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Task completion vs getting actual training effect

With the immense popularity of Crossfit in recent years, a lot of people have incorporated this style of high intensity, highly complex movement patterns into their regular training programs. This in the hopes of getting some of the same effects as these high level athletes, whether that be body composition, power, endurance, strength, or all the above. However, is this really the best organized plan for athletes to reach their own peak performance?

Make no mistake- the Crossfit Games have some of the most spectacular athletes in the world competing. Crossfit is more then a workout regime, its own sport. However, the goal in that particular SPORT is to complete the task (deadlift ladder, handstand pushups, kipping pullups, max Snatch, Fran, etc). This doesn't always equate to getting a certain training effect, but expressing a specific (or not so specific) fitness quality.

To create a specific training effect in a safe, productive manner, we as coaches want our athletes moving really well while training different movements. I've talked about this before, but when we have an athlete performing a hinge movement like an RDL, if they just fold forward with any posterior weight shift into their hips, they aren't training and RDL anymore, they are just bending forward (and hopefully not breaking in the process!).

Any fitness or movement quality we wish to train is a skill. Strength, power, endurance, change of direction, acceleration mechanics, squat patterns, etc., are all skills. To develop skills, you have to overload the movement pattern (overload principle) in the specific movement pattern (specificity principle) to rehearse the skill so you can ADAPT and develop the qualities.

This plays a big part in my own programming (admittedly after speaking with/ listening to guys like Pat Davidson and Chris Chase). Block 1 for most of my athletes/clients is always going to be a Movement Quality/Variability block. After a screening process- I'll see what movements the athletes is typically having trouble with, and in an attempt to give the athlete a wider selection of trainable movements, we will spend the first few weeks in a low threshold, low intensity environment rehearsing (training) different movement patterns we will use in later, more intense blocks. An example would be and Front Foot Elevated Iso Split Squat. Check out my client performing here.

Without getting to specific with why I chose movement for this particular client, he needed more work on hip dissociation, more local muscular endurance in his lower body, and needed time to feel what the proper movement felt like. This movement is challenging, but safe and effective at teaching him where he needs to be every time he performs a lunge movement. Coming up on his next block now- we have the option of loading that particular movement with more load, more time under tension, making it more dynamic with a reverse lunge or walking lunge, but however we progress him based on his goals, we are both confident he has the movement pattern and endurance to train the lunge.

Practical Applications:

Write down some basic regressions of movements you typically keep in rotation in your stable of exercises. Think about manipulating the environment or task in a way that will allow them to not only FEEL how the movement should be, but also giving them time to slow things down or even completly pausing so they get some practice at the movement.

This will allow you to quickly reference and incorporate this even at the end of a warm up to prime the movement pattern for your athlete or client later on during the actual training session.

Also, check out these articles and podcasts for more ideas on this... (Pat Davidson- Program design) (Chris Chase- check out 16:45 for his thoughts on this exact topic. Also has a great explanation on his own off season program afterwards.)

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