Somewhere in the back of your gym, behind the jump ropes you love and the rowers you hate and way beyond your beloved steel, chrome, custom Rogue Olympic lifting bar lies a miscellany of odd (and sometimes not so odd) objects, rarely touched by the calloused hand of even the most experienced crossfitter. These objects often go unused and generally make the slow transition into seats for post WOD social hours or merely sit unnoticed collecting dust in the back corner. Perhaps they are not practical for use in workouts, or your gym simply doesn’t have enough to accommodate an entire class of athletes. Regardless, every crossfitter should take advantage of these pieces of equipment that often become the equivalent of the human appendicitis in the crossfit gym.
1. The GHD Machine
Some gyms do have enough GHDs to use regularly in class workouts, but for the most part, these often turn into comfy seats for catching up on the box gossip. GHD sit-ups, back extensions, hip extension, and GHRs are perhaps some of the most useful exercises for strengthening the parts of the core we often forget about, as well as your glutes and hamstrings.
Exercises For The GHD:The GHD Situp:See Movement Demo Here
While you may have seen these being done in Games (think “The Midline March”), it’s probably unlikely that you’ve done these in workouts. These can be awesome movements for improving your overall core strength. Be sure to start slow (doing 50 GHDs right off the bat is generally not the best idea even if it feels good at the time) and build up your capacity. Be sure to keep your knees soft and your quads active as you sit up. Also be sure not to over extend your back on your descent. Once you’ve mastered the GHD, try some variations, such as sit-ups with a medicine ball or a plate.Back Extensions:See Movement Demo Here
These are often confused with hip extensions, but are a very different movement. Back extensions begin with your hips resting on the pads. From there, slowly snake your spine down to the bottom of the movement and back up. Go slow and take your time. These are not meant to be a race.Hip Extensions:See Movement Demo Here
For these, your hips should be just off the front of the pads and the movement should hinge around the movement of your hips as you lower yourself down and back up keeping your back strong and flat.GHRs: See Movement Demo Here
Often forgotten about on the GHD, glut/ham raises are perfect for improving your hamstring strength. Utilize these as a warm up for your deadlifts or squats to wake up your hamstrings, or work these into a strength session. Be sure to build up capacity slowly. For a more advanced version, use bands to provide resistance.
Forget about dumbbell snatches. Dumbbells are a great tool for overall strength and conditioning. The can serve as great tools for working on one sided weaknesses.
Exercises:Seated dumbbell strict press/dumbbell strict press: See Movement Demo Here
Just what it sounds like. Work these into your squat sets or into a warm up or post WOD cool down. They can help you with strict handstand pushups and will improve your strict press by leaps and bounds. Be sure to focus on form before increasing the weight. *Note that in the video, she uses one arm to press the dumbbell. This movement can also be performed with two dumbbells (one in each hand) for an added challenge.Dumbbell Rows:See Movement Demo Here
These can help to improve upper back as well as lat strength, which is useful in pullups, and that muscle up you’ve been trying to hit for the past few months. Once again, form before weight. Everything should be kept static with the exception of the arm that’s moving. Don’t try to heave the dumbbell up just to get heavier weight moving.Man Makers:See Movement Demo Here
One of the most notoriously terrible movements out there, these are awesome for workouts of all kinds and will leave you tired and sore for sure.
3. Airdyne Bike
With the advent of the airdyne in the 2015 CrossFit Games, the Assault Airdyne Bikes have seen an incredible spike in popularity. However, they’re still widely underused by the average crossfitter. Work them into your warm up or your cool down or use it for a quick WOD during open gym. I promise you won’t be disappointed.
- See how long you can stay at 400 watts for guys, 200 watts for girls (try for 10 minutes)
- TABATA Airdyne (harder than it sounds)
- 3x: 15 Burpees, 15 Calories
- 4x2 mile airdyne
- 30 Calories For Time
Sleds generally tend to be underused, because most gyms don’t have enough to accommodate a large class. However, sleds can be a valuable tool for increasing raw power and strength. Throw on the plates and start pushing!
WODS With Sleds:
- EMOM 10: 100 ft. sled push (90/50#)
- 100 Calories on the erg for time *every 2 minutes, 100 ft. sled push
- 5x20 Burpees, 100 ft. sled push, rest 90 seconds
5. Bands (Not What You Think They’re For)
Somewhere along the line, crossfitters completely abandoned some of the most foundational principles of bands and traded them for things like contorting your body into various positions and using them to assist in pull-ups. But bands can provide so much more. Work them in between your back squat sets or into your warm-up. They make for great resistance exercises that can be done both at home and in the gym.
Top Exercises With Bands:Band Pull-Aparts:See Movement Demo Here
Use a red band and be sure to keep your shoulders active. It should not be a struggle to pull the band apart, meaning that the movement should be smooth and controlled both on the pull apart and the return back.Banded Good Mornings:See Movement Demo Here
These are awesome for warming up and activating your hamstrings. Hinge at the hips and keep your knees soft, but your legs relatively straight. Be sure that the entire movement is executed in a controlled fashion. These are not a race.Lat Pull-Downs:See Movement Demo Here, See Alt. Movement Demo Here
These can be awesome for improving your lat strength, which you will need for those 100 butterfly pull ups you're about to do, as well as your upcoming OLY session. Be sure to keep your lats activated and not let your core go slack while doing these. *note that the second movement demo is more of a seated lat pullBanded Sideways Walk: See Movement Demo Here
Crossfitters often forget that while quads certainly look awesome, they are not the only muscles that are important in the squat. For a strong squat, a lifter needs strong glutes and it’s important to develop and work on these on a daily basis to keep our squats on the upward trend. Work these into your warm up to activate your glutes before you start to squat. Sit back into the movement and really work to make these work your time. *note that the demo video uses a theraband. For side steps with larger sized resistance bands, step forwards into the band from behind (so you’re standing on top of one side of the band), twist the band and pull up to your chest to restrict your lateral motion and make it difficult to walk sideways.Monster Walk:
Just like the lateral walk, but this time walk forwards still sitting back into the movement.
All of these movements can be useful in improving those muscles that sometimes get lost in a world of big clean and jerks and long metcons, but still are just as important as any other muscle in your body. Try to make a conscious effort to work these into your weekly routine. Whether you incorporate them in your warm up, or superset your squat session, all these movements can provide useful strength benefits that will only help you to improve your game in the long run.
Kaylyn Wiese has been CrossFitting of more than five years and has been competing against athletes from across the country since age 16. She currently coaches and trains in Boston at CrossFit Coolidge Corner and is a sophomore at Boston College studying business and data analytics. Find her on Instagram @kaylynwiese and Twitter @kaylyn_wiese.