Bodyweight Training 101

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Written by: Coach James“The body will become better at whatever you do, or don’t do. If you don’t move, your body will make you better at not moving. If you move, your body will allow for more movement.” – Ido PortalCrossFit programming is broad, general, and inclusive. We combine elements of weightlifting, gymnastics, and monostructural (cardio) training, transforming them into constantly-varied combinations of loads, durations, and rep schemes. Even the movements themselves are many. In fact if you were to list all of the exercises commonly found in CrossFit programming, you’d likely end up with a list of close to 100 different exercises (maybe more?). As a recreational competitive exerciser, this concept can become quite overwhelming, causing many to think to themselves, “How am I ever supposed to learn ALL of these movements?!” Luckily, once we’ve got our fueling in check, and we’ve learned how and when to manage our body’s energy systems, we can move onto the next level of the CrossFit pyramid: learning to move your own body well.When you strip away all the complexities, a body can really only squat, push, pull, hip hinge, bend/twist, lunge, and translate (move from point A to point B). EVERYTHING we do can be simplified into one or more of these primal movement patterns. Even something as complex as the snatch can be broken down into elements of a powerful hip hinge, a vertical upper body pull, an overhead push, and a deep squat. The snatch, when done well, is a real sexy exercise, but it’s the underlying patterns and positions that need to be mastered first if you ever plan to fully express your abilities in such a complex lift. Every exercise in CrossFit has standards for range of motion and points of performance for how to create ideal positions. Movement quality is predicated first on our ability to achieve these shapes statically, then slowly and under control, then as fast as possible without breaking down. First mechanics, then consistency, THEN intensity. Building a rock-solid air squat will inevitably translate into more efficient thrusters and wall balls. Interestingly, the same characteristics which develop quality push-ups and handstands lend themselves well to all pressing activities. Ring rows and strict pull-ups create the pulling strength necessary to climb ropes, swing kettlebells, and inch ourselves ever closer to that elusive muscle-up. Truly focus on the fundamentals of good technique by fostering virtuosity in your mechanics and watch how quickly your fitness improves. Chasing the leaderboard has its virtues, but clicking the ‘Rx’ button should never come at the cost of movement quality.At the end of the day, what we’re really talking is practice. Practice is what develops the neurological elements of fitness: coordination, accuracy, agility, and balance. Practice is what helps to bridge the gap from your mind to your muscles, from intent and execution. It’s a deliberate commitment to treating every movement, from warm-up to WOD, with respect and understanding that each repetition is an opportunity to get a little bit better, or a little bit worse. Choose to build your body on a strong, stable foundation and it’ll serve you well for years to come. Choose to build it on quicksand, and watch it crumble.

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