Any task you take on will most likely fail unless your mindset matches what’s required to meet the desired outcome. With that in mind, if you want to be good at CrossFit and it’s two biggest skill sets (weightlifting and gymnastics) you can’t walk in to training approaching it like a workout. It’s practise. Like any other sports person stepping on to the field/court/mat etc. The mentality required is that of practising a skill to perfect it. You also need to make up your mind as to whether you are doing it for health or to perform to the best of your ability, to be competitive with those around you and yourself, to keep driving yourself to be better. Health and performance are not the same and they carry a completely different risk profile. If you want to step up to the plate of performance, you need to accept the risk that comes with it, and the extra work (in the form of prehab and the inevitable rehab - because you will get hurt, eventually). So first we need to know our why.
Regardless of whether the aim is health or performance, once mindset is sorted, the approach becomes easier to drive. Everyone knows the mantra; mobility, stability, strength. You could change that to mobility, stability, health/performance. Whether interested in health or performance, making sure you have the profile applicable to your goals is massive. No one with an anterior ankle impingement is getting good at weightlifting. Understand your limitations, and if they’re changeable, that should be your first focus… meet the positional demands of your activity/goal exercise etc. This doesn’t mean you can’t start training and or progressing really well, you just have to load with respect to your current mobility. Understand mobility should be checked and worked on as necessary in your warm up EVERY time you train. Your next step is to wake your system up and prepare it for load.
There are two parts to stability. On a micro level, stability of joints and or specific areas of the body which are often thought of as areas to ‘activate’ (like the rotator cuff, vmo, glutes etc). And on a macro level, we need global stability of your body. So central stability (core) and peripheral (using things like setting your feet, spreading knees, crushing or spreading the bar apart, digging the fingers in to the floor etc) working together. If you’ve ever been injured, you should’ve gone through the process of of improving range of motion (mobility) and then localised stability. Very few practitioners then teach people how to integrate that localised stability into global stability. And it’s often that understanding that leads to getting hurt in the first place. Without understanding how to accept load well locally and globally, localised areas that require more control take the brunt (think wrists, knees, hips, lower back, shoulders, and neck). The end goal of health or performance requires you know both.
Listing methods for localised stability of all the above areas goes well beyond the scope of this blog, but I did want to give you a list of my favourite exercises to teach global stability. I refer to them as connection or tightness exercises. The problem is they require proper instruction and intent, otherwise they’re just another exercise for you to do wrong. But done right, what they teach is gold.
I’ve listed them below. Some of the names may be unknown to you, most are easily found with a youtube search. Or if at TSR, just ask a coach!
So, your training process looks like: Right mindset first. As part of your warm up mobilise, then activate areas that require stability/have been injured previously, tie it all together with an exercise that teaches global stability/tightness, THEN you get to do what you want. Everything else up to this point is most likely what you NEED but probably do your best to avoid. This is where you integrate that mobility and stability (understanding of tightness) into your chosen activity/exercise! If you’re injured or don’t meet the demands of the end goal exercise or activity you’re working toward, stick to the closest variant. Once the fun is over, if injured I like to walk away from a session with after a small amount of activation work, but regardless always stretch and finish with some breath work. Stretching isn’t about flexibility for me, it’s about recovering faster for the next session by helping me relax so I don’t leave the session still wired.
All I wanted to do here was provide you with a process to approach training from. You could look at it as a checklist for success. If you struggle with injuries, over training, not progressing technically or from a strength perspective, you could treat this like a reset. A lens to look at your training through. If you’re wondering where these elements lie within the programming at TSR, look at the warm up and accessory work given daily! Below I’ve bullet pointed the above. Hope it helps!
- Mindset (in bold becasue it governs the rest)
- Health or Performance?
- Training a practise - not a “workout”
- Mobility - Meet positional demands first! Load with respect to your mobility profile.
- Stability: Localised (activate)
- Shoulder stability (think cross over symmetry or something similar)
- 'Core' (basic understanding of hollowing vs brace and how to brace under load)
- Glutes/hip stabilisers
- VMO (knee stability)
- Mid foot (think collapsing arch under load)
- Stability: Global (teach tightness)
- Halos (standing, kneeling, seated - with bell)
- Hot potato squat (bell)
- Around the world (bell)
- Fig 8's (bell)
- Z press (bar, bell, dumb bell)
- Single Leg Stiff Leg Deadlift (with bell)
- Single Leg Deadlift (with bell)
- Sots press (bar, bell, dumb bell)
- Overhead squat (bar, bell, dumb bell)
- Turkish Get Up (bell)
- Farmers walk, Rack walk, Waiters walk (bells)
- Chaos bar carries or presses
- RKC plank
- Integrate/Perform - Make sure you have positional awareness. Understand your start position, finish position, and how to move from one to the other.
- Perform the end goal exercise/activity.
- Or the closest variant.
- Re-activate (if injured)