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9 Fundamental Movements of CrossFit
There are 9 Fundamental Movements to CrossFit. These 9 movements create the foundation for the majority of movements used within CrossFit. Starting in the left column moving right, each movement increases in skill, from the most basic (foundational) movement to the most complex. Think of each of the following movements, in the progression, as a more efficient means to the same end as the one before it. Mastering each progression builds the necessary universal motor recruitment patterns that translates to other activities.
|Basic ||Progression 1 ||Progression|
|Squat ||Front Squat ||Overhead Squat|
|Press ||Push Press ||Push Jerk|
|Deadlift ||Sumo Deadlift High-Pull (SDHP) ||Med Ball Clean|
Basically, if you desire to get better at things that involve the human body, you need to master these 9 movements. If you want to jump high or far, you need to squat, deadlift, and clean. If you want to run fast… same. If you want to be able to get up and out of your recliner, pick-up a heavy bag of groceries, and put it on the counter in the kitchen when you’re much much older….same.
As far as the overhead movements (Overhead squat, press, push press, push jerk) go, they illicit some of the strongest contractions of the core and require enormous amounts of midline stabilization. This translates to all sports, various activities, and even a healthy pain-free back.
10 General Physical Skills
CrossFit makes a deliberate attempt to optimize physical competence in each of the following ten recognized fitness skills. These skills are:
|Coordination||Agility||Balance||Accuracy||Cardiovascular and Respiratory Endurance|
To be good at anything requires two aspects, physical ability (organic) and the neurologic ability. When you combine organic skills with neurologic skills, Power and Speed are a bi-product, and this creates amazing results.
This is simple, really. We believe in the ability for an athlete to be able to perform well at any given task. To help illustrate this we often use the idea of a hopper, like in bingo. Imagine tons of physical activities individually (pull-ups, push-ups, 100 yard dash, squats, deadlifts, etc.) written on pieces of paper or balls or whatever, and thrown into a hopper. The hopper is turned around and around mixing everything inside. You open the hatch and randomly pull activites out to perform. This is like life, often random and you have to be ready for anything.
There 3 metabolic pathways that provide the energy for all human action. These pathways (or “engines”) are known as phosphagen, glycolytic, and oxidative pathways. Each pathway is designed to dominate specific activities and for various durations. The following chart breaks it down a bit.
Sprint Mid-Distance Distance-Distance
Primary Energy System Phosphagen Glycolytic Oxidative
Duration of work
(in seconds) 10-30 30-120 120-300+
Duration of recovery
(in seconds) 30-90 60-240 120-300+
Load Recovery Ratio 1:3 1:2 1:1
Repetitions 25-30 10-20 3-5
Essentially this means that any movement that is performed with high-intensity in a short period of time is uses the Phosphagen system. This is why when you watch weight lifters in a gym, they lift a heavy weight in a few seconds and then they stand around for a minute or two. On the opposite side of the spectrum we have the Oxidative system. This is used by marathoners, cyclists, etc. The movements aren’t as intense as those performed with the Phosphagen system, but instead require energy for longer durations.