The Importance of the Seemingly Unimportant

Constantly varied, functional movements, done at high intensity.

The preceding sentence is how we would define CrossFit. We want to train to be prepared for the unknown and unknowable. We want to be fit. So how do we know if we meet these standards of “fitness?”

There are 10 General Physical Skills recognized by professionals across the board. You are as fit as you are competent in each of the 10 skills. We believe CrossFit’s methodology strives to achieve competency in all 10 skills.
Let’s test your knowledge of CrossFit. The enthusiast and critic alike. Can you name the 10 General Physical Skills? Before you read any further, give it a try. Get a pen and paper and write down what you think they are. If you don’t have access to a pen or paper, pull out your phone and go to the notes section and type them out.

The 10 General Physical Skills:

1. Cardiovascular Endurance
2. Stamina
3. Strength
4. Flexibility
5. Power
6. Speed
7. Coordination
8. Agility
9. Accuracy
10. Balance

The first four produce measurable organic adaptations, as in your body is physically altered. Your body will burn energy more efficiently, your muscles will grow bigger and stronger, and the elasticity of your muscles and ligaments will increase. Those are just a few examples. They are improved through training. The last four produce neurological adaptations and are the primary subject of this article. Coordination, Agility, Accuracy, and Balance are all improved through practice. Practice, or commonly called skill work, improves performance through changes in the nervous system. Power and Speed are improved through both training and practice.
Skill work is not sexy. It can be tedious, and at times frustrating. However it’s completely necessary. We are trying to achieve competency across all 10 general physical skills, and that cannot be accomplished if you ignore skill work.

Let’s dial down on Accuracy, one of the neurological skills, to give you an example. Accuracy
essentially means being able to put the thing where you want it to go. Just about any movement you can think of involves some type of accuracy.

Dave Eubanks, a CrossFit Level 1 Seminar Staff member, says this about accuracy surrounding the Push Press:
“That’s the most efficient path of the bar,” Eubanks said of a press locked out directly overhead. “It’s also the most efficient use of our body and our mechanical advantage, and so if you’re inaccurate with how or when you extend your hip, if you’re inaccurate with where the bar is in relation to your body, … all of those things are going to express themselves in a lower one-rep max.”

Sure! Everyone loves a high one rep max push press, but if you neglect the skill work, your lift will suffer. Get as strong as you want, and don’t work on accuracy; you may establish a new personal best, but you’ll never establish a true one rep max.

It comes down to the time you put in practicing mechanics and skills. It might mean removing the weight that softens your ego, or spending an extra 10-15 minutes prior to class practicing pull ups. When skill work is programmed, make sure you are working with a purpose. I tell all my athletes to move intentionally. Skill work is about getting better through practice, it is not a competition. The only competition in skill work is your future goals, abilities, and health. Treat it as such.

Looking to improve your skills?

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Written by: Adam Pennington, May 2019


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