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Gymnastics; Master the Basics

When we do On Ramp’s or foundational classes for DCL we go over the 9 foundational movements of CrossFit. These movements are the core of our program upon which all other movements are built. Another thing we talk about during our class is the CrossFit Fitness Pyramid. The pyramid goes over the methodology of our program and why we do what we do. The base of the pyramid is Nutrition, then is Metabolic Conditioning, followed by Gymnastics, Weightlifting and Throwing, and Sport. When we talk about the movements of CrossFit the first and most important movements we talk about are gymnastic movements. Unfortunately, some people like to skip ahead in gymnastics instead of starting with the basics athletes tend to want to jump ahead to the more advanced movements. We will discuss why we are heading in the wrong direction.
Gymnastics is one of the core modalities to the CrossFit program. As I tell all my people in On-Ramp, “If you have an atrocious air squat then you have no business putting weight on your back.” Having the control and proprioception of knowing where your body is in space doesn’t only apply to complex movements but also in the simple movements such as back squats. You have to know how your body is reacting in the space around it in order to move correctly. I stress to athletes that you must master the simple movements before moving on to the more complex ones. I often see athletes jump straight to kipping pull-ups before mastering the strict pull-up. Or worse yet, they barely have a kipping pull-up and moving on to bar or ring muscle ups. I’m not saying that it is impossible to get a bar muscle up without having a strict pull-up but it is highly discouraged. Kelly Starrett talks about this a lot, you may not hurt yourself today or tomorrow but the damage you are doing to your shoulders or knees adds up. It’s not that you can’t do a movement but you haven’t built up the strength in the supporting or stabilizing muscle groups to protect yourself in these complex movements. The concept of CrossFit is lifelong fitness and so many people look past this concept and focus on the competition side. This is the equivalent of shooting three-pointers before you learn the basic lay up in basketball. You must master the basics before moving on to the advanced movements. Again this isn’t saying you may not get the advanced movement before getting the basic but the damage over time adds up and affects you in the long term.
In CrossFit foundations, we stress the importance of mastering the basics. We will always practice the basic air squat before we add in the overhead squat. The same importance must be played into gymnastics. You must master basic pull up and groundwork before moving on to the advanced movements. Do not fall for the “novice curse” as Greg Glassman would put it and jump ahead of yourself. Focus on the basics and the advanced movements will make sense, I guarantee it.

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