The variance found in CrossFit is critical both to the ethos of the training and the scope of the fitness it yields. CrossFit coaches, then, have this huge task of exposing and educating their students across an array of movements. Though we’ve all experienced the surprising gains in movements and lifts not practiced beyond the frequency that they show up in the variance of CrossFit programming, one could justifiably ask the question, “How am I supposed to get better at handstand push-ups when I’m only exposed to them every so often?”
The answer to this question and other ones like it includes the obvious fitness, position, strength, power and speed improvements of other movements that contribute to the handstand push-up, for example. It’s not necessarily rocket science when an athlete, especially one with a relatively young training age, finds a new personal best in the back squat by way of training lunges, push-ups, air squats and thrusters.
What if there could be more to the conversation than saying you’re improving lifts that you aren’t practicing because, “You’re fitter now.”
Coaches can contribute to a more connected training experience with their language, as well. In fact, handstand push-up day doesn’t need to be the only day students train handstand push-ups when you consider skill transfer.
We know this about tons of movements. What is it about a vertical forearm, external rotation of the shoulder, a neutral spine and so on that wouldn’t make for a better ring dip? The same is true for a push-up, and even a handstand push-up.
Would you agree that elements of a great squat make for key talking points in running mechanics, the lunge and, of course, the pistol?
Coaches who communicate the idea of skill transfer can add value to the training that we are all doing anyway by connecting the dots of pushing mechanics in the push-up, push press, jerk and shoulder press to the handstand push-up. Few are doing this better, in my opinion, than Nate Helming (The Run Experience) and Carl Paoli (Freestyle Connection). Their work should speak for itself.
This idea of practicing everything all the time seems like it creates an environment that adds considerable incentive for deliberate practice and attention to detail, in addition to the obvious benefits of varied training.
When push-ups aren’t done for push-up’s sake, everyone raises their game. The trick, however, is having a coach create this reality so that students can practice skills that transfer across a multitude of movements.