What Are CrossFit Gymnastics
We all know CrossFit is a high-level training methodology that promotes strength, conditioning, and overall fitness that translates into a longer and more fruitful life. CrossFit is more than just a workout and more than a #hashtag. It integrates many of the highest methods of training in the world. The kinds of training that Olympic athletes use in their training. One of those methods is Gymnastics.
The word gymnastics conjures up many different images in our heads. Anything from a small child's tumbling class to Olympic men's gymnastics on the still rings and everything in between. And all of those are fully under the umbrella of CrossFit but they are not where we spend the majority of our time. When you think "gymnastics", think bodyweight movement. No dumbbell, barbell, kettlebell, sled, bike, rower, etc... Gymnastics moves are moving your body and your body alone.
THE BENEFIT OF HIGH SKILL MOVEMENTS
All gymnastics skills are important to our training for a couple of reasons. We're training to become better people and better athletes. By challenging ourselves regularly we learn a lot about ourselves. We learn discipline, we learn patience and we learn to celebrate small improvements. Gymnastic skills provide life long opportunities to do just that.
Gymnastics is also a great way to improve strength, power, motor control, stability, balance, and flexibility. It does so in completely different ways than training with a barbell and it is those differences that make gymnastics so valuable. Being an athlete requires moving your body in ways that moving a barbell doesn't prepare you for.
Working toward high skill gymnastics movements is a pursuit worth your time and should be worked on regularly but they don't show up in the daily workout very often.
While skill development is part of the program at Okie CrossFit, we stick with lower skill gymnastics movements in our intense workouts. Things like
These movements develop high levels of strength, body awareness, motor control, and when performed with high intensity can also improve cardiorespiratory endurance. In recent years I've seen an increase in the term "calisthenics" to describe these movements on social media but they are in fact gymnastics. Go to any gymnastics gym in the world and you'll find athletes doing variations of all of those above exercises.
Note: We do program Muscle Ups & Pistols time to time, but they are in low reps and carefully placed to be performed with minimal fatigue (therefore safely).
One the best thing about gymnastic exercises is the many progressions that can be utilized to learn them and even when learned they become the progression to a more difficult movement. This means that they are accessible to everyone and yet will give the most advanced athlete a challenge.
Take the push-up for example. Many people struggle with doing push-ups. The upper body strength and midline stability needed is not something the average person develops in the course of their everyday life.
How do you do push-ups if you can't do push-ups? We teach you progressions. These gradually increase your ability to do push-ups until one day you can do a push-up and then you start doing that 1 push-up plus the progressions until you can do more push-ups. Until push-ups are no longer something you struggle to do.
But the way we teach you do push-ups develops the mechanics to continue on to more difficult things like handstand push-ups. Viewed this way you can see that the push-up itself is not the end but just a progression along the way.
Gymnastics will always be a part of how we train for both the physical and mental benefits but they don't need to be intimidating or scary. The challenge they present help make us better people if we let them.
At Okie CrossFit in Tulsa, we have Gymnastics Extra Credit on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays that focuses solely beginner, intermediate and advanced levels of gymnastics progressions. If you're in the Tulsa area and want to try a FREE WEEK of Tulsa's best CrossFit Gyms (2 locations) use this link. If not, we wish you well on your gymnastics journey and check in on our blog from time to time for information to help you live an amazing and long life.