Being Proficient in Proper Movement




We’ve been talking a lot lately about mechanics, consistency, and intensity.  Specifically, we’ve been focusing on the importance of proper mechanics in everything that we do in the box.  Then last week, Coach Matt posted some gymnastics proficiency tests that have since created a lot of questions and new conversations.  Here is what the proficiency tests are all about:

We know proper mechanics reduces our risk of injury and can keep us CrossFitting for life.  We must be able to do the basics before tackling the advanced. Mechanics are not always as simple as full range of motion, they are also about having proper body posture and position.  Sometimes an athlete may have the strength to perform a movement or get into the proper position but may have a hard time maintaining that proper position under load or for additional reps.  If we look at a kipping pull-up, an athlete may be able to do a strict pull-up but is unable to hold a proper hollow body position when adding speed to the kip.  While pure strength alone may get the athlete a few pull-ups, fatigue will set in faster if he/she compromises the body position and may even put the athlete into a dangerous position.

Strength is imperative for body control; body control is imperative for proper form. Proper mechanics and body position should be solid before adding intensity.  We want to master the fundamentals and only then begin to build on them.  It is crucial to work on our weaknesses.  

By creating these proficiency tests we are helping athletes set and reach appropriate goals by meeting strength and position standards.  An athlete should be able to demonstrate the strength along with the body position needed to perform these movements safely.  Just because I want to be able to do unassisted ring dips does not mean I can jump onto the rings and magically do them, at least not safely.  If I do not have the proper mechanics I may hurt my shoulders or fall off the rings, or get stuck in the bottom of the dip.  I may not have control over reaching my overall goal, but I can control the work I put into it by setting smaller more attainable goals.  I can give myself the goal of being able to do plank push-ups and then the goal of holding myself on top of the rings in support.  By breaking down this very complicated movement, I will be able to meet the overall goal faster.  It’s important to keep in mind that these standards are not across the board standards.  An athlete will not find these on the CrossFit mainsite.  There is no book outlining certain benchmarks.  The proficiency tests are standards we have created from over six years of CrossFit experience; three years of watching, training, and tracking athlete progress; talking with professionals; and continuing our education.

The standards in the proficiency tests give you small goals to help break down the larger goal of achieving something like a muscle up.  The regular CrossFit programming will help you reach the small goals and ultimately achieve the larger goal.  However, if you want to get there on your own pace, some extra work may be necessary.  You may need to add some extra core work, kipping practice, isometric holds, or negatives.  You should be adding extra work once or twice a week, depending on your regular class attendance.  This type of extra work is perfect for Open Gyms.  If you have a goal in mind, but aren’t sure what to do to achieve it, come talk to us.