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Grinder Quirks

Jamie Toland shares his CrossFit quirks and habits.


I’m weird. Chances are, many of you are as well.

When it comes to CrossFit training, I know that some of the things I do might make complete sense to me, but maybe are not the most normal sounding when I say them to others. I know that I can’t be the only one who has these habits or oddities that are part of the mental game of grinding out my CrossFit WODs.

I’ll give you some examples:

About Face!

No matter what I do — deadlift, snatch, push-press, clean-and-jerk, anything with a barbell — if I add weights, they ALL must face to the middle. Now, I have no idea where I got this from. I don’t know if it’s a learned behavior, buried in a past memory from some high school weightlifting coach, or if I just want to organize the situation before I pick up something heavy, they just have to be facing in. Logically, a 45-pound plate weighs, well, 45 pounds. Turned in, turned out, facing up or down, no matter what, it will weigh exactly the same. I understand that the direction the plate faces on the barbell does not have ANY bearing on the actual lift or weight itself, but it drives me crazy if they’re not facing in.

Chalk It Up

Ah, the long-debated use of chalk and whether it actually helps or is just a time waste. The most common chalk go-to movement would be the pull-up. If you are a seasoned vet knocking out butterfly after butterfly or if you’re hammering them out with a rainbow of assisted bands, you can be guaranteed chalk will be clouding the CrossFit air. But do you need it? Some would argue it’s there for grip and in some way protects the hands. For me, I need some chalk for kettlebell swings and love it for toes-to-bars and pull-ups, but important for a Grinder is the fact that you can use chalking up to catch your breath and take a much-needed break in the middle of a long workout.

Say No to Crack

Not all rubber floor mats are made equally. At my box, there are a various places where the mats don’t quite touch, leaving a small space between them. I’m confident in my rational mind that there is no difference doing a clean-and-jerk in the middle of a rubber mat or if my foot was near or touching one of the cracks, but for some reason, I will all but stop my lift if I am stepping on one of these cracks. This is not a “break your Momma’s back” thing, but it bothers me to the point of distraction if I am standing on a space in the mats and am doing a lift. Same applies if I am doing a push-up or burpee.

Very Superstitious

This might be the biggest quirk of them all, but I will do anything in my power not to take a pause or break on the 13th rep of a WOD. If there are 20 reps to complete, I will do anything to push myself to get to the 14th rep before dropping the bar. Again, there is no reason to believe that stopping on the 13th rep of a lift or a sit-up or box jump will actually cause me any bad luck or harm, but in more than 600 CrossFit workouts, I have never knowingly stopped on the 13th rep. I have, at times, put a barbell or kettlebell downon the 12th rep when not even tired, just so I would sidestep the unlucky 13th rep.

As odd as these all sound, I know that there are many others Grinders out there with similar strange quirks and habits. I’d love to hear about them. Share your CrossFit superstitions, routines and weird traditions with me at If yours is unique, I’ll share it in an upcoming Grinder’s Grind.

Stay on the Grind.