Thursday, October 30, 2008

Motor Solution

A great deal of the success of Crossfit is predicated upon the unique motor learning that it forces the athlete to perform. We consistently see skyrocketing athleticism occur in our athletes not only because they are stronger and more fit, but because of the constant movement/motor learning that they undergo. One of the central tenets of fitness in a 100 words or less is, "learn to play new sports". For nearly all of us without an olympic lifting, gymnastics background, Crossfit ends up feeling like a new sport.

Within the framework of a typical crossfit WOD, there is some interesting motor development facilitation built in. For example, having to change exercises often within a workout forces the athlete to develop and redevelop complex motor solutions in less than ideal conditions and often. A workout like nasty girls is much more difficult from a motor learning perspective than a workout like angie where all of the movement is blocked into repetitive chunks. It is much more difficult to perform a few reps of one movement and then switch to another movement than it is to complete many reps of a single exercise.

The research on blocked practice versus random practice (switching often) is that the athlete will make more errors up front with the random practice but will undergo deeper motor learning that will reflect in better performance at a later task.
Do we need to perform block practice? Yes, and all of our single effort or max effort lifts are block practice in which a single skill can be repeated to great effect. (Have you ever tried to learn a new skill between running and pullups? Not easy.)

Ok, so who cares about the "back of the house" crossfit motor learning theory?
Why are you showing the photos of Mike the Flabongo Master doing line touches?
Well, it turns out that we consciously try to make our athletes deviate away from the perfect movement they perform in the normal workouts. After a while, our advanced athletes can and do have beautiful "formal" movement. That is, Mike can squat, clean, pull, push, jump, etc with very good technique under very difficult conditions. Ask him to run line touches and smack the ground with his palms, and poof, he's doing some new motor learning. Mike can sprint, but sprinting after lowering himself to the ground to smack his palms, not so much.

Our goal is to keep stretching the capacities and abilities of our athletes. As people become more able within the context of our normal programming, it is vital that they be forced to continue to generate new and novel motor solutions. Gymnastics anyone? Hmmm, it's almost like crossfit had this figured out.

Go do something new.

Coach kstar


Nick said...

the only question I have is why is mike sprinting in his beautiful weightlifting shoes. So sad...

Anonymous said...

I second that question nick. Adrian had us doing overhead lunges as part of the WOD last night, but we had to step back instead of forward for the lunge, and it not being able to see your foot was a new experience, and you had to be very efficient with the movement in order to bust out good reps. But it is amazing how we become so much more dynamic as athletes and crossfitters because of WODs that force our bodies to perform several functional movements whether they be an oly movement, gymnastics based, or conditioning. We are forced to deal with a new type of fatigue each time we shift movements, which forces our bodies to find a way to move through them like efficient monsters. I recently had a friend tell me she wanted to do crossfit, but would probably still do cardio to stay lean. She said "Cause crosfit is just weights right"? I almost snapped. Thought I would share that moment which illustrates why I love crossfit, because unless you do it you will never understand. Oh yea, Kudos to Boz for cranking the 80's jams last night for the 7pm crew.

Adrian: T-Shirt Idea

"We Own The Night" Crossfit Night Crew

Anonymous said...

I hate when I forget toput my name


FilthyBrit said...


Don't worry. Your name is all over your posts.


Anonymous said...


Nice legs.

Nicer special shoes!


FilthyBrit said...

Thanks, Boz! I'm all about the Special Shoes.

P.S. You should try sprinting in Moon Boots some time. Much harder than weightlifting shoes.

Unknown said...

Personally, I would like to see the "new and novel motor solutions" generated by sprinting in Clown Shoes. Tis the season for a Special Shoes Sprint Contest.

Aaron said...

I'll be wearing special shoes on Saturday. Costumed WOD for halloween anyone?

FilthyBrit said...

Fancy dress on Saturday? I'm in. Bringing a case of beer, too, to do the beer shot/pull-up century club as promised.

Dave said...

guys, i hate to ruin your carrie bradshaw moment, but michael, i think your costume on saturday has to be you working out in speedos per our contractional obligation. you can wear weightlifting shoes with the speedos if you like. ill bring the beer... - dave

Person said...

Surely there's some kind of demerit/penalty for referring to Carrie Bradshaw on the blog.

Anonymous said...

Ross- I am surprised that the carrie bradshaw reference bothers you more than the mental picture of michael doing thrusters in speedos and lifting shoes. - dave

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