Nuno and Lauren of Team Invictus at the CrossFit Games 2015

Make Yourself A Slave to Good Habits
Written by Bryce Smith


“Chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy  to be broken.”

Warren Buffet was on to something when he scolded the world on the formation of their bad habits with this quote. And this can certainly be applied to gyms across the world. I see a plethora of bad habits on a daily basis, but I’ve narrowed down my top five to share with you.

1)    Not maintaining a flat back when picking loads off the floor (or putting them back down), even when the load is light.

2)    Externally rotating shoulders during planks, ring dips, push-ups, and most pressing exercises.

3)    Externally rotating from the hips to drive the knees out; not only during squats, but also during pulls from the floor.

4)    Not breathing properly, which leads to a gasp of air and eventually sloppy movement.

5)    Losing the lumbar curve during overhead movements and during fatigue by not keeping the ribs down and the belly tight.

These can all be fixed very easily by practicing good habits. All habits start relatively slow and gradual, and, before you know it, the habit has taken over. I find that most people are pretty relaxed about some of the important details like “ribs down”, “belly tight”, “external rotation”, “proper spinal position”, and “proper breathing mechanics” until they get hurt or feel pain. It’s only at that point do these individuals strive to make the necessary changes to these habits but the bad habit has been formed and the body has become accustomed to poor motor recruitment patterns. Those patterns are hard to break.

The key is to MAKE YOURSELF A SLAVE TO GOOD HABITS! If you can slow yourself down during the learning stages of each movement and stay disciplined during fatigue, you are more likely to stay safe and continue to enhance your fitness. Unfortunately, when you get hurt, you limit your abilities to enhance your fitness and your quality of life goes down. The problem lies in the fact that once the coach says “3-2-1, Go!” most athletes simply lose all consciousness and strive to move as fast as they can. The founder of CrossFit, Coach Greg Glassman, wrote a CrossFit Journal article on this desire to go as fast as possible called Understanding CrossFit in April of 2007. It talked about how “men will die for points.”

People will do exactly that. All of the points of performance go out the window and in people’s heads, the emphasis is on speed and weight hoisted, not on technique and the formation of good habits. The importance placed on quantifiable results has attracted hard-charging people like business owners, financial managers, scientists, and a wide variety of former athletes. CrossFit is typically blamed for lack of guidance, but CrossFit doesn’t hurt anyone. Poor habits, poor movement patterns, and lack of attention to detail hurts people. There must be a level of personal accountability when you walk through the gym doors. You, as the athlete, need to make yourself a slave to good habits – even when you’re moving fast.