Saturday, 25 July 2009

Advancing The Intermediate CrossFitter, Part 4: Incorporating Advanced and High Skill movements into your training.

When first starting CrossFit, most people will not be able to incorporate advanced and high skill movement into their training, at least not in the context of timed WODs.  The intermediate CrossFitter has had enough experience with these movements in an untimed setting that he is ready to start incorporating some of them into his workouts.

First, we need to differentiate between "advanced" and "high skill" movements.

Advanced movements are movements with a relatively low requirement of technical capacity and a relatively high requirement of physical capacity. These include movements such as L-pullups, handstand pushups, pistols (one legged squats,) and legless rope climbs.  These movements aren't neurologically complex, but performing them at high reps, particularly in the context of a high speed metcon workout is tremendously difficult.

High skill movements are movements that in their most simple form require a high level of technical capacity.  They may also require a high level of physical capacity, but that is not what defines them as high skill movements.  This category includes muscle-ups, Olympic lifting, double unders, and any gymnastics movements beyond the muscle-up (think handstands, levers, planches, freestanding HSPU, iron crosses, etc.)

There are a lot of ways to incorporate these movements into your WOD.  Let's look at advanced movements first.  Let's say we have an athlete who is starting to get competent with L-pullups and handstand pushups, but not so competent that he could do something like the 15-1/1-15 handstand pushup/L-pullup countdown.  A good option for this athlete would be something like this:

5 rounds for time

5 L-pullups

5 handstand pushups

30 squats

The numbers on the L-pullup and handstand pushup are low enough that the athlete will be able to move through them pretty quickly, and blazing through the squats will allow the upper body to recover while also challenging the athletes metabolic conditioning.

Incorporating high skill movements is very similar.  You want to program them in a way which allows you to complete all the reps without undue struggle (it should be hard, but you shouldn't be missing more than a couple reps in the WOD) and which ensures that the intended effect of the workout is created (that is, if it's a metcon WOD, you should be laid out on the floor afterwards.)  Here's a good example of this:

Complete as many rounds as possible in 12 minutes:

2 muscle-ups

15 box jumps @ 20"

Once again, the reps are low enough that the athlete shouldn't have too much trouble completing them quickly and without interruption, and the box jumps will do a great job of ensuring metabolic annihilation.

The key difference in programming high skill movements is that there should be no other movements that muscularly interfere with the muscle-up.  In the L-pullup/handstand pushup/squat WOD, the L-pullups and handstand pushups can affect each other, but because the technical capacity for both movements is fairly low, this is not too much of a problem.  When neurological complexity comes into play, like in the muscle-up, you don't want anything to interfere with that movement (this applies only when the athlete is still new to and relatively incomptent in the movement.)  The box jumps create an opportunity for the upper body to recover, so that they facilitate the muscle-ups rather than impeding them.

As an intermediate CrossFitter, it is important to start developing competence in performing advanced and high skill movements at high intensity.  These strategies will do a good job of helping you accomplish that.

This completes the series "Advancing The Intermediate CrossFitter."  I hope these posts have been helpful.  More posts will be coming soon, including discussions on quality movements, incorporating heavy metcons into your training, prehab/rehab strategies, and more.

Happy training!

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