A word from Coach Rudy, I could not have said it any better, so give it a read.
“How to Not Fucking Kill Your Clients”
I tried, I swear, but I simply can’t hold my tongue anymore.
I have been a CrossFit affiliate owner for roughly seven years. I’m so O.G. that Greg Glassman called me the day after I affiliated, and talked to me for hours about how to run my affiliate. Google him if you don’t know the name, and if you’re a coach or affiliate owner—slap the shit out of yourself if you have to. At the time I affiliated I believe we were one of the first fifty affiliates in the world. If you do the math (which I did), we’ve had clients perform roughly 218,400 workouts since the day we opened (100 people a day, 6 days a week, for 7 years). Yes, this is a very rough estimate, but you get the point. Out of those 200,000ish workouts, we’ve had exactly ZERO cases of rhabdo.Yes, I’m currently knocking on a very large piece of wood.
I felt compelled to write about this “national controversy” for two reasons:
1) I hadn’t even heard about the “dirty little secret” until yesterday. Now that I have, I’m realizing that people are talking about rhabdo like it’s a venereal disease you can catch by doing a “WOD” without protection.
2) I was alerted to the dangers lurking in my OWN GYM by my dear, sweet seventy-four year old mother. How did she hear about the monstrous affliction that could befall my poor, unsuspecting clients? The fucking Facebook. Thankfully she read Eric Rosenstock’s article yesterday, and her fears for her son’s safety were assuaged.
When athletes, affiliate owners, and other coaches alert me to something related to our little exercise world, it’s no biggie. But when clients from my gym tell me their parents are sending them an article, and begging them to stop before they “catch rhabdo”, then we have a problem on our hands. I cannot imagine how many other mommas, just like mine, the evil Mr. Robertson has scared.
I believe enough has been shared about the likelihood of “contracting” rhabdo, and it’s side effects. I believe the greater issue—which hasn’t really been discussed—and is far more important than anything else related to the debate, is how coaches, as programmers, can take measures to avoid being the next affiliate who gets flambéed by some douche writer. So here it is… My number one suggestion for how you can make sure you don’t fucking kill your clients.
STOP PROGRAMMING MOTHER-F**KING HIGH REP WORKOUTS.
You would think that at this point—with eight-billion affiliates around the world, and a million rhabdo articles—that people would pick up on a theme. YOU’RE THE REASON PEOPLE “CATCH RHABDO”. It’s not coincidence that every story involving every case of rhabdo, has a common theme… Hundreds of pull-ups, or hundreds of push-ups, or hundreds of GHD sit-ups, or hundreds of whatever.
If you’re writing workouts with no regard for rep range, or taking into account what effect high reps will have on the localized muscle groups which are targeted—it may be time to turn the programming duties for your gym over to someone who has a better understanding of strength and conditioning, like your dog.
Why, IN THE FUCK, is it necessary to write a workout with hundreds of anything? Are 400 push-ups going to help your clients reach the general fitness, and overall well-being they crave? Massive amounts of pull-ups (especially with a pronounced slowing of the negative, which is usually a result of fatigue), and push-ups, target the extensors and contractors of the arms. These extensors and contractors are tiny in comparison to the primary movers of the lower body, and due to the ability to recruit the hips (I.E. Kipping), these relatively tiny muscle groups can be pushed well beyond their fatigue threshold.
Here’s another thing you may have never thought of… Extremely high rep workouts lead to massive amounts of DOMS. When people are really sore, they don’t want to work out. Also, DOMS generally leads to diminished performance. So, again, why are these workouts necessary?
At Outlaw HQ we very rarely go over 25 reps on any movement. If we do it is generally something like Double-Unders, or Burpees (which do utilize the arm extensors, but are a full body movement, with much longer rest intervals between each “push-up” rep). Also, we have a time cap on every workout, every day. It’s always twenty minutes, and every workout stops at that point. We do this to increase overall intensity, and to make sure that people who are not ready to do massive amounts of reps, simply don’t.
Here’s a good rule of thumb: assume everyone will get rhabdo, and assume that you are going to give it to them. Why? Because they are stupid and so are you. They are stupid because they will listen to coaches who tell them to do a ridiculous amount of push-ups. You are stupid because you think 500 push-ups will make someone “fitter”.
Good news: the “dirty secret” article got CF a lot of press.
At least it’s an easy fix… Stop writing stupid workouts—stop giving people rhabdo. If not for the good of mankind, then do it for the poor mothers of the world. Haven’t we made them worry enough?