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The CrossFit stimulus—constantly varied high-intensity functional movement coupled with meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch, and no sugar—prepares you for the demands of a healthy, functional, independent life and provides a hedge against chronic disease and incapacity. This stimulus is elegant in the mathematical sense of being marked by simplicity and efficacy. The proven elements of this broad, general, and inclusive fitness, in terms of both movement and nutrition, are what we term our CrossFit Essentials.

The burpee is a versatile movement. In its simplest form, it requires little skill, space, or equipment. However, the framework of the basic movement lends itself to many creative variations, such as burpee box jump-overs, which have the potential for greater intensity and challenge coordination, agility, and balance. 

WatchThe Burpee Box Jump-Over

The muscle-up is a movement that begins from the hang, passes through portions of a pull-up and a dip, then finishes in a supported position with arms extended. Many athletes experience the strict bar muscle up as more challenging than its counterpart on the rings. This is because the pull-up bar creates a fixed object the athlete must navigate around. Pulling the torso high enough and having the patience to delay the transition to the dip is critical to the success of the movement.

Watch The Strict Bar Muscle-Up

CrossFit trainers are skilled in the art of making many difficult movements accessible for the beginner. A good trainer will guide new athletes through a progression, celebrating the small victories along the way. A great trainer will understand this process is not just for the beginner and continue this system with intermediate and advanced athletes.

WatchHandstand Push-Up Variations

There are many variations of the Olympic lifts. The qualifier "hang" describes the starting position of the bar. The hang snatch emphasizes the second and third pulls of the snatch, from the hang position with the bar at the hip to the full overhead squat receiving position and finally to the end of the lift with the bar overhead and the athlete standing. The timing, powerful hip extension, and coordination remain similar to the full snatch. However, the technical demands of arriving at the correct position are reduced compared to pulling the bar from the floor.

Watch The Hang Snatch

The box step-up is similar in mechanics to any lunging variation. The athlete must use the strength of one leg to elevate themselves. The higher the box, the greater the demand on both strength and flexibility. Although often used as a scaled version of the box jump, the step-up can provide a challenge to even the most advanced athletes.

Watch The Box Step-Up

The dumbbell front squat builds on the mechanics of the barbell front squat. The dumbbells may not be supported entirely on the torso as they are with the barbell, but the goal remains the same: to support the load primarily on the shoulders with the elbows pointed forward. Controlling both dumbbells demands and improves midline stability, control, and accurate positioning of the body.

Watch The Dumbbell Front Squat

The strict toes-to-bar is a staple in the conditioning programs of many gymnasts. Although a relatively non-technical movement, performing it well demands trunk strength, flexibility, and control. Pushing into the bar with straight arms allows you to use the strength of the upper body to assist with elevating the legs. Make sure to keep the legs together and as straight as flexibility will allow.

Watch The Strict Toes-To-Bar

There are many variations of the Olympic lifts. The qualifier "hang" describes the starting position of the bar. The hang clean emphasizes the second and third pulls of the clean, from the hang position with the bar at the hip, to the full squat receiving position, and finally to the end of the lift with the bar in the front rack. The timing, powerful hip extension, and coordination remain similar to the clean. However, the technical demands of arriving at the correct position are reduced compared to pulling the bar from the floor.

Watch The Hang Clean

For any jerk variation, the skill consists of using the hips and legs to create upward momentum, then dipping a second time to receive the load in a partial squat. The need to control two dumbbells heightens the demand for coordination and accuracy. Athletes that master the dumbbell push-jerk will develop a solid “lockout” of the arms and intuitive understanding of the overhead position.

Watch The Dumbbell Push Jerk

The dip is an excellent movement for developing basic upper-body strength and control. Along with other calisthenics, such as the pull-up, the dip should be used as a foundational movement for developing gymnastics strength. The bar dip requires less coordination than the ring dip, making it a great choice when moving toward more advanced upper-body movements. Once an athlete has mastered the push-up, mastering the dip is the next logical step.

Watch The Dip

Performing the deadlift with two dumbbells requires a deeper setup position than the traditional barbell deadlift. Ensuring the dumbbells do not swing away from the body requires tension and control from the musculature of the upper back. As with many of the major lifts, learning to execute this movement well, regardless of the equipment used, will aid in developing well-rounded capacity. 

Watch The Dumbbell Deadlift

In parts 1-4 of the “Power of Progression” series, we covered standard progressions used in CrossFit certificate courses to teach complex movements like the push press and push jerk, sumo deadlift high pull, med-ball clean, and snatch. These are a few examples of progressions, and while we have found these particular examples effective, they are not the only possible progressions for these movements. There are also many other movements for which a progression may be an appropriate teaching tool. Thinking about and attempting to create your own progressions is a great way to develop a better understanding of a given movement while also providing your athletes with new learning tools.

Read MoreThe Power Of Progression, Part 5: Building Progressions

The snatch, in any form, develops an athlete’s power and speed. Receiving the barbell in the split stance demands additional accuracy and coordination. However, the split stance also allows the athlete’s torso to remain upright during the lift and therefore requires less upper body flexibility than a full-depth overhead squat.

Watch The Split Snatch

The pull-over is a basic gymnastics movement that quickly and efficiently brings the athlete to the top of the bar. Beyond the practicality of getting the athlete on top of the bar, the pull-over also builds coordination and positional awareness.

Watch The Pull-Over

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