Seminar Notes

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Seminar Notes

Gymnastics is one of the three foundational modalities of CrossFit. If gymnastics movements are performed properly, they influence every aspect of your life and have a dramatic effect on your fitness. Gymnastics assist in development of many of the 10 components of fitness: accuracy, agility, balance, coordination, cardiovascular endurance, flexibility, power, speed, strength, and stamina. Nothing beats gymnastics in terms of developing the four neurological components of the 10: coordination, agility, balance, and accuracy. Furthermore, gymnastics training produces impressive strength gains without requiring an external load.

Gymnastics is a cornerstone of CrossFit, along with weightlifting and monostructural metabolic-conditioning (or just “monostructural”) movements. It is an essential element in the Theoretical Hierarchy of Development of an athlete, the CrossFit “pyramid”. The hierarchy reflects foundational dependency and time ordering of development as follows: nutrition, cardiovascular efficiency, body control, external-object control, and sport-specific application. According to the hierarchy, you can only maximize competency in one category if you have laid the foundation in the category before it. This hierarchy puts a larger emphasis on gymnastics proficiency – body control– before weight training and sport.

Strength is required for proper form, and proper form is required to demonstrate body control. As such, gymnastics has a clear emphasis on strength in body-weight movements. More than anything else, strict form establishes mastery in a movement, and for this reason we promote strict movement before we apply momentum. The strength gains from mastering the strict movements are well worth the effort, and the possibility of injury is reduced substantially when strict movements are practiced first. Small moves will bring great rewards. You do not rush these movements. You learn them and earn them!

Excerpt from the CrossFit Gymnastics Seminar packet.

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The Full Circle

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The Full Circle

THE FULL CIRCLE

Firstly, I don’t plan to dribble about myself every article, but wanted to get this one out there given I think about it quite often. I started gymnastics at the age of six and shortly after was selected into the Western Australian Institute of Sport in 1987. This was my home for the next nine years, training up to 38 hours per week. I qualified and competed in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, which of course made all the sacrifices and injuries along the way worth it. I was often asked (or told), “you must love it?”, to which I always responded, “yes”, because it was the easiest answer and really the only one that made sense. Did I love it? No. But it became my ‘job’. I was good at it and I had gone too far to give up. Bottom line, my sporting goals, or maybe fear of failure/regret kept me in the daily lycra grind. 

I made a successful comeback to International competition at the age of 18, but unfortunately missed my second Olympics due to injury at the trials. It was at this time that I completely cut ties with gymnastics. No coaching, no judging, no interest. I got into competitive boxing, I completed my PhD and I bounced around in various jobs for a few years. I was then introduced to CrossFit in 2011, and it was then that I found my love for gymnastics. You know the kind I’m talking about too… a bunch of grown humans getting upside down and swinging around like little kids. I love doing it, I love coaching it, I love learning new skills (yes I was a female gymnast… I never touched a set of rings throughout my entire gymnastics career… they’re bloody hard!!!) I am truly honoured and constantly inspired to be a part of the CrossFit Gymnastics team, and it has brought a sense of closure to be able to honestly say, “I love gymnastics”.

Jen Smith
CrossFit Gymnastics Lead Coach
Owner of Niche CrossFit in Perth Australia

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My Survival Guide for Subjective Sports

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My Survival Guide for Subjective Sports

My Survival Guide for Subjective Sports

“Goooooooallllll” the announcer yells. The ball ends up in the net; the soccer player knows a goal has been scored. The same is true in ice hockey, basketball, and lacrosse.  What about sports that are subjective– gymnastics, diving, and yes….CrossFit? 

How do we, as CrossFit athletes handle our subjective scoring system?

Competing in gymnastics for 15 years, I learned two valuable lessons – more like survival tools - about participating in a subjective sport.

First and foremost, I developed a backbone. That’s right. “Suck it up buttercup”. You didn’t “like” the score the judge gave you nor did you “agree” with it. So what are your options--- Kick a wall? Argue? Pout?  No. You need to take that moment, learn from it and become a better performer. Understand why your efforts fell short and figure out how to improve your performance to insure a better result the next time. 

Which leads me directly into the second thing I learned…leave no doubt for the judges. Every subjective sport I am familiar with has standards. Your performance score is determined by how well you executed the program’s standards. In gymnastics, the athlete must hit an 180 degree split in their leap to prevent deductions, you must squat below parallel in CrossFit to elude the “no-rep,” and so on...

I have had experience being “judged” in the CrossFit world, having competed as a Masters Games athlete and at the Regional level.  Yes – I have been “no rep’d”. No – I didn’t turn to the judge and argue. I fixed the next rep – made it better and left no doubt. Understanding and practicing standards each day at the gym will allow you to perform under pressure, to the standards, leaving no doubt for the judge and no reason to deduct.

So what is the moral of the story? Your every day goal should be: Practice excellence.  Practice Excellence results in Performance Excellence and ultimately achieving a successful performance, when it really counts!

“Striving for success without hard work is like trying to harvest where you haven’t planted.”– David Bly

rticle written by: Pamela Gagnon
CrossFit Gymnastics Lead Coach

CrossFit Games Masters Competitor

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CFG and the AO

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CFG and the AO

Coach Sean Velas had the opportunity to compete at the American Open in 2014. Coach Charles Bennington caught up with Sean for a quick interview:

CB: This should be short and sweet. Give us a couple quick thoughts on the experience of going to the AO:

What is the biggest area of transfer that you see between coaching gymnastic movements and coaching weightlifting?

SV: Body awareness is a huge deal breaker in both sports. I see that a lot of gymnast have so much body awareness that it is usually easy for them to learn the oly lifts.

CB: What is the biggest area of transfer that you see as an athlete between your gymnastics and weightlifting?

SV: Ever since I started working more on planches and front levers i have noticed a huge difference in my core stability. That has helped tremendously in my Olympic Lifting. I feel more stable and tighter in my bottom position in a snatch.

CB: Have you seen progress in your gymnastics and weightlifting moving forward together or have you noticed a specific crossover point where one modality has to drop off a bit for the other to progress?

SV: Sounds crazy but the better I get at gymnastics, the stronger I feel in my lifts. It’s basically a win, win situation for me right now. I thought all the squatting would make my legs heavier for all my gymnastics but Ive been feeling stronger in all my movements.

CB: If you could recommend 3 gymnastic movements for weightlifters to use as accessory work, what would they be?

SV: Front lever progressions, Hollow/Arch Rocks and Holds, and Planche progressions

CB: Any closing thoughts for the gymnastic or weightlifting athletes and coaches out there?

SV: It’s never to late to work on gymnastics or olympic lifting. I think one of the greatest things about me working for the Crossfit Gymnastics Team is the fact that I was NOT a gymnast. One of the greatest things about making it to the American Open is the fact that I am NOT a full time weightlifter. Get a goal and stick with it. You guys will be seeing me in the next American Open. I promise you.

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Earning a Muscle Up

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Earning a Muscle Up

The last piece of the puzzle to earn a muscle-up on the rings or a bar. This drill focuses on the transition from the top of the pull-up to the bottom of the dip. Once an athlete has...

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