The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly Exercises





CrossFit has a lot of exercises and movements in its repertoire.  Olympic lifts and assistance exercises, power lifts, bodyweight movements, gymnastics movements, monostructural movements like rowing, running, and jump roping, kettlebell movements, and probably a lot which I am forgetting.  How in the hell do you ever program all these?  How do you pick the best ones?

The answers are simpler than you think. They are “you don’t” and  “it’s easy.”  The two answers are bound up in each other.  One important thing to remember is that CrossFit movements are broadly grouped in two categories–workout exercises and play.  Play movements are pretty much whatever you want, they are not really good or bad.  Examples of play movements are handstands, the Bachar ladder, kettlebell juggling, and tons of others.  Training them will certainly do no harm, but they probably won’t help as much as other movements.  But, and this is a big but, they are fun.  Workout exercises, on the other hand, are less numerous.  We are talking about Olympic and power lifts, some bodyweight stuff like pullups and HSPUs, KB swings or snatches, and jumping, rowing, and running, and some others.  Still a lot, but not quite as many.

So, the answer to the first question is that you don’t really want to program a lot of the movements in CrossFit, the play movements, into a WOD.  Instead, have fun with those movements.  Practice them when you have time, or are shooting for a certain goal, or need an active recovery day, or just for fun.

With the other group of movements, always ask yourself “what will give me the most bang for my buck?”  Which exercises will give you the most return?  Or, to use CrossFit lingo, which exercises allow for the heaviest weight to be moved the longest distance fastest?  And the answer always comes back to the Olympic lifts (including the deadlift and other assistance exercises), and some bodyweight movements.  Make these movements the core of your programming and you can’t go wrong.  Let’s look at some examples:  a person who can overhead squat their bodyweight or more for reps will not have a hard time with, nor get much from GHD situps.  But the reverse is not true.  Just because someone can do 50 or 75 GHD situps in a row doesn’t mean that they can rep their BW in the OH squat. Or, a person who is repping 2xBW in the deadlift will have an easy time with hip extensions or supermans, but not the reverse.  Some movements are just plain better at developing the 10 Attributes of Fitness espoused by CrossFit, and for the most part those movements have the feet on the ground and a barbell in the hands.

Of course it is good to throw some curve balls now and again, and different movements can be used to repair imbalances or weaknesses, or maybe you just really like a certain movement, but always ask yourself about the bang for the buck.

Whatcha think? Please post to Comments.


AMRAP in 10 minutes

5 Front Squats 75% 1RM

15 Pushups

20 Double Unders

Please post WOD completed and score to Comments.