Before you think about building muscle and burning fat…

Virtually every single piece of advertising in our industry focuses on building muscle, burning fat, or if you want to combine them, toning.

And it makes perfect sense. They’re two factors of being fit that we can see, and objectively measure.

The foundation before all this work is to increase our joint health. Our joints determine how hard we can push in the gym, how easily we’ll move, and how much pain we’ll feel.

The connective tissue of the joints (ligaments and tendons) need time to adapt, about 10 times longer than our muscles do. It’s because they’re less elastic and don’t get as much blood flow.

This is important to know for two reasons. The first is we need to targeted joint work each day to increase the joints range of motion and robustness. We cover this in our warm ups with animal crawls like the bear crawl and crab walk and weighted stretches like the Jefferson curl and the windmill. This isn’t something to “get through” so we can work out, it’s the foundation of our health focus while in class.

Next up is to build weights up slowly. Most people walking in having never trained CrossFit before will be capable of dead lifting 50Kg as a lady and 70Kg as a gent. But we don’t go that heavy on day one. We go to about 50% of that, to give the joints time to adapt to the strain of holding ourselves in place for the lift. Over the course of months and years we build up our joint’s tolerance to heavier loads, more reps, and broader ranges of movement.

Remember when I said that connective tissue adapts about 10 times slower than muscle tissue? This also holds through for recovering from an injury. A muscle injury that could take 10 days rest will take up to 100 days if it’s on the joint. Now do you see why joint work is so important?

We do, that’s why we do it first thing each and every day.

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