Prescription part three “But no aspect of functional movements is more important than their capacity to move large loads over long distances, and to do so quickly.”
CrossFit has found ways to track improvements in functional movements in a meaningful way. We have given functional movements names and determined characteristics of those movements so that we have a uniform way to track those movements. The consistency helps us track improvements in our constantly varied, functional movement. In other words, we can track our fitness very easily.
We can measure the load and implement that is used in each exercise so that we can see scores increasing or decreasing. For example, we can use a barbell, dumbbell, kettlebell, medicine ball, or any other implement for deadlifts, and with each of these implements, the maximum weight might be different. We can also perform a Romanian deadlift or a sumo deadlift and still have these numbers differ, even though all of these are essentially training the same movement pattern. By tracking all these different variations, we can easily check back to see if we are getting stronger or not. All these exercises can be scaled back to a bodyweight variation – or gymnastics variation, for which the load would be considered bodyweight.
The distance at which a load travels is also easily measurable. Mapping applications and fitness trackers can measure distance for exercises like running and swimming. Knowing how to track and measure distance makes tracking functional movements that much easier. There is a very mathematical way to track power output for squats, deadlifts, pull-ups, and every exercise that has a uniform tracking method, but instead of tracking power output using a formula, we typically count repetitions. If your height and weight are not changing dramatically, tracking reps is equally as accurate.
Another way to measure functional movements is time. How long does it take to do a push-up? And can it be done faster with better mechanics? This measures speed or rate. Improvement is measured when we can do a push-up faster than we could 4 weeks ago. Again, this can be put into an equation to determine the power output, but instead of getting all math-y about it, we would just say “how many push-ups can you do now? If you can do more in 4 weeks, you are more fit.”
Tracking functional movement allows us to keep hard data that is measurable, repeatable, and observable. These numbers can guide us on what movements produce the most work and power, in other words, these numbers can tell us what athletes are good at. These numbers also hold us accountable with ourselves and give consistent data on how we are performing and, most importantly, find our weaknesses.
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