In CrossFit, we progress in this order: Mechanics, Consistency, and then Intensity.
By following this progression you will fully benefit from what we offer. Mechanics refers to technique – your understanding and ability to move you and external objects in the most efficient, effective, and safe manner possible. Most people can immediately appreciate the importance of the technique because it is what keeps you free from injury during exercises. However, there is another essential component of mechanics, which is range of motion, or ROM.
Range of Motion (ROM)
Range of motion is the full amount, both distance and direction, a joint can move or in which a movement is performed to a standard. Full, or functional, ROM is complete movement in the entirety of the distance and direction a joint can move. For example, full ROM of the elbow is the distance allowed between your arm fully flexed where forearm touches bicep, and arm fully extended where elbow is completely straight. For shoulders and hips, it would also include having full movement in all directions. Full ROM is often called functional ROM because a joint extended beyond, or unable to reach, its normal range is no longer functional. Think of your elbow being bent over backward – not really functional, is it? Nor is it functional if you cannot straighten your elbow fully. But, before that elbow is bent over, that is where the functional capacity lies. That is also where we want to do our magic!
The CrossFit protocol is 1) constantly varied 2) functional movements 3) executed at high intensity. We like to think of functional as being a movement that can be applied “out there” in your everyday life. If you train half-depth squats you miss out on getting stronger where it counts in real life – standing up from a seated position. Or consider the pushup (a common poorly executed movement) – what happens when you have to get up off the ground and you’ve only ever done a half pushup or bench press? What if you have to get up and down really fast? Repeatedly? The goal of CrossFit is to make you more functionally capable and that is only accomplished by using our joints to their full, functional ROM.
ROM Increases Flexibility and Work Capacity
In addition to increased functional ability, working joints to their full ROM maintains flexibility. For athletes that spend the majority of their time at a desk, doing full-depth squats and pushups to the floor will maintain the flexibility of the hips and shoulders. For athletes that have old injuries that have led to decreased flexibility (the shoulder is a common one), working the joint to its fullest ROM will often increase flexibility. Just ask any physical therapist what they do to recover patients from hip, shoulder, and knee surgery – they rehab with increasing ROM exercises!
When we extend our joints a little bit further on a floor-to-chest push-up versus a three-inch-off-the-deck push-up, we get more work done in every rep. One full ROM push-up is more than twice as hard as one half-push up. Doing full ROM during your exercises is going to increase the amount of work done in the workout.
ROM and Workouts
Finally, we want you to progress as an athlete. When doing a workout, the coaches will always define the movement standards required for the workout – or the ROM requirements. In order for you to count a rep, it must be done through the full range of motion. If you do not achieve full ROM, that rep is a “missed” rep. At CrossFit Roots, we take the ROM standards very seriously. They are what keep our athletes safe as well as what helps them progress. The coaches will make sure you are aware of any deficiencies in your ROM.
While the coaches will help you check in with your ROM, we also expect that athletes assist in maintaining the integrity of their workouts by not counting missed reps. If a coach tells you, “no rep,” or if you know you didn’t complete a rep to full ROM, then you need to perform another rep where you complete the movement. For example, if on rep #5, you don’t get your chin over the bar on a pull-up, then rep #5 doesn’t count and you’ll need to try again. You are cheating yourself out of your full potential if you count your missed reps.
If there is ever a time that you cannot complete a movement to full ROM due to a medical condition or injury, please tell your coach right away so they can help you modify for the workout – our goal is a pain-free range of motion. When appropriate, we can also suggest other exercises to help gain back some mobility in the compromised joint.