Building the Middle

After our overhead squats on Friday, I read another article written by Jon Gilson of Again Faster, once again perfectly fitting into our workout and discussion of that day - mid-line stabilization, the overhead squat being a perfect "ab" exercise, becoming strong and balanced enough to find your back squat and your overhead squat loads getting closer to one another.

Building the Middle

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The relationship between rep scheme, load, and the resulting physical adaptation is well documented.  At one end of the continuum, we find high repetitions performed with low to moderate loads.  This training style produces increased muscle cross-section (hypertrophy) with little concurrent increase in strength.  At the opposite end, we find very low repetitions performed with maximal loads, producing little change in muscle cross-section with tremendous concurrent gains in motor recruitment (innervation).  Between these two extremes, we find combinations of volume and load that produce a blending of our two desired attributes, hypertrophy and innervation. 

When we consider athletic performance independent of bodyweight, it becomes obvious that both attributes should be developed.  Muscle cross-section and motor recruitment both play a role in making us stronger, faster, and more powerful.  Spurring hypertrophy gives the athlete more muscle mass to recruit, while subsequent innervation makes optimal use of the newly available muscle tissue, thereby increasing contractile potential.

Striking a balance between the two becomes necessary when bodyweight enters the picture.  Maintaining a large physique requires caloric intake well beyond the natural eating patterns of most athletes, and mass can become a burden for bodyweight-dependent activities such as gymnastics and sprinting.  For the smaller athlete, reduced mass produces a collision-time disadvantage during contact sports and makes it difficult to lift large loads during training.

CrossFit takes these disparities into consideration, employing workouts that do not favor either type of athlete, typically combining gymnastic and sprint-based activities with weightlifting.  This ensures that the balanced athlete—one possessing a high strength-to-bodyweight ratio—meets with the most success during non-lifting-specific WODs.

To continue reading the rest of the article click  BUILDING THE MIDDLE.

Daily WODTara RossComment