CrossFit City Limits Foundations Course
There are thousands of variations of exercises (movements) that we may use in the gym. Memorizing what they are and how to do each one is a daunting task and is not the approach you should take! MovementLink™ provides a framework for understanding and developing proper technique in ANY position. This Foundation series is designed to introduce you to the MovementLink™ method and principles and show you how to apply it to the core set of movements that you will encounter in classes, to make ramping up as simple as possible. Let’s jump right in…
Everything we do is a combination and/or variation of the squat, the push-up, and the jump, all centered around posture. The burpee is more than just an exercise we can use to get us to get everyone in the gym to complain. Why is the burpee functional beyond just building fitness? How does MovementLink™ tie the burpee back to the squat, the push-up, and the jump, and, therefore, all other movement?
In our in-person intro session, we cover the basics of MovementLink™ and tie it in to teach the burpee and kettlebell swing which we practice and use in a workout. We love these two examples because people are typically somewhat familiar with them and they also provide great insight into the power of MovementLink™. Any given exercise is not inherently “functional,” it’s in the intent and how the exercise is performed that give it the potential to transfer to your personal goals.
I just want to take an extra minute to reinforce the importance of the basics. If there is an issue, dysfunctional pattern, or mobility restriction within the squat, the push-up, or the jump, the issues will be amplified as we add external weights, speed, and more complicated positions. It is very easy to get caught up with the bells and whistles as you learn all of the movements used in the gym or your sport. Imagine if day 1 in a karate class you expected to learn a round house kick. A commercialized karate studio based around getting groups of classes in and out to make everyone as happy as possible, would teach you the round house kick to satisfy you. You’d perform something that looks a little like a roundhouse kick, but you would have skipped the necessary steps you must take to earn and develop the positions required to truly master the roundhouse kick. A true karate master would have you, sweep the floor, paint a fence, and develop the essential basics, “Wax on, wax off.”
As we create more complicated variations and combinations of our posture, and the squat, the push-up, and the jump, the priority is always a braced spine and stable joint positions. If you emBRACE these CORE values (sorry, I had too), you will develop the foundation necessary to live fit, healthy, and pain-free for the rest of your life AND a foundation that supports elite performance. The technique we like to use to re-enforce this is to pause at various positions (check-points) of the movement and go through our Get Tight Checklist for a neutral braced spine with stable joints.
The Get Tight Checklist:
Draw Lower abdominals In (Lower abs or belly below your belly button)
Kegel (Flex pelvic floor like you are trying not to pee)
Engage Glutes (Butt Cheeks)
Pull Rib-cage Down and Extend Up as Tall as you Can
Create Torque in the Hip and Shoulder (Other Joints will Follow, Watch Video Below for More Info)
Breath into your diaphragm to create core tightness.
Imagine your pelvis and rib-cage are bowls holding water. If you dump them forward or backward the water spills out. In our neutral position, we hold the water in the bowl.
How hard to we flex and torque? As hard as we need to. Imagine you are swinging a baseball bat, tennis racket, or golf club. You should hold on as hard as you need to. To hard and you’re wasting energy and too softly power won’t efficiently transfer or you’ll throw the thing! So, in the gym, you match how hard you “Get Tight” to the weight, the position, the speed, your fatigue level, etc. Being tight is an all day, endurance event. The only time you should not be tight is when you are laying down. It is difficult, but learn to brace a little bit all day long.
How do you know when to do what? Once your understanding of how everything links together, even with movements you’ve never seen or done before, you can lean on the MovementLink™ framework which will teach you how to think critically and problem solve to determine:
The MovementLink™ Framework teaches you:
how each movement links back to posture and the squat, the push-up, and the jump to prioritize bracing your spine, stabilizing your joints, and moving as athletically and efficiently as possible,
how to position your hands and feet for the strongest position, and
how to generate the most power though the best leveraged positions and timing.
Now that we have our framework in place, let’s take a look at some weightlifting technique, starting with barbell presses. As you go through the series of videos below, remember that we are trying to teach you the MovementLink™ framework, so you can apply it to ANY movement. So, try not to get overwhelmed with memorizing names and exactly how to do each one. Please don’t get overwhelmed about thinking if you could ever do the movement in the video. This is a learning process and it is the framework and seeing how it applies in different contexts that is key focus here. Even our most complicated and physically demanding movements link back to posture and the squat, the push-up, and the jump. Everything can be scaled and everything has a progression that we have found to be incredibly effective. Use the MovementLink™ framework to learn and develop and you won’t believe what you are capable of in the future!
Olympic Weightlifting (Oly Lifts)
The real fun begins with these lifts as we mix weightlifting and gymnastics together to create elegant exercises we refer to as the Olympic Lifts, or “Oly Lifts” for short. The Oly Lifts are the snatch, clean, and jerk. These movements develop speed and coordination along with strength and power and really help create athletic potential. There are a lot of moving pieces to these complicated movements, so, like everything else, break them down into the squat, the push-up, and the jump to determine the best positions for functionality and performance.
We will start by looking at the jerk, but first we want to emphasize this weightlifting/gymnastics mixture, When we say “weightlifting,” we are talking about moving an external weight around our body. In a press, you are pressing the barbell over your head. When we say “gymnastics,” we are talking about moving our body around a fixed object. In a pull-up, you are pulling on a bar, not to move the bar, but to move your body up to the bar. In the Oly lifts, you are jumping weight in the air (weightlifting), pulling/pushing your body around that weight while it is in the air (gymnastics) into a position where you can receive the bar when it is going zero miles an hour, so you can then stand up with the weight (weightlifting).
This is one of the hardest concepts to understand in the beginning, so let’s review this one more time. In the jerk, we are not pressing the barbell up with our arms. Our legs and hips are extremely strong relative to our arms. Because of this, we are going to use our legs and hips to get momentum on the bar through our jumping pattern. Then, while the bar is floating in the air, we are going to use our arms to press on the bar to press our bodies down to a position where we can receive the bar when it is going zero miles an hour (Our split or our partial squat). We can support a lot more weight with our arms locked out overhead than we can press overhead, so by jumping the barbell up and pressing ourselves down under it, we can potentially get more weight overhead than our arms are capable of pressing.
Now in the clean and the snatch, we are doing the same thing. We jump the bar up (weightlifting) and then pull and/or press our bodies around the bar (gymnastics) to receive it in a squat position from which we can stand the up with the bar (weightlifting).
Even though we’ve already covered the push-up in our second intro video above, most people starting out have a lot of technique work to do to clean up their movement. With weights it’s easy to just use less weight, but what do we do with our body-weight exercises that we need to make a little easier? Let’s dig deeper into how we scale push-ups, and other body-weight movements, in workouts to either help us practice technique or to progress our way towards the full movement. Remember, don’t get too caught up in if you can do the movement or not, it’s the framework we are learning and looking at different strategies to develop these challenging movements over time.
We cannot stress enough the importance of developing your ability to brace your spine and stabilize your joints in everything you do. like the roundhouse kick we talked about earlier, if you have not yet developed your foundation at the core, then adding in the bells and whistles is a fast track for dealing with injuries.
Kipping, like the olympic lifts, is a more dynamic way to train our body-weight exercises. In the real world, we typically don’t do strict movements. You wouldn’t do a push-up to get off the ground, you’d do the more dynamic kipping push-up which we covered in the video above: The Link: Putting it Together and the Burpee. The techniques use for our kip, like everything else, ultimately links back to everything else. Put it together in your head, so you can practice with intent and really develop athletic movement.
If you haven’t yet, go watch the strict versions of these videos above to understand the full context and foundation.