"The MAYOR of Snap City"

On the back of my thoughts about CrossFit comes very sad news about a trainer named Kevin Ogar who suffered a horrible injury while performing a snatch:
A Colorado CrossFit athlete was performing a routine lift during a competition in Southern California over the weekend when he suffered a critical injury to his spine, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down.

Tragedy struck Sunday while Kevin Ogar, a coach at a CrossFit gym in Denver, was performing a 'snatch' - a staple move in the sport that combines weightlifting, gymnastics and sprinting.

According to published reports, the 6 foot 1, 210-pound Ogar lifted a heavy barbell to his waist and then over his head, but couldn't hold it, letting the heavy bar plummet to the floor behind him. 
The bar bounced against another set of weights, striking Ogar in the back and severing his spine. 
‘When impact was made, he jumped almost like someone shot him,’ Ogar's friend and employer Matt Hathcock told ABC News.  
The gravely injured athlete collapsed to the floor inside the Costa Mesa venue hosting the OC Throwdown, unable to move his legs. 
The CrossFit enthusiast and his training partners described the devastating injury as a 'freak accident' and insisted that the flourishing sport was not to blame for it.
The inimitable Elgintensity, who has a YouTube channel which he frequently uses to beat up on CrossFit and its adherents, has a very good response to this incident:

My thoughts on the matter mirror his. I'm not going to criticise Ogar for what happened- I feel great sympathy for the man, and I hope that if you're reading this, you can kick some cash his way, as he is uninsured and is facing massive medical bills to go along with his injury.

It is, however, entirely right to ask hard questions about the methods by which CrossFit trainers and coaches teach their "sport".

I have been a drug-free powerlifter for not quite 3 years now. Powerlifting has changed my life, my health, my physique, and my fitness. I love lifting heavy s***. I try- Lord knows I try- to maintain good form when I lift, and I am always looking to fix little things about my form so that I can avoid injury and be safe. I know full well that when done right, powerlifting is actually pretty much the safest sport you can engage in- by miles. I treat powerlifting as an essential part of my life now, one that I cannot imagine going without- so it offends me to my very core when I see idiots like half-trained CrossFitters abusing the basic principles of powerlifting by doing crazy things like deadlifting before squatting, or lifting with rounded lower backs, or doing Kipping rows, or other assorted stupidity.

If you're going to lift, do it right, or don't do it at all. It's that simple.

"Doing it right" means paying attention to your form every time you step into the shrine. It means that you deadlift with a straight lower back, as much as possible. It means that you squat down to at least parallel, every rep, every set, every time. It means that you take your time in between sets to analyse your form, catch your breath, and recover- because as any powerlifter knows, fatigue is the deadly enemy of good form. As you tire, your form gets shot to pieces. When I'm in the gym doing a set of 20 deadlifts at 225lbs, my form on the 18th rep sure as hell isn't what it was on the 1st or 2nd (and that is after several much heavier sets).

This is the primary beef that guys like Elgintensity and I have with CrossFit. When you have an organisation that is actually proud of the fact that its trainees often end up puking their guts out after a workout, or end up suffering from rhabdo, there is something seriously wrong with what they are selling. When it comes to weight training, you can do high reps with light weights, or you can do low reps with heavy weights. You absolutely CANNOT do high reps with heavy weights and still be safe. And if powerlifting is about anything, it is about building strength, character, and power while remaining safe.

If you must do CrossFit in order to get some aerobic exercises into your regimen, learn the correct form first. Honestly, though, you'd be better off doing Krav Maga instead- you'd be surprised just how useful the art of learning to beat the snot out of someone is when it comes to staying fit and strong.

Do not, whatever you do, think that you can just walk into a gym, start half-assing your way through a powerlifting workout, and think that you're going to achieve something. All you'll end up doing is buying a one-way ticket to Snap City.


  1. Sounds like our boy didn't have a plan for what happens when you rep to failure. Not a great deal of sympathy for a 'trainer' who didn't risk assess.

    1. True, but that comes back to my basic criticism of CrossFit as a sport. Seasoned powerlifters know full well how to take safety precautions with deadlifts and squats and cleans. They ensure that their lifting area is clear of stuff that might cause the weights to "bounce". And most importantly, they recognise their own limits, which is why powerlifting is as safe as it is. If CrossFit won't teach its trainees and athletes basic rules of safe lifting, then they should absolutely be held accountable for that failure.


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