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Exercises Movements, technique & proper execution

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Old 11-23-2007, 07:03 PM   #1
Brandon Oto
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Static (isometric) gymnastics holds

As a result of some of my own musings and some conversations with our resident gymnasts, I'd like to offer a few talking points for discussion:

1. CrossFitters are concerned with functional strength across a full range of motion.

2. Many CrossFitters are taking time out of their training schedules to develop gymnastics holds on their parallettes, rings, or floor such as levers, planches, and crosses.

3. The reason for this in many cases SEEMS to be because CFers are wooed by comments like "the planche is a great developer of chest strength!" or "the iron cross will give you big shoulders!"

4. This is misleading language. Performing a static hold in and of itself will develop strength only within a very limited range of motion (a few degrees surrounding that position). This is just great for core muscles, but for prime movers, it is not what we mean by functional strength.

ERGO

5. If you're working on your front lever because you think it's cool, go for it.

6. If you're working on your planche because you're a gymnast, then that makes plenty of sense.

7. If you're working on your back lever because it's a tool for developing your functional strength, then I implore you not to simply sit around doing the back lever and thinking it's a fully functional exercise. Just like with your squat or press, your strength will be best developed by moving through a full ROM. The positions, whether scaled or full-on, can be used for this, in exercises like straight-body skin-the-cats and cross pullouts. If you can't do the full technique yet, then you can do the same exercises scaled, such as the familiar knees-to-elbows. But while you can think of these exercises as "progressions to" the actual technique, it would be the wrong path if you did them until you could do the actual hold... then merely used the hold for your training.

8. Put another way... if you can do a front lever, I want to see you doing front lever pullups!
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Old 11-23-2007, 07:07 PM   #2
Brandon Oto
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Re: Static (isometric) gymnastics holds

Two things I didn't mention:

- For core work, which is supposed to be isometric anyway, this stuff is fine.
- If you want to know what more of these dynamic movements are, bug the gymnasts
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Old 11-23-2007, 07:11 PM   #3
Steven Low
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Re: Static (isometric) gymnastics holds

Well, basically I say train movements not moves. I pretty much include almost no isometrics in my training program. I feel that once you're strong enough to move your body throughout a range of motion (for example, pseudo planche pushups), the requisite strength for a planche will come slower BUT you will have a full ROM pushing strength rather than in the 15-20 degree or so window that isometrics give people. Movements are more applicable to a real world setting, so I want to have full strength throughout them rather than in just the isometric.

Basically what Brandon said.. explained a different way. And not to say that I don't work towards the mentioned strength moves though because I do gear strength towards them but not in terms of isometrics.

Also, I don't think most CFers train most of the aforementioned gymnastics holds except like L-sits and possibly handstands.

Last edited by Steven Low : 11-23-2007 at 07:15 PM.
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Old 11-23-2007, 08:44 PM   #4
Tyler Hass
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Re: Static (isometric) gymnastics holds

Brandon,
I agree with some of your points, but not all of them.
1. The front lever and other gymnastics holds are not single joint exercises in the same sense as a preacher curl is. To do a front lever, you must use every muscle in your body.
2. Static holds are only a portion of the possible movement. A straight body pull-to-inverted-hang is essentially a dynamic front lever. Pulling out of a cross into a support is a dynamic cross. Pulling from a hang to a cross (butterfly) is damn near impossible:-)
4. These moves can be linked together into strength to strength combinations. Go from a cross to a front lever. Pull from front lever to back lever. Back lever to front lever. Maltese to plance, etc. This is the next evolution beyond the isometric holds and then again beyond the dynamic versions. These become the basis for a routine.
3. Gymnasts don't train these moves in isolation. At least not for long. Once a move is obtained, it becomes part of a routine. Developing a challenging routine is the hallmark of gymnastics.
5. People who can do this stuff are freaky strong. I've seen former collegiate-level gymnasts bench 300 for reps at 165 lbs. Pullups plus 90 lbs for reps. One of these guys still had a shaky planche on rings, but considered himself out of shape.
6. Jordan Jovtchev, a ring/floor specialist has gone further in Sasuke (Ninja Warrior) obstacle courses than any other non-Japanese athlete. He didn't train or prepare for the event. A wide variety of professional athletes have gone through the course and none got as far as he did.
7. Training for these "non-functional" skills can involve incorporating a lot of "functional" work, such as weighted pullups for helping with the front lever, weighted dips for the cross and planche. There is also a lot of carryover from the levers towards pullups, bench and others. I hit my PR on muscle-ups after training for the cross.
8. The iron cross and other exercises CAN develop big muscles. You've seen a gymnast, right? When I talked to Jordan recently, he said that he rarely eats more than once a day because he needs to stay lightweight.

I think your post was well thought out and it should stimulate a good conversation. Keep in mind, I'm not a competitive gymnast and I'm not endorsing the idea of CrossFitters training to compete in gymnastics. But there is a lot of great stuff to be found within gymnastics that can make you stronger and a better athlete. I think developing a ring routine out of whatever basic skills you can do is is both functional and highly productive. Adding to that routine over time and developing harder skills to place in it is definitely a worthy goal.

Tyler
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Old 11-23-2007, 09:00 PM   #5
Lincoln Brigham
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Re: Static (isometric) gymnastics holds

I think Brandon's assumption #1 is not entirely on point. The idea is not so much that full-range movement is the goal, but that a chronic lack of full range movement across the board within a program is a problem. An example is chronic partial range of motion exercises found in many bodybuilding programs. As noted, midline core stabilization work is but one example of highly beneficial static exercise. Shoulder stabilization (handstands, ring lockouts, overhead squats) is another healthy example. The functional range of most grip work is also fairly narrow.

I am concerned about full range of motion movement, but it is not a primary focus. Functional movement is a primary focus. As it so happens many functional movements - but not all - are also full range of motion. Form follows function.
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Old 11-24-2007, 05:22 AM   #6
Brandon Oto
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Re: Static (isometric) gymnastics holds

Tyler -- I like the idea of using full chained-together routines (that is, holds with transitions), but I don't think anyone here really knows how to do that.

Lincoln -- are you suggesting that the specific shoulder position in, say, a planche is directly useful to real-world situations?
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Old 11-24-2007, 06:43 AM   #7
Tim Donahey
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Re: Static (isometric) gymnastics holds

I believe, though I am in no way certain, that ring training/static holds will crucially support rotator cuff health and stability, which has carryover into every functional, full ROM movement that relies on the RC.

my 2centavos.
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Old 11-24-2007, 03:45 PM   #8
Lincoln Brigham
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Re: Static (isometric) gymnastics holds

Quote:
Lincoln -- are you suggesting that the specific shoulder position in, say, a planche is directly useful to real-world situations?
I can say the handstand in particular is directly useful to carrrying stuff overhead. If you ever put up sheet rock on a ceiling, you've been there.
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Old 11-24-2007, 04:47 PM   #9
Corey Duvall
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Re: Static (isometric) gymnastics holds

Not trying to thread-steal, but...

Just spent two days putting up sheetrock on the ceiling of my parents garage gym. When I used to do it and it was just short of my full reach I would hold it with bent arms. Dumb, but my workouts at that time focused on upper body stuff, so my legs would actually tire sooner if I used them in the partial squat position. Since doing a lot of overhead squatting I was able to hold the sheets far longer and recover much quicker holding them with straight arms, elevated shoulders, and legs in a partial squat.
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Old 11-24-2007, 06:46 PM   #10
Blair Robert Lowe
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Re: Static (isometric) gymnastics holds

Brandon, the order of progression of our Head Coach teaches the kids movements ( such as conditioning for the basic gymnastic movements of shoulder, torso, upper body extremity, pushing/pulling, and leg movement of jumping and landing ) in order of isometric, then isokinetic, then plyometric.

Basically, static first, then through a range of motion as great as possible, and then explosively.

I believe part of the reason he goes through this is also to incorporate learning muscle memory and gathering neuromuscular efficiency in these movements.

As Steven alluded to, most Crossfitters practice recognizeable gymnastics such as L-sits and Handstands. Knees to elbows might be the next common gymnastics progresssion as a mix of front lever and leg lifts. Pushups, pullups, dips, muscle-ups, block jumps, pistols all skate the borderline of calesthenics and gymnastics.

Probably, a smaller percentage of the CF population works levers, hollow and arch rocks, V-ups and hug a twinkie ( reverse hyper back extension ) and inverted situps. This also includes Parkour movements, animal walks, handstand walking, cartwheeling, breakfalls and rolling.

A smaller percentage of the above group probably goes beyond this all into the realm of more recognizeable gymnastics. Mostly ex gymnasts or aspiring gymnasts ( crossfitters enjoying and wanting to learn about gymnastics ).
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