Risk vs Reward: Why Things are Different Here!

At MJCF we refer to the concept of risk vs reward often, and nowhere is it more apparent than in movement selection.
At a later date we’ll deal in depth with WHY CrossFit biases towards some movements and avoids others, but for brevity’s sake we’ll focus here on which movement’s have the worst risk vs reward ratios, what to do instead of them, and how to minimize the risk IF you decide to take them on.
“Don’t break your neck”–Inversions. (handstand pushups, handstand holds, wall walk ups) 
Inversions are a personal pet peeve.  It takes an awful lot of philosophical hoop-jumping to say inversions are remotely “functional”.   The best thing I can say for them is that they are about the only tool available to drive shoulder strength without equipment.  MJCF will program them on occasion, BUT we’ll never encourage anyone to throw themselves from their feet to their hands and expose the cervical vertebrae to an uncontrolled impact.
What to do instead?–  Overhead presses.  My very first choice would be standing overhead press with dumbells.  MOST of the reward,  NONE of the risk.
How to do them safely if you must?–  PLEASE!  Pad the landing surface.  An ab mat or two is great and most CrossFit’s have them.  At MJCF we have 1″ hi density foam strips that have great grip and great cushioning.  Make sure your chin is neutral and your not lifting your chin away from or lowering your chin into your chest.   Lastly,  regardless of the workout specs, if you start to descend hard and “Bonk” your head on any given rep,  it’s time to take a short break before continuing.
“Don’t tear your hands”–  (Kipping pullups, toes to bar) 
While you see tears on some barbell stuff and some kettlbell actions, the really nasty rips usually come from the kipping pullups and toes to bar.
What to do instead?  Strict pullups instead of kipping solves this problem 99% of the time.  Rotation not load is the issue, and your strict pullup has minimal spin affecting the grip.   Ab straps or Hanging knee Raise instead of toes to bar.  HERE especially, I am quick to recommend scaling.  The Pullup has some functional value.  Toes to bar has almost none.  A good test of scapular strength and control to be sure, but I am hard pressed to remember a time life demanded I put my feet on the surface I happened to be hanging from.   The ab straps we’ve got at MJCF start to build the necessary strength in the scapulae and shoulder capsule, and take any concerns about hand abrasions completely out of it.  Hanging knee raise DOES have a grip component, but much less swinging and therefore much less shear on the hands.
How to do them safely if you must?  Here is a helpful link to a decent article about preventing rips.  Meanwhile, here’s two essential tips 1) Grip tight!  Tears come from the pullup bar spinning within your grip.  You want to minimize this spin with a secure and aggressive clamp. During the kip, your wrist angle will change, but your palm should remain fairly still.  2) Calluses are not your friend.  You want your hands tough but flat.  A raised callus gets trapped as the bar rotates within your grip and shears off, taking good skin with it.
“Don’t Ruin your Shoulders”– (Ring Dips, Heavy Snatching, Kipping pullups/Toes to Bar)
The shoulder is uniquely complex, easily injured and slow to heal.  Even versus knees and back,  we tread softly around the shoulder.  Here are the most shoulder troubling CrossFit movements in my opinion.
Ring Dips-  Elbow behind the spine, shoulder loaded, mounted on two very unstable rings is a bleak scenario.
Snatching (heavy)-  We’re taking a weight we lift ballistically with the legs, and asking  a fully extended shoulder to decelerate it in a safe and controlled manner.  That’s a tall task.
Kipping while hanging-  We are hyperextending the shoulder (elbow behind the ear) while bearing ALL our bodyweight, then applying torque (force in multiple directions)  usually over and over again with a brief release every repetition that further complicates staying in goo mechanical position.
What to do instead? —
Ring dips:  Do your dips on a bar.  Even then, moderate your load and stop the set as soon as your control on the descent begins to waiver.
Heavy Snatching:  Don’t.  Snatch light/medium.  The snatch is a GREAT driver of gross motor skills, coordination, speed, power and accuracy.  But 90 % of the benefit remains at medium loads.
Kipping While Hanging-– Sub the strict versions or use our abstraps.  See above.
And lastly….
“Don’t Split your Shins”– (Box jumps):
Reward vs Risk… What is the reward of jumping vs. stepping up? Small increase in work capacity and a bit more athletic demand. Risk? Nasty scars for life, stitches, and leaving chunks of your shin on the box.
What to do instead? Step up and don’t jump or use a padded box.
How to do them safely? 90% of you should step up on the box instead of jumping. If you’re in the other 10% and want the added athletic demands of jumping, MJCF has 7 padded boxes for your shin’s safety.  As always, feel free to ask your coach for the best option for you and your goals! No one wants to end up in the emergency room because of a misguided CrossFit workout. You can trust MJCF to steer you right and provide you with safe equipment!


Greetings and Welcome to Monkey Junction CrossFit.  We’re are excited to be partnering with Momentum Athletics in this incredible space!  The combined resources of both organizations will provide a fitness experience unmatched in the region, so please take a moment to read what we’re all about.


We like to say that our goal is get get you ”as fit as you want to be!”  We understand that not everyone’s goal is to go to the CrossFit Games, or even a local competition, though it can be.  We value and respect the sport of fitness a great deal.   But our baseline exercise prescription will bias toward effective and challenging programming that still preserves you for the long term.   Specifically this means injury avoidance, but also we want you to be able to function with vigor outside the gym the same day as and the day after your workout. This runs counter to the trend we’ve seen emerge in the last few years, of beat yourself down so much that all you can do thereafter is recover enough to do it again, with physical activity minimized in between.  This is putting the gym first and life second, and if this is happening it should be because YOU choose such, not because your gym steered you wrong.


How do we preserve the long term?  Through safe, appropriate, fun programming.  


While perhaps not apparent at first glance, the careful observer will see some differences in the way we do things.  Certain movements, while great MEASURES of fitness, come with risk that, for our purposes, don’t equal the reward.  Muscle-ups, Heavy Deadlifts, Max Effort Snatching are some examples.  These are necessary for competition preparation,  they are certainly  valid and challenging tests of fitness, and as a staff we are equipped and capable of applying them on request (in fact we LOVE to do so!), but if the goal is to prepare for life and avoid injury, we’d likely bias away from them in favor of other, safer movements.


A by-product of that philosophy is recognizing that everyone comes to us with a different set of physical circumstances, abilities, and limitations. As an MJCF member, you are strongly encouraged to bring any physical issues to the attention of the coaches so that they can adjust YOUR workout such that it does YOU the most good.  This is not a perk or an add-on or an extra.  This is our job! Perhaps THE most important aspect of it.  


Above and beyond CrossFit classes, you’ll find a lot of exercise choices on our schedule.  A (mostly) Barbell Free BootCamp is a relentless 30 minutes of low weight/high-speed metabolic rev.  Mobility sessions designed to unlock some of your stickiest bits, and in the near future, Kickboxing Conditioning returns, (for the days when wine and profanity just aren’t enough).  Specialty programs like Yoga and Powerlifting are being explored as we speak.  ALL of the above classes are included in your membership.  We want very much to give you the broadest spectrum of fitness options possible.


Additionally, your membership comes with 24 Hour facility access.  At signup you will receive a 4 digit code that can be used any time that suits your schedule. While we’d love to have you in class, sometimes life intrudes, and when it does, MJCF is still available for you to make up a missed workout or do your own thing.


Beyond the efficacy of the exercise program, we are equally concerned with creating a great atmosphere.  We want you to WANT to come to the gym and, frankly, to hang out before and after your work is done. In that regard we are particularly fond of our Member’s Lounge complete with full sized refrigerator for your recovery shake, filtered water dispenser for your hydration needs, and coffee for everything else.  Put your feet up and stay a while!


We’ve got 300 square feet of kid’s space with toys, beanbag chairs and padded walls. Although we can’t guarantee that the words out of our members’ mouth (or the mouth of Jay-Z) will always be kid friendly, we want you and your family to feel at home here.


In the event that you want to supplement your fitness with some specific training or have an individualized goal that’s beyond our scope, chances are that Momentum Athletics’ personal training services can assist you.  TJ Meyer has an extensive background in fat loss, injury rehabilitation and corrective exercise.


We’re excited to be here and introduce you to what we do. We hope you’ll take a look and see if we’re right for you!