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“Finessing Your Fitness” (ft. Coach Ben)

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Let’s take a moment and think about our fitness, as an analogy of your fitness to your outfit.   In CrossFit your fitness is based on a few foundational pieces, like a basic outfit.  The shoes are a crucial part of the outfit (the foundation) let’s say that is your strength. Pants, let’s say those are your Stamina or Muscular Endurance.  Lastly your Shirt is your Cardiovascular Endurance.  Now with these three basic items your outfit will function and might even get a few looks but not really standing out from the crowd. Same in crossfit often we want to do heavy back squats or dead lifts, or run a 5k, do a sub 3:30 1k row.  We often become very good at the basics, but what do we need to do to take our outfit (fitness) to the next level.

In Crossfit your fitness can be broken into 10 General Physical skills.  The first 3 our basics, Cardiovascular / Respiratory Endurance, Stamina (Muscular Endurance), Strength.   The next two are a combination of those Power, and Speed.  The last 5 are often thought of and trained less.  Flexibility, Coordination, Agility, Balance, and Accuracy.

These last five are what I like to call the Accessories of the outfit, and as anyone knows an outfit isn’t complete without proper accessories.   You wouldn’t leave the house for a night out on the town without your Jewelry, Watch, Purse, Hat etc.  So why do we leave the gym after a metcon without addressing your fitness accessories?  If you want to increase your Fitness you should be addressing all 10 general physical skills.

Let’s talk about these accessories and how we can address them on a daily basis in the gym.  There are hundreds of exercises that can be done to address an accessory.  The way I like to go about it is what I call Attacking Weakness.  What attacking weakness means is that you have to take a step back and look at yourself as an athlete.  Asking yourself what areas do I lack in, or what physical skills might I need to address to bring up my overall fitness.

Using myself as an example I realize that HSPU and Snatch are weaknesses. So how do I attack these items by doing accessories?  These two movements require strength, balance, flexibility, and coordination.  I need to address those individual aspects of each weakness. So for strength I might add a few sets of Seated Z press, and cross over symmetry band exercises. Balance can be addressed by doing handstand holds against the wall shifting weight from side to side firing all the stabilizer muscles. Flexibility, an area that plaques everyone in the gym.  Being able to move through the full Range of Motion (ROM) without resistance, particularly in the snatch, which involves, hip, ankle, and shoulder mobility is key. This is a war of attrition flexibility can be achieved slowly through proper stretching and mobility work over time.

Let’s say your goal is to achieve a pull up.  What accessories can you do to achieve this? Banded lat pull downs, to build strength pulling straight down, static holds, hanging from the bar engaging shoulders, building grip strength.  Hollow rocks, supermans these are great core work to keep the midline stabile and generate momentum in kipping motion. Crossover symmetry exercises for shoulder stability and strength. Shoulder flexibility can be should be addressed to help reach that full Range of motion and efficient kipping motion, the puppy dog pose, banded shoulder stretches are just a couple of options. The point is a basic movement like the pull up, a crossfit staple, can be addressed by accessory work, this transfers to chest to bars, toes to bar, muscles ups as you progress.

In closing when you think about your overall fitness, try to pin point a few areas you want to address. It could be running, pullups, deadlifts, rope climbs, double unders, etc.  Once you have identified the weakness it’s time to attack it.  This is where the coaching staff comes in, usually there is an accessory programmed but you can always do more.   Get with a coach and ask “Hey what can I do extra to address this weakness”.  Take those accessories and attack your weakness, remember no outfit is complete without accessories, So Don’t Forget To Accessorize!

Committed To Your Success,

-Coach Ben