We all go to the box and torture ourselves for various reasons: to feel strong and confident, to get out of the office, or even to help prevent injuries. At its core then the box should be a place where you get better at life. You shouldn’t train to be a specialist at moving odd machines and alien weights that only exist inside its four walls. So how can the WOD at the box accomplish real world benefit?
The coach programs the WOD for a specific physical response - mainly discomfort if I am honest. Beneath the physical pain and adaptation, though, there is another beautiful lesson: mental awareness of where we are in space. We must focus on what muscles we are engaging, where the weight is in our hands or feet, and where our spine is in space. The weight lifting in our WOD is a beautiful teacher to this end since we must control our own body and an external load aka the weights. Weight lifting can teach you how to move properly, to maximize the mechanical levers of your body, increase lean muscle mass, and create stronger bones and tendons.
Let’s look at one of the most divisive lifts out there – the dead lift. The dead lift is a massively beneficial movement that utilizes nearly our entire body. The dead lift is also used more often in the real world – yard work, moving furniture, picking up after children, picking up said children, or the dreaded household to-do list to name a few. You won’t find these items or tasks anywhere in the box so this is where our mental awareness must come into play.
Scenario: the couch must be moved from one room to the next but its heavy and awkward. We call our fellow crossfitting buddy first to help with the other end. Then the time comes to move the couch and our mental awareness kicks in. We recall all the instructions our coach gave us on the dead lift. We know that to properly lift an object off the ground we must use our posterior chain: hamstrings, glutes, and low back. To protect the back by utilizing these muscles at their proper angles, we set our feet directly underneath our hips, unlock our knees, stick our butt behind us, squeeze the butt as much as we can, and then flatten our back out to maintain a neutral spine. We also square off to the object in question knowing that our coach has told us time and again to not rotate with a heavy bar in our hands. Big breath in to help stabilize our thoracic spine , keep the arms straight, don’t jerk into the weight and…. LIFT.
The box and all its unique movements have just paid off in a real world scenario. The next time you are in the box pay attention to what the coach has to say. Pay attention to how you are moving. Pay attention to where you are strongest. Pay attention to how the box can and will make you better in the real world.