We are continuing our discussion of the 10 General Physical Fitness Skills this week. In my last post we talked about the first 4 skills on the list; Cardiovascular/Respiratory Endurance, Stamina, Strength, and Flexibility. We learned how these skills represent the biological/physiological changes our body undergoes in response to exercise.

Our muscles will grow larger and thicker and more capable of producing force for a longer period of time.

Our lungs and heart and the systems they are interconnected with become more efficient at delivering blood and oxygen to the rest of the body.

Our muscles and joints can also become more supple and able to move through complete ranges of motion. These changes are the hardware – the actual physical changes that our bodies go through in order to adapt to the stresses we place on it.

This week we will skip down the list a bit to the last 4 skills:

Coordination – The ability to combine several distinct movement patterns into a singular distinct movement.

Agility – The ability to minimize transition time from one movement pattern to another.

Balance – The ability to control the placement of the body’s center of gravity in relation to it’s support base.

Accuracy – The ability to control movement in a given direction or at a given intensity.

These last 4 skills on the list represent the neurological changes that occur in the body as a response to stress. Importantly, these skills are not improved by “training” as we defined it last week.

Remember – training is an activity that improves performance through a measurable organic change in the body.

If we were working to “train” strength, one of the hardware skills, in isolation then we could do something like heavy back squats. Over time we could start to see the muscles of the lower body begin to grow in size and density. We could see and measure this change in the physical body.

The software skills, however, are improved by “practice.” Practice referse to an activity that improves performance through changes in the nervous system.

We can train our calves to be as strong as they can possibly ever be, but unless we spend time deliberately practicing a movement like double unders we will never be able to gain the coordination and accuracy to perform them well.

We can train and train and train and get so strong that we can pull 400+ lbs off the floor in a deadlift, but try and see how much weight you could pull off the floor with only one foot on the ground.

The software skills are crucial to develop as they play a huge role in just about every single thing we do in the gym, and more importantly – in life.

Want to move more weight in your olympic lifts like the Clean or Snatch? You’ll need a superb level of coordination to do a wide grip deadlift into an effective jump and shrug into an aggressive pull as you squat down low and push-up into the bar – all in the space of a few seconds.

How much easier would it be to carry your groceries, work stuff, and gym bag into the house at the end of the day while also making sure your child makes it inside without wandering off  if you could easily balance and control your body, and could seemlessly change body positions while under all that load?

This is why we spend so much time in our classes practicing (moving without heavy loads, high heart rates, or other forms of intensity) movement patterns and positions. We are working to build and solidify new neural pathways and thus improve our software.

Unfortunately, our classes are only 60 minutes long. That is not enough time for us to program an extensive amount of practice. We will always work in as much as we possibly can, but if you really want to master movements like the olympic lifts, jump ropes, pull-ups, muscle-ups, handstands, etc; then you must dedicate extra time to them.

If you are one of our sled dogs who just cannot get enough work I would suggest dedicating more of your time to deliberate and controlled practice of the movements you want to develop. Work on strengthening your software by practicing double unders or kip swings (foundation of the gymnastics bar movements) rather than doing more strength or cardio work.

If you are someone who just wants to stop hitting yourself with your jump rope on double-under day, or you are tired of not quite being able to string together those toes to bar then please reach out to one of your coaches!

We can setup 1 on 1 training with specific programming for you and the skill you want to develop. You’ll get 100% of our attention for the hour, and we will practice the necessary progressions to build your software and have you crushing huge sets of these trouble movements in no time!

Both the hardware and the software must be developed in order to have a truly holistic and complete fitness. Your fitness will be lacking wherever one of these is lacking – a chink in your armor.

Next week we will continue this series by discussing the vital intersection of the hardware and the software, our final 2 general physical fitness skills – Power & Speed.

Get better this week CFB Crew!

-David

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