The Importance of Practice – By Coach Phil

I love learning new skills, whether CrossFit movements or otherwise. What I love more than this is seeing other people acquire new skills. As a coach I get great satisfaction from seeing people hit their first few reps of a movement they have been working on for some time.

Quality skills practice is of the upmost importance if you want to acquire a new skill and maybe EVEN MORE important if you want to retain the skill or be able to perform the skill in a workout when under cardiovascular or muscular fatigue.

As coaches we often see that a persons expectations of skill acquisition and retention is skewed. You may have seen this yourself in your fellow classmates, they just got their first rep or two of a muscle-up then muscle-ups are in the workout so they (obviously) want to tackle it as prescribed, but become frustrated because after a 800m run and some thrusters they can no longer do muscle-ups!

This approach is setting you up for failure. Why? Because you just learned how to do a new, complex movement that requires a lot of focus and now you want to do that movement for time and when tired. It is a classic CrossFitter mistake.

Many of you will have heard the principle ‘mechanics, consistency, intensity‘. When we learn new skills, whether gymnastics or barbell based, we should follow this set principle.

Mechanics refers to the technique of the movement and your ability to move your body or an external object (e.g barbell, dumbbell, sandbag) through full ranges of motion in a safe and efficient manner. Once we can do this for a single rep with light/no load, we then need to increase the consistency of successful reps.

Consistency simply means that you can consistently perform the correct movement mechanics. It will take many reps to get to this stage, particularly for highly skilled movements like Olympic Lifts and higher level gymnastics.

The based way to improve your consistency is with regular (i.e. daily) practice of the movement. Iskander (part of the Lunch Time Crew) is a wonderful example of this. Having recently acquired muscle-ups he is now improving his consistency by aiming to hit a few reps EVERY DAY he trains and he does this away from intensity (i.e. before or after a workout). Once consistency is there he can then challenge the movement through intensity.

Intensity is added last. Intensity is there to challenge the mechanics and consistency of the movement patterns in question. This intensity can be in the form of load, speed/tempo, range of motion, stability, fatigue etc.

As in our example above we often see people go straight from mechanics (getting their first rep) to intensity (wanting to do it in a workout) without showing the necessary patience to go through weeks or even months of practicing consistency.

So how do you become more consistent with the skill?

It can be very simple, and take no longer than 5-10 minutes of your time before or after class!

A great way is to do a EMOM (Every Minute On the Minute) workout. This is a way to slowly increase volume but still give yourself enough rest time between reps to be sure you can be consistent.

For example, say you just learned how to do a muscle-up. Awesome! The next day you might go into the gym and perform the following

A) Mechanics: Spend 5 minutes doing my muscle-up skill drills
B) Consistency: EMOM for 7 minutes: 1 Muscle-up

From here you can progress yourself. The next time you may aim for 2 reps, and then 3 reps.

This is just one example but it can give you a good idea of how to build a session that focuses on developing good mechanics for a skill.

Continue to work on the skill of the movement and work to be consistent with it. The more quality practice you can get, the more likely you will be able to perform these movements when you add intensity.

If you can perform movements with proper technique (mechanics), over and over again (consistency) you will lift more weight, get stronger, be fitter, faster and generally be more awesome.

Speaking of getting your first muscle-ups, make sure to check our tomorrows blog!


Workout of the Day for Monday 7th August

3 rounds of 3 minutes on : 3 minutes off
7 Power Clean 40/30kg
7 Thruster 40/30kg
7 Burpee
7 Power Clean 40/30kg
In remaining time AMRAP Thruster 40/30kg