1/6/14 WOD, Test Week Day 1, and “Virtuosity”


In gymnastics, completing a routine without error will not get you a perfect score, the 10.0—only a 9.7. To get the last three tenths of a point, you must demonstrate “risk, originality, and virtuosity” as well as make no mistakes in execution of the routine.

Risk is simply executing a movement that is likely to be missed or botched; originality is a movement or combination of movements unique to the athlete—a move or sequence not seen before. Understandably, novice gymnasts love to demonstrate risk and originality, for both are dramatic, fun, and awe inspiring— especially among the athletes themselves, although audiences are less likely to be aware when either is demonstrated. 

Virtuosity is defined in gymnastics as “performing the common uncommonly well.” Unlike risk and originality, virtuosity is elusive, supremely elusive. It is, however, readily recognized by audience as well as coach and athlete. But more importantly, more to my point, virtuosity is more than the requirement for that last tenth of a point; it is always the mark of true mastery (and of genius and beauty).

There is a compelling tendency among novices developing any skill or art, whether learning to play the violin, write poetry, or compete in gymnastics, to quickly move past the fundamentals and on to more elaborate, more sophisticated movements, skills, or techniques. This compulsion is the novice’s curse—the rush to originality and risk. 

– Greg Glassman,

Fundamentals, Virtuosity, and Mastery                                                                              An Open Letter to CrossFit Trainers                                                                                CrossFit Journal August 2005

Our job as coaches is to make sure that you as an athlete do not rush to originality and risk, and to make sure that you are not only familiar with, but excellent at, the movements which form the foundation of our training.  Essentially these are 1) your posterior chain, for deadlifts and pull ups 2) squats; and 3) presses.  

So, beginning today we’ll be starting a 3 day cycle of  performance benchmarks to be done during your warm up.  Day 1 is tomorrow, and the warm up will be based on strengthening your posterior chain, with to goal of assisting you in all of your pulling motions, from deadlifts all the way to muscle ups. Tomorrow during the warm up, with the coach watching you, you will begin to work up to 5 sets of 5 deadlifts, with a goal of getting all 5 for the men at your bodyweight and for women at 1/2 of your bodyweight. The desired outcome is not to do 5 sets of 5 heavy deadlifts, but 5 virtuous set of 5 deadlifts.  Keep your spine braced and neutral, hips and shoulders in the right position, no hyperextensions, no looking like a cat on halloween and no Elaine dancing.  If you are able to get that, you’ll move onto the next step, but only when one of the coaches signs off on all 5 reps of all 5 sets.

Tomorrow we’ll start looking at presses, and Wednesday on Squats…

Finally, please don’t get upset at the coaches if we tell you that you need to keep working on something. I promise we are not doing it to make you mad, or keep you from doing all the cool stuff.  There’s something in some old book about building a house on sand and how that’s not a good idea.  Our sole intent is to make sure that your foundations as an athlete are sound and not sandy.  While it may seem like some of you need to backtrack a bit, it will be for the best.

Remember; “Do Less, Better”

Barbell, Test week Day 1: Back Squats, 3RM.

WOD: We’ll be doing a team WOD today, all I’m going to reveal is that it’s ideally a 3 person team, there are 5 rounds, and there will be wall balls involved. Other than that, you’ll have to come and see for your self…

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