CrossFit Gymnastics

What is CrossFit Gymnastics

CrossFit Gymnastics is one of the pillars within the programming philosophy. When looking at the philosophy of CrossFit, it can all be tied back to the following statement by Greg Glassman:

Increase work capacity across broad time and modal domains.

Lets break this down. Work capacity is a measure of horsepower. In this it doesn’t matter what the movement or domain you are operating in. It is only concerned with how much of something you are cable of performing in that time frame.

Broad time(s) is a reference to the length of the effort. For example, lets look at a sprinter vs. a marathon runner. A sprinter has great performance in efforts that are only a few minutes or under.  A marathon runner has great performance in efforts that are hours long. For the purpose of CrossFit performance, we are looking for people to be adequate at both. We want to to be able to spring better than most. We also want you to be able to run longer than both. But we don’t need you to be better than the specialist sprinter or marathon runner.

Modal domains is where CrossFit Gymnastics comes in. Within CrossFit there are going to three primary domains of movements. Weightlifting. Gymnastics. Locomotion.

Weightlifting is primarily done with with a barbel but it can be pretty much anything. Weightlifting is broadly described as using your body to move an external object. A barbell is just an efficient way to train the body to do that. But you could use kettlebells, sandbags, tires, or even other people!

Locomotion is moving your body from one point to another. This can be swimming, running, crawling, jumping,  biking, or rowing – to name a few.

Gymnastics is what we are talking about today. I thought it would be helpful to anchor us to where gymnastics fits within the broader philosophy of CrossFit . Gymnastics, by CrossFit standards, is going to be the ability to manipulate your body along through space. We then use that idea to develop certain physical attributes that allow us to increase work capacity across broad times and modal domains.


CrossFit Gymnastic Movements

If you are struggling with the gymnastic movements in CrossFit, this isn’t going to make you feel better. The CrossFit gymnastics movements used in most CrossFit programming is stuff a gymnast either learned as a kid, use in their warm up, or don’t even bother with. For example, in the mens gymnastics ring event, a muscle up is simply how they get onto the rings to begin their routine.

Sorry to burst your bubble.

In CrossFit, our movement ambition is a little embarrassing when compared to a gymnast. But thats OK. Remember, we want to be pretty good at a lot of things. Not overly specialize  in one area.

In CrossFit, the bread and butter movements are as follows:

Yes, there are more. But these are the movements you’ll find in your week-to-week training. Once you have those down, you can start thinking about some more advanced moves. These likely wont come up in training unless your competing. What these are good is strength building, body awareness, and translation to other movements. For example, if you became proficient at handstand walking, you would have more shoulder, wrist, and core strength that would make you a more efficient mover with other movements.

  • Front Lever
  • Back Lever
  • Plance
  • L sit
  • V sit
  • Manna
  • One Arm Pull Up
  • Strict Muscle Up
  • Free stand handstand
  • Air baby
  • QDR

These are just to name a few. Each one can take months or years to develop.

CrossFit Gymnastics Program

Remember, there are three domains. Barbell, Locomotion, and Gymnastics.

When considering working on a specific domain, you should consider the opportunity cost and plan accordingly. For example, lets say you are working out at a CrossFit affiliate and doing four classes a week. Things are going pretty well but you notice that your pull ups and ring dips aren’t progressing. So you jump into a CrossFit Gymnastics Program and get to the point where you can RX kipping pull ups in all of the weekly WOD’ and it takes you three months. But at the same time, had to scale back your weekly running and classes and now your running endurance has taken a hit.

Or, lets say you join a local running club and are now doing three CrossFit classes a week and three runs a week. After three months you’ll notice that your overall strength progress has slowed .

When it comes to programming for CrossFit, it is all about timing and order.

The way I think about it is through the idea of ‘unlocking ability’ and then maintaining it while working on other areas . For example, lets take Jen  as an example. Jen has been going CrossFit for 1 year and her barbell and locomotion capacity has progressed well. But, Jen is still using bands for her pull ups and dips. She also has to scale for a HSPU and Muscle Ups.

In this situation, it would be worthwhile for Jen to spent 3-6 months progressing her crossfit gymnastics training so that she no longer has to scale those movements. She can spent those 6 months to unlock kipping pull ups, dips, hspus, and maybe muscle ups. Once has those down, the can then maintain and build them through the weekly WOD’s at her gym.

The next question is, what exactly happens in those six months?

Many people address this by throwing in some banded pull ups before or after class. Maybe do some more push ups. But this path is fraught with failure. This stuff is not rocket science but it does require intelligent programming, diligence, and effort. 

RX CrossFit Gymnastics Program

The RX crossfit gymnastics program is designed to help people like our friend Jen. It is online guided training plan to help you RX CrossFit WOD’s that have kipping pull ups, push ups, ring dips, handstand push ups, and muscle ups. By the end of it you will be able to do any WOD that has those movements. Once you have them, you put the program aside and get back to your regularly scheduled CrossFit programming.

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