Way back in 2008 Lisbeth posted the CrossFit Watertown mindset on her blog. It was a list of 11 rules for attitude in her gym. Number 5 was basically I will not quit. Ever. Not quitting is admirable and in many ways a good thing. But not always.
Quitting is giving up before the end. Work outs have caps and part of doing them is finishing under a cap. The cap is the end. It may feel like quitting but its not. Now sometimes we misjudge our ability or are a little tired or just have an off day and need time to finish. No biggie. Once every couple of months is totally fine. It may be a sign that you are pushing.
Not finishing becomes a concern when it goes from occasional to chronic. Going lighter (or using less advanced skills) may feel like making it easier. It isn’t. In fact, going heavy and slow may be the easy way out for a lot of people. So if you keep capping out or always coming right up to the edge or if you amrap scores are far lower than everyone else keep reading and learn why lighter may be better.
There is an intended goal behind each work out
The goal with the overall program structure is to provide you with a broad level of fitness. This means we work on conditioning, strength and endurance from all angles. Sometimes that means light and fast and sometimes its unbroken sets. If you go too heavy you essentially train in one spectrum of this all the time and at best your fitness narrows in scope. You get really good and doing a couple of reps then resting.
Improvement is non-existent
Usually when people start they get better every time they walk in the door. As long as they stay at the appropriate level they tend to follow a positive trajectory for at least a couple of years without having to increase frequency or add in training. If however they jump levels too fast and start capping out work outs or doing half the number of average rounds on amraps, progress stalls. This may be due to a narrowed range of fitness or it may simply due to fact that the work rate is so low. Two reps and ten breaths is not ideal for fitness.
Range of motion generally suffers
When exercisers go too heavy they usually don’t go deep or high enough. Chin to bar chin ups turn to forehead high. Thrusters and push presses start looking more and more similar. The knee never comes near the ground on a lunge. It happens with almost all of the two hard types. Why full range of motion is important is a full post or two but in short over time this lack of range of motion may contribute both to limits in fitness and mobility issues.
Form goes next
Not only do the squats get short but the knees collapse or the back starts rounding. Go heavy, too heavy and you almost will inevitably default to the same bad patterns we are constantly trying to fix.
All of this is not to say don’t challenge yourself or stay at beginner levels. Just be aware that heavier isn’t always better. Choose the level that allows you to finish the work out in the right time or with the right score and still look good doing it.