One thing I’ve noticed while traveling, is that some boxes have some Red Flag Programming (“RFP” aka “Really Fucking Psycho”). Specifically movements or workouts that are potentially dangerous to an athlete. If a coach decides to mess around with some RFP on their own time that’s their business, but I have serious issues with coaches that order others to do RFP.

RFP isn’t universal. Just as individuals have different athletic ability, they also have different thresholds for potential injury. That means that one persons rhabdo inducing workout is another person’s aerobic recovery. However, this variance involves scaling and repetitions instead of movements. A coaches job is to assess athletes and scale them appropriately to avoid RFP.

Alone, these might just be an awkward skill or strength session, but combine two or more, and you have some RFP.

– Abnormally high rep workouts –

– Improperly scaled workouts –

– High risk/low reward movement –

– Overbearing Coaches –

– Abnormally high rep workouts –

Crossfit has some number oddity workouts. Angie has 400 total reps. Filthy 50 has 500 total reps. Murph has 500 total reps and a 2 mile run.

An abnormally high rep workout has a rep range beyond the ability of an athlete to maintain movement quality or consistency while staying structurally sound. 

– Improperly scaled workouts –

Some workouts have an Rx’D weight that is near the upper limit of what many athletes can accomplish. Near 90% of 1RM, athletes have +/- 7 reps before they start to get fried neurologically.

An improperly scaled workout has a weight that doesn’t allow the athlete to maintain movement quality or consistency while staying structurally sound.

– High risk/low reward movement –

This example illustrates the point well. The reward is explosive power and coordination, but these could be trained more efficiently as separate movements. Holding the weights change the mechanics of the jump, and also keeps the athlete from being able to catch themselves if they miss the edge of the box.

This is something that I’ve tested, without weight and with an Olympic lifting Coach supervising. After running through it a few times, we opted against using it as a general training tool. The movement is suppose to train hip extension and explosiveness, but pause it at 0:15 and you’ll notice that the hips don’t fully extend. The reward of “explosiveness” isn’t worth the steep learning curve. That doesn’t mean it might not be used at top level Olympic lifting, but it isn’t something to inflict on the average Crossfitter.

High risk/Low reward movements only offer a marginal improvement to ability at a relatively high likelihood of injury.

– Overbearing Coaches –

A coach’s job is to teach and lead athletes. They have to push athletes to the upper limit of their ability, without compromising their quality or breaking them mentally. That involves scaling and progressions, potentially mid workout.

Coaches can suggest that athletes test a tougher scaling, and encourage them to push themselves, but you can’t belittle an athletes because they need to scale down to maintain movement quality.

Coaches shouldn’t try to pressure others into obeying them on the basis of their authority.

Overbearing coaches try impose their will on athletes. Their suggestions should have merit outside of their authority and shouldn’t need to be forced on anyone.

Spotting and avoiding RFP.

1) Check the box’s workout history.

If they don’t have a public workout history, email them and ask about their programming. Make sure its appropriate for you.

2) If in doubt, scale down.

If you see a movement or a weight that don’t think you can handle, scaling down should always be an option.

3) Ego vs. Safety? Walk away.

You Ego will heal faster then a torn rotator cuff or ruptured disk.

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