The Floor Movements (Coaching Series Part 3)

following on in our series of movement blogs. The final 3 lifts of the Foundational CrossFit Movements are going to be all taken from the floor.

Since the Foundational Movements are all based on things we do every day that involve multiple joints, picking stuff up is the final logical place to go over sitting down, standing up, and putting things overhead.

With these pulls, the focus is going to still be on maintaining our neutral spine, as we have done in all the other lifts, while pushing the floor away. On top of this, we will learn how to reach “Triple Extension.”

But, before we get there we have to go over the first lift in the series The Deadlift!

The Floor Movements:

Progression: Deadlift-> Sumo Deadlift High Pulls -> Med-Ball Cleans

The Deadlift

Points of Performance:

Right up there with Back Squats, Deadlifts are one of the crowd favorites at the gym for both athlete and coach (which is partially why we do it every cycle. The other reason; is it is the most effective strength build movement in terms of total body activation and central nervous system loading out there).

The deadlift is simple in terms of broad strokes PoP’s. Shoulders over the bar, shins vertical, and spine neutral at the start. At the end of the lift, you are just standing erect with the barbell still in hand. (Heads up: they will mentally break you with how far back they will make you push back your knees!)

In terms of faults, we typically see athletes experience lower back pain in this movement. While every criterion of the lift can be met, small things can pop up like:

Pulling Rather Than Pulling = The spine caves toward the grown slightly as the athlete pulls. This happens due to a lack of bracing of the core.

Tail Bone Tucks Slightly = This is a result of tight hamstrings pulling on the hips, not allowing the hips to rise high enough to activate the whole hamstring and allow the spine to be completely neutral.

Everything looks awesome but still feeling it in the lower back? = A thing that is not covered in the L1 handbook but should, is the use of our feet. Sticking the big toe hard into the ground and pushing your heels against the outside of your show will force proper activation of the hamstrings and take press away from the lower spine!

Now to add some complexity…

The Sumo Deadlift High Pull

Points of Performance:

The SDHP is a movement that really doesn’t have a place in modern CrossFit, but it is taught anyways.

Following the theme of increased complexity, the SDHP is the middle step on the way to learning The Clean. It teaches athletes how to use the hip to create upward momentum to assist the arms in picking up heavier weights.

Why not the Clean Pull? Beats. Me.

A Sumo Deadlift is just a deadlift but the legs are set up outside the width of the arms. This shortens the range of motion to the floor and can be a more advantageous way to deadlift for athletes with longer femurs.

However, In CrossFit all the lifts we perform require that conventional stance (arms inside legs), so changing up the stance is only being done here to make it easier for the athlete to use their hips to make contact with the bar.

Outside of the L1, it is rarely taught in classes due to the benefits not outweighing movements like the clean pull and clean. (Like I’ve only ever programmed it once just to be clever).

(Holding the top position of the SDHP can start to cause shoulder impingement as well, kinda putting a final nail in the coffin of this being a repeated movement in most CF gyms).

Med-Ball Cleans

Points of Performance:

The final movement, the thing we’ve all been waiting for, The Med-Ball Clean.

This movement is excellent at training athletes to coordinate their upper and lower appendages and creating power in athletes.

You probably already know this movement from seeing it on our Warm-Ups and as the starting motion for a set of Wall Ball Shots.

In this movement we start in a deadlift, push the floor away while keeping our arms straight. We then perform a triple extension (this is that “jumping” motion we perform when we make contact with a bar. Our ankles, knees, and hips are all locked out at the top bringing the bar/ball as high as possible before pulling our body under the object).

This power derived from triple extension is translated to all of our jumping movements and Olympic lifts. It allows for us to use our hips to their max potential in helping lift an object above the height of our hips without losing our neutral spine so we can safely lift!

Why use the Med-Ball instead of the Barbell? Because it is WAY easier to mess up with a Med-Ball than it is a barbell. After all, a barbell is gonna weigh at least 2.5 times more than the heaviest Med-Ball in most gyms and is gonna be way harder!

Why don’t we use a Med-Ball to teach the clean?

Well, when the end goal of learning a Med-Ball Clean is to learn how to Clean with a barbell or sandbag, you need to make solid contact with your hips. On males, that ball sits in exactly the wrong spot to make contact effectively. That and contact with a Med-Ball doesn’t quite feel the same as contact with a barbell. There is less feedback from the weight, the ball has give (which creates a false sense of security). Lastly, to perform a Med-Ball clean correctly, your hands must come off the ball, which is an action we don’t perform in barbell cleans.

At the end of the day, we believe that Med-Ball clean is an effective movement that should be taught, but just not in the way CrossFit teaches it. Going through the L1, however, this is gonna be your crowning achievement for being able to spot flaws in athletes, demonstrate for them, and cue dynamic movements.

Why did we spend 3 different posts covering all these movements?

Because the CF-L1 is primarily based on the 9 foundational movements. Knowing them, how to demonstrate them, how to spot flaws, and how to correct them are all big topics. As you can tell, covering all of them in one blog would have been a little…cumbersome.

We hope you found this series insightful and maybe picked up some pointers!

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