Thursday 09.24.15



Make Up or Rest/Recovery/Skill Work

While the old adage of “practice makes perfect” holds true in almost every fitness scenario, the definition of “practice” is especially important when it comes to skill training for CrossFit. For some, practicing might mean attending the regular group training sessions to improve strength and ability in performing the WOD. This is great for those who are simply hoping to achieve higher levels of overall fitness and well-being. However, Crossfitters who are seeking to reach more advanced, competition levels, must also focus on the intricacies standing between them and the next level of athletic performance. This is where skill work comes into play.

Skill work is essentially a non-intense fashion of training where you’re simply learning how to do a movement or pattern of movements to expand understanding. This training is conducted in a non-intense, non-structured environment where the brain can more easily learn new things. To reach the highest possible level of athletic performance in the sport of CrossFit, an athlete must become proficient in six key areas of skill work. Let’s talk about these:

  1. Power Lifting

    This includes movements such as deadlifts, back squats, and bench pressing. The skill involves a utilization of slow strength movements. CrossFit athletes should take time for skill work in this area as it approaches similar CrossFit lifts with a different technique. The great thing about power lifting is there are plenty of information resources available. Whether you prefer online articles, printed literature, or seminars, you’ll be able to find the information you need to get started on skill work for power lifting.

  2. Weight Lifting

    This skill differs from typical CrossFit practice in that CrossFit implements light, touch-and-go versions of lifts that take less than 50% of your 1RM. In CrossFit, you’re under fatigue and are focusing more on the speed of turnover than achieving max load. In order to refine your lifting skill in CrossFit you must enhance your skill in the sport of weight lifting. This simply means that you take more time to focus on form and load in a more limited range of movements. While CrossFit utilizes a broader range of accessory lifts like power cleans, power snatches, etc, weight lifting as a sport is more concerned with snatch and the clean-and-jerk.

  3. Gymnastics

    As a sport itself, gymnastics is much different than its application in CrossFit. This skill is used in CrossFit to perform moves such as handstand walks, handstand push-ups, chest-to-bar pull-ups, and parallette handstand push-ups. It can also be incorporated in rebounding box jumps, double-unders, burpees, and any movement that requires you to move your body in a space, over and over again. While these moves seem simple enough to most people, there is an adaption of the skill that helps you increase your efficiency with them.

  4. Monostructural

    Biking, rowing, running, and in some cases, swimming are all valuable CrossFit tools that fall under the monostructural skill. Becoming proficient in each of these allows you to train without damaging joints and building volume of breathing work. Swimming is usually not as necessary until you reach a more advanced point in your training.

  5. Strong Man/Unknown

    Tire flips, sled drives, prowler pushes, yoke walks, and stones all fall under the strong man category. I also add “unknown” here because exercises such as climbing walls, climbing ropes, and Turkish get-ups build this same skill, but have no direct sport that they’ve been taken from to be included in CrossFit. Each of these things should be learned to progress in the sport of CrossFit and to improve your overall level of fitness.

  6. CrossFit Specific

    These skills were brought into the market through CrossFit. They include moves like wall-balls and wall-ball cleans that aren’t typically found in other sports. Simply being around the sport and paying attention to certain characteristics of events such as the CrossFit Open and Regionals will introduce you to new movements that can help you progress as a Crossfitter. The more advanced movements will not be needed in every workout during your 5 day plan, however, skill work in these areas will help you become more familiar with them should they come up in a competitive workout.

Measuring your ability

You may already be deciding which of these 6 points you excel in and which you need to improve. Although you should always be working toward improvement, it’s also important that you know how to properly evaluate your current and future progress. Ability shouldn’t necessarily be measured by score or weight. It’s dependent upon your knowledge of the movements involved in the skill, your comfort in performing them with light to heavy loads, and your ability to do them in every type of repetition scheme that might be involved in the sport.