“At CrossFit we endeavor to develop our athletes from the inside out, from core to extremity, which is, by the way, how good functional movements recruit muscle, from the core to the extremities.”
That sentence comes from the Foundations sections of the CrossFit L1 Training Guide. It’s right at the start of the book, naturally, and it of course contains all the aspects required to develop a fit and healthy body. But who cares about foundations, right? Let’s just build this here and hope for the best. Let’s just learn how to do butterfly pull-ups before strict or kipping, and hope that my shoulder doesn’t fall apart.
You can rebuild a material structure, but without bionic body parts, you can’t rebuild your body.
The little piece from the CF-L1 training has more than one meaning to it. Firstly, it pertains to all movement originating from the core/midline (hips and trunk) of the body. Functional movements cannot be performed properly unless the midline is stable, and the ability of the extremities to complete a movement will be diminished unless the hips begin the movement.
When I look at what comprises the body’s core, however, I see all the small muscles set deep below the big superficial muscles. Many will refer to these deeper muscles as stabilisers. They do stabilise joints while creating small movements. Therein lies another meaning of the above sentence. By developing your body from the inside out, we’re developing your musculature from deep to superficial. We’re laying a strong and broad foundation BEFORE developing the outside.
There’s an annoying misconception that CrossFit only develops your big superficial muscles while neglecting smaller and stabilising muscles. That’s not so. A well structured CrossFit program performed under the guidance of a good coach and performed with good mechanics is and should be a preventative AND performance based program. That means it will increase your fitness while keeping you safe and free from injury.
It also means you shouldn’t need to spend hours doing “accessory” work. I don’t know when it started happening, but we noticed it in our gym too. People started waddling around gyms with bands wrapped around their legs, knees strapped and wrists taped up. “I’m activating my glutes and warming up my small joints,” they say. “You’re forgetting about what is and why you’re doing CrossFit, bro,” I say.
Follow the program consistently, move as well as you possibly can (which is determined by how well you scale workouts to your abilities) and stretch your sticky areas all the time. Don’t be a geek either – there’s not fancy reason like “my glutes aren’t activating” for the lack of performance increases in any area. Move like you’re taught and built to move, and ensure that your BROAD foundation is rock solid before building up.
We like to use the cool-downs as an opportunity to reflect on the session, or to just catch up and have a chat. While the 5am crazies were stretching down yesterday, I asked them what happens to your technique (movement proficiency) when you’re fatigued. The quickest answer was “It goes to shit!” And then someone else said, “Nothing, it stays the same.” It’s no surprise to me that the person who had the latter answer learnt that lesson the hard way! What I was doing, though, was getting the group to think about what their movement quality is like during a workout.
Think about what often happens as you near the end of a session, or at the end of a session. The quality of your movement tends to diminish, partly because you’re fatigued but also partly because you’re chasing the clock and the numbers! You often tell us just that during a workout when being cued to move better.
Coach: “Delay the press of the arms, focus on your hips.”
Athlete: “But I’m tired!”
Coach: Rolls eyes and walks off….(read: Be More Coachable)
It’s counterintuitive. The more fatigued you are the better you NEED to be moving. Remember, good technique = efficient movement = less energy consumed. And contrary to what you’re thinking at the time, slowing down to dial in your technique under fatigue will actually result in a greater power output by you completing more quality reps.
I like to refer to the world’s leading athletes in all sports because they’re the perfect example. These athletes are partly the best because their technique is so good, and because they maintain near perfect technique throughout an event. In fact, they almost default to better technique as they fatigue. Yes, they move better and better with fatigue!
Fatigue isn’t an excuse to be moving poorly. Laziness is. Instead, practice good mechanics under fatigue.
Applying the Theory of Constraints to CrossFit
By Imtiaz Desai with thanks to Angelo Angelos
CrossFitters are among some of the best people to work with because of their relentless drive to become better. In general, they don’t just turn up and get through workouts on auto pilot. Largely because most workouts demand a fair bit of brain-work, but also because they want to be educate themselves on all the details that are going to lead to making them better.
One such member, Angelo Angelos, recently compared our training methods at CFJ to a system commonly used in business, the Theory of Constraints (TOC). The TOC adopts the common idiom that “the chain is no stronger than its weakest link.” The system is therefore limited by achieving its goals by at least one constraint (weakness). The TOC uses a focusing process to identify the constraint and restructure the system to work around it while ironing out.
It’s a system Angelo uses in his business, and took note of the similarity to our training methods when he discovered his amazing shoulder flexibility and how we’re scaling workouts to avoid injury while encouraging him to work on the constraint.
There are five brief steps to the TOC, and here is an example of how it works using human performance:
1. Identify the constraint
Everyone has different weaknesses. It could be shoulder flexibility, hip flexibility, poor metabolic conditioning, lack of strength overhead, etc. But let’s use shoulder flexibility as an example.
2. Exploit the constraint
I’ve always referred to effective training as weakness-biased training. That means you spend as much time as possible ironing out weaknesses to ensure that the system, your performance, is not being held back. In the case of shoulder flexibility, you would be required to work on a set of drills before class, after class, and as often as possible away from the gym too.
3. Subordinate all non-constraints to the constraint
This simply means that you only do what the constraint can handle. No more, no less, and the rate of improvement everywhere else is limited to the rate of improvement of the weakness. If your shoulder flexibility is such that you cannot maintain a neutral spine with load overhead, then you only work with a PVC pipe and do no overhead pressing or squatting until the problem is rectified. This limits improvements in shoulder strength and overhead squat strength while the constraint is being exploited.
Psychologically, this is very powerful. No one likes doing less than what they could be capable of so it reinforces the need to exploit the weakness.
4. Elevate the constraint
Improve your shoulder flexibility! Drill the weakness so it becomes less and less of a constraint.
5. Break the constraint, identify a new one, and start back at step 1
You don’t stop working once a weakness has been ironed out, and you don’t only have one weakness. Identify your next constraint and start the process again. It’s a never ending process that results in continuous improvement.
Every training session is an opportunity to put this system into practise. Identify your biggest constraint, ask a coach how best to exploit it, and get after it.
Max rep kipping pull-up
Rest 3 minutes
Max rep ring dip or push-up
AMRAP 7 minutes
14 KB swings (20/12)
21 DU attempts
LEVEL 2 & 3
Max rep C2B pull-up
Rest 3 minutes
Max rep ring dip (kipping allowed)
AMRAP 7 minutes
14 KB swings (24/16)
BRING LONG SOCKS FOR TOMORROW’S WORKOUT!!!
Yesterday marked our one year anniversary at the Meadowdale facility. Having moved from such a small space and coping with the such a big influx of new members has been challenging. We’ve made mistakes, and will continue to do so. But just as in training, we move on with more knowledge. To all of you that have not only stayed with us, but brought in so many others to join, thank you!
CrossFit Jozi was opened with a mission to bring quality fitness coaching to South Africa. The passion to continue that mission grows with every new member that joins. We believe that we have a proven good formula at CFJ, based on a great community. And while we’re only in our infancy as a business, we are ready to expand our mission of quality coaching to a new area.
As many of you will know, CrossFit Jozi East has been launched and is now an official CrossFit affiliate! In a facility that is almost perfect for CrossFit, our first sister affiliate is located in Wydan Business Park, 58 Road No.5, Brentwood Park, Benoni, Johannesburg.
That facility will be the baby of coaches Andre Gadney and Carl Alfonso, who both reside in the Benoni area. We wish you two everything of the best. Having two existing CrossFit Jozi coaches there will ensure that everyone that joins the East facility will receive the same world class coaching as the original facility. And we aim to run it such that if you’re an existing member walking in to the sister site, you’ll feel right at home! Don’t worry about losing them as coaches either, they will still be around and a strong part of the CFJ team team.
The new site is currently being prepared for opening. We aim to run the first Jump-Up intakes there on Monday 17 February. So if you have friends or family keen on joining, then get in touch. The details are still the same – CONTACT US 😀
For current members that would like to move to the new facility, the move will be simple because all systems remain the same. For those wanting access to both facilities, a ‘Gold’ membership will be offered that will give you the ability to book for classes at both sites. More info will be released in good time.
For now, spread the word – the CrossFit Jozi family is spreading to the East of Jozi!
KB OH walk
Increase the load each round
Work in groups of 3-4
Level 2 & 3
Barbell OH walk
Increase the load each round
Work in groups of 3-4
Skill of the Week: Rope climbs
Practise keeping the elbows straight while bringing the knees up