R.O.M. (Range of Motion)
Why does your CrossFit coach care so much that you squat below parallel, stand up your push jerk all the way, or get your chin over the bar on your pull-up? If you’re not trying to be a competitive athlete in the Sport of Fitness, does it really matter if you hit the full range of motion?
And here’s why:
This range of motion standard is there to strengthen your muscles and joints through your natural, anatomical end ranges. If we never take our bodies to the end ranges of motion, we can’t expect to have capacity there if we were to need it.
It is not meant to slow you down, hold you back, or frustrate you beyond belief. Rather, the standard is there as a means to challenge you and to help measure your progress from week to week and from year to year.
Use It Or Lose It
Let’s consider the squat.
Ever had trouble standing up off of the couch? Ever seen someone you love struggle with this? What about standing up from a seated position on the floor?
When we squat to full depth (hip crease below the top of the knee, AKA “below parallel”) we are strengthening the muscles around our hips, knees, and ankles in a greater range of motion. We are also demanding that our glutes and hamstrings (the powerful muscles on the back side of our bodies) are contributing as much as possible to the movement. When we no longer squat to this depth the movement puts more of a demand on our knees and quads (the front side of the body) to do the work, diminishing the contribution of the back side.
If we don’t ever hit this depth then we are doing ourselves a disservice. Think about this the next time you sit on the floor, on a low couch or chair, or even on the toilet! This is something that you just expect will always be there! You need to train it as much as possible. If you can stand up your max back squat from a depth below parallel, then your trainer is not worried that overnight you will lose the ability to stand up from the floor.
Training For Life
We are training ourselves to be better at life. Not just today or next week, but for our lifetime. Your difficulty in reaching range of motion in a particular movement, exactly describes your need to practice and train to achieve that range of motion.
If you struggle with this, ask your trainer for help! Your trainers are willing and able to scale, modify, and adjust range of motion to help you progress and continue to improve from one class to the next. It doesn’t all have to happen at your next class; it takes time, but above all it takes a commitment on your part to put in the effort and try.
Think of your training as a marathon, not a sprint. Work to increase your range of motion each day you come into the gym, so that eventually you can complete most, if not all movements to the full range of motion standards.
Not because it’s a rule or CrossFit law, but because your body will thank you for it in the long run!