Aug 2, 2015

August Notes

August programming is going to be a lot like July in that it is consistent. What that means in programming is a focus on basic, foundational movements. Performance at the elite level is built from a foundation of simplicity and consistency. That’s why you won’t see a lot of technical, advanced movements. Dan Gable became one of the greatest wrestlers in the world, if not of all time by mastering a few basic moves. In the CrossFit menu of movements the most basic and beneficial of movements for assessment and performance is the plank. That’s why we practiced them every day last month. This month we’ll be doing more “bar” work and some Olympic lifts, and if you were diligent in practicing them you should feel stronger in these lifts. That is because everything is a plank. You’re going to get sick of hearing this, but it is a foundational truth that you must understand and practice if you want to improve performance. The plank is our basic building block for core stability, and CrossFit is a core strength program. The spine has to be kept stable under load. If you cannot do that, you are setting yourself up for mediocrity at best and injury at worst.

Some of you have asked about skill work. One of the errors I see in programs is daily change in skill work. My experience is that this is the road to frustration. If there is a particular skill you want to work at I encourage you to practice it. Moreover, I encourage you to practice it daily until you see progress. I would not practice more than one or two simple skills at a time. If it a highly technical skill like muscle ups or snatch, you may want to stick with one skill at a time. This is because it is physically and mentally taxing to learn a new skill. If you try to do too many different skills at once, the frustration in the early stages can be overwhelming.

The skills I program have the best potential for carryover into several movements (did I mention planks?) This month we will be practicing the L-sit. The L-sit is a powerful gymnastic movement that develops core, shoulder, and arm strength. The whole-body, or “global” tension required to maintain a good “L” position requires great concentration. It’s good preparation for everything from squats to handstands to muscle-ups.

To do a proper L-sit you’ll need parallets, or a dip bar, or you could use dumbells. Mobilize hamstrings and shoulders well before you begin. Set the parallets shoulder-width apart. Take a deep breath, brace your core and press up into an L shape. A deep breath will help you maintain inter-abdominal pressure and hold your spine in extension. Take short sharp breaths as you hold the position. Point you toes and externally rotate your arms. Look straight ahead. Hold the form as long as you can, but not to exhaustion. Rest a bit and hit it again until you accumulate two minutes. If you lack the strength to hold yourself up, brace and hold the position with your heels on the ground and press your shoulders down. Contract your lats. Try lifting one heel at a time while you hold constant tension throughout your body. Keep at it! If you can hold an L-sit for 30 seconds, try going to the rings.

Though “consistent” there’s plenty of variety in August’s programming and some fun team workouts, too. Have fun with it, and send me feedback.

Best regards,



Mark

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