Last week after completing Original Strength reset #3 Auto reached up to the pull up bar and pulled himself up, no kip, until his chin was clearly over the bar completing his first RX’d pull up. Strict. This week after reset #4 Riot performed her first pull ups. Many other make up day attendees completed the reset and went on to score personal bests in Grace or Isabel. How can a little breathing, head nods, rolling, rocking and crawling lead to CrossFit personal bests?
It has to do with neurology and the GARD principle. One of the first things you’re taught as a personal trainer is the SAID principle: Specific Adaptations to Imposed Demand. It’s fairly intuitive, doing push ups will make you better at push ups but won’t do anything to improve your running. But while that is true, SAID doesn’t really tell the whole story because while doing push ups may not make you a better cyclist, it does have a positive carry over effect to related movements such as ring dips, bench press, shoulder press and others.
This is explained by the GARD principle: General Adaptations to Related Demands. Of course strengthening your extensor muscles will have carry over to all movements that require strong extensors. But here’s where things get interesting: Long ago CrossFit founder Greg Glassman discovered that adding pull ups into the training program for elite downhill skiers produced better performance in their sport. But how do pull ups relate to downhill skiing?
As CrossFit coaches, we don’t really care how it works so long as it does but it turns out that kinesiologist Robin Turner was involved in a follow-up study that determined it was because of the way the fascia of the upper body connects with the fascia of the lower body that strengthening one, strengthens the other (cross-lateral and reflexive strength anyone?).
Turns out the body is far more complex than we give it credit for. And reductionist approaches to fitness that study isolated joints and muscle groups miss out on the bigger picture and opportunities to produce much more impactful global adaptations. And it goes much further the complexities of fascia and tissue interconnectivity.
Neurons are very expensive energetically accounting for a large proportion of your energy demands. For this reason your body tries to use neural pathways for multiple functions. Anything that strengthens a neural pathway in one particular movement may have positive outcomes for related movements. For example, you may find that as your double under timing improves, so does your timing on the turn over transition in the muscle up (I don’t know if this is true, it’s an untested example and of course would only apply if you already possessed the strength and skill to perform muscle ups).
Original Strength is fantastic because it helps develop more robust neural pathways throughout your body that will positively impact everything you do and it strengthens those contralateral fascial slings that hold our body together providing reflexive strength. And then there’s the breathing and the vestibular system work which also carry over into every activity you perform.
The GARD system is why CrossFit has been so revolutionary a development in the world of fitness shattering previous training paradigms that resulted in sub-optimal fitness outcomes. Though much scorned in the early 2000’s by mainstream trainers most of CrossFit’s effective training methodology is now incorporated by every fitness professional even (especially) those who still loudly deride CrossFit.
I believe that the Original Strength methodology will have a similar positive impact on the world of fitness though like CrossFit it may take a couple decades to catch on. It doesn’t replace CrossFit but augments what we do and fills in some gaps that have been missing and the GARD principle that explains CrossFit’s effectiveness also supports the effectiveness of Original Strength.
Some of you may have been surprised to see training videos of the Canucks crawling on the ice. Don’t be. What we’ve been introducing through Original Strength is not new. It has long been used with the top and bottom 1% of the population. Professional athletes have been using this technology quite effectively. It’s not new, it’s just new to you. But not really because we’re just tapping into the innate wiring you were born with and rebooting your neurology to optimize your performance outcomes. Greatness has been inside you all this time and we’re just discovering how to harness it.
The results we’re seeing aren’t magical, they’re only surprising because for so long we’ve been thinking about the human body and sport performance in a very limited way. It’s very exciting to see the world of possibility opening up before us! I predict a lot of new personal bests very soon (I’ve scored 3 myself this week!).
Box or Substitute
Pull up station or substitute
1 min Reverse Lunges
1 min Plank: Left/Centre/Right
1 min OS Push Up
1 min Plank: Left/Centre/Right
1 min Lat Pull Ups
WOD Movements & Modifications
20 min AMRAP
5 Strict C2B Pull Ups
10 Ring Push Ups
20 Box Step Ups
Quad Stretch on Box
Pigeon on Box