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Thursday 150507 - Rest Day/Open Gym

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Susan reppin' out power cleans while Melissa and Rachel work on their toes-to-bar in the background. Three of our consistent 5AMers right there!
Rest Day Reading

Why You Still Can't Snatch Or Do Muscle-Ups

by Josh Earleywine

One of the biggest challenges I’ve had as a coach in the 4+ years that Sanctify has been in existence is in helping people to understand and appreciate the need to master the fundamentals before everything else.

In the last week or so I’ve had a couple of perfect examples of this.  The first was a member who has been with us for about 6 months and has, to their credit, made HUGE strides in that relatively short time. They’ve gotten stronger in all of their lifts, their capacity in the metcons is improving, and they’re learning the movements at a great rate. They approached me during an open gym recently about wanting “so badly” to get a muscle-up. I showed them some drills to help get them there, but then it became apparent to me that something was missing.

I asked, “How many strict pull-ups can you do?”
“A few.”
“How about ring dips?”
“Two or three.”

We then had a conversation about the need to get stronger at those movements first and foremost. I get it. Muscle-ups are sexy. They’re fun. You look like a boss when you can do muscle-ups. But somewhere along the way, being able to do 5-10 or more strict pull-ups evidently lost its appeal. I mean, for most folks being able to crank out 10+ strict pull-ups is super legit, a great show of upper body strength and not easy to attain. But without a doubt, a person that can do that many pull-ups will have a much easier time when they decide they’re ready for a muscle-up. The same thing could be said for people and kipping pull-ups: they want to get kipping pull-ups but they lack the strength to do a strict pull-up and the core control to attain strong hollow and arch positions. If you can’t do those things, all that a bunch of kipping pull-ups will get you is a SLAP tear.

Similarly, I was working with an even newer member (been with us less than 2 months) on a back squat day. I asked them what they were hoping to work up to for that particular workout.

“185 I think.”

I said ok, and watched as they warmed up with 95, then 135…

At 135 I saw their knees looking a little wobbly and they were struggling to consistently get their hip-crease below the top of their knee. I knew 185 was not going to be happening today.

I then proceeded to cue them to slow down their decent and pause for a couple seconds in the bottom of their squat. Turns out they didn’t need more than 135 as that got quite challenging for them. To this person’s credit, in the weeks since we had that little learning opportunity, they have become much more consistent with their squats, both in terms of stability and depth. Again, I get it. More weight on the bar is way cooler. But more weight isn’t better, rather, like our shirts say, “Better is Better.”

Too often in CrossFit, especially in a group where there exists the entire range of fitness and experience levels, it’s easy to see what someone with 4 years of experience is doing – the loads they’re using, the complexity of the movements – and it’s tempting to want to jump straight to that stuff. But what is often not noticed are the hundreds of hours and thousands of repetitions that they’ve put in to get to where they’re at. It’s not that they just “tried harder” in the beginning. No, they spent a lot of time on the basics, the fundamentals, and they got REALLY GOOD at them, and it’s that foundation upon which they’ve built more complex movements and heavier loads and faster speeds (see “10,000 hour rule”). It’s a big mistake to put the proverbial cart before the horse when it comes to fitness.

In our Standardized Warm-Ups, we put some pretty rudimentary movements and it’s easy to just “get through” them as opposed to “mastering” them. You’ve got to crawl before you walk, walk before you run. You’ve got to develop a strong hollow position before you can expect to have any capacity on handstands, toes-to-bar, muscle-ups. If you can’t sit in the bottom of an air squat for 5 minutes (yes, 5 minutes) comfortably, then you’re going to severely limit your capacity to snatch and clean and put much load on those movements.

MASTER the basics and I promise you’ll have much greater success and prowess down the road. It’s not a quick path, but it can be a long and rewarding path if you embrace it.

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