Why Are There So Many Pec Tears In Crossfit & Who's To Blame?

After two weeks of regionals, why are so many male athletes tearing their pecs during Event 2?

21-15-9 reps for time of:
Dumbbell snatches
Ring dips

Men use an 80-lb. dumbbell
Women use a 55-lb. dumbbell

Time cap: 6 minutes

Kyle Cant, Corey Lunney, Christian Harris, and Chase Smith in week 1. Alex Vigneault tore his pec while practicing for event 2. In Week 2, names such as Sam Dancer, Dan Bailey and Nick Uranker all fell victim to the pec tear.

But the most disheartening may have been Christian Lucero, who, after 4 events, had a comfortable lead heading into event 5 until about half way through the set of 21 muscle-ups, Lucero dropped from the rings and grabbed his left pec and tried to shake out his arm.

Why are there so many torn pecs and is it all Dave Castros fault?

I’ll take the easier part first, no it isn’t Castros fault. His main goal is to challenge the athletes to be the best all around athletes that they can be and while I often think that he takes pleasure in programing near impossible workouts, he’s doing his job. So it’s not Dave Castro’s fault.

You know who’s to blame? Greg Glassman. Blasphemy I know, And while you’ll never get any competitive Crossfit athlete or Box owner to admit it, Greg Glassman is to blame.

From its inception, Crossfit has ignored horizontal pressing, traditionally known as the bench press, in favor of Olympic lifting variations and overhead pressing. If Glassman doesn't say it, Castro doesn't program it and coaches don't include it.

It wasn’t until Glassman released videos after the 2016 regionals talking about all the benefits of using dumbbells in training, which the majority of Crossfitters had mysteriously ignored until that point. Look at the 2017 regionals, every single event finally included dumbbells.

Enter the ring dip, while technically a vertical press, it requires a great deal of shoulder internal rotation. But it also requires adduction and medially rotation of the shoulder.

If your pecs are already tight going into the movement, each rep is going to call on a tight pec to function while also tightening the pec up even more. Vicious cycle.

Crossfit athletes are generally pretty intelligent. When Kelly Starrett or the Woddoc or other practitioners release videos on mobility, athletes in Boxes across the country will instantly implement them. And you better believe that after two weeks of pec tears, the videos will come fast and furious.

Education, that’s another reason why we’re seeing these issues. For every 1 video on pec flexibility and mobility and proper function of the shoulder griddle, there’s 4 or 5 on overhead pressing or hip mobility.  So while it's not Glassmans direct fault, there may need to be more emphasis placed on horizontal pressing.

That’ll change soon. Maybe Glassman will include more horizontal pressing such as wall balls and ...gasp.... dumbbell or flat bench pressing.

But until then..expect more athletes to fall in the next few weeks.