Here is a little multiple-choice question for the followers of the Quest. What do you think my number one coaching cue is as a CrossFit coach?
a. Chest up, butt back (when squatting or doing any lift)
b. Neutral Head (head in line with one’s spine when lifting, particularly important on the deadlift)
c. Relax your arms! (a big issue for many Crossfitters in a slew of movements)
d. Relax your face
If you chose D as your answer you are correct. Although maintaining the proper curvature of one’s spine (chest up, butt back), keeping one’s head neutral, and relaxing one’s arms are all extremely important points of performance I do not have to reiterate those cues nearly as much as I need to tell my clients to relax their faces.
The human face has an enormous amount of tiny muscles and nerve endings that help us creating diverse facial expressions. If you scrunch up your face throughout a workout or even a single lift you will be subjecting your body to an amount of internal stress that is entirely unnecessary. Consequently, making a conscious effort to relax your face while working out will make your efforts perceivably easier and inevitably elicit a stronger performance.
The NFL combine just ended on Tuesday and I watched a great deal of it. The need to mitigate wasted energy during intense exercise became extremely evident during the 40 yard dash. The “40” is arguably the most important test that is done at the NFL combine. As some of you might know Tim Tebow’s draft stock is questionable due to his inefficient throwing motion. I watched Tebow run the 40, and his running mechanics need some work as well. The NFL network ran a slow motion close-up of Tebow’s face before cutting to a commercial break and I saw that Tebow had closed his eyes and scrunched up his entire face. He ran a 4.7 and I know that he is faster than that. I would argue that he could easily shave .2 seconds off his time if he did not waste so much energy tightening up all of the muscles in his face.
So if you are a future pro or just an average joe, relax your face and your athletic performance will skyrocket.