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Exercises Movements, technique & proper execution

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Old 06-23-2011, 08:22 AM   #1
Danielle Erwin
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Best exercises for Strenght gain....

... When you are brand new to crossfit.

I have seen other threads on gaining strength, but I could really use help finding something more applicable to my situation ( but I do apologize if this is repetetive)

I am a sad case at the moment. I can't do a pullup. I can do approx 5 regular pushups, but if I want to do more than that I have to drop down to my knees. So, my body weight exercises are a little embarassing.

My main experiences with weights have been via a Bodypump class at my athletic club ( What I've noticed is referred to as a "globo gym" around here!) ( If you're not familiar w/ the class its 1 hour long and focus's on various body parts. You'll do a 5+ minute set of, squats, chest presses, tri's, lunges, biceps, shoulders and deadlifts ( with rows). You use various weights on a barbell for each exercise. I have no idea how such a class is viewed by crossfitters.

But, I do have basic knowledge of proper form and barbell/dumbell handling. I tend to pick exercises up quickly and understand my body movements fairly well ( for some reason, taking Ballet starting at 4 and quitting at the age of 12-- I didn't have the waifish frame to pull of a leotard anymore) really helped with posture and stance.

I'd love to exercise at home and at my local gym without making a complete fool of myself ( I can't stand getting advice from a bro-guy with a beer gut) and I would really appreciate any feedback of how you all eased your way into crossfit, if you were similarly out of shape.

I'm 5'5". Don't know how much I weigh, but it's over 140lbs. I'm definitly overweight. Not severely, but I don't feel comfortable. I'm 1-2 sizes bigger than I probably should be, in dresses/pants.

I have a medium build. - slightly broad shoulders, large rib cage, never had a waist, narrow hips, longer muscular legs. Very prone to building muscle mass and even in lulls of not exercising I maintain a more muscular lower frame. I carry weight in my belly, and in unfortunate times... on my hips. I walk a lot with my two dogs. I go through phases of hitting the gym and then falling off due to life happening, and then losing the confidence to get back out there. It's a little pathetic but at least it's honest.

Crossfit is alluring to me because I want to be strong and athletic again. I love intense workouts and I like pushing myself. I am a squatting monster. I love squats. My lower half isn't my area of great concern its from the hips up.

So, any advice would be really helpful!

I'm super new to all of this, so the complex terminology in the other threads was super confusing. I made myself familiar w/ the main crossfit terms, but I honestly couldn't tell you what a "snatch" or a "clean and jerk" are-- and I'm pretty sure I'm not going to google those terms at work. :-p

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Old 06-23-2011, 08:49 AM   #2
Wayne Riddle
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Re: Best exercises for Strenght gain....

If you want to get stronger, any program will do that for you as a novice. Your best bet IMO would be a linear progression program (Starting Strength, Grey Skull, etc.). Get a good base strength and everything else in the CF world (and life) will be easier. Again, my opinion.
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Old 06-23-2011, 08:54 AM   #3
Ryan Gregory
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Re: Best exercises for Strenght gain....

Welcome to the party, And kudos for working at getting healither!

Crossfit can be both extremely indepth and extremely simple.

My opinion, don't try to get caught up in all the little details right out of the gate; it's a lot to take in. When I started, for the first 2 weeks, I found WODS that weren't too repetitive (I didn't do the same type of Wod), and just did those to get used to it.

I too train at Goodlife, and that's where I do all my CF wods (workout of the day). If you don't have someone to coach you, this site will be your saviour: http://www.crossfit.com/cf-info/excercise.html

When you start doing the WODS as prescribed, go to this site and review all the videos, how-tos, and details on preforming the movements you're not sure of. Then start light, and work your way up.

As for JuicePigs giving you advice, do what I do: put your headphones on, and CRUSH 'Fran'...no one wants to talk to someone doing Thrusters & Pull ups for time!
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Old 06-23-2011, 09:06 AM   #4
Danielle Erwin
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Re: Best exercises for Strenght gain....

Thank you! I really appreciate the feedback - @ Ryan I'll definitly check out that website, sounds perfect for what I need.

Unfortunatly in my little area of the world there tends to an overwhelming amount of "bros" ( my term for juiceheads). All beef. I like that advice though... I'v heard Frans a beast so I'll probably be waiting on that one for a bit, haha.

I'm really excited about getting started with this, and the main reason I signed up here is because it's such a nice community of people. So much knowledge, info, and internet support from all over, it's really cool.

I am just looking foward to being stronger. My impending 26th birthday has really pushed me into wanting a better life for myself physically. I can't rest on my early 20s metabolism anymore.
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Old 06-23-2011, 12:17 PM   #5
Blair Robert Lowe
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Re: Best exercises for Strenght gain....

Danielle, the best exercises for strength gain would be the squat, deadlift, overhead and bench press and pullups, in your case what is often called a "body row" which is a pullup on some angle that is more horizontal than vertical with your feet on the floor. At some point in time, you'll want to add in the power clean and snatch.

So, a program like Starting Strength or 70sBig Simple Strength&Conditioning program. If for some reason, you wanted to do something more CrossFit-like, I would CrossFitFootball or MaxEffortBlackBox where you would train 1 strength exercise than the conditioning)

I've had pretty good success dealing with ex ballet dancers adapting to new sports and activities. There is something to be said about excellent balance and body awareness besides the flexibility.

As for pullups, DO NOT DO jumping pullups. I wouldn't waste time with fancy bands, either. A combination of body rows and negative pullups (with assist if need) are what will get you there.

For your pushups, I would either focus on lots of sets of them working only the concentric (up portion starting on the floor) or negative phase (down portion).

While the bodybump classes may be more useful than many other classes at your globogym, they generally aren't programmed with enough weight.
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Old 06-23-2011, 12:44 PM   #6
Rebecca Roth
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Re: Best exercises for Strenght gain....

Quote:
Originally Posted by Danielle Erwin View Post
But, I do have basic knowledge of proper form and barbell/dumbell handling. I tend to pick exercises up quickly and understand my body movements fairly well ( for some reason, taking Ballet starting at 4 and quitting at the age of 12-- I didn't have the waifish frame to pull of a leotard anymore) really helped with posture and stance.
You and I have a similar background! I made it all the way through adjudication, where the only negative feedback, was unfortunately, that I would never have a dancer's body and as such no amount of technique/ability would make a career in dancing a possibility for my future. I lasted about a year after that before moving on.
Like you've already noticed, the intense focus on body/positional awareness from being a dancer has a HUGE transfer to learning technical movements, especially the barbell lifts. . It sort of surprised me to hear trainers talk about it when I was going through the fundamentals classes, over and over they would ask if I could feel things that were wrong, but then be caught off guard when I said yes or could name off other things I felt wrong as well, apparently a huge part of their work training new people is just to get them to where they can even identify those things, once you have that at least half the battle toward correcting them is won. You are also very likely to find, that when others are struggling with flexibility issues that prevent their positioning, you will have a great deal fewer challenges, because of the many similarities of ballet movements that transfer to the lifts

As far as strength movements, nothing beats heavy squats, deadlifts, and either bench or strict press!
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Old 06-23-2011, 07:13 PM   #7
Michael Capalbo
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Re: Best exercises for Strenght gain....

Danielle, I think that your learning curve actually will be pretty fast. Most girls, even those who work out regularly, can't do a "regular" push-up and you can do 5. Pull-ups are even harder.

(1) I take it that joining an affiliate is out of the question... That would have been my first bit of advice--to join a good affiliate. You will be guided every step of the way when you join into how to work out, and you will both get stronger AND get into better shape over the next few months. Then if/when you decide to specialize on strength, you will have the resources to do just that.

A good affiliate will also have all the equipment so that you can practice ring rows and what not on your transition to pull-ups before or after class or something.

Also, if the affiliate is good, the community will be welcoming. You won't be bothered by an over-aggro juicer.


(2) You can try your local gym, which should have plenty of equipment to do the basic strength lifts such as deadlift, squat, and the press, and the power clean. You can use the website Ryan suggested. You can set up a pull-up bar (and rings to do the ring rows) at your home. If learning the snatch and the overhead squat is something you want to do (no need to make it a priority now) you need to find a gym where you are allowed to drop the weights.


(3) You can set up a weight area for yourself at home, but this involves the biggest investment in money and space.


If you go (2) and (3), a basic routine of ring rows (transitioning to pull-ups), push-ups, presses (dumbbell and barbell), thrusters, squats, and deadlifts, and planks, should serve your purpose fine. Throw in some power cleans and some dumbbell snatches for extra credit.

**In fact, to use even less equipment, you could sub in one-legged squats for barbell squats and still build up strength and enhance balance too. Push-ups and planks don't need anything special either. The only thing you would need would be a pull-up bar and rings to train yourself to do pull-ups.**

Hope this helps...

Last edited by Michael Capalbo : 06-23-2011 at 07:19 PM.
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Old 06-24-2011, 05:39 AM   #8
Danielle Erwin
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Re: Best exercises for Strenght gain....

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rebecca Roth View Post
You and I have a similar background! I made it all the way through adjudication, where the only negative feedback, was unfortunately, that I would never have a dancer's body and as such no amount of technique/ability would make a career in dancing a possibility for my future. I lasted about a year after that before moving on.
Like you've already noticed, the intense focus on body/positional awareness from being a dancer has a HUGE transfer to learning technical movements, especially the barbell lifts. . It sort of surprised me to hear trainers talk about it when I was going through the fundamentals classes, over and over they would ask if I could feel things that were wrong, but then be caught off guard when I said yes or could name off other things I felt wrong as well, apparently a huge part of their work training new people is just to get them to where they can even identify those things, once you have that at least half the battle toward correcting them is won. You are also very likely to find, that when others are struggling with flexibility issues that prevent their positioning, you will have a great deal fewer challenges, because of the many similarities of ballet movements that transfer to the lifts

As far as strength movements, nothing beats heavy squats, deadlifts, and either bench or strict press!

That's so funny! It really does help to have a background that emphasizes good posture. I just couldn't deal with the leotard! I like the little ferret in your picture :-)

I really appreciate the feedback guys!

I'll work on my strength and basic movements - - hopefully my live-in boyfriend doesn't mind being with a jacked lady, because I'm going for it.

- Dani
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Old 06-24-2011, 06:34 AM   #9
Eric Montgomery
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Re: Best exercises for Strenght gain....

Strength does not equal jacked...hopefully you and him both understand you're not going to suddenly look like a female bodybuilder without some serious (and illegal) hormonal assistance. Look for videos of female powerlifters and Oly lifters in the 58kg and 69kg weight classes, they're absurdly strong but not grotesquely big in any way. In most cases, aside from their above-average sized quads, hamstrings, and glutes you'd have a hard time telling they were strength athletes if you saw them on the street.

Squatting/deadlifting/cleaning typically do really nice things for the female body....look at some of the videos of female competitors at the CF regionals for proof of that.
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Old 06-24-2011, 07:29 AM   #10
adam adkins
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Re: Best exercises for Strenght gain....

Short Answer:

Push, pull, squat

Detailed Answer:

Bench Press (push)
Military Press (Push)
Deadlift (pull)
Power Clean (pull)
Hardstyle Swings (pull)
Back Squat
Front Squat

Answer in the spirit of being different:

Snatch Grip Deadlift from a deficit
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