CrossFit + Strongman = StrongFit!

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MY WEEKEND WITH JULIEN PINEAU AT THE STRONGFIT SEMINAR

 Recently I had the pleasure of travelling to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s hometown of Graz, Austria. It was there at CrossFit Graz that I would be attending a 2 day seminar given by Julien Pineau, the man in charge of keeping CrossFit Invictus’ athletes injury free and ready for game day.

To be honest, I didn’t know a lot about the seminar or Julien, for that matter, before I went. Julien’s been around the CrossFit scene for just about as long as anyone but he really came to the community’s attention after a podcast he did last year with the guys at Barbell Shrugged. The seminar was so highly recommended to me that I only briefly researched it before registering to go. When they told me that they want to go and take it again, I took that as a pretty good sign!

I won’t try and go into detail about everything that was covered in the seminar but I would like to go over some of the main themes and how we’ll be applying them to our program in the future.

CREATING TORQUE THROUGH ROTATION

Very often in the gym, while setting up for a squat especially, you’ve probably heard us tell you to screw your feet into the floor. What we mean by this is that you should try to twist your feet outwards while being careful to not let the insides of your feet come off of the floor. When we do this we get external rotation because the top end of your femur, where it connects to your pelvis, begins to rotate outwards. Being externally rotated while coming out of the bottom of the squat is a good thing because we’re activating the muscle groups on the outside of the legs, namely your big booty muscles, the glutes.

While that was nothing new the idea of creating torque while being internally rotated was.

Julien goes into it a bit in this video below.

Julien’s movement matrix helps to simplify this concept even more. All movements are either pushing, pulling, hinging or squatting.

Pushing movements – internal rotation

Pulling movements – external rotation

Hinging movements – internal rotation

Squatting movements – external rotation

In the upcoming strength sessions especially, try and be more aware if what we’re doing is a pull, push, hinge or squat and whether you should be internally or externally rotating. Try and feel if you notice a difference in muscle recruitment when changing from one rotation to the other.

THE PROBLEM WITH CROSSFIT

It was refreshing to hear that Julien, after all of these years, is still very pro CrossFit. However, even while being a fan he was able to see the limitations of the program and is actively trying to improve upon it.

Julien’s main gripe with CrossFit is the movements and muscle groups that it doesn’t target. Yes, even with all of the constantly varied movements there are still things that we aren’t doing that we should be.

Some things missing from general CrossFit programming.

  1. Movements with a focus on the lats
  2. Movements with a focus on the inside of the upper leg or medial hamstring
  3. Rotational movements or those targeting the obliques
  4. Shoulder movements that focus on the rear portion of the shoulder or rear deltoid
  5. Movements focusing on the biceps and pecs (bro pump-sessions!)

You’ve already been introduced to our new landmine tool which will help to address the big issue of their being no rotational movements in CrossFit, which leave the obliques to weaken and cause structural issues.

You’ve also seen our new yokes which are awesome for a whole host of things, one of them being lat strength, which we’ll focus on with the overhead yoke carry

INTENSITY VS. VOLUME

Another big part that I loved about Julien’s seminar is his desire to get back to the root of what CrossFit is. It used to be that everyday you came in to the gym you’d peel yourself off of the floor after getting your ass kicked and then come back for more the next day.

Nowadays with the sport of CrossFit becoming more popular and multiple competitions almost every weekend, pacing has become more and more necessary in order to survive multiple workouts and ensure that you place well at the end of a competition. Increased volume has also become a mainstay with the idea that more is better. All of this pacing and increased volume blunts the intensity that CrossFit originally sought to achieve.

It is true that constantly going into the pain cave with the high intensity workouts is a recipe for disaster and can cause injuries and greatly increase the muscle soreness that you feel days after the workout. That still isn’t advised. What is advised is using a principle that Julien as came up with and dubbed W.E.S.

  • Weight bearing
  • Eccentric (lowering the weight)
  • Skill

The lower the W.E.S. the lower the soreness that you’ll experience the following days. This enables you to push extremely hard without the damaging effects that can come from using the same intensity with a workout involving snatches, pull ups, and squats.

During the seminar, Julien put the entire group through a brutal workout consisting of sled pulls, reverse sled drags and prowler sprints.

All of the movements were non weight bearing, there was no eccentric movement in them and pulling and pushing a sled/prowler is extremely low skill.

In addition to being very low on the W.E.S. scale, these movements also target the lats and insides of the legs very well.

I’ve never seen so many people puke during a workout in my life. That was the only time during my injury that I wasn’t cursing my broken foot!

The next morning everyone showed up and not one person complained about being sore from the workout. A little mentally drained? Yes. Pushing that hard is mentally tough as well as physically demanding but muscle soreness wasn’t an issue at all.

So……..guess what we’ll be introducing as of this Saturday!?:)

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