You’re three rounds deep in your METCON and you’ve got two more rounds to go. The reps are high, the weight that was supposed to be light is now heavy, and you can’t breathe. You look around, everyone else is dying too, but for some reason, you feel behind. Whether it’s ego, or you’re actually slow, you feel like you’re in competition with your box mates and you want to catch up. So what do you do? You start shaving reps. Suddenly you went from consistently chipping away at your reps to being a rep shaver. Nobody will notice though, right?
Everyone notices when someone is rep shaving. Your coach knows, you know, your box mates know, it’s a whole lot more obvious then you think. And guess what else? It’s not cool. It’s not cool for more reasons than one.
Out of respect for yourself and your box-mates, shaving reps can be intentionally or unintentionally disrespectful. Not just for others like you may think but we’re talking more for yourself here. Why do you go to CrossFit in the first place? To be a better athlete and human. Or so most people do. How do you get better? Surely not by being a rep shaver. Cool – you got a faster time than anyone and you logged it on the board, but what does that prove? That you cheated? That you’re better than other people? That you’re super cool and won the Wednesday workout? No. There’s no point. Because ultimately when it comes down to it, it doesn’t count because you didn’t finish. So while your time on the board may be a respectable time, your effort and your counting aren’t.
Rep shavers are integrity lacking individuals. You might be the greatest, politest and enjoyable individual in the world, but if you go to 5:30 pm class and shave reps to gain a competitive and mental edge on the other people you are training with, you’re just an ass and you lack integrity. Rep shavers ultimately come to a crossroads during a workout – one in which you have to choose between what is convenient and what is right. Sure, you might not want to finish because you had a long day, you ate like crap, you might have forgotten your supplements or you’re just not feeling it, but guess what? Integrity is choosing courage over comfort.
Choosing what is right over what is fun, fast, or easy. Nobody ever became better by taking the easy way out. Nobody ever got better by doing the wrong thing when everyone is watching. And trust us – someone will notice, and most likely, it’ll be your coach. The things you do when no one is looking are the things that ultimately define you. Not the number or time on the board, not how fast you finish, not how slow you go, it’s finishing completely and with integrity.
Why would you show up if you’re just going to half-ass your workout? If you’re not going to follow the programming and cut the work in half, what good does that do you? If things in life were simple and perfect, then what would be the point of doing them? There wouldn’t be one and the same can be said for CrossFit. The community that CrossFit cultivates is one rooted in intentional actions to advance your health, happiness, strength, and mental fortitude. It constantly shows individuals that you can get your ass handed to you every single day and you keep going back. It’s a place where you walk in terrified and walk out feeling accomplished. It’s sweating until you’re soaked and dripping from head to toe with sweat and you wear your wet clothes and strut your callused hands around like a badge of honor. You eat well, you train hard, you push yourself day in and day out.
So why shave reps while you’re at it?
Why become so distracted with the people around you that you stop focusing on yourself and your work and start focusing on theirs instead? Did you show up to the box today for them?
No. You surely did not. When you shave reps you aren’t accountable anymore. You give into fatigue and hurt and you lose the battle before it’s even over. You stop striving to be better. You stop being proud. You stop growing. You lack sportsmanship. And the worst part? Once you do it, it becomes easier and easier to lose sight of your intent and intentional actions of being there in the first place. Not to mention, you’re more likely to do it again.
One of the most incredible aspects of CrossFit is the ability for anyone who walks into the box to feed their competitive spirit. Whether you’re pacing the WOD alongside similar skill levels or looking to make your way into the next local comp, you’ve got a fire to fuel and you came to the right place. You’re encouraged to compete in many ways – whether it’s against the clock, your box-mates, yourself, or your reps. It’s intense and it’s healthy. And better yet? It’s for everyone. What’s not for everyone? Rep shaving to gain a competitive edge. Now that’s just not healthy for anyone. Which brings me to my next point…
Scaling isn’t the same as Shaving
Some individuals like to argue that people rep shave for positive reasons, like the inability to keep going, the risk of injury, and the fact that it’s their workout and they get to choose how to do it. Which is all fine and dandy until it puts a damper on the comradery at the box. We’ve all witnessed it at some point. That moment when Jamie or Kevin walk in the box for class and everyone thinks to themselves, “oh man, they’re here”.
Back to one of the previous points – someone always notices rep shavers. Losing count and scaling down reps for ability purposes is completely different then cutting reps and not doing the workload. And honestly, if you’re that concerned with finishing first or smashing a top notch time, take it down a notch. Chances are you’re not training in the right ‘division’ if you will as it relates to your ability. Oh, and not to mention, it sets a poor example for those who look up to you. Don't think anyone looks up to you or looks to you for motivation and inspiration? Think again. You never know who’s watching and who you’re inspiring. So next time you think about shaving? Maybe think about scaling, first.
Yep – we’re going there. Rep shavers are cheaters. Or are they? Anytime you up the ante someone’s going to get salty. So should you care? Maybe. Some people don’t like training anywhere near people who rep shave because if they’re going to lose it ought to be fair. Others couldn’t give two flying fluffs about someone who rep shaves. So why exactly is it considered cheating? The simple answer – because it just plain is.
Cheating your way out of reps can dampen the positive atmosphere that box owners and coaches work extremely hard to create. On the flipside of that argument, when you shave reps it’s only the individual who ultimately loses, not the other members. CrossFit is rooted in integrity and honesty, not to mention the honor code. Your coach, your box-mates, and probably your own self would benefit from failing with honor and integrity than succeed by fraud. But whatever reason you cheat for or cheat reps or rep shave for is crap.
Ultimately, You Lose
We could sit here and go back and forth about why people rep shave or why someone should or shouldn’t care, but the bottom line is this – it’s stupid and you should probably avoid doing it at all costs. The loudest cheers in CrossFit are often for those who finish last. So ditch the ego. Put away your fear. And embrace the community, the purpose, and your own strengths and weaknesses for what they are, not what they aren’t. You don’t have to care if people are doing it, but you do have a choice on whether or not to celebrate it. If you tell the truth, it becomes part of your past. If you tell a lie, it becomes part of your future. Whatever work you ultimately put in, or don’t put in, will catch up to you later on.
If you have a problem with rep shavers, here’s what you do – be the change you wish to see. Don’t give them a taste of their own medicine or lower your standards down to theirs. They already know what that tastes like. Give them a taste of your own medicine. Lead by example. Complete your reps. Embrace failure and struggle. Let your medicine be honesty and maturity. CrossFit and the community have the astonishing ability to earn respect, appreciate honesty, gain trust, and return the loyalty. Wouldn’t you want the very same for yourself?
Actions will always speak louder than numbers on a board.