The Open is over. How’d you do? Did you get any new PR’s? The Open is a great time to get a PR or learn a new movement. It was when 16.3 was announced a couple of years ago (an AMRAP of 10 Barbell Snatches and 3 Bar Muscle Ups) that I finally decided to learn how to do a Bar Muscle Up. I learned how to do them a day before the event and got 7 in the workout. PR!  In the three years since that workout, I’ve only attempted a Bar Muscle Up once prior to 19.4. But why? To answer that, we have to back up.


When I first got into CrossFit, I was into the competitive aspect of it. I’d want to know how everyone else in class did and would want to be the best on each workout. I did a couple competitions and eventually qualified for and competed as a Master in the 2014 Granite Games. Earlier that year I set the goal to improve as a competitor and hired someone to write a personalized program for me (even a coach needs a coach). That person held me accountable to getting my workouts in and kept me on track.


Unfortunately, during that time, I started developing shoulder issues. Instead of listening to my body, I kept training, hoping the issue would take care of itself. It didn’t! The Granite Games competition had several gymnastics heavy workouts with high volumes of Rope Climbs, Ring Dips, Pull-ups, and Toes to Bar. As you probably know, these movements are hard enough when healthy, but if you’re struggling with shoulder issues, they can be almost impossible! By the end of the weekend, I had completed 8 workouts and was drained physically and mentally. So drained in fact, I really didn’t work out for 3 months hoping to recover from burn out and that my shoulder would get better on its own. It didn’t.


Long story short, I sought treatment for my shoulder and eventually with the help of Dr. Carter at InMotion Chiropractic and Dr. Simon at Crossover PT, I got better. However, during my treatment, I found out I have bone spurs in my elbow that prevent me from touching my right shoulder with my right hand. As a result, I am still limited in the Front Rack Position, and if I attempt movements like Thrusters or Front Squats, my shoulder will often hurt after doing them.


Now that we’ve covered the back story, let’s get back to the reason I’m writing this.


It’s important for each person to understand their purpose for their fitness program. Is it to compete? Is it to stay healthy? Are you using CrossFit to supplement other sporting activities?


My original goal was to compete. I did well, but with my goal of training to compete, I sacrificed health. OPEX has a Sickness – Health – Extreme Fitness continuum. On that continuum, Health is in the middle area of vitality whereas Extreme Fitness is on the same end as death. Seeking extreme fitness (competition) can go beyond wellness and be a source for injury.


I’ve since re-evaluated my goal. I now train for health. I understand which movements are good for me, and which movements can cause setbacks. Due to the potential for injury, I don’t work on my Bar Muscle Ups, I haven’t done a barbell thruster in 2 years, and I avoid Barbell Front Squats unless I’m able to do A LOT of mobilization work prior to and in between sets of front squats. I also haven’t done a Squat Clean in a long time and I limit the amount power clean work I perform. I’ve mostly avoided participating in competitions, even though I find them extremely fun. What does that leave? Well, plenty. Kettlebells and dumbbells allow me to still work those difficult barbell movements without compromising my position, thus reducing my chance for injury. I’m still able to do most other barbell movements, and I’m still getting stronger and my cardio is improving.


My training for health has gone extremely well over the past year and a half and I am again making progress without the setbacks of injury. But, I still have a competitive side so I like to compete in the Open. This year I finished in the top 14% of my age division! However, I did put my health at risk. This year I did Squat Cleans, Thrusters, Bar Muscles and Handstand Pushups during the Open, even though I mostly avoid them in my training because they can leave me feeling broken.


Now that the Open is over, I’m back training for health. I’ll avoid the movements that I know aren’t the best for me, and I’ll still get plenty of good work in.


Do you have a plan for the next year? Next month? What are you training for? Let’s set up a time to talk about your goals and make sure you have the right plan to attack them. Set up your time with me by clicking the link below:


In health,