• Vince Piraino

What is the best way to get better at advanced CrossFit moves?

Typically, when an athlete has been training CrossFit for about a year or so they begin to wonder, “What is the best way to get better at advanced CrossFit moves?”. In this post, we’ll review some pathways to improve your skills in some of the more top-end and advanced movements for folks that are not professional athletes in the sport of CrossFit.


What is considered an advanced CrossFit movement? An advanced CrossFit movement is typically something that requires a great deal of skill acquisition and practice. If you’re looking for a list of the top-end movements, then you don’t have to look any further than the programming for the annual CrossFit Games. Here’s a few movements that appeared in the 2020 Games: Chest to bar pull ups, deficit handstand push-ups, freestanding handstand holds, GHD sit ups, bar-muscle ups, 1 rep max lifts, snatch ladder speed triples…ok, let’s stop right there. The Games are CrossFit’s version of the Olympics and are designed to find the “fitest” athletes on earth. Obviously, these athletes should be encountering advanced movements in their tests of fitness during the games.


Now that we’ve identified what an advanced movement is and where they come from, let’s review how to improve your skill set with some of these movement. Before we dive into ways you can improve your skills, let’s get super clear about who is going to the CrossFit games vs. who you are likely reading this post.


Folks going to the CrossFit games are typically professional CrossFit athletes. They train in the sport of fitness as their full-time and sole focus. Maybe they have a part-time job, but, when they wake up every day, their focus is about qualifying for the games. These folks spend countless hours in the gym on a weekly basis and dial in everything about their lives to make it to the games.


On the other hand, it’s likely the case, if you’re reading this post, you are someone that has a membership to a CrossFit affiliate, you train by going to group classes around 5 days per week, and you have a full-time job or commitment that is not fitness related in your everyday life. So, if you’re not a professional CrossFit athlete how do you improve your skills?


First, build a solid foundation of strength. It is absolutely the case that foundational absolute and relative strength is needed before you can start practicing some of these more advanced movements. The majority of the professional CrossFit games athletes did not grow up doing CrossFit. They came from other sports like Olympic Weightlifting, Gymnastics, and Track and Field, just to name a few. These sports use traditional strength and conditioning programming to build a solid foundation. It should be no surprise that the former 5x CrossFit Games Champion Mat Fraser had a competitive advantage because he grew up doing Olympic Weightlifting training at a young age. Traditional strength training and bodybuilding methods will help you establish a solid foundation so you can then attempt the advanced movements.


Benchmark your progress before attempting advanced movements. At Graviton, we use the Level Method as a method of athletic progression (MAP). This helps give you a snapshot of your current fitness level. The MAP will help you identify areas of improvement and areas of strength in 15 different categories. Here are a few of examples of how to use benchmarks to know if you’re ready to do some advanced movements:


  • Kipping Pull Ups – As a general rule, you should be able to complete a strict weighted pull up with ~15% of your own bodyweight before attempting or practicing Kipping Pull Ups. Absolute strict strength is necessary to help protect the shoulder gridle from damage. We believe keeping yourself progress injury free is key!


  • Handstand Push Ups – As a general rule, you should be able to complete a strict vertical barbell Press with ~65-75% of your bodyweight before attempting Strict Handstand Push Ups. In addition, you should develop the muscular endurance to complete at least about a dozen of strict handstand push-ups before attempting Kipping handstand push-ups.


Get a custom training program. The general group class that you’re probably attending is most likely not going to help you develop your skills in some of these advanced movements. Or will likely leads to very marginal gains. Why is this the case? Most CrossFit group class programming is not designed for the competitive or performance-based athletes. In addition, most group class programming is not designed with 6-to-12-week movement progression cycles or plans. For example, if you randomly complete snatches in a workout 3-4 times per month, then you will achieve little to no improvement in your snatches. To improve, you’re going to need a decided training plan and progression to work on a specific move over several weeks of a cycle. You’re going to need a custom performance-based training program and a decided space and time outside of the general group classes to work on the skills you want to develop. This is how learning and skill development works best. How many games athletes do you see taking general group classes at their local affiliate?


At Graviton, the intent of our general group fitness program is focused on helping you build foundational strength, develop really quality movement patterns, and feel and look good. Our goal is to help you use fitness training to improve your daily functions in life, and promote health and longevity. If you’re looking to achieve vitality, then you do not need intense efforts for years on end or to try and express your maximal physical potential every time you step into the gym. However, if you’re considering becoming a performance-based athlete and compete in the sport of fitness, then consider the intent of your program design and find a coach to help you achieve that goal with a customized solution.


Looking to JumpStart your fitness journey? Book your free intro session with a Graviton coach today.

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