Functional Bodybuilding at the Crossfit Games, Part 1

Functional Bodybuilding hits the CrossFit Games!

Well….truth be told, the CrossFit Games director didn’t consult with us on any of this. But it was hard not to notice how so many of the movements we utilize here at Functional Bodybuilding HQ could have played a huge role in preparing for many of the tests in Madison this year. Some as training pieces to build the base for movements we saw at the Games, and others were directly tested in the competition.

This is a 3 part series that will take us through 3 specific events at the CrossFit Games 2017 and identify a couple movements that proved to be particularly important in the outcomes of these events. We will highlight how we can take some of our Functional Bodybuilding approaches to tackling these movements and improving their efficiency for when they show up in your local competition or training. Let’s get started!

Part 1 of 3: Rope Climb Efficiency

Event: 2223 Intervals

Rope climbing is a skill that many of the top competitors in CrossFit have seemingly mastered. The keys to great rope climbs are grip strength and endurance, great foot lock and core muscles, and upper pulling strength. Leave it to the CrossFit Games to find a way to take a skill like rope climbs and make it that much harder. In the event the athletes had to climb to a 20 foot height as opposed to the traditional 15 foot target found in most training and competitive scenarios. Additionally, they had to perform these rope climbs under a time pressure with immense fatigue. Great rope climb efficiency was necessary to complete this workout. The tips that follow can help you improve your own efficiency.

Single Arm Rope Pull Up

Single Arm Rope Pull Up

Why: This is a great drill to give you exposure to pulling on the rope. Using the implement in question for strict upper body pulling accomplishes two things. It is a great single arm strength builder, a physical trait that will come in direct question during rope climbs. It also gets you familiar holding onto the rope for extended sets and will build your grip.

How to: Perform strict pull up sets of 4-6reps per arm for 3-4 sets with 2mins rest between.Movement Notes: The further you space your hands apart on this drill the more challenging it becomes. Progress to spacing your hands further apart as you get stronger.

Strict Toes To Rings

Strict Toes to Rings

(ProgressionStrict Knee to Elbows on Rope)

Why: A large portion of rope climbing efficiency is your ability to use your legs. If you can get your legs up the rope higher with good position then you can cover large lengths of rope in a single leg drive. Coordinating getting your feet up higher on the rope is something that needs to be trained specifically, and the strict toes to ring movement can aid in this.

How to: 6-10reps with 3 second lowering on each rep for 3-4 sets in a session.

Movement Notes: Keeping your arms straight while lifting the legs is critical to developing an efficient rope climb. Do not bend your arms on these if at all possible. If not then work towards that.

Single Arm Ring Row

Why: Climbing rope requires both arms to have a secure grip and for your shoulder blades to remain engaged while you pull your legs up. Having a strong scapula can benefit rope climbers greatly. This drill is a perfect way for athletes of all levels to get into single arm pulling training. More of an incline to the body will make it accessible to beginners, while place the body more horizontal and elevating the feet on a box even will make this hard for even advanced trainees. Lastly, strong grip is really important for rope climb endurance and by isolating one shoulder at a time you can develop the grip very well with this drill.

How to: Perform sets of 6-8reps/side with a 2112 tempo (2 seconds down, 1 second pause at bottom, 1 second up, 2 seconds pause at top)

Psoas March

Why: Foot lock is also a key to great rope climbing. While the foot lock is mainly an issue of understanding foot placement and the coordination of finding the rope with your feet, having added strength in your legs to apply a strong pinch on the rope can help as well. The great thing about this drill is that it reinforces the foot lock mechanics of rope climbing while engaging your midline. This is precisely how you will feel in the rope climb as you are activating your core to elevate the feet up the rope and simultaneously pinching the rope between your feet.

How to: Perform the movement for 30-60sec with slow and deliberate movements of the feet back and forth. 4-5 sets as a finisher on any day of the week.

Movement Notes: Keep your lower back pressed into the floor (hollow body position) throughout the entire movement. Feel yourself pull and push equally with both legs as you move through your reps.