Programming for Crossfit Gymnastics

Programming for Crossfit Gymnastics This post gives a relatively brief insight into our philosophy, approach and structure that we use at Jacked Gymnastics, Programming for Crossfit Gymnastics. Artistic Gymnastics vs. Crossfit Specific Gymnastics I have written a separate post on the differences between Artistic Gymnastics and Crossfit Gymnastics so I won’t go into the specifics here but in summary the primary differences are as follows: Artistic Gymnastics is primarily high skilled, straight arm and maximal strength driven over short time periods which as a result makes it a primarily anaerobic sport Crossfit Gymnastics is primarily low skilled, bent arm and muscular endurance driven over longer time periods which as a result makes it a primarily aerobic sport If you want to learn more about the specifics of what I mention above, then I suggest reading my other post. However, I want everyone to at least broadly understand the above before we go into programming specifically for Crossfit Gymnastics, otherwise your program will likely not be sport specific. I have inserted a link below. Gymnastics vs. Crossfit Specific Gymnastics Six ‘Phases’ of Programming for Crossfit Gymnastics When programming for Crossfit Gymnastics, our philosophy can be split into six phases. I will explain each of the six phases and then, at the end of this post, explain ways in which you can develop it into a program. I explain this at the end but just to clarify to avoid any confusion – when I refer to phases, I’m not proposing you completely isolate these areas. You should work on all areas simultaneously but instead put extra emphasis on the specific phase depending on your goals, weaknesses and whether you are planning to peak for a competition or be competitive all year round. Phase 1: Building a foundation This phase isn’t necessary specific to programming for Crossfit Gymnastics. I see this as an integral phase in any gymnastics program, particularly adults undergoing gymnastics strength and conditioning with no prior background. There are many components that I consider to be an integral part of building the right foundation. For example, you need to develop positional and special awareness, co-ordination, the ability to “stay tight” which is overlooked far too much and many more skills but for the purpose of this post we are going to concentrate on building stronger connective tissue, stability and flexibility. Building stronger connective tissue and joint stability isn’t a fast process. Muscular tissue will develop (repair, adapt and grow) much faster than connective tissue. This should actually come of little surprise when you consider the significant percentage of the population, particularly those training at high intensities and/or volume, that pick up various forms of tendinitis. Just take a moment to think about how many people you know that have ever complained about tendinitis. That in itself should convince you to include more “prehabilitation” exercises to encourage strength development in connective tissue. If you’re still not convinced, then you should also understand that in any “stabilizing joint” such as the elbow, tendonitis or just generally weak tendons, will potentially cause loss of strength and/or mobility in subsequent joint such as the shoulder and wrist (in the example of the elbow). Don’t wait until you have joint problems and then have to take preventative measures and work through rehab exercises. Instead, be smart and include some prehab (pre-injury) exercises to prevent getting problems later down the line. In Crossfit, athletes are much bigger than gymnasts, anywhere from 20-30 kilos heavier (yes, those numbers are right). How does that relate? You don’t have years of experience developing the fundamental basic skills, strength/conditioning and flexibility that gymnasts have. Just to make that even worse, you (the average Crossfitter) weigh 20 kilos more than the average gymnast. So not only do you not have a good foundation but every time you hang, pull, push your bodyweight your connective tissue has to work even harder. These “prehabilitation” exercises can also as well as a warm-up. Building stronger connective tissue and joint stability is done primarily through the following: Weighted mobility This is effectively learning to control and stabilize weight at the end of your range of motion. This will also help to increase your range of motion. Eccentrics The “lowering phase” of a rep. For example, lowering from the top of a pull-up back down to hang. You need to use a slow tempo for eccentrics to be effective. Isometrics (static holds) You can use both bent and straight arm variations but I highly recommend including straight arm exercises. For example, the ring support hold. When straight arm work is completed properly (with straight arms and with the correct scapulae placement) it is a great tool for developing joint stability. All the small stabilizing muscles that you tend to neglect are forced to work together to stabilize the joint and in these type of holds you can build a relatively high amount of time under tension (which is a good thing). Finally, although bent arm isometrics work, I don’t believe they are as effective for joint stability and in Crossfit everything is bent arm anyway so you’re more likely to over-train certain movements. One additional point to understand is that as a result of connective tissue taking longer to adapt, it also means it will break down reasonably fast if you use to much volume and intensity. Be conservative with any weight added and be conservative with the volume. You can always do more tomorrow but you can’t go back in time and do less. Phase 2: Higher skill attainment and efficiency This is the stage at which you will dedicate time to developing higher skill attainment. Crossfit is always advancing, so even if you can do all the conventional Crossfit Gymnastics skills, you still need to develop more advanced versions. For example, you might spend extra time practicing press to handstand drills. If anything, this acts as a good way to challenge your bodies awareness, co-ordination, balance etc. If you don’t give the body a difficult enough … Continue reading Programming for Crossfit Gymnastics