Beastmodal Domains is proud to present a guest post by Tim “Brad ‘Tim Francis’ Pitt” Francis. While the opinions presented in this post are not from my brain, I agree with all of it. All I did was add the stupid pics and captions. Commence pot-stirring now.
We’ve all been there before. You open up your web browser, navigate over to Crossfit.com, and check the WOD with some level of anticipation, hoping for another great workout. After quickly scanning the WOD, you shake your head in dismay and think, “What kind of butt fucking CrossFit sorcery is this?” That’s right, they programmed the mother fucking handstand walk again. Somewhere a Gymnastics WOD’er is servicing his raging boner, and somewhere else I’m contemplating nailing my scrotum to my chair. Fuck.
CrossFit is built on the three focus areas of intensity, variation, and functionality. I’m going to focus on functionality. There is a rash of stupid shit that pollutes the generally functional exercises of CrossFit, but handstand walks are probably at the pinnacle of Stupid Shit Mountain. Look no further than Event “Skills 1” of the WSOE for an unabashed spectacle of stupid shit.
Here’s a rhetorical question, “Should a reasonable test of the fittest person alive include a softball throw?” I lied. That’s not a rhetorical question. Fuck no. Also, can anyone tell me where “skills” fit into intensity, variation, and functionality? “Nunchuck skills, bowhunting skills, computer hacking skills…” It’s funny in Napoleon Dynamite because it’s stupid.
Now the CrossFit Stasi are surely flipping through their notebook of “Canned Responses To Reasoned Criticism” and finding all kinds of rationalizations for why a handstand walk is a functional exercise. It’s a skill, peeps. Handstand walks are a bar trick, not a measure of functional fitness. Softball throwing is a skill. That’s NOT a test of fitness any more than knitting a fucking scarf is. As a side note, have you ever seen a professional speed knitter get busy? Shit’s bananas, b-a-n-a-n-a-s.
When a real gymnast does a muscle up or handstand walk, the moves look effortless and sleek because the Carl Paolis of the world are skilled fucking badasses. In the hands of a gymnast, those movements look nothing like the epileptic hot mess of appendages on display when I do them. That’s because they’re skills, not functional movements.
A functional exercise is something that is intuitive and simple. We’re talking deadlifts, bench, swings. Meathead shit. Functional fitness should allow you to perform tasks that aren’t skilled. Think: I’m a caveman, and I need to lift this saber toothed tiger off the ground. That’s not a skill. You just lift the fucking thing.
The odd thing to me is that while CrossFit is light years ahead of most fitness programs in terms of functional movement, it seems to miss out on a lot of potentially functional exercises. The best example among many is one-armed rows. Have you ever tried to start a lawnmower or, say, lift anything ever off the ground? I bet if you could yank 150# one-armed rows, lifting shit off the ground would be a lot easier. You’d also have Hank Aaron forearms, son.
Further, high rep squat cleans and squat snatches don’t make much sense either. Those are highly technical movements that should be done in low numbers of reps. If you want to do high reps, use power cleans and power snatches. As Rip has said, a squat clean is just a missed power clean. There’s a reason real life Oly lifters do the functional movements power cleans & front squats along with power snatches & OHSs to improve the money lifts. The money lifts are skills, the functional movements make you strong.
Skill work is valuable inasmuch as it has a direct correlation to your sport-specific movement. In other words, football players should work football skills, not handstand walks or double unders. If CrossFit is your sport, and these movements show up in competition, then hopefully you’ve trained them. As one who competes in CrossFit, I begrudgingly train these movements when programmed.
I’ve developed a test to determine if a movement is functional or not. If the movement wouldn’t fit into Rocky’s training montage in Rocky IV, then fuck it. I literally (figuratively) get a fucking aneurism whenever I see handstand walks programmed. Now go ice your cheek. You just got mushroom stamped by the flying cock of function. Get functional, get strong.