Bulgarian Split Squat. Romanian Deadlift. Arnold Press. These are just a few exercises whose names have been sensationalized by adding a historically strong country or lifter to the name. But in reality, this naming actually hurts us all; coaches, athletes, anyone involved in the fitness industry. Such terms do not really explain what the movement entails, such as a precise range of motion, or the equipment being used to accomplish such a task. Worse is the lack of respect for an industry inundated with infomercials and false marketing. This reflection is important because we all share a common goal; to get ourselves and/or our athletes stronger, more skilled, and more resilient in their sport. This is a serious goal, not to be distracted with names like the Cuban Press or Nordic Curl. It is a difficult endeavor that requires objective prescriptions of exercises just like medicine. We should all know what we are prescribing if we are to move forward.
Step 1 How to Choose the Right ExercisesI just got back from Arizona’s spring training, implementing our system within the Colorado Rockies organization. We had some great discussions about which exercises to use and which to avoid. This first step of selection is critical in order to track the effects of your program on performance and injury reduction. If there is no standardized approach, you cannot truly evaluate why things happen. Initially, we started with many exercises that we use at Sparta, which took years of refinement. As a result, I received one of the best questions, “What exercises have we already tried that were not included?” One of the specific questions was the infamous Romanian Deadlift (RDL), or even a Good Morning exercise, which despite not being named after a country or person still seems to inaccurately convey the right message. The answer was simple, the exercises are objective in their performance. This definition means the range of motion is precise and can be performed in almost any environment. Therefore, movements like the RDL was eventually dropped due to its difficulty in performing universally. Despite our coaching cues of moving the barbell from mid shin to mid thigh, some athletes stood straight up to finish and others descended to varying depths. Another example was the Push Press. A true Push Press does not involve a re-bend of the knees after driving the barbell upwards. This re-bend actually signifies a jerk. This distinction is rather trivial in Crossfit, where the goal is to simply get the weight overhead. However, if our goal is to establish an evidence based training system, the prescriptions must be as precise and universal as possible.
Step 2 Naming the Exercise
|Row Underhand 6 sec Hold|