Pssssst… CrossFit Secret

The first sentence of the CrossFit Foundations literature states it:

“CrossFit is a core strength and conditioning program.” (CrossFit, 2002)

Ok, ok, so it’s not really a secret if you do a little digging, but this foundational idea is often brushed aside in the pursuit of higher-order compound movements (think snatch, mucle-ups, even pullups and wallballs). 6 minute abs? Exercise mumbo-jumbo? Far from it.

Let us do a little experiment. I am assuming you are sitting down at the moment, so if you aren’t go ahead and take a seat. Turn your hips, lower back, and belly muscles completely off. Make sure any tension you felt is completely released, and you feel like you could melt into a puddle on the floor. Now, try to stand up.

What happened? Not much I’m betting.

Now, I want you to engage your hips and lower back, flex those abs by pulling your belly button to your spine and try again. What happened? You stood up!

Not only were you unable to stand up when you were disengaged, but you also proved that even the simplest movements in our everyday lives are completely dependent on the engagement of our CORE! As the level of difficulty of any given movement increases, we are increasingly using/relying on core muscles! When you stood up, you moved the energy from “core to extremity.” In other words, the energy moved from your core to your legs, which allowed you to stand up. Consider a baseball pitcher who is winding up…he must brace his core before he is able to utilize the strength in his hips and legs, which then transfers to his arm for a maximum output of energy.

It is time to change the way you are thinking about your movement. Rather than assuming your core is automatically at work, it is vital that you create a foundation for that movement to be rooted from. Stop thinking so much about what your arms or legs are doing, and focus on the foundation of it all… your CORE. When you hear coaches shouting, ”tight core,” “steel spine,” “global positioning,” or “hollow/arch” you should automatically know to engage your core and utilize it for the sake of the movement you are trying to complete.

Take this idea into the gym, focus on your core before you even begin a movement, and let me know what happens!

Let’s get after it!!

Extra Credit:

-4 min Tabata Hollow Position Hold

(Lying flat on the ground with your arms over your head and legs zipped together, engage your upper abdominal muscles as if someone was about to step your belly, this should raise your shoulders off the ground an inch or two. Once set, begin to raise your zipped together legs until they are off of the ground. Hold for 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off for 8 rounds.






I’ve wanted to start a blog for some time now, but I could not decide what I wanted to write about for the first post. I’ve started writing four or five different times, but each attempt lead me to more and more frustration because I never felt that it would be good enough to post.

Well, that’s it…I’m going for it! I am getting started!

I decided to write about something that I know we have all felt at some point, and probably something that we prefer not to talk about. As CrossFitters, and in our daily lives, we’ve all felt the knee wobble, stomach grumble, and insecurity when coming to the gym for the first time or before that WOD that exposes all of your flaws. It’s the nature of any new challenge that we have decided to face, and it has a name… FEAR!

Fear is a very powerful thing. In fact, it is the motivation behind most people’s actions. As humans, we have a natural aversion to fear, and rightfully so, because it exists in order to keep us alive. Yet, fear is only a natural response to anything that is not normal or habit. Consider a child who is afraid of the dark because the darkness is unknown to them. Over time, their experience with the dark alleviates the fear and it goes away.

Physiologically speaking, fear triggers our sympathetic nervous system to release norepinephrine in preparation for fighting or fleeing for your life. I realize that CrossFit is not life or death; very few things in the world we live in today warrant such a response. But this “fight or flight” mentality can be applied anytime we experience fear. The fact that you walked into the gym on your first day (even though you may have been afraid) means that have already ‘fought’ and won!

Fear is not a feeling that will ever completely go away, but it has the ability to show itself in different ways. A good example of this is the fact that most gyms consistently have low attendance on overhead squat day. I do not believe this is coincidence…

So I’ll wrap up my fear blog with this. Embrace fear! Instead of it telling you to flee, choose to FIGHT! Fight for your family, fight for your friends, but most importantly fight for your life! A fighters pride, win or lose, is second to none.


Teddy Roosevelt may have said it best…

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.


…Those who don’t know fear…



Joe W.