So we have learned how to make the basic shapes and no matter how proficient you become in performing gymnastics movements, the fundamentals and foundational drills we discussed are always important to keep practicing! So how do these shapes, the HOLLOW and ARCH, look when we are performing these movements?
I am going to start with one that may or may not be controversial, depending on how you have been taught. Who has seen that person who REALLY wants to get their first pullup or muscle-up, they take about 5 to 10 paces away from the rig to get a huge running start and they jump to the bar immediately with chest forward into the arch position and then try to drive as hard as they can into hollow in order to get that first rep? I know I have. From what you have learned about the importance of the Arch, do you think they were able to achieve the rigid tension required to transition to the hollow and create the momentum they needed?
So I first offer this: when approaching the rig for your first rep, JUMP TO HOLLOW. That’s right. Stand under the bar, jump to the bar where you are already in the hollow position, then use everything you have learned to achieve that initial tension into the arch before attempting that first rep.
Secondly, when trying to become more efficient in stringing any of these movements together you should be focused on maintaining that hollow position at the top of the movement and when returning to below the bar. For pullups and muscle ups this is crucial to stringing reps together and increasing your efficiency. So when we are ready to begin our descent we are driving away from that bar in a hollow position so that we can quickly transition back to the arch and so forth. I would argue that the shoulders and lats must stay engaged but the focus should be keeping those legs tight and long.
For toes to bar, the hollow position is broken in order to get toes to the bar but the shoulder position and core engagement of the hollow remains the same. The legs stay tight and long but the focus should be keeping those lats engaged so that the hips remain behind the plane of the rig and shoulders stay closed until you are ready to transition into the Arch as quickly as possible. No matter what the movement or variation of movement, the shapes all stay the same and maintaining those shapes at the right time in the movement will increase proficiency and efficiency.
I will close this out by saying that none of this is easy. Especially for us adults. Those that grew up with a gymnastics background may find this easy but learning these things as an adult can be extremely frustrating. And drilling basics isn’t always fun. And I know for most of us when we go to the gym, we just want a good workout and have fun.
But most of us also want to see progress. We want to get better. And this takes time. You may not go home and start incorporating these drills into your everyday routine and that is fine. But next time you start getting frustrated with yourself for not being able to string your toes to bar together or you start feeling like you aren’t making any progress in getting that first chest to bar or muscle up even though you know you have the strength, consider what you are actually doing to help you achieve this next step. It might just take a little more focus on the fundamentals.
Next time you have a few minutes before class or after, try some of these out! If you are looking for more in depth advice or training progressions, be sure to ask one of our amazing coaches or set up a personal training session. If you are not a member, but are curious about CrossFit or learning any of these movements, be sure to check out our KICKSTART PROGRAMS.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: As you might have noticed I LOVE WHITEBOARD DAILY (@whiteboard_daily) for quick and easy visual explanations. If you aren’t already following them on IG or FB you should be. Some other great gymnastics accounts related to CrossFit to follow are: @thegymnasticscourse @pamelagnon @performanceplusprogram @thebarbellphysio @functional.gymnastics