Here are my goals as a CrossFit athlete: improve my overall strength, lose fat, look better naked, eradicate the pre-diabetes I had developed, and improve my overall metabolic conditioning. The programming I follow accomplishes all of my goals; however, there are elements that I feel are under-programmed from a strength perspective. Coming into CrossFit, I would say that I had above average upper body strength. Without much in terms of coaching I could bench press above average weight. I found that these were advantages that I needed to maintain in order to make up for deficiencies in other areas. Let me explain further
In my opinion, here are four main elements that should be a focus of any well-rounded CrossFit athlete:
- Gymnastics familiarity
- Metabolic conditioning
This what a typical Open Gym workout looks like for me:
- 20 minutes of mobility. Focusing on my hips, wrists, elbows, and shoulders. I have become good friends with the foam roller, Lacrosse ball, and bands. I am closer to a front rack, but still not there. I can barely overhead squat 115 pounds but easily back squat 315 pounds. I need to religiously work on mobility. K Starr is an inspiration.
- 20 minutes of strength. In my opinion, chest based strength is severely neglected by my box's programming. I used to be able to bench press 315 pounds 5 times. I can barely lift it twice. I usually do something that focuses on chest strength...things like banded bench press, Wendler strength progressions, 5x3/5x5 workouts, or weighted dips.
- 20 minutes of high volume single movement or 1 rep max (e.g. weighted push-ups for time, weighted dips for time, 1RM bench/weight dip) OR skill work (e.g. handstand push-up, muscle up, double unders)
That's it. Nothing too taxing on the cardiovascular side. Focused on strength maintenance and development, mobility improvement, and skill progressions. Why kill myself during Open Gym when I know that my coaches will take care of that for me tomorrow? Following this approach to Open Gym time has allowed me to accomplish the following:
- Joined the muscle up club!
- Learned how to do handstand push ups rx'd
- Learned how to kip when doing handstand push ups
- Set gym records for weighted pull-up and dip
- Able to overhead squat 115 pounds when I couldn't even do 45 pounds when first starting CrossFit. Its not much, but progress is progress!
- Increased my push press from 165 pounds to 190 pounds by working on technique
Take advantage of Open Gym to get better at something...anything. That's the goal right? To get better everyday.