As many of you have realized, we have come to the end of our current cycle and are proceeding into our next. The next will be a gymnastics-biased cycle, which Grant aka Ktown’s Dominique Moceanu will be covering in a coming blog post. However, the purpose of this post is to shed some light on the purpose of what we have been doing the last several weeks with all of these crazy single-arm and single-leg exercises.
Strength by Analogy
In engineering, the strength of a structure is determined by the ability of the materials used in the structure to endure various stresses, including shear, torsion, and bending. Steel is stronger than a pillow. But it is much more complicated. Much like the Golden Gate Bridge, our bodies are made of many different materials and pieces. For the bridge, there is steel of various types and tensile strengths, joints, concrete, asphalt, protective paint, supports, etc. For our bodies, there are tendons, ligaments, bones, organs, joints, cartilage, and so on.
Additionally, a bridge is designed to flex and bend and move with the external forces that will be exerted upon it (wind, water) and to support its own weight. Similarly, our body is designed to move and bend to control external loads (barbells, med balls, kettlebells) and to support and control its own weight (gymnastics).
Structural Strength and You
All of that to say this: when designing a bridge, structural engineers create a design and choose the strongest materials in an effort to minimize the chances of a catastrophic failure, i.e. the bridge cannot handle the weight it is carrying and it collapses. Similarly, our recently completed cycle sought to remove imbalances by forcing you to move in single-arm and single-leg modalities. We forced you to use smaller muscle groups with accessory movements. We used slow and controlled versions of movements and “strict” versions of movements to increase overall strength and to force you to better control both external weights and your own bodies. And lastly, we put a strong emphasis on abdominal core work and strengthening the posterior chain – the base of stability and power for the human body.
Our structural strength cycle was designed to help you recover from the rigors of the CrossFit Open by lowering intensity, while at the same time challenging your strength, control, coordination, and balance. As we move into our gymnastics cycle, the Summer of Squats, and a heavy Olympic lifting cycle, we have sought to prepare your bodies, your base, as well as we can for the rigors ahead to reduce the likelihood of injury and failure and maximize your likelihood for success.