The CrossFit movement that separates the elite from the average: the coveted muscle up.
We all cheer with excitement when a member at our box pumps out his or her first ring muscle up, screaming enthusiastically as they struggle and flail for seconds to lock out the dip. Thousands of videos stream online of these shaky, inconsistent, "first" muscle ups done with questionable form. Instead of offering praise, maybe we should encourage our buddy to take a step back and master the mechanics and strength needed to safely and efficiently do muscles ups, something few beginners take the time or effort to do.
What many beginners don't realize is that the muscle up is actually two movements, pulling yourself above the rings, and then the lockout of the dip. We have to build the skill and strength for both of these movements separately before we can begin to train them as one. One progression many athletes push to the side is establishing a strict muscle up before attempting the kip.
Would you encourage someone who had never snatched throw 95lbs on the bar and tackle the day's WOD? Probably not. Like with any complex movement, progressions are essential to movement perfection. And one thing we can be sure of is if gymnastic movements are done incorrectly over an extended period of time, injury is more likely to occur.
Check out some more progressions from Reebok CrossFit One's Austin Malleolo
Although the research on injury rates in CrossFit isn't extensive, there have been studies that prove shoulder injuries occur more often than any other. In a study done by the Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine done between Oct. 2012 and Feb. 2013, with 386 participants, 21 out of the 84 reported injuries were shoulder related, most caused by gymnastics movements. The concept is simple, if a person who practices high-rep gymnastics movements without proper form or the strength to sustain that amount of time on the rings or bar, the risk of injury increases.
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