Training to not Suck at Life
CrossFit is Constantly Varied, Functional Movement, done at High Intensities. High Intensity is usually the first thing people understand when they do CrossFit, and usually, Constantly Varied is not far behind. But most of us don’t really think about the Functional Movement part.
CrossFit was eloquently designed by Greg Glassman. I think with the focus on the CrossFit Games, we lose sight that CrossFit is meant to make regular people better at everyday life. One of my favorite CrossiFit T-Shirt says is “Training to not Suck at Life”. This is where the importance of functional movement comes in.
When you train for a sport, you practice sequences of very specific techniques. You get great at hitting a ball, you get great at making a basket, or you become awesome at skating. You may do some general conditioning, but your coaches always aim to make you a better baseball player, a better basketball player or a better hockey player.
CrossFit aims at making you a generally healthier individual. If you are to avoid injury or degeneration in your everyday life, you need to train the movements that you do everyday. Everyday life movements involve multiple joints. When was the last time you picked up your child by bicep curling him? Is there some way to get out of bed without using your hips and your shoulders?
Many traditional training programs focus on developing each joint in isolation, but CrossFit is a core strength and conditioning program. That means that it is most concerned with movements that develop your middle (not your limbs). All CrossFit movements are core-to-extremity movements. The power is generated by your core (glutes, abs, back, shoulders, chest) and that power is radiated to the extremity to either move an object or your body. The Olympic lifts and gymnastics are great examples. We ask you to move lots of weight by creating power with your larger, core muscles, and using timing and body position during a power clean. When you are kipping, you are creating force with your core that propels you over the bar, and that is why kipping pull-ups are a staple over strict pull-ups in CrossFit.
This is how you naturally move. You have probably cleaned or push pressed heavy objects long before you came to CrossFit. When you get up from the floor or from a chair you are using the muscles that we train in the squat. When you pick one end of a couch when you are helping your buddy move, you are doing a functional deadlift; when you are getting something heavy from a high shelf, you may be doing an overhead squat.
Now, I know that you are not likely going to help your buddy move his couch by snatching it (though I would like to see this). The benefit of the snatch comes from training the muscles and the neurological patterning of the movement that does mimic the patterning of other common, everyday movements. The movements you train day after day are making your life easier, better.
When we train with good form, and get stronger in our core-to-extremity movements, it makes it easier for us to play with our children, go on a hike, and age gracefully so that we never have to fear not being able to get out of a chair without help because we did not train for these everyday situations.