by Coach Emily
I have been in the CrossFit world for eleven years and counting. I started as an athlete, then became a coach, and now I’m the general manager. In eleven years as an athlete I have made many mistakes, been injured, and spent a decent amount of money on equipment to help me be a better athlete. What I’ve learned over the years is that you actually need little to no equipment and instead what you need is more intention behind how you move.
As a coach, I try to pass on what I’ve learned to all my athletes so that they can reach their goals faster, with less injuries, and without spending money on equipment they do not need.
I had a conversation with an athlete the other day about what equipment you need to be successful in our CrossFit group classes. We narrowed it down to shoes and your own jump rope. If you want to go even further, you could say you don’t even need those two things. We have quite a few athletes who lift and workout barefoot, and there are several alternatives to jumping rope in workouts so you could exist in our classes without a jump rope.
“Where can I buy more intention behind how I move?”
– asked no real person –
The struggle begins with the CrossFit athletes you see on TV with all their equipment. It’s easy to think that if I want to be a great athlete, I must buy all the equipment the professional athletes have…grips, knee sleeves, weight belt, multiple types of shoes, special shorts and shirts, and I will throw supplements into the equipment category, because it fits with the other things you don’t really need.
It is pretty difficult to brand and sell intentionality or being mindful of how your body is moving in space, and much easier to slap knee sleeves on to hide one’s knee pain.
Pretty early on in my journey as an athlete I had this conversation with my coach:
Scene: We are doing overhead squats as the strength piece for the day and I had maybe done overhead squats one other time before then in my life…
Athlete Emily said to her coach: “My wrist hurts while I am squatting. I NEED to buy wrist wraps.”
Coach C: “That’s interesting… Try a more narrow grip on the bar and see if that helps.” “They still hurt, hmm… try to rotate your hand so your knuckles point towards the ceiling.”
Athlete Emily: “ It feels a little better but as I add weight they start to hurt again. I should probably get wrist wraps so I can keep adding weight.”
Coach C: “You could definitely buy wrist wraps and it would help support your wrist when adding weight, BUT your pain is telling you the weight is too heavy and your wrists are not strong enough yet to hold the weight. What about taking a little weight off to where there is no pain AND working at that weight until your wrist gets stronger?”
An interesting idea… That conservation saved me about $20 bucks at the time and probably hundreds more over the next 10 years. This conversation with my coach started to connect a few ideas in my head:
- If I have pain doing a movement, try to get in a better position first.
- If I have pain doing a movement, take weight off until the pain goes away and continue to get stronger before adding weight.
- If I have pain doing a movement, the answer is not buying equipment to mask my pain, but instead bringing intention to my movement and trying to improve my movement quality.
Overhead squats are a great movement to use as an example because they humble the crap out of many athletes. In order to do an overhead squat with a decent amount of weight, you need a ton of body parts doing exactly what they are supposed to do to be successful. If you lack mobility in your ankles or hips, the chances you will hit depth on your squat are minimal. If you have a weak core and/or are unable to stabilize your core and breathe, the chances of you holding a bar with weight over your head and moving up and down with it successfully are small. Going up the chain to your shoulders and wrists is the same story. Weak wrists means the body part connecting you to the weight is unstable and unable to hold it. Poor mobility in your shoulders will most likely inhibit you from keeping the bar overhead at all.
Let’s fix this.
- Buy lifting shoes to help with ankle mobility = $200
- Buy a weight belt to help with your weak core = $100-$200
- Buy wrist wraps to help you hold the weight = $20
- The hips and shoulders don’t necessarily have a piece of equipment to solve mobility, but let’s say you pay for a subscription to a mobility app = $20-$40/month
- Don’t do overhead squats
- Take ten minutes a day to work on your mobility using the Free mobility program our gym provides focusing on 1-2 body parts each day.
- Continue to come to class and use a light weight for overhead squats because just doing the movement will improve your mobility and core strength.
- Continue to come to class because everything we do will strengthen your core and improve your mobility.
- Talk to your coach for suggestions to improve your overhead squats
I will share a secret with you…
One of my favorite movements used to be overhead squats and the reason why is because I could overhead squat more weight than most of the men at our gym. I always got a kick out of these strong and relatively fit guys only squatting the bar while I was throwing over a hundred pounds on the bar and then over my head. And with no extra equipment.
Fast forward to my coaching days and I still get excited for overhead squats but for a different reason. I get excited to see athletes overhead squatting with just the bar because now I have the opportunity to express how important overhead squats are and the opportunities for improvements they present to these athletes. I know most people out in the real world do not squat with weight over their head and are unlikely to understand the importance of this movement. The athletes in our gym who struggle with overhead squats AND keep coming to class have a huge advantage over other athletes who do not. They have the chance to improve their mobility, strengthen their core and wrists, and improve their overall movement quality for one of the most functional movements for any person – a squat.
Don’t buy equipment.
Keep coming to class and dive into the movements you suck at.
What a sexy solution!
I will also encourage athletes to be curious about their pain and discomfort by asking their coach and themselves questions. AND slow down, take weight off, and develop good movement patterns. Gosh, how could you resist this extremely sexy solution!?
Thank you for reading. Hopefully my words save you money, help you get out of pain, and move better so that you can live and enjoy your life fully!
If you are interested in trying an overhead squat and chatting more about the sexy solution to longevity schedule a meeting with me today! I look forward to meeting and coaching you!