"You dont need a box for CrossFit, only a booth!"
I have said it many times before, I have a love hate relationship with CrossFit that continues to this day. CrossFit I have said has literally helped me travel the world; from Toronto to China, Vancouver to Indonesia to the many places in between. But I often get upset at the perceived self-restrictions of the CrossFit method by box owners, coaches and athletes, and this is why I have developed borht the thrive Aacdemy: a skills education academy to help develop both individuals who want to become box coaches, and for current coaches, and my own METCON high intesnity, functional garage gym coaching certification courses.
However the interest I have as well as my other master coaches is not in doing more of the usual. The fact is there are far better people than me teaching olympic lifting, gymnastics, mobility and kettlebell courses, but luckily for me, I don’t really have an interest in teaching these things. No, I want to teach and develop the next wave of coaches by promoting the things WE DON’T DO IN CROSSFIT, yet will make us better and more well rounded athletes.
Before I begin, I should also point out that my view of CrossFit is more biased towards the “fitness for the general population”. People who want to live a healthy and long life and use CrossFit as their primary physical activity method for doing this. Saying that, I do believe that even the top CF athletes can incorporate many of these ideas into their programming, and they will find it beneficial and perhaps even less inclined to competitive injury as the Games purposefully go out of their way to display athletes weaknesses by creating less practiced or common movements not touched on in typical CrossFit training.
I also want to touch on the fact, that EVERYTHING I talk about in here is 100% allowed in CrossFit. It is us, the coaches who have placed the self-imposed restrictions on "what a CrossFit exercise is", and what is as we say, "allowed in a WOD". Once we let these go silly preconceptions, we can truly created the worlds best fitness training program, bar none.
Ironically about 8 months ago I sat down with one of my coaches who loves dumbbells and discussed creating a certificate course to include dumbbells more into CrossFit, this was literally about 1 month before Greg Glassman and Dave Castro dropped the dumbbell bombs on the CrossFit world.
Dumbbells are so important in so many ways and have a number of benefits over the gold standards barbells that have become synonymous with CrossFit. Dumbbells are excellent at defining and correcting muscular imbalances. They can be used as diagnostic tools for movements. They offer a balance and coordination aspect that barbells cannot. They can be used to create optimal core strength and stability programs, and they offer increased range of motion benefits as they can be more manipulated and moved further into positions that barbells cannot. Dumbbells can easily be incorporated into almost all CrossFit WODs, and even the original girls WOD’s.
Those Other 2 Pesky Planes of Motion
Anyone can tell you that CrossFit does Sagittal well, really well, actually REALLY to well. CrossFit it has often been joked can be "done in a phone booth", with its movements very often limited to straight up and down, or directly forward. Yet nearly all sports tends to be very heavy on rotational movements. CrossFit claims to “build elite athletes” yet ignores a huge aspect that athletes need. It could be said that the typical CrossFit methods “builds elite CrossFit athletes”. By increasing the Transverse Planes, we can help train athletes how to transfer power from the back to the front hip, which will lead to many benefits in power development.
Similarly the Frontal Plane is also often ignored, exercises that are based on abduction and adduction, often only being touched on in warm-ups, or in the occasional WOD. By adding some left to right movement you will start to maximize muscles that often are ignored in strict sagittal movements, including stabilizers.
Unilateral movements place a high demand on the core, and can be worth their weight in gold in finding imbalances in muscular development. They also help promote other aspects such as balance, and agility. They also can be very useful for teaching aspects of training such as bracing the core or engaging the glutes. Have your athletes perform one legged low box jumps for example, and you will quickly see their confidence and often performance drop.
The Other 2 Phases of Lifting
CrossFit for the most part contains all 3 phases of a lift, the concentric, the eccentric and the isometric. However, the latter 2 are often not focus on, spoken about or ever coached. TUT or time under tension is to my knowledge never been discussed in most boxes, and by watching about 99% of CrossFit members you can se they have no idea what this term means. Eccentrics can be used to help improve strength, yet most coaches will simply tend to adding more weight on the bar versus focusing on the eccentric phase of a lift.
Then we have isometrics. A VERY valuable phase of a lift that has a number of benefits, over all strength, positional strength, strengthen weaknesses, creating proper positions, lowering blood pressure, improving joints through ligaments and tendon strength and more. Personally I have rarely seen much yielding isometrics and I have NEVER seen any overcoming isometrics used in either the pre-WOD skill training, nor the WOD. Isometrics are in my opinion one of the most useful exercises for new onramp clients to help build proper position and strength levels, while also great to help advanced athletes improve weak spots in any lift.
Research has shown that quadrupedal movements have a number of benefits from helping increase upper body strength, correcting shoulder positional issues, developing an optimized core, developing body coordination, helping to optimize mobility, and improving conditioning. Usually in CF we will only perform some very bead bear crawls, and when I have athletes attempt to do more than that, things fall apart fast.
By adding these elements in on a regular basis, and start to incorporate them into consistent programming I can promise you will se a number of benefits.
Help athletes develop new strengths
Help athletes discover and improve upon weaknesses.
Develop advanced mobility, stability and durability programming for athletes.
Create more fun and dynamic WOD’s which will both give better results, and improve member retention.
Make you look cool! Let’s face it, this stuff can be fun and really cool.
For more information on METCON courses that coach these aspects please check out the thrive Academy at www.thrivefitacademy.com
and check out our METCON Coach course and our others as well.