Thursday 161027

5 Rounds for time:
10 Dumbbell thrusters, 40#(25#)
3 Rope climbs, 15′

Post times to comments and BTWB

Chris and Patrick working hard on those assault bikes.

Chris and Patrick working hard on those assault bikes.


During our day of heavy hang power cleans this week, I was working with an athlete that is newer to CrossFit. As we were reviewing the movement, this athlete made a comment that I have heard many times in my coaching career, “This is hard, there are so many things to think about”. A more true statement cannot be made about the Olympic lifts.

There are 10 general physical skills that CrossFit develops:
Cardio/ respiratory endurance

The first four skills are developed through training, I have to lift more weights in order to build strength. The bottom four are developed through practice, a handstand hold requires balance that only comes from practicing balancing upside down. Power and speed are developed through both training and practice. When we think about something like a back squat, it demands and develops strength, power, flexibility, there is really no requirement for accuracy with a back squat. If we think about that handstand hold we know we definitely need balance, coordination, stamina, but practicing a hold will not demand or develop power, speed, or endurance. We can list any movement and discuss which skills they build/ require and which ones they do not. It’s when we do this that we learn why any athlete, new or veteran status, makes a comment about the difficulty that exists with the Olympic lifts, they are preaching the truth. The Olympic lifts are the only movements that demand AND develop ALL 10 general physical skills. #mindblown

It is because of this that CrossFit loves the Olympic lifts and why they encourage anyone and everyone to practice them, even if it means grandma is only power snatching with PVC. This is also why in order to get better at the Olympic lifts we need to practice them. Neuromuscular Facilitation, also called muscle memory, is one of the most important factors in the adaptation of strength in an athlete, but more importantly as a novice. When we try new movements or activities, our brain sends an electrical impulse to activate the muscles needed. When this movement or pathway is unfamiliar, it is like driving with grandma in a big city and she has no idea where she is going. You end up taking seventeen different streets to go five blocks. As grandma lives in the city, she learns the quickest pathway from point A to point B. The body reacts in a similar way. As your mind works to find the best pathway to move your body it starts finding short cuts and movements become more efficient. With the strength movements in CrossFit, novice people can see strength gains from 20-40 percent in little time with small gain in muscle mass. The gains are attributed to the neuromuscular connection. Now that grandma spent some time in the city (going through repetition after repetition) and finding the most efficient path, she can start pouring on the gas!!! Allowing your mind to catch up to your body will make you more efficient in the long run. We use a lot of fine motor control in our daily lives like typing, brushing our hair, and using a pen. It took a lot of training to make these movements efficient, if you don’t believe me, go brush your teeth with the opposite hand tonight and see if its as easy. 

Yes, there are a lot of moving pieces. Yes, there are a lot of things to think about. Yes, while trying to build those neurological pathways we may not move the most weight. But not moving the most weight cannot be the reason we avoid the heavy Olympic lifting day. We need to practice. Our increased practice lends way to better technique. Better technique lends way to moving more weight. And lastly, because of those 10 general physical skills, as we practice the Olympic lifts, our adaptation transfer to other movements in CrossFit. Other movements that require explosive hip opening, timing, and a pull. . . like the kipping pull-up.

In short, my point is: keep on keeping on. Some day it won’t seem like so much to think about.

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