Get Big

Morgan displays proper hair placement for bench pressing.

Morgan displays proper hair placement for bench pressing.

Once, when I was making a try to be on the US national water polo B team, a former national team goalie gave me a bit of advice. He said that when I take a shot on goal, no matter if it is in a game, scrimmage, practice, or just fooling around, I should always get up big (as high out of the water as I could) and shoot hard. This way, when I am half underwater with some huge guy trying to take off my head, I will reflexively shoot as hard as I can.

I was given this truly excellent advice (thanks Dan) some 14 years ago and it has stayed with me even though I didn’t make the team (boo). I pass it on to my kickboxing students all the time. At the  martial arts school where I teach (yeah Kaijin!), there are multiple big hanging banana bags and I work the students through intervals (1-3 minute rounds, Tabata, 30 on/30 off) on them all the time. Nothing is as abhorrent to me as a weak or sloppily thrown blow or kick on the heavy bag. The whole purpose of a heavy bag, especially a 100+ pound, 6 foot monster, is to develop power. Power–not speed, not timing, not distancing. There are other better ways and tools to develop those attributes.

Paraphrasing that goalie’s words, I emphasize to my students that every time they punch that big bag, every time they kick, knee, elbow, or strike those bags, to do it as hard and fast and explosive as they can. This way, in the ring or street when they are scared and stressed and hurt and tired and they feel half underwater and some guy is trying to take their head off, they will reflexively strike as hard and fast and explosively as they can. And power delivered is what it’s all about.

Now, what does all this mumbo jumbo have to do with CrossFit. Technique, baby! Every time you do a snatch or a clean, or some other movement, do it with as good technique as you can. Tighten the body, keep those arms straight, coordinate the feet and the hands, drop under the load. You all know the drill, just like my kickboxing students do. Do it right, do it clean and snappy, do it with power and attention. Don’t be lazy because the grooves you put your body and mind through will become the habits you build and those habits are what your body will revert to in times of stress and exhaustion and hypoxia. Such as the middle of a WOD. Not to mention that those good habits are your best and foremost line of defense against injury.