By: Jeremy Warner
Crawl, Walk, Run is a favorite phrase in the training of US Military, and a natural human progression. So why then do we feel a need to skip a phase when it come to our physical fitness? Each week I experience athletes with new movement dysfunction. This dysfunction comes from a lifetime of physical inactivity, improper movements, and prior injuries that have caused compensation. This leads to shortened muscles, tight tendons, and a slew of other issues. The person I have just described has no business doing high rep snatches, box jumps, or in many cases anything ballistic in nature with a high volume. A proper sequencing of events should reintroduce a deconditioned human to functional movement 1st. After competency has been achieved in these functional movements then loading can begin. This loading can be as simple as a dowel rod, PVC Pipe, or empty barbell. Often this is seen when a person does their first overhead squat, the minimum load is enough to create a loss of movement mechanics. A coach then needs to instruct their client into a better position. Through hard work and practice a good position is re-achieved with the increased yet still minimum load. As skill progresses so can the imposed load. To spell it out we have the following progression.
Crawl: Body Weight Squat
Walk: Front Squat with PVC Pipe
Run: Front Squat with empty Barbell
This is completed in the following order so you can teach your client they must earn the new movement. If the client does not move well with no external load, there is no hope that adding extra weight will fix their ability to move properly. Speeding through one of the steps increases the likelihood of injury going forward.
Now that we have completed the full cycle we can add a new skill. This skill, being of increased demand, will have a progression as well.
Crawl: Overhead Squat with PVC Pipe
Walk: Overhead Squat with Empty Barbell
Run: Snatch Progressions with PVC Pipe
In this example you are testing the client’s ability to first control a load in the overhead position before you ever have them throw it overhead and attempt to catch it. Again, speeding through a step causes a loss of respect for the process, as well as importance, of earning the new movement or skill. A coach who desires to let a client speed through the process for the sake of doing advanced movements is creating a dangerous atmosphere where injury is more likely the outcome over improved physical fitness.
Closing this out, I will bring it back to the title. What we can learn from our Children is simple. Slow down, to speed back up. No one entered this world and just started running 400s, or executing butterfly pull-ups. Life started slow, you had to lift your head first, learn to roll over, then crawl. The process was something we earned by working for it every day. How many times did you fall down during your quest to walk? To ride a bike? Now, go put the training wheels back on so you can advance, the right way.