When Competition Spoils Integrity – Blog by Amy Allen

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I have always believed that Crossfit brings out character – it has a very effective way of blindingly magnifying our strengths and weaknesses – and not just in the physical sense.

CrossFit facilities typically draw some competitive members. Competition is fun and healthy. It can encourage us to achieve things we might not otherwise do if it weren’t for that other person beside us to push or encourage us.  

*I’ll note that there are still a number of us out there who aren’t as interested in the competitive-against-others aspect as much as the competing-against-ourselves aspect.  

I think I tend to swing both directions. Sometimes, I make everything a competition, (I mean everything. Even the silliest of challenges: “Let’s see who can do the most squats until failure! Let’s see who can do air punches the longest in the car during a road trip! Let’s see who can lunge all the way to the car!…”) but sometimes, I just want to get a good workout in at the gym, and I, perfectly, accept knowing I’m not the “best” athlete in the gym that day (or any day). I’m aware of my strengths and weaknesses, and I don’t expect to have the top score.

But if I do expect one thing, it’s honesty.

So, when I hear about or see people during a workout who are shaving reps, I am stunned. Every. Single. Time.  “Rep shaving” – the sneaky little beast that shows up when you’re buns deep in a workout. You and the competitive athlete next to you are neck and neck, and you think no one is watching – so you just cut it short a few reps to get ahead…on purpose.

How many times have we all been counting along with someone only to see that they are consistently cutting the reps short, and many times by a lot. It’s important to remember that someone is always watching. Someone is bound to start paying attention if you suddenly start smashing workouts out of the blue, or if you’re keeping up with some of the veteran Crossfitters who put in the training time to sharpen skills.  If it’s not a coach that sees, it could be another member.  In our gym, and other Crossfit affiliates, it is commonly known that we rely on the honor system to keep track of our reps.

I get it. Crossfit can turn into mental gymnastics too. Keeping track of numerous reps and rounds can get tricky and confusing. I think everyone who has ever completed a Crossfit workout can say they’ve had a brain dump during the WOD and lost track. It happens, and you’re forgiven.

I’m not talking about modifying workouts either. I am 100% in support of modifying any movement to accommodate ability levels and injuries.

That is not the issue here.  When it’s a benchmark workout, or you are intending to assess your abilities and progress in order to record time, or to personally measure where you are in a certain workout, you JUST. DON’T. CHEAT. PERIOD. That is skewing data and it’s not accurate.  It’s annoying and even disappointing, but it doesn’t hurt me if you’re rep shaving…

I can still go home and live my life the same. I still love you.  But it may just affect your reputation around the gym.  If it’s easy for you to lie about how many reps you did on a regular basis, how many other things is it easy to be dishonest about?  




If this happens often,  HOLD YOURSELF ACCOUNTABLE. You don’t need to admit you’ve been fudging numbers (we already know).  You don’t need to join RSA (Rep Shavers Anonymous, duh.)  If you tend to lose track, grab a handy personal whiteboard (we have fancy top of the line boards with MAGNETS on them now!) If you’re not sure how to use a whiteboard and write down numbers or tally marks, grab a buddy to count your reps for you! (Another reason why partner workouts rule.)

We want you all to improve. We want you all to succeed. We want you all to achieve goals and break records in (and out of) the gym. A great, surefire way to achieve those fitness goals quicker is to ACTUALLY do the complete number of repetitions prescribed. We can’t get stronger if we don’t put in the work! 🙂


Amy Allen is a CF-L1 and CrossFit Kids certified Coach for Palo Cedro CrossFit. She is a strong athlete, snapchat enthusiast, cheerleader of others, and criminally gorgeous.