Aims part four “Capacity culled from the intersection of all sports demands would quite logically lend itself well to all sport.”
Having many different modalities, or ways to train in a program for fitness, is key to the efficacy and efficiency of a general preparedness training program. It may seem counterproductive to work on so many skills at once or even at all, but science supports the claim that everyday life punishes those who specialize. CrossFit uses learning and memory tactics to curve the difficulty of learning so many skills and makes them easier to be developed at a beginner, intermediate or advanced training level. These concepts work for grade school, for example learning to type on a computer is similar to learning to push press a barbell at the gym.
In psychology there are different ways to learn and remember. Some are more effective than others and such will work better depending on the athlete and type of movement being trained. One variation of this is blocked, or constant learning, which is done when the same material is covered repeatedly in succession. Another version is variance learning, which is small doses of content in short successions. Both types of learning can be applied to fitness training.
Studies show that blocked practice is more effective for performance in training environments, which in CrossFit is a daily workout with skill practice. By using blocked learning, newer CrossFit athletes can grow very quickly, but the ability to change tasks and adapt is stunted over time. In general, blocked learning is highly effective for newer athletes and for learning most basic skills like a squat or kip swing. Each day, enough time is spent in a blocked style setting to practice certain movements before the workout. This is generally called “skill” or “build-up” work. These drills and progressions focus on mechanics and consistency before the workout, targeting the key movements for that day’s workout. This is like massed practice where training is done in a continuous and concentrated way.
Variance practice or variable practice is more effective when taking tests, in CrossFit this would be a benchmark workout or competition. From day to day there is plenty of variances in the movements, implements, loading, time domains, reps, and distances traveled. This is proved to increase adaptation for the demands. This is like spaced practice where skills are learned in short periods over several sessions. CrossFit uses this version more often because utilize a lot of variance, and this type of practice is better for retention of skill in the long run. We want to adapt when we train and test. Our bodies go through a feedback loop, and if there is enough appropriate training taking place then that feedback loop tells our body to grow in healthy ways. Using all these principles of learning and memory helps decrease skill decay and keeps transfer specificity fresh.
The psychological reason that constantly varied programming works for fitness in the long run is because we are more likely to adapt to adversity and changes. In our daily life, this makes us more likely to recover from mishaps and accidents – like a trip and fall. This adaptive training is transferable to sport as well because we are required to figure out new and unique situations both defensively and offensively with many situations that out of our control.
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