The 10 Commandments of CrossFit
Historically, the Ten Commandments set out the laws on how you should live and treat others in your community.
One thing that makes CrossFit stand out as a training concept for the long haul is its sense of community. But, like with any community, there will always be problem behaviors. So here are ten commandments for CrossFit to guide your actions unto yourself and others.
Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness
Everyone loses count. Everyone can count to ten until you’re in the middle of a WOD and your heart is pounding out of your ears. But there’s a difference between thinking you’re on rep seven of ten when you’re actually on six versus repeatedly cutting reps or inflating your score.
The latter method is not big, it’s not clever, and you’re only cheating yourself. Be honest. Got a low score? So what? Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, and though you’re at the bottom of the board in one workout, you could be triumphant in another. You’ll never know real progress if you don’t know where you started.
Thou Shalt Be Concerned Only With Thyself
Irrespective of the last commandment, you shouldn’t even know if someone’s cheated or not. Why were you counting his or her reps? In an individual WOD it’s you against yourself, so stop getting aggravated about what your neighbor is doing, and suck it up. If you were counting his or her reps, were you really putting full effort into your own?
Thou Shalt No-Rep Thyself
CrossFit has clear and specific movement standards. If you physically can’t achieve these standards, then scale as needed and work toward achieving them. If you can achieve them, then make sure you hit them. Every. Single. Time.
Go to a competition with crappy technique and movement that misses the mark, and you’ll be a sitting duck for no-reps and a low score. This goes back to being honest with yourself. Aim for quality of movement every time and you will make quick progress.
"In an individual WOD it’s you against yourself, so stop getting aggravated about what your neighbour is doing, and suck it up."
Sure, there are some less than stellar coaches out there, but unless you have the qualifications, have the experience, and can see your supposedly perfect technique, listen up. And if they tell you to lighten the load, just do it. There is a reason, and that reason is almost always something that will benefit you.
Thou Shalt Not Walk in Front of Thy Neighbor’s Platform
Picture the scene. You’ve got a heavy bar in front-rack position and you dip, ready to drive the bar above your head - when someone steps into your line of sight. You get distracted and thrown off balance, collapsing on the floor in a heap of chalk and iron. Not fun. So don’t do it to other people. If someone’s about to lift or is mid-lift, wait until he or she is done before you step across the platform.
Thou Shalt Tidy Up After Thyself
No one wants to clean up your sweaty AbMat or lug your equipment back to the corner for you. If you've finished with something, put it away. It’s not hard. I mean, come on - you just made a big deal out of bench pressing 100kg, but you can’t carry a 20kg plate back to the weight stack?
Almost as annoying as not tidying up after yourself is not getting your equipment ready to begin with. Everyone’s ready to start the WOD and then you realize just as the coach utters, “three, two, one, go," that you haven’t got a wall ball. It’s not just your own time you’re wasting - it’s everyone else’s too. Read the board, watch the demo movements, familiarize yourself with the WOD, and get your equipment set.
Thou Shalt Not Limit Thyself to CrossFit
If all you ever do is CrossFit, all you’ll ever be good at is CrossFit. Which is fine, if that’s your goal. But if you want to be a well-rounded athlete, and also want to avoid injuries, then it’s well worth incorporating other forms of training into your schedule.
"Yoga and Pilates will also give you gains in flexibility and core strength, both important for CrossFit, so don’t brush them off before you’ve tried them."
Take yoga and Pilates. They may seem a bit soft to most hard-core “must sweat to be working hard” CrossFitters, but like it or not, CrossFit is predominately a one-plane-of-movement sport. Everything is in the sagittal plane. By training your body in the frontal and transverse planes, you will recruit muscles you are not using often and avoid injury. Yoga and Pilates will also give you gains in flexibility and core strength, both important for CrossFit, so don’t brush them off before you’ve tried them.
Honor Thy Coach and Thy Instructor
Think you know best? Chances are you don’t. If your coach takes it upon him- or herself to give you a piece of advice, grasp it with both hands. These people have put in the training hours and seen more snatches than they care to remember. Listen to them.
Thou Shalt Encourage Thy Neighbor
This is not so easy on an AMRAP. But in team WODs or for-time formats, if you finish quickly, take a few seconds to catch your breath, swallow back the feeling of wanting to vomit, and shout words of encouragement to those still working away. All of us know that feeling of still having reps to do and just wanting the coach to shout, “Time." But just a few shouts of “You can do it!” and “Five more reps!” can make the difference between digging in and giving up. CrossFit, after all, is nothing if it’s not a community.
Thou Shalt Leave Thy Ego at the Door
The two biggest causes of injury in CrossFit are ego and bad coaching. Whether it’s RXing when you actually don’t have the strength to sustain those weights with good form, showing off by doing muscle ups in between rounds of skill work, or going straight in at ninety percent of your 1RM from an empty bar warm up, it all amounts to the same thing - ego.
"The two biggest causes of injury in CrossFit are ego and bad coaching."
Not only does it annoy the hell out of everyone else, but in many cases it’s dangerous. Warm up gradually, scale where necessary, and save your playtime on the rings for after the class has finished.
Thou Shalt Work on Thy Weaknesses
You love doing pull ups all day long and can handstand walk all the way out the door post-WOD, but you can’t front squat more than a bar and a pair of bumpers. The likelihood is that if you dislike something, you’ll be bad at it too. You can keep on doing those gymnastics skills, but if you neglect your basic strength work, you’ll never be able to go far in CrossFit.
There is a huge range of movements within CrossFit for a reason - it challenges the body in many different ways. If you’re a one trick pony, you’ll soon be left on the merry-go-round while the other horses go play at the CrossFit Games. Allocate more time to working on and developing your weak points than you do playing around at the stuff you’re already good at.
Follow these ten commandments and your CrossFit experience is likely to be a more pleasurable and well-rounded one. Continually break them, and you’ll likely find yourself less popular than seven minutes of burpees.
Do you have any other commandments you think should be on this list? What do you think should be etched in stone on every box’s walls?
You might also like these articles:
- The 25 Rules of Strength Training
- The Two Cardinal Rules of CrossFit
- A Weightlifting Etiquette Handbook for CrossFitters
- What's New on Breaking Muscle Today
Photo 1 courtesy of Shutterstock.
Photos 2, 3, & 4 courtesy of CrossFit Empirical.