I want to start by saying this is not a stab at Crossfit. The video I just happen to like the best for what I wanted to talk about was a video submitted by a Crossfit Affiliate.
Now that way you can keep your panties out of a bunch for the rest of the post.
Lets say your road tripping across the great USA, you really needed to by new diapers for your brand new baby, who just filled up the last one you had only 1 day into your trip.
You go to the store and you see two different sale signs.
One reads Huggies diapers 30pk for $30.00 guaranteed protection for 12 hours.
The other sign reads Hughgies Diapers 100pk for $30.00 no guarantee included.
At face value and only having $30.00 to spend you say “HELL YEA, 100 is a bargain!” and drive off with a freshly changed baby. Now for the rest of your road trip you are feeling good with 100 diapers. 2 hours in and the brand new diaper starts to fall off and your trusting new baby does not miss an opportunity and dookies all over the car seat. Every new diaper you put on falls off within 2 hours…Is that 100pk still considered you most beneficial option?
Just because you got/do more doesn’t mean it was the better value or most beneficial. Sometimes the quality of something really does trump quantity and there is not way around it.
Take a look at these few videos below to see the differences
Poor Quality and High Quantity
While it is impressive to move the weight that many times, technique was in the shitter from the start unfortunately.
So, the “Grace” is a Crossfit exercise/workout of 30 Clean & Jerks in the quickest amount of time possible with a sub-maximal weight. For the man in the video it says he used 135lbs.
The movement he is doing is a Clean & Jerk. Broken down into its simplest components/forms (Minus the Scoop portion of the lift to get the weight to shoulder height) is a deadlift from the floor and an Overhead press. So, before attempting this exercise you should at least make sure you have your deadlift and overhead pressing techniques 100% on lock-down, then learn the technique for the Clean and the technique for a Jerk.
Video Breakdown: technique described at first few reps and last few reps
SET UP & FIRST MOVEMENT
0:00- :33 He gets into his set up, nothing bad here just getting down to the bar and getting comfortable and mentally prepared here. He Should setting up like he would for a conventional deadlift.
- here he should get into a good technique for his body and find the optimal tension point for his glutes/hamstrings and lower back while making sure his feet, arms and the bar are in correct places.
:38Sec–100% set up and ready to lift.
- His setup for the initial pull is terrible and inefficient for the lift in terms of his body mechanics. Especially since he is supposed to do 30 reps.
- His sett up is quite high in his hips. Lower back is quite rounded. His chest is facing the floor. His shoulders are rolled forward he is leaning quite far over the bar in his upper body. with his chin pointing up and out a bit.
:38/39Sec- The bar begins to move from the ground as he initials the first movement.
- He straightens out his legs and raises his hips. In other words leads the movement with his Hips.
- The bar is a little bit further away from his legs since he straightens them out.
- His lower back is still a bit rounded and his chin is now almost parallel to the floor.
- Now he relies on quads and low back to lift the weight and puts the low back in spot for injury.
- You can see the angle of his body has changed dramatically in the position of his chest and hip angle.
- Proper technique would be to pull the bar back into his body into his shins, lead with the chest high proud. keeping a similar angle to the one he had in his set up.
1:54-1:55Sec –Setup/ Form in Fatigue He just dropped the weight from being exhausted, has about 2/ lifts left to 30 reps.
- You can see he lost his set up completely and is in an even worse position than when he started the set up and first lift. Shoulders rolled forward and chest down, hips really high, lower back is arched even more. His chin has fallen down to more neutral which is better than the start but probably from exhaustion.
1:55-1:56Sec– First Movement in exhaustion
- His hips shoot up and chest is completely down and caved in. The bar looks like it is drifting further away from those shins because of his hips leading the movement.
- Chest position and hip angle change even more as well.
The Scoop and Second Pull and Catch
end of :38-:39Sec- Bar Travels up to the knees, driving the hips into the bar and catching the bar at shoulder height in a quarter squat position.
- Hips high he begins to raise his chest up from on top of the bar. The bar is out in front of his knees as he begins to bring it up his thighs. His hips move slightly forward and he is pulling the bar up with his arms into the catch position as he adds a little hop.
- needs to fix his first pull for proper second pull. The scoop is essential, it is driving the bar into your thighs.Then the triple extension from the Ankles/ knees/ Hips (similar action in jumping and sprinting) it will help propel the bar upwards making it easier to get underneath the bar moving upwards to catch the bar at shoulders. If you generate enough force you can raise fromt he ground just a little bit looking like a small hop. The hop he used barely involved his hips knees and ankles as neither really extended.
- Not using triple extension will fatigue your upper body because it is now literally upright rowing the weight. He did this since his triple extension was poor and and upright rowed the weight high enough so he could bend his knees slightly and get under the bar to catch it at his shoulder and get his elbow underneath and ready to press.
1:56-1:57Sec- Form has suffered tremendously continuing the pull
- Same problems at the beginning but a little bit more noticeable. Barely scoops the bar in and his hips slightly come forward but you can see a very similar angle in them from when he starts the pull with his arms up and to where he almost rolls the bar to his shoulders.
- You should see huge movement at the hips moving forward so the bar raises and then they should re set up behind him a bit to catch the bar in a half squat position ready for the Jerk press.
- He is really pulling the bar upwards with all arms and a little hop trying to help.
The Overhead Press/Jerk
:39-:40Sec- The bar is caught a shoulder height with elbows underneath. Re-bending at the knees and drawing hips back before a powerful extension again driving the bar over head and pressing with the arms. As he drives the bad up his head and chin should draw back into his neck .Locking out elbows and finishing bar directly overhead bringing the head back under the bar.
- Slight bend in the knees is OK. But, a more powerful hip and knee extension will make it easier to press overhead
- His head comes back OK to get out of the way of the bar and finishes nicely through again at the top.
- With the bar overhead his lower back is in slight extension with his hips behind him which will put some added stress on the lumbar spine.
2:01-2:04Sec- One of the Last presses over head
- Now instead of drawing his head back driving his chin in his neck is tilted back and his chin is pointing upwards as he looks to the sky.
- He does get his head back through though.
- He has lost the stability in his core musculature and his hips are now stuck behind him and his chest is pointing out in front of him. As a result his lower back is hyper extended in allow the weight to sit above his head. This is adding pressure to the discs in his lower back he put his lower back in a bad position from the set up.
Unfortunately, he was in a bad set up from the start and the quality of his lifts only went down over time. You can see in the video how he slowly loses it more and more. However, he is able to complete the set of 30 only because the weight is so low in comparison to what his 1 rep max might be. Which if you calculate out an estimated Max…30 reps @ 135lbs is ~300 Pound Max Clean & Jerk.
Low Quantity and High Quality
Video Showing Technique of Power Clean in Slow Motion
Sorry the quality is kinda of grainy on the video.
All of these videos show proper technique to execute the clean and then the clean and jerk. You can see the noticeable differences in the set up, initial movement, the scoop the catch and the press.
In the final video of his training I counted around 20 reps of either a C&J, Snatch, Jerk, or Front Squat. He did not do all of these in 4 minutes total time however. He took his time in the set up and execution of the lift properly.
The QUALITY of each lift is given at 100%
I do not think that taking his time hurt his gains…
CONCLUSION:FINALLY I KNOW…im sorry it was a long post.
When is it generally an universally accepted to have “bad form”? …A beginner to an exercise or during a One rep Max. Why?
For the beginner: they do not completely understand how to move correctly and safely perform a movement without guidance and repetition. This should take time and not be rushed, as bad habits can form to just get the weight moving.If rushed through technique training and there is not a coach to correct issues with the form…Injuries are bound to happen either immediate or over time.
For the one rep Max: Lifting as heavy as you can for one rep. Ideally you want to keep sound technique as much as possibly. You will only break technique in weak spots exposed by a heavy load for that area. Maybe you notice your hips raise up early, cant lock out the rep, chest caves a little.But, effort is made to keep and maintain sound technique. Those spots that were exposed should now be addressed in your program in order for them to get better.
Other then these 2 scenarios your technique should be perfect or as close to perfect as you can get. In the first video I expected for his technique to be poor when he was closing in on 30 reps due to fatigue endured. But, to start off that way is just dangerous. If you want to push the maximum amount of reps out make sure you have excellent technique to start off so, when you finish you form only drops down to good or average. Also, have someone to watch you or take a video. I hope this video of Grace was used to show him his technique flaws.
Lifting smart yields the same results you want and will keep you healthy and active longer. If you notice you have some weaker areas…ASK a Qualified Professional to assist you in exercises to help. (big emphasis on Qualified…not all trainers will be able to help you.)