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The Pursuit of Virtuosity

By admin | In Philosophy, Psychology | on December 13, 2011


The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines virtuosity as great technical skill (as in the practice of a fine art). While some people may not find its application in the realm of CrossFit relavent, most of you will think of a lift such as yesterday’s snatch and disagree. Almost every single one of our movements requires technical proficiency, grace, and finesse. I love watching beginners in our gym. The look of concentration on their faces as they try to remember the hundreds of cues we throw at them, with each rep showing massive improvement from the last one. They are in the pursuit of virtuosity.

A few months down the line, those same athletes have gained ‘enough’ proficiency to complete 30 clean and jerks in a WOD and the pursuit shifts from technical proficiency to beating their friends’ WOD times. The lure of the Stopwatch Siren is hard to resist and it’s all too tempting to just get ‘er done. The problem with this mentality (besides really ugly lifts and the huge potential for injury) is the Stopwatch Siren will fail you. If you are complacent and stop improving your movements, you will have capped your potential. Your PRs will plateau and eventually decline.

I won’t lie. It’s hard when you’ve done the lifts hundreds of times and your muscle memory tells you to go through the motions. Your warm up sets are just extra work and you don’t even turn your brain on to do them. In fact, they’re sloppy most of the time because ‘it doesn’t count’ until the work set, right? However, your warm up sets are the perfect time to make sure your form is perfect. An Olympic level lifter can snatch an empty bar and his 1RM and the form would look exactly the same. He doesn’t ‘need the weight’ to have perfect form.

However long you have been CrossFitting, whatever your level as an athlete (or coach), however heavy your deadlift is, do not lose that determination you had as a beginner. Make each lift better than your last. Call a trainer over to watch your lift and give you feedback. Come in on Thursdays and use those last 15 minutes of class to work on it. Never stop pursuing virtuosity, and I promise your results will show for it.


WOD 12.13.11

Box Squat 8×3

4 rounds of:

  • 12 Pistols
  • Broad Jump 20m
  • 6 Handstand Push Ups (or Sub heavy presses)
  • Bear Crawl 20m

4 Comments to "The Pursuit of Virtuosity"

  • Amanda says:

    December 13, 2011 at 2:12 PM -

    Hey guys, today’s workout kicks butt – you’ll get the joke after the workout. 😉

    Today was the first day I was able to complete an entire series of handstand push up’s. Granted I had to kip, but I did learn soemthing valuable – saying “ribbit” while pushing up really did help. Just sayin’ – and yes, the 1200 class can verify. So, anyone else who’s in the transition from negatives to kipping to strict, maybe the “ribbit” will help you too.

  • Amy says:

    December 13, 2011 at 2:16 PM -

    Totally unrelated to this post but I saw this egg in an avocado recipe online and had to share!

    http://www.apronstringsblog.com/entrees/avocado-egg-recipe-breakfast/

  • Sara says:

    December 13, 2011 at 3:41 PM -

    hmmmm “ribbit,” I’ll have to try that next time. Thanks for sharing!

  • Jeff Stoehr says:

    December 15, 2011 at 1:03 PM -

    Kudos to you kiddo on such a common sense topic that allows one to refocus on the basics!

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