Prescription part one “The CrossFit prescription is ‘constantly varied, high-intensity, functional movement.' Functional movements are universal motor recruitment patterns; they are performed in a wave of contraction from core to extremity; and they
Functional movements are the bulk of exercises that are selected for CrossFit, used for strength and conditioning. They are selected most often for training and many are interchangeable motor patterns. These fundamental actions are useful for fitness from a beginner to advanced performance level. The movements also often complement each other or build from one another. This means that each movement, when combined with other movements, can elicit a great metabolic response, and make for a great workout. Even similar movements vary enough to avoid redundancy and training the skills of one exercise indirectly trains the skills of another exercise because of skill transfer. For example, functional movements like squat, deadlift, and shoulder press will train common movements like sitting to standing, lifting boxes of the ground, and placing storage on a shelf overhead. Those same movements will also transfer to dynamic activity like speed and agility in sport.
Functional movements are great for core training because of their use of midline resistance and powerful flexion and extension of the hip joint. Training functional movements in higher intensity situations makes an everyday interaction with the movement pattern easier. These functional movement patterns are most efficient when the midline is activated first, then the extremities. We call this “core-to-extremity,” or “middle out.” Next time you stand up from the couch notice how your tummy tightens before you start standing. Notice when you throw a ball, your midline activates the throw. Any normal everyday movement, and useful movement in sport is generated this way.
By design, functional movements train our core for many different demands. They will inherently be larger movements based on the defining feature of core to extremity. Larger movements use more joints and muscles, demand more neurological endocrine response, hence making them desirable to train. While there are benefits to isolating joints and groups of muscles, these smaller movements will have little to no skill-transfer. Practicing functional movements is the best means to the end.
CrossFit workouts are written as a “prescription” (Rx). The workout as prescribed is intended for the fittest person. We can take all of those “prescriptions” and alter them to any given person’s skills and abilities. This is called “scaling” and “modifying.” In CrossFit, coaches and athletes can take the workout as prescribed and adjust the movement, implement, time, and/or distance as needed. The workout is a template that will be adjusted to suit the athlete’s needs. We can scale workouts because a scaled functional movement is still functional, which is ultimately the goal.
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