Selfish for Your Own Good

CrossFit High Intensity

I’m finding that I may be unique in thinking this, but I’m a bit selfish. But then again, I think everyone should be, at least when given the choice between selfish and self-destructive.

It’s in CrossFit that we find essential elements — like constant variance and high intensity — that can be so powerfully beneficial. Yet each element has a threshold that can be misused and, when crossed, can become harmful.

What do I say?

I say get selfish. Sure, CrossFit is supposed to be done at high intensity. But why not seek relative intensity to the point of maximum personal benefit and no further? I know you’re nodding with agreement, but why do we still see high intensity beyond this sweet spot? Or why do we create programming that leaves athletes an entire fiscal quarter between them and their last exposure to the gymnastics rings?

It’s because despite what the books say, humans aren’t rational beings. We make dumb bets. And, apparently, sometimes we think it’s a good idea to undermine our own success.

Maybe I’m not the most eloquent writer on the topic, but I know I see CrossFit athletes prioritize intensity at levels that don’t support skill transfer or technical development. And, yes this happens outside of competition.

Have you watched any Rich Froning highlights lately? The man is surely training at high intensity, but he’s aware. He’s executing incredible movement that’s greasing a groove of optimal movement so deep that he doesn’t know how to move poorly. For example, if you’re hitting your training sessions at a clip that doesn’t allow you to repeat good footwork around the barbell, my next question would be, “When exactly did you plan on improving that footwork?”

I can say the same about programmers, athletes and coaches who are in charge of this “constantly varied” pillar of CrossFit. If you’re constantly varying yourself away from critical development, I’d say you’re not being very selfish, nor are you being very smart. Two hours of weightlifting with five-minute finishers isn’t CrossFit if you’re doing it every day, just like eight- to 10-minute AMRAPs with a medium load isn’t CrossFit if you do it every day, either. But that’s just a lack of variance.

What about too much variance? If you have one birthday party for every time you do a heavy single in the power clean, you’re not doing it right.

It’s OK to think selfishly. Take the good and leave the bad. Furthermore, take the good only as long as it’s good. As it turns out, there is too much of a good eight-to-10-minute-medium-load-AMRAP thing.

— Logan Gelbrich