How Do You Eat an Elephant?

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Thursday March 15, 2014


Lat Stretch w/ Band
Super Rack Stretch w/ Band

Warm Up:

Run 400m
10 burpees
10 Lat Activations (5 Wide/5 Narrow)
10 Scapular Pushups
10 Bar taps
10 Planche Pushups
10 Toes-to-bar/V-ups or Tuck-ups

Gymnastics Strength:

EMOM for 15 minutes:

Minute 1: 5 Muscle Ups OR 7 MU Ring Rows
Minute 2: 8 Arch/Hollow Roll + V-Up Across Floor (4 left/4 right) –DEMO
Minute 3: 10 Arch/Hollow Med Ball Throws (20/14#) –DEMO

 Notes: The cycle repeats 5 times. These are new movements so practice and scale according to ability. 


15 minute AMRAP for quality:

5 Strict Pull Ups
10 Ring Push ups
15 Deck Squats

Notes: Use bands or ring rows to allow full range of motion strict pull ups in a tight hollow position. Ring push ups may be performed at an incline if needed.

Cool Down:

Accumulate 30 Strict Tuck Ups or V-Ups (emphasize maintaining hollow, break it up as needed!)
Foam Roll or Double Lacrosse Ball T-spine

How do you eat an elephant?

One bite at a time!

This proverb is especially true when it comes to your training, and learning new skills. If you want to learn a muscle up for example, you must be able to properly execute an arch, hollow, hip drive, ring row, transition over the rings, bottom of the dip, dip, and ring support. You also have to develop the prerequisite strength, learn timing, patience, and proper position. This makes the muscle up seem like an impossibly difficult task, but it is very manageable if you learn it one piece at a time.

If you just step up to the rings and make a few unsuccessful attempts at the whole movement, or even if you get it with poor form, you are ingraining a neural pattern. This neural pattern is what your body will do every time your brain asks it to do a muscle up. Because you did it incorrectly and/or unsuccessfully the first time, subsequent attempts will only function to reinforce the original mistake(s). Now, in order to properly do and link muscle ups, you have to unlearn the mistake patterns AND replace them with correct ones. You have created an uphill battle for yourself!

A strategy that I will be teaching in my accelerated learning course, called “part-whole” practice, will help you pick up skills fast and more important: correctly. The “part-whole” concept is one that Dan Millman, former gymnastics coach at Stanford, used to help his athletes quickly learn how to perform advanced routines, perfectly. It is an easy-to-implement strategy in practice IF you have the patience to perfect a movement one piece at a time.

Continuing with the muscle up example, you would learn a perfect arch body and hollow body position, you would then learn how to link arch and hollow. You can then learn a perfect hip drive, and learn the timing necessary to initiate the ring row at the perfect time, and so on until you have put everything together.

The question of sequencing, or the order in which you should learn each part, is also an important one that will be covered in depth during the accelerated learning course. Should I learn the end position (ring support) first? What should I learn next? Which pieces should I learn in combination? When should I attempt to put the whole thing together?

These are all important questions, but as long as you learn how to perform each piece perfectly, it will make learning the whole movement a lot easier than if you keep attempting the whole movement unsuccessfully. If you want to learn more about how to fast-track your learning of skills, I still have a few spaces left in the class which has a tentative date of Saturday May 31. Get in touch via email or Facebook to reserve your spot. It is free for Paradiso CrossFit members!

Author: Matthew Walrath

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