In the first two articles of this series, Paul touched on the importance of building a good aerobic base and spending time learning how to move well as two of the most important things to consider when trying to improve your Metcon scores/times.
In this week’s article he looks at why learning new/complex skills in isolation before adding them to more intense workouts.
As stated in the first article in this series, CrossFit as a training methodology, is broad in terms of the movements involved. Movements from the world of gymnastics, powerlifting, weightlifting and endurance sports are melded together to provide an ever-changing training template.
This variety has its advantages and disadvantages. The variety of movements found within a CrossFit class program helps to expose up to a whole range of physical and neurological stimuli which can be very exciting. However, after a period following a CrossFit style program, there comes a time where we have to focus on the movements and skills we want to improve in order to obtain the adaptations we require.
Simply put, if we want to improve our Olympic lifting it might be prudent to spend more time practicing the skills required to improve the Snatch and Clean and Jerk. It might also be a good idea to develop these skills in isolation rather than in a fatigued state (e.g. during a timed workout).
Taking the time to develop particular skills on their own will enable you to develop good movement patterns from the get go as well as allow for progressions to be mastered and keep the likelihood of potential injury to be minimised.
Once a movement or skill has been developed in isolation and the required muscle, tendon and ligament strength been acquired to perform it with perfect form should any type of intensity be added to the mix.
For example, if you spent a specific training block working on your upper body pulling strength to help you develop a strict pull up, chest to bar or muscle up variation you would hopefully of built some volume over time.
Adding 1 rep to your strict bodyweight pull up per week alongside some specific accessory work might be the way forward initially.
After you have suitably completed this phase you might add a low skill movement that might increase your heart rate in combination with your pull up sets, such as the assault bike, rower (as long as it doesn’t cause too much grip fatigue) or maybe a run. An example of this might look like:
EMOM 10 minutes- Odd minute: 5 Strict Pull Ups, Even minute: 12 Calories on the Assault bike at 80% pace.
You would once again build volume over time within these training scenarios. Once you have developed the skill within this setting you could then start to add movements in to the mix that might ‘complement’ the skill being developed.
In this example adding an upper body pushing movement such as the push press or a lower body pushing movement such as the air squat alongside some low skill cyclical movement to slightly increase the intensity might be the way forward here. Again, adding volume in this scenario over time would be the way to progress forward.
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Once a person has proven competency in this training scenario you could mix in some less complementary movements to the mix. In this example, adding movements that might cause grip fatigue in the flexors of the arm such as the deadlift would be similar to the movement combinations found in the Open.
Again, adding volume over time will help progress things forward. Once this phase is completed you could either focus on a new skill or add to the current skill. In this example, developing a kipping or chest to bar pull up would be the natural progression forward using the steps outlined above once again.
This process is almost always forgotten by most people within the functional fitness realm. Putting in the hours doing the boring stuff is quickly bypassed in favour of trying out the sexy stuff. In most cases, especially when it comes to gymnastic movements, injuries occur because the movements have not been developed using the above progressions.
The phrase, ‘don’t run before you can walk’ is never more true. Earn the sexy stuff. Work on new skills in isolation.
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