Strength vs Technique

Strength vs Technique
Spoiler alert - strength is (usually) more important.

“But Matt ... you’re always telling us about how it’s important to “Master the Basics” and how good technique is more efficient” ...

Before I elaborate, let me reassure you that it’s not one or the other. You need both, and you can develop both simultaneously so there’s no need to choose. However, strength and conditioning usually beats technique in Gymnastics for CrossFitters.

It’s likely you’ve seen athletes with not so good technique still holding their own in competition, and there are many different variables to consider, but here’s a couple ...

One is that, contrary to popular belief, efficient movement doesn’t necessarily have to look aesthetically pleasing. This notion probably stems from the comparison to artistic gymnastics where aesthetics are incredibly important. Remember the two sports have very difficult goals. To give you an example; keeping your legs straight in toes to bar may look aesthetically pleasing, but bending your legs is more efficient from a speed and endurance perspective, and therefore the preferred approach for the majority of Crossfitters.

Another is assuming you have at least some degree of efficient technique, bodyweight relative strength and conditioning will usually prevail. That’s often the reason athletes will lesser technique, can still hold their own or even prevail in Gymnastics heavy workouts.

”So what should I take away from this post?”

More and more athletes are focusing on technique, and don’t get me wrong, it is truly great to see. BUT ... strength should be given just as much importance as technique. You will not get very far with perfect technique and zero strength.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of building your sessions solely around various technical drills to help you get or improve your kipping ring muscle-ups. Take a step back and ask yourself, honestly, would you benefit more from doing more targeted strength work?

Even for advanced athletes ... want to get 30 unbroken ring muscle-ups? Can’t do 30 unbroken ring dips ... probably not going to happen.

“OK, you’re right, I’ll do more strength ... what should I do?”

Without sounding like a cheesy sales pitch, you should probably sign-up to a program, but otherwise here’s some advice to get you started.

Keep it simple. Pick 2 base movements that are targeted to your goals - 1 push and 1 pull exercise. Let’s say you want muscle-ups. You might do chest to ring pull-ups and ring dips. Finish with some targeted accessory and prehab. Program in 4-6 week cycles, progressively overloading, followed by a 1 week deload at 50% total volume from the previous week.

I hope, if anything, this serves as an important reminder that strength is and will always be key.