Below I’ve selected 5 Fundamental CrossFit Movements for any athlete. Because I travel frequently, I’ve selected movements that can be easily implemented in workouts whether you are in a CrossFit affiliate or a hotel gym.
The squat is arguably the most fundamental functional movement. Our bodies are naturally designed to perform this movement – just look at a child sitting in a perfect squat position for hours while playing. Many individuals lose the ability to achieve this full range of motion squat position after spending years sitting in chairs and neglecting this vital movement. In fact, the ability to stand up from a seated position on the ground (a squat) is associated with a significantly reduced risk of death (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23242910). Important tips for performing a squat include: 1) standing with the feet shoulder-width with toes turned out slightly, 2) maintaining the weight in the heels and a tight core 360 degrees around the spine throughout the movement, 3) sending the hips back and down as the knees move out and track over the toes, 4) achieving full depth below parallel with the hip crease below the top of the knee, and 5) keeping the torso upright at the bottom position of the squat. Squats can be performed without load (air squat) or with a barbell, dumbbells, kettlebells, sandbags, or any other odd object held in various positions (front squat, back squat, overhead squat).
Demonstration of the proper air squat: video courtesy of CrossFit
The dip is sometimes thought of as the “squat of the upper body.” Dips are a great way to build upper body pushing strength, and they can also be performed in a variety of ways. The most simple type of dip would be performed with the hands on a bench or chair. Dips can also be performed on parallel bars or rings, which add the element of stabilization in a frictionless plane. No matter what type of dip you do, it is important to maintain active shoulders (not allowing your shoulders to “sag” up to your ears) and to reach full range of motion at the bottom of the dip with the shoulder below the elbow. Dips can also be performed with added weight or with a kip, depending on the stimulus you are trying to achieve.
Demonstration of the proper dip: video courtesy of CrossFit
The pull-up is a great complimentary movement to the dip for strengthening the upper body. Pull-ups can be performed strict (without movement of the hips) or with varying types of kips (gymnastics kip, butterfly kip, etc) each which place a slightly different demand on the body. Pull-ups can also be performed with variations in grip (regular, chin-up, mixed grip, narrow, wide), equipment (bar, rings), or loading (bands, weight vest, belt). For the pull-up, it is important to achieve full range of motion with the chin over the bar at the top and the arms fully extended at the bottom. When combined with the technical component of the transition, the pull-up and dip are precursors for a more advanced movement, the muscle-up.
Demonstration of the proper pull-up: video courtesy of CrossFit
Running is a great monostructural movement which can be utilized in workouts to train cardiovascular endurance and stamina. It is convenient because it can be done almost anywhere with access to the outdoors or a treadmill, but it is also great to utilize other monostructural movements such as rowing, biking, or jump roping in your workouts. Keep in mind that just like any other movement, there is skill and technique to running as discussed in this CrossFit Journal article: http://journal.crossfit.com/2012/10/cfekatona-runningfundamentals.tpl.
AT Athlete Julie Foucher on the run at the 2014 CrossFit Games
The thruster is a combination of a front squat and a push press, so it is a weightlifting movement which effectively trains both the upper and lower body. Thrusters can be performed with a variety of loads from a barbell to kettlebells or dumbbells. Additionally, the thruster provides the basis for a more explosive movement, the wall ball in which a ball is thrown at the top of each thruster to touch a target on the wall.
Demonstration of the proper thruster: video courtesy of CrossFit
As you can see, the possibilities with just these 5 movements are endless. It is important to adhere to the definition of CrossFit – constantly varied, high intensity, functional movements – and pair these movements in as many combinations and variations in loading as possible for best results. If you are are interested in learning more, CrossFit teaches 9 Foundational Movements (http://library.crossfit.com/free/pdf/CFJ_Seminars_TrainingGuide_012013-SDy.pdf) which can be combined to perform a variety of other functional movements, even those with great complexity such as the clean and jerk and snatch of Olympic weightlifting. Below are a couple examples of workouts inspired from these movements. Be creative and have fun! :)
4 Rounds for Time:
30 Air Squats
AMRAP (As Many Rounds and Reps as Possible) in 10 Minutes: