Jan 03
Tug Toner

Risky Exercises – Can you? Should you…?

Picture the scene… I’ve stepped foot into a “globo-gym” over the weekend. First impressions are good. There’s some sort of construction resembling a rig, a good length of astroturf complete with a sled, and a squat rack with accompanying platform and bumpers (albeit just the one). Guys are working through their NYE chest session, presumably in anticipation of their night out. Girls are working through their thousand exercise squat workout. Is everyone moving perfectly? Of course not. Are people moving dangerously? On the whole, no. Considering these people are working out on their own, without coaching instruction, their mechanics are good, and they seem to be thinking about the way they’re moving through their exercises. So where am I heading with this?

Exercise. Selection.

Rather than wondering if the person is actually capable of performing an exercise, I found myself wondering why they were actually doing it. Semi-sumo deadlifts with a band, loosely wrapped around your waist for a little extra tension at the top, seemed a little pointless given that performing suitably loaded deadlifts will yield much the same results without the added complications.

Sure you can load up your lifts with all manner of bands, you can hang kettlebells off the end, or even perform your Olympic lifts with added band tension. But should these become a staple of your program? Louie Simmons is arguably one of the most successful powerlifting coaches in history, he has coached many, many lifters and athletes to world records. But when the guys from Barbell Shrugged visited him a couple years back, he had them try to apply some of his methods to weightlifting.

Now, I’m not for one-second saying I know more than any of these guys in this video. In fact, I definitely do not. But, being the inquisitive free-spirit that I am, I can’t help but question how much benefit this brings over working on the lifts in a “purer form”

Can you do your cleans and snatches with added band tension? Yes. Should you? Hmm.

It’s Not Just the Strange Stuff…

The road doesn’t stop with the exotic movements. Things that we generally take for granted in CrossFit also apply. Movements that we will perform on a weekly basis can also become “silly” or even dangerous if they are not applied in the correct way. At risk of committing CrossFit heresy, the sumo deadlift high pull is one movement that can be misused and abused. The SDHP is taught on the CFL1 and is considered to be one of the 9 foundational movements, taught as a transition from a deadlift to a clean. Now as a movement in itself it isn’t all that bad, it can teach a strong hip extension when moving a barbell from the floor to your shoulders. But when it’s thrown in a workout under load, where people are trying to ramp up the intensity, it stops resembling a SDHP and starts looking like a… a… a really bad thing?! (for once I can’t think of anything witty). The SDHP has a place, when and where that is is up to your coach.

Can you do SDHP? Yes. Should you? Occasionally.

But let’s go with an even more popular movement… the handstand press up! The Holy Grail for a lot of CrossFitters, if you can link these bad boys together in a workout you’re well on your way to becoming a regular Rx athlete. HSPU carry a lot of kudos, but this can also make them all the more questionable. The desire to perform HSPU in a workout can be so strong that people are willing to do them in a workout with three abmats, or attempting complete Diane with single reps of HSPU. If your ego can handle the hit, you’d get a lot more benefit from doing pike pushups or strict dumbbell presses.

Can you do HSPU in a workout? Yes. Should you? Maybe explore some alternatives.

Still Have Fun

Now I’m not saying NEVER perform HSPU in a workout, or to NEVER perform SDHP, but to think before you move. Look at the workout, ask your coach what sort of stimulus you need to get out of this workout. Is the focus on working on some gymnastics skills or barbell cycling? Then spend the time working on that skill. Is the focus more on moving fast and getting breathless? Then maybe you should scale back to maintain the intensity.

But never, NEVER, do those stupid, semi-banded-hybrid-sumo-conventional-deadlift-car-crash things.

About The Author

Hi, I'm Jordan, a 22 year old pharmacy student/CrossFit L1 trainer working at CrossFit Norwich in the UK. I've been coaching for over a year now, I'm always striving to learn more and applying it in the gym, I hope you enjoy reading my musings and thoughts.

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