CrossFit can be a fun, invigorating, and intelligent strength and conditioning program that can help get athletes over a frustrating plateau of persistent injury and stale performance, and onto a new upward athletic trajectory. Here are five things a good CrossFit program can add to triathlon training to help make a stronger, faster, and healthier athlete.
a) Teaches proper body mechanics.
CrossFit programs start with an intensive series of sessions that teach how to do basic movements like the squat, deadlift, press, jump/land, and Olympic lifts effectively. These movements are all very technical and, while there is a learning curve, they challenge the athlete’s coordination and motor control. These technical movements teach athletes how to move better and improve shoulder, hip, and knee mechanics.
b) Identifies athletic weakness and imbalance.
A struggle with basic swim, bike and run mechanics could also mean a struggle to maintain good posture in CrossFit’s basic movements: the squat, the deadlift, and the pushup. A knowledgeable coach can watch the movements perform and use them as screening tools to assess strength, muscle flexibility, and joint mobility. Potential injury aside, racing down the road with wheels out of alignment, is not the most efficient way to move.
c) Builds greater strength, power, agility, and speed.
At CrossFit, athletes learn to incorporate strength and gymnastic skills into their workouts. They jump, sprint, and develop power they previously thought impossible. Time and time again, we have seen these new abilities translate to increased athletic performance. Start slowly and learn the proper mechanics first under a coach, then work to maintain these mechanics even when the coach isn’t watching or when fatigue hits. Think of this crucial step as developing technique endurance. Then and only then can you safely add intensity.
d) Develops true functional strength.
To be functional, an exercise should be natural, develop a full range of motion, and promote core-to-extremity movement and mid-line stability. Functional strength does not need to be sport specific. It should focus on building general physical capacity with multi-joint movements that you already do day to day. With an improved ability to pull, push, squat, deadlift, jump, and even throw, you will approach your sport with greater levels of strength, power, body awareness, and confidence.
e) Skills that transfer to our specific sports.
At CrossFit, functional exercises can and should contribute to better swimming, biking, and running. With a good CrossFit coach and program, an understanding of hip and knee mechanics will translate to better run and pedaling mechanics. Your understanding of shoulder mechanics will enhance swim pull and power.