Welcome to the second installment of our Tonka Series: Overcoming Plateaus in CrossFit. Last week we talked all about mobility and this week we're diving into skills!
Hitting a plateau in CrossFit can mean a lot of different things. But your mastery of a particular skill is the easiest to spot - and most fun to work on!
This is a fun one because we've all got a list of movements we're chasing down and there are endless ways to reach those goals. Let's have some fun!
Here are a few fun ways to test your CrossFit skill level
- 100 consecutive double-unders
- 15 Toes to Bar
- 15 Kipping Pull Ups
- 20 Rebounding Box Jumps
- 10 Consecutive Pistols on each leg
- 5 Kipping HSPU's
When it comes to improving your skills/movements in CrossFit, there are two ways we get better. Practice and Training. But what's the difference?
In CrossFit's 10 domains of fitness, training generally applies more to things like strength and power.
Practice on the other hand applies more to things like coordination, balance, and accuracy, which are more associated with "Skills".
Granted all of the movements below require some degree of strength and power, it is more often a person's technique that holds them back from performing them for high rep counts. So, the boring answer to crushing that plateau is just "practice, practice, practice." But here are a few of the most common fixes I recommend for people.
Try to eliminate any excessive knee bend or pike from the hip during your jump.
These are inefficiencies of movement and waste energy. They might not affect you for a set of 20 or 30, but every little bit of wasted energy adds up when trying to go for a big set like 100 in a row.
The same applies to your hand position.
Hands should be right off the side of your hips, not too high, and not too far away from your body. The rope should be driven with your wrists and not from your elbow. Try to stay as relaxed and possible and control your breathing.
Improving Toes to Bar
Really think about driving this movement with your arms and shoulders. You should be pulling your head and chest forward through your arms at the bottom and pushing the bar down and forward at the top. The further you can push the bar forward the less distance you have to actually raise you feet.
Improving Kipping Pull-ups
When people get off rhythm with their kip it is usually because they forget to push away from the bar at the top of the rep. Pushing away rather than dropping straight down will put your body back on the correct path to swing and use your momentum effectively into the next rep.
Also, working on your should mobility can help. The further you can swing forward at the bottom of the kip, the more momentum you will store to use on the next rep.
Improving Rebounding Box Jumps
This is all about staying light on the balls of your feet. In theory, your heels should not even touch the floor when you rebound, or just barely graze the floor as you work towards high boxes.
The easiest way to practice this is to start really low and do jumps to a plate. Once you feel comfortable and get the hang of rebounding off the balls of your feet, just add another plate. Keep adding height slowly until you can do it off of a box.
One of the biggest limiting factors I see on pistols is ankle mobility, (hello, Week 1 of the Tonka Series). Spending some focused time here will definitely make pistols easier.
The other thing to experiment with is your technique. Some people find success with just using their arms for balance, some people like to grab their toe to help keep their opposite foot off the floor, some people like to hold that leg up by grabbing under their calves. Experiment and find what works best for you.
Improving your Kipping HSPU
One thing I've noticed recently that holds people back from getting the most power out of their kip is not using their hips enough. What I mean by that is they pull their knees down at the bottom of the rep and then violently kick their legs.
If you want to get more power when you pull your knees down, keep pulling them further than you think, this will tilt your hips forward. Then when you start the kip, think about firing your hips open rather than just kicking your legs.
As with so many movements in CrossFit it's all about using your hips to create power. Another thing is just practicing handstands. The more time you spend upside down the more comfortable you will be and HSPU will start to feel more natural.
P.S. If you have a skill that you're struggling to inch closer to send myself (Jenna) or your Coach a message and we'll get you set up with a solid plan that will get you to your goal.
See you next week for the third installment of the Tonka Series: Overcoming Plateaus in CrossFit.