In coaching, as with any profession, you learn and grow with time and study and experience. It’s only natural that the longer you do something, the better you become at it and the more you understand about it.
The problem with developing as a coach though is that the better you become and the more you learn, the more painfully aware you are of the mistakes you made earlier in your coaching career. And every day you have to watch your athletes struggle through with missing fundamentals because you didn’t do your job as well for them back when they first started as you could do for them now.
And getting advanced athletes to go back and work on the missing fundamentals that are holding them back today or putting them at increased risk of injury is a really tough sell. But if I could start all over again with you, this is how I’d do it:
1) Pull ups
Your prerequisite would be a solid 1 minute hanging hold without strain before we even started working on the pull up. And when you were strong enough to begin learning the pull up we would emphasize the strict pull up until you had 5-10 solid strict pull ups. Goodbye elbow and shoulder issues.
2) Ring Dips
Your prerequisite would be a 1 minute solid ring support before we ever began working on lowering your body into the ring dip. Your small shoulder stabilizers would be fully developed and nearly bullet proof. And once again, kipping would be the last thing we introduced, first we would get you doing 5-10 strict ring dips.
3) Handstand Push Ups
a) When you eventually mastered the kick up to the wall we would work toward a 1 min handstand hold until it was solid and effortless before we would consider practicing the handstand push up. And strict handstand push ups would be our only goal until you could do 5-10 good ones.
b) Before introducing the kipping HSPU we would first make sure you could comfortably support yourself for 1 minute in a freestanding headstand. Only then would we introduce the kip. Hello healthy neck!
4) Table Pose
We’d work on it until you could hold a proper table pose with hips elevated for 1 minute. Your shoulders would feel so much healthier and happier!
5) Air Squat
Only when you could comfortably hold a 1-5 minute ass-to-grass squat with proper posture, heels on the floor and no tailbone tuck, would we start back squatting, front squatting, thrustering, wall balling or overhead squatting with load. Goodbye knee and back problems!
6) Plank Hold
We would not introduce heavy barbell work until you had a flawless plank hold without belly sag or butt jut. 3 minutes continuous hold with 1 minute each on the left side, in the centre and on the right side, no break between. This is just basic back safety!
With those six basic skills squared away we would have laid for you the foundation required to be safe and successful in your CrossFit journey.
For more advanced athletes I would add the following:
1) Handstand Walk
A 1 minute crow pose will help you develop the wrist, shoulder and total body strength required while teaching you how to adjust your balance by pressing through your fingers.
A 1-minute L-Sit hold will help you bulletproof your core and improve all of your movements.
So that’s it, my prerequisites to building a safe foundation for the beginner CrossFitter. It’s not that complicated really, you’re just 8 to 11 minutes away from excellence depending on your goals. If you ever had an opportunity to take a break from chasing after the rush of high intensity you could work on finishing your foundation. If, for example, WODs weren’t a realistic option for say 6-8 weeks I might recommend the following program:
1 minute of each:
Plank Hold Left
Plank Hold Centre
Plank Hold Right
Crow Pose (advanced)
Amazing thing is that once those 11 minutes became easy for you, so much else in the gym would too! Not bad for an 11-minute investment:)
Equipment: PVC Pipe, barbell, skipping rope
1 min Scap Rock
1 min Scap Rotations
1 min Scap Retractions
1 min Full Body Rock
1 min Shoulder Pass Throughs
1 min Skipping
Barbell or Dumbbell Power Snatch
Double Under or alternatives
20 Power Snatch
Open Gym Suggested Option
Sets of 5 Power Snatches
Sets of 10 DU
Rest between movements, not for time
Shoulder Pass Throughs