Intention

As an athlete, the most important thing you can do is add intention to all of your training. You can follow the greatest program ever written, but if you are just going through the motions you will get nothing out of that program. Some areas where a coach can see an athlete lacking intention:

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1. Bar Speed:
The concentric phase should always be performed as fast as possible! This is the sexy part, such as: standing up with the squat, pressing the bar over head, or lifting the bar off the ground. Bar speed is a very important aspect of weightlifting and our bodies adapt to what we do. If we move slow, we will be slow. Too often I see people put their percentages for the day on the bar and lift it with just enough speed to accomplish the task. Since we can’t lift heavy every day, most of the work is done in percentages. Putting 75% on the bar and moving it with 75% effort will not create an adaptation. To create the desired change you must move the bar with maximum effort every rep!

A couple things that can be done to improve bar speed:
Create tension/maintain position during the eccentric phase(lowering). Drive your big toe into the ground during hip extension.

2. Position:
Weightlifting requires positional strength. Our body adapts to the positions and movement patterns it’s exposed to, meaning that the positions that are commonly used by the athlete in training, is where the strength will be built. A good example of this is squatting and allowing the hips to shoot out back rather than keeping the hips underneath the shoulders. The consequence to this is as you go to stand up a heavy clean, the hips will shoot back (since that is where the strength is built) and the bar will drop in front or at best a sloppy clean is stood up taking to much energy. Positions should rarely be sacrificed just to simply accomplish the task because it may come at a cost to the end goal.

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3. Knowing the program intention:
Knowing the program or movement intention will allow you to get the most from it. An example here is jumping variations. Different jumps have different intentions such as a depth jump that you land as stiff as possible with minimal ground contact time and jump as high as possible (trains muscle stiffness and elasticity) or a depth jump that you land in a deep squat and jump as high as possible (trains the absorption on an eccentric force and changing its direction). Staying on jumps, I generally program smaller reps of jumps with a considerable amount of rest between sets with the focus on jumping high (rate of force development) as CrossFit generally programs high reps usually done while tired (conditioning and/or force development under fatigue). Not knowing the intention can lead to the an undesired adaptation.

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4. Intensity:
What are the intensity requirements of your sport? CrossFit requires athletes to compete at a very high intensity for longer durations of time where weightlifters compete and perform their movements at a very high intensity for only a couple seconds. It is possible for a CrossFit athlete to train at too high of intensity to frequently to create optimal adaptation and it is possible for a weightlifter to train at too low of intensity to create optimal adaptation. In many cases, it should be a coaches responsibility to help the athletes understand what pace they should be working at, but conversely, the athlete should also be very conscious about their approach to their training.

Mychael Swenning