The Importance of the Modalities- Gymnastics
This post will be the first of four blog posts of a four-part series covering the main modalities of CrossFit. The four blog posts will be focused on “Gymnastics”, “Weightlifting”, “Monostructural” focus and putting it all together with “Metabolic Conditioning”. All four areas are a part of the programming we do at Raleigh CrossFit. We hope by doing these informational posts, that you will have a better understanding of the rationale behind the training and how each part connects like a triangle to form your daily training.
Gymnastics will be covered in the first installment.
Weightlifting: Olympic lifts, barbell work with squats, presses, deadlifts
Monostructural: Running, rowing, biking, jump rope
Metabolic Conditioning: Combining all of the exercises we do on a daily basis to form this category.
Note, from the focused strength work on the back squat, to the skill work on the handstand, they all find their way to filter into one of these modalities. One area can assist the other area – meaning the one thing is self-reliant. Being strong with gymnastics movements can be aided by being strong in weightlifting and weightlifters can become stronger by improving their gymnastics skills. Ahhh… the beauty of CrossFit!
This week’s focus will be on the gymnastics end of the spectrum; AKA, body weight movements.
Common Gymnastics Movements:
The gymnastics modality comprises of body weight elements or calisthenics, and its primary purpose is to improve body control by improving neurological components like coordination, balance, agility, and accuracy, and to improve functional upper body capacity and trunk strength. –The CrossFit Training Guide, 2006
When we think of gymnastics related movements in CrossFit we generally do not think of the stereotypical gymnastics movements such as somersaults, flips, and rolls. The things that we think of you can find in the table (above). From Air squats to butterfly pull-ups they all fall under the category of gymnastics.
Not only are most gymnastics skills something that most people never dreamed of doing before they came into a gym like handstand push-ups, but they are also movements that will make you a well-rounded athlete. Growing up I always had coaches coming up to me wanting me to play on their team, from the baseball coach wanting me to pinch run, to the football coach using me as a gadget player and corner back. I think that the reason I was so sought after as an athlete was not because I had an athletic 6-foot, 200-pound frame, but rather because of the well-rounded athletic potential I was given thanks to gymnastics. No other sport until now with CrossFit has there been a sport that focuses on all of the broad areas of fitness. From agility, speed, and coordination, to strength, power, and flexibility. Gymnastics and the movements associated with gymnastics will give you increases across the board.
Would you like to be stronger with your overhead pressing position? I guarantee that supplementing handstand holds or push-ups into your regiment will help that. Are you worried about having a weak core during the Olympic Lifts or squats? By supplementing in gymnastics movements like the L-sit, plank, and back extensions, you can create a strong core and base for lifting heavier loads.
Gymnastics not only benefits you in the gym, but outside in life. How many times do you sit in and out of a chair every day? Yea, you know where this is going, that’s an air squat. Every movement can be translated into every day life. Fall down…do a burpee. On the side of the pool and want to get out…do a muscle-up. Yep, that just happened.
Scaling and Modifying:
There is no other modality that will aid all your training from day one like the gymnastics movements. However, these are some of the last movements people try to tackle. If we are doing snatches and it is your first day, we can modify you to use a pvc pipe, but what if it is handstand push-ups? Most of you would shy away from this endeavor, but why? There are ways to scale and modify every movement in CrossFit even the most complex gymnastics movement can be broken down into digestible parts. So the next time we are doing handstands, muscle-ups, or pistols please do not shy away from the challenge take it on head first and ask one of the coaches how you can start your journey to getting that movement.
As I previously mentioned the ways to modify and scale gymnastics movements are different than it would be for any barbell movements. If you are not familiar with the barbell movements we can have you lift lighter loads or no load at all. If we are trying to teach you the gymnastics movements we will have to teach you the skill in parts. Take a handstand push-up for instance would have multiple steps to get to the end product, from teaching the handstand position to building strength and confidence in the handstand position. Just like the barbell movements you will have specific setup and movement pattern you will have learn for each movement.
If the gymnastics side of CrossFit interests you and you see the value in having coordination and a strong core, then you should sign up for our gymnastics course coming up this Spring. Please contact Cliff or Chennelle for more information about the course.