Stability in positions: The missing piece of your training
“Hey Coach, how do I get stronger?”
“Hey Coach I can’t get my muscle up”
“Hey Coach, Overhead Squats suck”
“Hey Coach, my handstand walks aren’t getting better”
As a Crossfit coach, these are questions that we hear daily. It is both a joy and a frustration to hear them. We love that individuals care about developing these skills, but often see some consistent faults in trying to correct them.
Usually, the answer that people tell themselves is “do more”. If you want to get better at pull-ups, people tell you to do more pull-ups. If you want to get a higher bench press…do more bench press. If you want to get a better overhead squat…well nobody does more overhead squats voluntarily but you get the picture. In most people’s minds, throwing volume at the problem is the quick and easy fix.
I would challenge this line of thinking and encourage you to go back to positions. Take an honest look at your pullup, squat, muscle up, overhead position, handstand hold and ask yourself whether you have try stability in that position.
Here are a couple of good tests:
Overhead Squat: Can you hold the bottom position for 90 seconds with an empty barbell overhead? Is this effortless or excrutiating?
Muscle Up: Can you hold the top AND bottom of the dip for 60 seconds on the low rings?
Handstand Walk: Can you hold a freestanding handstand for 10 seconds without moving your hand?
If you don’t have control over these positions, it makes complete sense that you are not getting stronger/better at them. Without a solid foundation/base to fall back on, it’s impossible to create improvement in power. Think of it like trying to jump as high as you can in mud/sand versus on a solid surface. Both support your feet getting off the ground, but one gives a much stronger result.
Next time you are early to the gym or staying after, work some positions. The term is time under tension. Can you hold the top and bottom of the movement for a significant amount of time without moving/shaking/falling over? If not, scale back the movement. This should be quality, light, unloaded practice. When in doubt, ask a coach for progressions! We are always happy to help.
Once you start mastering that stability, you will see the strength and technique gains you are looking for. Good luck and go work some positions.