WOD, and you know what time you need to get to be competitive with the top athletes.

You scream through the first round before the suck sets in. As you begin round two you quickly realize that your strengths are not revealed in the WOD but rather your weaknesses. You skip a rep during the front squats. You know you skipped the rep but you somehow justify it in your mind and move on. During the next set of wall balls you drop the ball after 4 reps because your lungs are burning. When you start again you tell yourself you already did 6 reps. Close enough…you’re using the 20# ball where others are using lighter ones! This kind of pattern continues throughout all 6 rounds. A rep here and a rep there. Nothing big, right?

You finish the WOD first in the class and fall to the floor in front of the fan as you toe the line between delusion and exhaustion. After everyone finishes and you’ve caught your breath you approach the whiteboard. You saw the timer was 8:51 when you finished, the second fastest time in the gym. The rep here and the rep there had shaved a couple minutes off your time. The guilt of your miscounting gets to you, so you add a minute or so to your time so that someone else in the class did a little better than you. The congratulations and back patting feels good though. You are one of the top athletes and you got to use the RX marker.

Is that winning?

You’re doing the same couplet WOD as above. The Rx weight for the front squats is 135/95 and must be taken from the ground and squats have to be below parallel. You have some issue (mobility, technique, strength) and you know there is no way you can do the weight with even acceptable form let alone good form. You decide to do the weight anyway because your ego convinces you to do so. You don’t want to appear weak in front of everyone else. During the WOD, your coach yells at you to squat lower several times. You attempt to correct it for one or two reps but then you go back to your old ways. You try to do your shallow squats fast enough that the coach doesn’t have time to see you on the following sets. The coach moves on. At the end of the WOD you write up your time and declare your performance “RX” because you did the Rx’d weight. Who cares if you had piss poor range of motion?

Is that winning?

You come into a WOD that is based on a 1RM percentage, but you purposefully scale the weight so that your barbell is significantly lighter than it should be so you can go faster. Your weakness is strength, but you want the best score. In the end, you completed more rounds than everyone but you didn’t work on your weakness. You’d rather be a top scoring athlete than face your weakness. We all have weaknesses, but if you ignore them it’s only going to get worse. Your ego is in the fucking way.

Is that winning?

In case you haven’t noticed, none of these scenarios can be considered a “win”. You’ve all lost. I’ve seen these scenarios play out every week. I’m not singling anyone out. A lot of you do this. I can understand that with the music blaring and arithmetic approaching the 2nd grade level it can be hard to keep an accurate count of reps. You don’t know if you did 9 or 10 reps. Well, if in doubt, pick the lower number and quit worrying about being first. If you cheat, even by “accident”, you’re cheating yourself and losing. Not only is this losing on the whiteboard, but you’re losing conditioning, you’re losing technique, you’re losing strength gains, you’re losing personal integrity, and you’re losing self-respect and the respect of your fellow athletes. Your cheating is belittling the legitimate gains made by your friends working their asses off trying to get better. Most importantly, you’re disrespecting and misrepresenting the integrity and reputation of the affiliate you are a part of. If we’re going to be the best in Athens, we have to get there through legitimate hard work.

It takes a lot of disgrace and dishonor to cheat yourself and others on something as important as training and self-improvement. The worst part is that you think that those around you don’t notice. You know what, maybe they didn’t notice at first because you’re kinda good. We notice. And soon it becomes glaringly obvious by you’re fellow athletes that you’re not one of them. You don’t push yourself to be stronger. You don’t push yourself to improve your technique. You don’t venture outside of your comfort zone. Well guess what, if this was easy then everyone would do it. I know it sounds crazy but you might have to sweat a little bit during the WOD. The bar might be heavy and you have to drop it. Your lungs might burn and you’ll have to take a second to suck in some air. There’s no admiration in cheating to be the best…only disdain. Cheating takes away the validity of the true improvements you make by eroding your integrity. This erosion leaves the cheater as the source of disgust among the other athletes training. Why should you get the fastest time or highest score if everyone is working harder than you?

We see excessive scaling by in both directions (too light, too heavy), or athletes shortening their range of motion and have the audacity to call themselves “RX”. This cheating causes others to believe themselves to be lesser athletes. Did you cheat because you wanted everyone to be in awe of your abilities? Because they won’t be once they catch on. So why then? Why do we sometimes feel the need to put our integrity aside for the sake of a better score? Do we have some deep-seated need to be accepted because we didn’t get it as a child? Do we need to win no matter the cost?

Do you think that the means justify the end? You’re not accomplishing anything. You’re wasting your time and your potential. In here, you get what you pay for. Payment can be in the form of blood, sweat, and tears. Again, I’m not trying to call anyone out, but I’m not going to downplay this and say some shit like, “nothing personal, you can try again next time…” But it is personal. I want each and every one of you to do your best and push yourself past boundaries. Just like one of our jump boxes says, “If you’re a cheat in here, you’re a cheat in life.”

You have great coaches and many opportunities to get better. Starting with the warm ups, we want to emphasize quality over quantity. Example: don’t worry that someone else is doing inch worms faster than you. Don’t let your form diminish because you want to catch up to the front of the pack. You’re supposed to get your feet as close to your hands as possible on the way up. If you’ve been here for months and haven’t gotten any closer, then slow down and fight for that position!

The Movement of the Day (MOD) is the most important part of the hour where integrity matters. Gains here translate into gains everywhere else! Your last rep should always look better than your first rep. And your first rep needs to be perfect! Unless we mark a MOD otherwise, you need to go heavy WHILE maintaining your form and range of motion. Example: it doesn’t matter if you just squatted 300# for a new PR. I could could probably squat 600# if I only did a curtsy, too! You know you need to squat below parallel because I know I’ve told you to. Don’t cheat yourself and don’t worry about the numbers. You’re not going to PR every day, so take some weight off the bar and do a real squat for once. The MOD isn’t a race. Take time to rest, stretch, ask a coach to watch you and help your technique. Believe it or not, we do know what we’re talking about. If you’re doing something wrong and we correct you, it’s because you’re fucking doing something wrong. We aren’t trying to make fun of you. We don’t hate you. But we do hate it when you scoff, call us liars, and go back to doing curtsy squats. “I’m squatting all the way down,” you say! Really? You can’t go any further? Then how is it possible that you were squatting a whole 12-inches deeper when you were warming up with just the bar? Not wanting to do something and not being able to do something are two different things.

Now the WOD and MOD will have different levels and different goals based on your abilities. We’ve pushed this off for a long time now because we thought we should to avoid labels because we knew some of you might misinterpret them as “athletes vs non-athletes”, the haves and the have-nots. Believe whatever you want, but that’s not the case. Everyone in the gym is different, and everyone is at varying levels of performance. The 20 year old firebreather, the newbie, and the geriatric retiree have different goals and different capabilities. Now the WODs will reflect that better.

Those of you that have been with us for a while know that our programming is constantly evolving. We’re always trying to find the best way to get you to your best. These newest changes hopefully will lend results. The RX marker is gone. The RX label is gone. There were too many instances where people would only give it their all and would only try their hardest when an RX’d WOD was in their comfort zone. We’re taking away the “choice” to scale a workout with these new levels. No more sandbagging. If you can do double unders, and the workout calls for double unders, you’re damn well going to do double unders even if it’s one at a time! If there’s a weight on the WOD for your level, then you’re doing that weight. I honestly think we’re too nice and let you guys get away with too much. You can no longer hide your weaknesses. If there’s something in the WOD that you can’t do very well, you’re going to try until time runs out, and if you haven’t finished then you’re going to put a “DNF” on the board. You did not finish because you ignore your weaknesses and hide behind your strengths. The coaches will also be more vocal about no-repping you. You get one warning. Consider this post that one warning.

Coaches will now write the names of every athlete up on the whiteboard, and we will write down your time when you finish the WOD and yell out “TIME!” If you continue to half-ass it on your range of motion, then we’ll add seconds to your time for each violation. If we have to keep yelling at you to squat lower and you ignore us, then your time on the board will reflect the quality of work we saw you put into the WOD. If this gets excessive, then we’re going to stop the workout for EVERYONE and make EVERYONE start back at the beginning. All because you wanted to take the easy way out.

You’re here to get better. We’re there to make you better. Let us know what you think by commenting below.