CrossFit is the fastest growing fitness craze in history and for the teens it’s starting to make an even bigger impact. With its “specialty” in everything fitness and not just one particular modality; we have seen more teenagers becoming involved in the sport.
So the question is, what are the best movements that teenagers should be focusing on in Crossfit workout?
These are my top 5 movements (in no particular order).
- Power lifts (squat, bench, deadlift)
These 3 movements are where you build your foundation. Under proper supervision and trained professionals, these movements are your best bet in creating a solid base and adding strength. The squat and deadlift requires you to incorporate your entire body to perform the lifts; therefore, engaging the largest muscles in your body. The more muscles activated at one time can naturally boost testosterone levels, promoting lean muscle mass and fat burning potential.
It is also the best way to develop a stronger posterior chain (glutes, quads, hamstrings, etc.).
The bench press, in my opinion, is the best way to create upper body strength because you can overload your muscles more also while engaging your lats, triceps, and glutes. That’s right, it’s not solely a chest workout.
How to execute a proper squat:
- Place evenly between traps and grip bar right outside of shoulders. Elbows down, pulling bar into your traps and rear shoulders.
- Unrack bar and take 2 steps back to clear rack. Set feet a little more than shoulder width apart.
- Take deep breath feeling your belly big to stabilize core.
- Push hips back slightly to activate hips, and squat down focusing on keeping shins vertical, chest up, shoulders down, and feet centered.
- Once depth is reached, drive hips into bar to stay vertical and lock out hips.
How to execute a proper deadlift:
- Set feet hip width. Place hands either overhand or staggered grip (one hand over, other hand under) on bar pressing against calves.
- With hips low, shoulders pulled back, and bar against shins, proceed to push through ground with feet, leading with the chest, pulling shoulders back until hips are completely in locked out position.
How to execute a proper bench press:
- While laying on your back on the bench, place hands a little more than shoulder width apart on bar.
- Unrack bar, pull down on bar as in trying to break the bar to engage lats and keep elbows tucked.
- Slowly lower bar to the bottom of the sternum, and aggressively push bar back to starting position.
- Pull ups (holds, tempos. Etc.)
Achieving their first strict pull up is a huge feat for many teens. Building the strength needed to achieve this bodyweight movement is great to incorporate at the younger ages. Doing exercises such as scapular retractions, negatives, tempo pull ups, and strict pull ups for developing strength in the lats, along with the biceps, triceps, and shoulders can help to add overall strength in other movements.
- Perform a dead hang from pull up bar with overhand grip.
- Begin by keeping arms locked and pulling your shoulder blades down trying to force them together allowing your body to rise slightly.
- Hold for 3secs. Relax shoulder blades. Repeat 5-8-reps for 3-5sets.
- Start in overhand grip on pull up bar with chin over the bar.
- Slowly lower yourself down into dead hang position to finish. Repeat for 5 reps, 3-5 sets.
Tempo Pull-Ups (similar to pull-up negatives but more advance and everything is controlled.):
- Start in overhand grip on pull up bar with chin over the bar and hold at top position for 2 sec.
- Control body down (negative) for around a 3-5 sec count until in a dead hang.
- Hold dead hang for 1 sec.
- Pull yourself up until chin in back over the bar explosively and hold at top for 2sec. Perform 3-5 reps, 3-5 sets.
- Planks and hollow rocks
We keep talking about building a solid foundation, but your foundation is only as strong as your core, your core IS your foundation. In order for a teenager to be able to handle the stresses and demands of CrossFit, weightlifting, and even unforeseen events in life, I would have my teens employ several plank and/or hollow rock holds in their program. The better they can control their bodies and weight, the more efficient of an athlete they will be. They will be less likely to develop injuries and strengthen the area that surrounds and protects their spine! Doing countless crunches or sit-ups are not going to develop strength in your core nearly as effective as the plank and hollow rocks
To perform an effective hollow rock hold:
- Focus must be on keeping lower back on ground.
- Toes must remain pointed, with ankles squeezed to keep lower body ridged.
- Keep biceps glued to ears to insure a tight upper body.
- Hold this position for as long as possible, and rest for the time you held it and repeat for 5-10 sets.
To perform an effective plank:
- Start with your weight on your forearms, shoulders should remain stack on top of elbows. Remain on your toes.
- Body should form a straight line.
- Maintain this position by focusing on keeping your belly button tucked into your stomach. Hold this position for as long and possible and rest for the time you held it and repeat 5-10 sets.
- Handstand Holds
Handstand holds are a great exercise that, just like the planks and hollow holds, can be practiced anywhere. It’s a great exercise to help teenagers build strong shoulders by supporting their own body weight. Especially at the age where teens are still growing, it is very common to see shoulder injuries in active teens. So the stronger we can build the stabilizing muscles in their bodies the better we lessen their likelihood of injuries.
- Start with your hands pressed firmly on the ground around a foot away from the wall and shoulder width apart. Flex triceps to make sure arms are locked into place.
- While pressing your hands forcefully into the ground, use non dominate foot to kick towards the wall. Trail leg will follow. Focus on bringing trail leg to meet non-dominant leg against the wall.
- Squeeze ankles and point toes to stabilize.
- Push head through biceps to curve body slightly but extending the spine.
- Continue to hold position and push through the ground for 30 sec. Kick back down and rest for 30 sec. Repeat for 5-7 sets.
- Russian Swings
Russian swings are an exercise I like to use with teenagers to help build strong lats and shoulders, but also help develop an explosive hip drive. Unlike the American swing, the Russian swing is only required to bring the bell chest level as opposed to above your head. This allows more weight to be held, engaging the lats more, and increasing the intensity. Also, with the shoulders being the most unstable joint in the human body, too much stress to an already growing and fragile teenage body, could cause unnecessary damage. So this is why I prefer the Russian over the American swings for teenagers.
How to execute a proper Russian swing:
- Kettle bell begins loaded just below hips and above the knees.
- While pulling your shoulders away from your ears, drive hips aggressively through bell until bell is swung to chest level. Torso is at a 90 degree angle.
Again, these are just my opinions of great exercises that I would definitely recommend teens to incorporate in their CrossFit training! Of course there are numerous other exercises that would have been great for the list, but weighing out the options and looking at building a great foundation, these are my top choices. Each movement will definitely put your young athlete on the right path! Good luck and have fun!!!