Some of these will probably get me excommunicated from the CrossFit community but here it goes…
1. Overhead KBS
I don’t actually have an issue with this movement at face value. The problem arises when people suffering from some sort of shoulder dysfunction/over-extension issue are coached to get the kettlebell overhead and push their head through because that is what the CrossFit “standard” is. You can generally see this is happening when the bell is pitched forward instead of vertical or when the athlete flys their rib cage. This indicates that the athlete is pulling the bell overhead with their shoulders and upper back instead of driving the bell up with a sharp contraction of their hips and glutes.
The general purpose of a kettlebell swing is to work the posterior. Russian swings (when performed correctly) do this just fine for the average person. Once an athlete can perform a swing (not overhead) and is cleared of any shoulder dysfunction, going overhead can be beneficial because it allows the athlete to move through a greater range of motion.
2. Abmat Sit Ups
How many of you can smash Abmat Sit Ups but cannot do 1 strict toes-to-bar? How many of you get giant burns on your butt every time you do abmat sit ups? Most people when performing this movement don’t actually use their abs to bring themselves to the upright position. Most of us swing the crap out of our arms and pop our hips up and down to pop ourselves to the finish position. This movement is inferior for building core strength because the athlete is able to deactivate their core and whip themselves through the range of motion through these means. I much prefer Hollow Rocks/K2E/T2B/V-Ups to the Abmat.
3. Sumo-Deadlift High Pull
Like the KBS, it is not the movement at face value that I don’t like. What I don’t like is unnecessary risk of injury. At the top of the movement, the athlete’s arm is actually in a similar position used to test shoulder impingement. But instead of a professional adding pressure the athlete is to perform high reps with a weight hanging from it! As the athlete gets tired and their form deteriorates the likelihood of injury due to bad form increases to a much greater extent then when doing other posterior movements such as Heavy Russian KBS.
4. Bounding Box Jumps
This one has already begun to reveal it’s ugly head in the CrossFit community. Achilles tendon tears and injuries have showed the negative effects of a movement without a deload phase. With normal box jumps the athlete has a moment of rest at the top and at the bottom. With bounding box jumps the athlete never has a deloaded moment and the Achilles takes an absolute beating! This was seen during the 2011 Deadllift/Push Ups/Box Jump workout in which many athletes (a few top athletes) tore their Achilles tendon because of volume and lack of deload. (this is probably a result of 10,000 reps not 1 workout)
I also witnessed an Achilles tear from another high rep box jump workout at the Rumble by the River in 2011. The workout was a 30min AMRAP of DL/Push Ups/Box Jumps and my buddy tore his Achilles with 2 minutes left.
Moral of the Story? Unless someone is looking to compete their really isn’t a reason to have your athletes doing anything other than box jumps with step downs during their workouts. (Mark Twight has been preaching this for awhile)Why risk it?
5. Hand Release Push Ups
Have you ever actually watched people do these? I like them in theory and even program them from time to time but most times the actual execution is horrendous. People overextend, deactivate, and butt-whip themselves into the air for the rep. Even when seen in competition, these push ups remind me of that “drunk” guy trying to get off the ground.
Why not just teach people to do good push ups?
Full extension/chest to deck/ elbows tight/tight core?
6. Kipping Pull Ups
“…Now, imagine someone severely lacking in shoulder/thoracic mobility (aka Average Guy) trying to get into that position. Someone who struggles to lockout an overhead press or hold a handstand. As the body starts to swing through, the shoulder girdle hits it’s flexibility limit and his forward momentum stops as violently as if he had crashed into a wall…” -CrossFit Southwest
Image via CrossFit Kinetics
Out of all the movements listed this one will probably get me the most flack. Lets start this with some enlightenment…. If you’re able to swing spasticly on a bar and flop yourself high enough that your chin breaks the horizontal plane of the bar…. IT STILL DOESN’T COUNT AS A PULL UP!
Kipping is a skill. And as a skill there needs to be a foundation in which it is built off of. That foundation is a stable and strong shoulder complex. A good indications of a strong stable shoulder complex is being able to do multiple strict pull ups or dare I suggest weighted pull ups.
As Coaches, we get crazy pumped to teach sexy movements like kipping toes to bar and kipping pull ups. But we need to take a step back and realize that 10,000 kipping pull ups on an already weak (or inflexible) shoulder joint might not be the best long term fitness plan.
Kipping is super beneficial to increase power output but kipping pull ups SHOULD NEVER be the stepping stone to strict pull ups and/or weighted pull ups. Do the right thing and require strict pull ups (or weighted if you want seriously strong and healthy athletes) before you allow your athletes or yourself to start repping out kipping pull ups.
7. Kipping Muscle Ups
Like the kipping pull up I actually like this movement. But that doesn’t mean that it isn’t overrated. Like a lot of CrossFitters, I did my first muscle up by swinging like tarzan and popping my hips so hard that I managed to somehow launch myself straight to the top!
If your muscle up procedure sounds like this, STOP!!!!
It is imperative to learn the basics of the muscle up BEFORE you even begin to worry about kipping.
Require your athletes, and yourself, to be able to do strict muscle ups on command before teaching them to kip and before allowing them to input them in workouts.
*Is this good for his shoulder?
As always your feedback and thoughts are greatly appreciated! If you disagree with one of the movements above please voice your opinions so that we may better the fitness community through discussion!
Coming soon….The 7 Most Underrated Exercises!!