By: Coach Amber Hopeman (@eat.train.mom)
So last week we talked about improving strict strength in order to build capacity for gymnastic movements. I was listening to a podcast with Pamela Agnon, 3x Crossfit Games Masters Athlete, Gymnast and Co-Creator of the Performance Plus Program and she got me thinking about how crucial it is, especially coming back from not practicing these movements due to quarantine how important it is to really drill the foundation and fundamentals. And beyond strict strength, when it comes to Gymnastics it is all about making SHAPES!
The two major shapes we are concerned with when doing gymnastic movements in CrossFit are the Hollow and Arch positions. In order to kip we are simply moving from hollow to arch and back as efficiently as possible. And to be efficient we aren’t just swinging from the bar but we are actively pulling ourselves into these positions.
So let’s break each one down starting with the Arch. Why start with the Arch? Because it’s the one most overlooked and when that happens a lot of power is left on the table and if not drilled at the fundamental level can prevent you from progression to higher skilled movements like the Muscle-Up. The power comes from creating as much tension as possible in the arch to use in the transition to the hollow that will create the upward momentum we need to accomplish these movements.
By keeping the body LONG and RIGID, we create this tension. Whether on your stomach or hanging from the bar, the position is the same: arms and legs are STRAIGHT, heels squeezed together, stomach is tight and butt is squeezed. Lie face down on your stomach and try this. Stretch your arms above your head, keep your chin tucked. Firstly, reach your fingertips as far forward 0as possible and just squeeze those knees and heels together. You should feel that rigidness.
Now just squeeze your butt. If you have stayed long, even with this just small activation of the glutes, your feet should raise off the ground. Now, while keeping your chin tucked, lift your chest off the ground like there is a string at the base of your neck pulling you upwards as you reach your fingers forward as far as possible. Lift the legs slightly higher so that knees are off the ground, legs stay straight, toes are pointed. This is the Arch position. Notice you aren’t hyperextending your back nor are you making a “C” with your body. Try doing this a few times and then jump to the rig and attempt the same thing. Engage your lats by drawing your shoulders away from your ears, keep the body long and repeat the same thing you did on the floor. Notice how your body shifts without swinging, this is the tension we are trying to create.
So it’s great if you are actively engaging in kipping movements again coming off of quarantine. But remember, no one gets better at pull-ups by just doing more pull-ups, you get better by perfecting the basics, drilling the fundamentals that will translate to the power you need when executing the full movement.
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
Arch Photo- @crossfitdunwoody