What is Integrity, and Why Does It Matter?
Every year, the CrossFit Games Open highlights the importance of integrity - and, sometimes, the lack of it.
This year, all eyes were on Josh Bridges and his deadlifts. In case you missed the 16.4 controversy, critics called his integrity into question after his video was posted online. In particular, the integrity of his deadlifts and handstand pushups. HQ subsequently applied a penalty to his score, and reduced it by 15%.
The concept of integrity doesn't just apply to elite athletes, though. After each Open workout, you're almost guaranteed to find cryptic social media updates calling out dodgy submissions from across the whole community.
Integrity, or the lack of it, is everywhere - and so are the people who have something to say about it.
What is Integrity?
In this context, integrity applies to the accuracy of scores submitted during the Open. But it runs much deeper than that.
Here's what the dictionary has to say about it:
- adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty,
- the state of being whole, entire, or undiminished,
- a sound, unimpared, or perfect condition.
When you think about it, this can be applied to almost everything we do inside the box. It doesn't matter whether you're in a competitive environment, or not.
If you're not cheating others, you're cheating yourself. If you don't have integrity with yourself, how do you expect to improve - or to be the best you can be?
How to Maintain Your Integrity Inside the Box
A lack of integrity can manifest itself in many ways. Remember, it doesn't matter whether you're stepping inside the box, or onto the competition floor - the rules are the same!
Here are some practical tips to help you keep your integrity in tact:
Always Commit to the Workout
When you walk into the box, and check out the whiteboard - commit yourself to the programming. Even if it involves running.
Getting yourself into the right headspace is an important first step. When you're committed, you're less likely to cut corners. You've already made a decision to see the WOD through.
If you lack integrity, you're more likely to complain or cherry pick. If you notice yourself doing either of these things, take it as a red flag!
Stay True to Your Abilities
Committing to the workout doesn't mean you always have to RX it. When it comes to integrity, the opposite is true.
Know when to scale.
Likewise, know when to push. Don't go for a lighter weight because you know you'll get a better score.
If you can do the workout RX, maintaining the required intensity and movement standards, do the workout RX. If you can't, scale appropriately.
Be Your Own Judge
We have the movement standards drilled into us right from the on ramp. Hold yourself to these standards every time you train.
When you know you've failed to meet the required standards, call yourself out. No rep yourself - it's part of the process. If you want to compete, this is an especially important aspect of training.
Don't Be a Whiteboard Warrior
Have you ever inflated your score, because you didn't want to sit at the bottom of the leaderboard?
Ever called time before you were done, or skipped reps, just to keep up with your training buddies?
Don't be a whiteboard warrior. There's no shame in finishing a WOD last, as long as you did it with your integrity intact.
Push Until the End
Integrity also means you don't short change yourself. Push as hard as you can, until the WOD is over.
If you're doing a 100m sprint, go as hard as you can for the full 100m. Don't ease off after 50m.
Don't drop your kettlebell with 10 seconds left on the clock, either. Keep going until you hear that timer!
Stop Comparing Yourself to Everyone Else
Athletes with good integrity listen to their bodies. They don't train when they're injured, and they take the right amount of rest days.
They listen to their own bodies, instead of wondering about what everyone else is doing.
They know what their body can withstand, and they know when they need to modify the movement standards to make allowances for their limitations.
This also applies to everything you've read in this article. Just because another athlete doesn't have good integrity, doesn't mean you should follow suit.
Stay true to yourself, challenge yourself, and don't shortchange yourself. That's what integrity's really about.