Written by Ryan Brown
Squat, Front Squat, Overhead Squat, Press, Push Press, Push Jerk, Deadlift, Sumo Deadlift High Pull, and Med Ball Clean.
Those were taught to me as the 9 fundamental movements when I began in CrossFit. The real question is, if they are so fundamental then why do so many people butcher the hell out of them. While I will agree that every person should be capable of performing these movements (wether they should or not is another discussion), I would have to argue that none of the movements are very fundamental.
I know that the practice in many CrossFit gyms is to teach these movements first, since they are called fundamental. This is how we end up with such a large number of people who are incapable of performing movements correctly. People who’s knees always cave in, or people who always slide forward, let their back round when it shouldn’t, etc.. No matter how many times you shout knees out to them, their knees dive in. Advancing too quickly into less stable, multi joint movements slows progress and sets the overall ceiling a little lower. Sure, basically everyone should be able to back squat, but very few clients I have ever seen walk through the door are ready to do it on day 1.
Squatting should be simple. Sit down and stand up. It is not a highly technical exercise. If you have poor form, or poor “mobility” then the odds are that you need to move down to an easier movement and master that, rather than trying to force yourself into squats that suck. This just leads us into the question of what are fundamental movements. They are pretty simple.
I talk about this all the time, but it is for a great reason. If you aren’t teaching every single person that you know how to properly breathe, then you are probably going to hell. Yes, it is that serious. If you notice, every single movement that we coach at Darkside Strength starts with the breathing cue. It prepares your body to move. If you do it wrong. You do everything wrong.
2- Glute Drills
You can almost bet that anyone coming in to work with you, even good athletes, will benefit from some direct glute activation work when they first start working with you. The glutes are very important in the mobility and stability in your hips and low back. Master glute activation and your older clients will love you for what you do for their low back pain, and your athletes will love you for their performance.
3- Half Kneeling
This is where I like to focus most of a beginner’s training. The average person walking into the gym can achieve a good half kneeling position. It places them in a stable enough position that we can load patterns to build them. We will do presses, pulls, split squats, etc… The sets and reps for a beginner are really irrelevant. They should load them as heavy as they can perform perfectly, and do them until they get tired.
4. Hip Hinge
We use several different movements to make sure that our clients/athletes can properly hing at their hip. The band good morning, rdl, db rdl, or just simply having them hold a pvc pipe and focus on maintaining three points of contact with it as they bend forward. Again, sets and reps are insignificant. Just do a bunch until you are tired and you really feel like you are getting the hang of it.
5- Goblet Squat
There are very few people who can’t do a really awesome goblet squat, especially after utilizing steps 1-4. If you can’t, then you probably need to go back and revisit some things.
Example beginner workout
Curl up breathing- 10×5 breaths
Side lying clam shell 10×5 breaths
Supine glute bridge 10 reps each side (2 sec pause)
Chest supported Y 2×6 reps (2 sec pause) http://youtu.be/OWGekqDiYxQ
a. Half kneeling split squat 10×5 reps each side
b. Half kneeling press 10×6 each side
Tabata goblet squat/air squat/box squat
I would vary the sets and reps based on the preparedness of the people I was working with, but the point is to focus on doing simple things perfectly, so that they happen automatically when you start to do harder things. Don’t be afraid to make someone do the same thing over and over as long as they are getting quality reps. Doing things again and again allows you to learn it.
The moral of the story here is that we need to use these things and go back to master the fundamentals of movement before the fundamental movements. For 90% of the people who walk through the door, you can make this the focus of 1 week of workouts. Use these simple movements, force them to perform them perfectly, select the heaviest weight that they are capable of and focus on getting quality reps of good movements. After a week of the fundamentals of movement, move them into your fundamental movements and watch how much easier they are to coach. Sure, you on ramp will cost more and take longer, but it will be better.Ryan Brown is the owner of Darkside Strength and the Head Physical Preparation Coach at Core Performance in Louisville, Ky. Ryan got his start in the field while in the Marine Corps, after being introduced to CrossFit as an alternative to morning PT. Along the way Ryan has competed in CrossFit at the regional level, Weightlifting, Powerlifting, Strongman, and even did one of those races where you run through mud and fire and stuff once. Ryan’s focus is improving an athlete’s ability to move effectively to improve their performance. He achieves those results through a variety of drills and exercises to improve posture and range of motion. Ryan has worked with World Record holding Powerlifters, National Level Weightlifters, Pro MMA fighters, Pro Strongmen, CrossFitters, as well as the everyday Joe/Jane who just wants to look and feel better. Online Training, Website, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter