In recent weeks, I’ve run into several conversations on the subject of people cheating during their workouts. Although we would like to think this doesn’t happen in CrossFit, we all know that occasionally certain individuals may feel tempted to shave reps to have a better score on the board. The question is, do we care? And if we do, SHOULD we?
For some reason, most of the time “cheating” goes unmentioned. After all, this is a sensitive topic and is difficult to address. But did you know that if you were to google ‘CrossFit’ and ‘Cheaters’ there are over 300 000 results??? So, clearly it does happen, and it happens in every gym around the world. But you’re only cheating yourself… right?
Cheating can vary from subtle mistakes to the blatant shaving of reps. Subtle cheating is more common, and is often something the athlete isn’t even aware of. This could include cheating the range of motion in a movement. For example, not going down to full depth in a squat, not getting the chin over the bar on pull ups, not hitting the dot with every throw of the wallball, or not opening the hips entirely at the top of a box jump. Every now and again these things happen within the WOD, and of course nobody will really hold this against you. But if these shorted movements are your personal standard, and you could do better if you simply took a few seconds of rest rather than going as fast, you ARE cheating: YOURSELF. The reason being, in continuously shorting your range of motion, you will likely see less significant strength gains, have difficulty increasing stamina or accuracy, and may even see negative results in performance and body structure
This subtle “cheating” is all par for the course. But on the other hand, you sometimes run into those less common people who think 21-15-9 is actually 18-12-6. This involves the obvious and most blatant form of cheating; things like ‘shaving reps’ or ‘adding rounds’ in an AMRAP. Is writing a faster time or a higher score (that, by the way, gets erased at the end of the day!) really worth losing out on the benefits of doing the workout properly and purposefully?
With that said, I think there is a difference between someone occasionally not getting their chin all the way over the bar despite their best efforts, and someone who just skips reps. It’s very true that, when you’re in the middle of a painful WOD, it can be hard sometimes to know if you’re aren’t all the way down in a squat, or all the way extended at the top of a press. Plus, I’m sure that each of us has inadvertently screwed up our counting (isn’t the point of what we are doing to take ourselves to the physical and mental limit?!) Whenever this happens to me, I find it safer to always assume the lower number, meaning I’ve sometimes done extra reps because of it. But I’d rather end up shorting myself on the final score in order to make sure I get a better workout!
CrossFit is based on honour and respect, which is most evident by our “Hero” WODs that are named for soldiers who died in the line of duty. Therefore, it is reasonable to say that to cheat during the carefully programmed and scientific process of fitness that you’re paying your hard earned dollar for is a less than integral behaviour. If you feel like the workout is going to be too much, talk to the Coach about scaling down a Zone or two. Working out at your current level of ability isn’t viewed as ‘taking the easy way out’ or ‘doing less than’. Not at all! CrossFit workouts can be just plain difficult, and some days you simply may not have the gumption to get ‘er done the way you wish you could. But be sure to remember that EVERYONE respects someone who works hard at each workout and finishes every rep no matter their fitness level.
The coaches aren’t there to count your reps. Rather, they are there to ensure your safety, help you improve your technique, and encourage you get through those final few reps! So, continue to show your respect in every class by impressing us with your effort to be accountable for the quality of your reps, and I guarantee you’ll see the benefits across the board!