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Functional Movements

Functional Movements

Every Day Athlete

Building every day athletes.  That is one of our main focuses at CrossFit Icehouse.  Every day that a person walks into CrossFit Icehouse, the goal is to prepare them for life outside the gym when they leave.  One of the ways that is accomplished is using functional movements in our workouts.


Functional movements mimic motor patters that are found in everyday life.  For example, when you back squat, you are building up strength to get up off the toilet when you’re 80; deadlifting is picking something up off the ground; pressing is putting an object up on a top shelf.  These are all things we do regularly inside and outside the gym, you just have to keep your eye open for them.


Functional movements are safe.  Watching a CrossFit workout and saying it’s dangerous could be like telling someone they shouldn’t pick up the pencil they just dropped because isn’t not worth the risk.  However, someone who bends over to pick up a pencil and has never been taught how to deadlift or squat properly, could throw their back out.  That’s where CrossFit Icehouse comes in.  We want you to move mechanically sound through a full range of motion to stay safe inside and outside the gym.


Functional movements are powerful and create a high neuroendocrine response.  You are essentially doing more good for your body when you use functional movements.  Functional movements allow you to move large loads, longer distances, quicker than isolation movements.  They also create a larger physical and mental adaptation in your body.  So, if you want to become healthier, and look and feel better, functional movements are the way to go.


Functional movements are fun!  They allow you to challenge your full body in different ways and keep you moving.  You are not just moving from machine to machine in a CrossFit workout, you are the machine doing the work.  There is something very special about hearing how someone’s commitment to box step-ups has made going up a flight of stairs easier, or seeing the confidence radiate off of someone’s face when they PR their deadlift.  These are all fun and exciting things that happen with functional movements.

So, next time you are struggling through a workout, or perhaps are fearing coming to the gym that day to complete a bunch of wall-balls, think about how those functional movements are going to make you better at life and help you become a better athlete outside the gym.

Practice vs. Intensity

Practice vs. Intensity

Intensity is something we talk a lot about when it comes to CrossFit workouts.  You may hear a coach say to you mid-workout, “pick up the intensity.”  Or perhaps you finish a workout and say, “man, that was intense!”  It makes sense that the word intensity would come up during a CrossFit class since CrossFit is defined as: constantly varied, functional movements, performed at high intensity.  However, if you only focus on intensity when coming to a CrossFit class you could be missing another important aspect in increasing your overall fitness: practice.  To understand how to focus on practice during class or how to implement it yourself, we need to understand the difference between intensity and practice.


Intensity is not how much you grunt or sweat during a workout, and it’s not how high your heart rate gets during a workout.  Intensity is work divided by time, also known as power.  The more work you are able to complete in less time, or the higher your power output, the more intensity you have.  Think moving large loads, long distances, quickly.  This is a major reason why we record our workout results. We want to see if your power/intensity output is increasing.  This can be seen by getting a faster Fran time or more rounds and reps in a workout like Cindy.


In the CrossFit L1 Training Guide, practice is defined as “an activity that improves performance through changes in the nervous system.”  With proper practice you will have changes primarily in coordination, agility, balance and accuracy.  Practice is not coming to the gym and writing up additional metcons to complete. Practice is low intensity efforts performed at light loads and focusing on one task.  A good example of practice is the skill development section of a CrossFit class.  When we do slow overhead squats with a PVC pipe, this is a time to focus on positioning and balance. Then, when we move to a barbell or heavier loads, your nervous system knows how to respond with proper movement.

How to Implement

When it comes to intensity, keep going hard at 3..2..1..go, and remember to measure your results after a workout and be aware of where your intensity is at.  This can help you understand how to approach other workouts of the same kind, or it can point out a weakness.  For practice, really focus in on your movement patterns during skill work in class.  Be aware of how your body is moving and notice different muscles working. Practice is not a time to focus on intensity.  If you want to implement practice during open gyms, pick something you need work on and perform reps at very low weight with plenty of rest between efforts.  An example would be sitting on a box and working on wrapping your feet around a rope.  When that becomes easy, close your eyes and keep doing it.  Practice is not always the “sexy” side of CrossFit, but it pays huge dividends.