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Matt Wilmoth


August 14, 2023

You don't need handstands to be fit

CrossFit is amazing. It will get you results and keep giving results for a long time but for someone with no experiences who sees the CrossFit games or maybe they see it on instagram or tik tok it can look crazy. Seeing the handstands, or muscle ups or snatches looks not only like something you could never do but it looks downright unsafe. And they can be both if you don’t have a system to help you work on them at a level that is equal to your current abilities. With the right process they are very safe.

The real problem with these high skill movements is that they require a huge time investment to learn. Most of these movements have multiple skills which needs to be mastered in order to learn to do them efficiently. That means each week time that could be spent getting stronger or improving endurance or power or whatever has to be set aside to work on high level skills.

Now we have to do a little of that. Squatting properly with a barbell is a skill that needs to be learned. The difference is that being strong in a back squat is important if we want to be fit, strong healthy people. Most of the high skill stuff has benefits, say a full snatch with a squat, but those benefits are far smaller. The truth is you can be a healthy, fit and strong without ever doing a muscle up.

The time investment and requisite strength makes them tricky but that doesn’t mean you have to ignore them. In fact its why on some days we have two tracks. A CrossFIt track that ignores the high skill movements and a comp option track that includes them. The tracks aren’t massively different. We actually try to get a similar stimulus. Instead of handstand push ups we do dumbbell press.  

The question is always “what should I do?”. So let’s talk about who should do what.

Who should follow the general CrossFit tack.

If you are time crunched, high skill movements cut into training time that would be better spent on other areas of fitness at least at the beginning.  Work on mastering the CrossFit track until you have a little extra time.

Even if you aren’t time crunched you may want to skip the comp track if you have no interest. That’s really the decider. Do you really want to learn to eventually do a handstand push up then lets do that. If that doesn’t appeal to you then no matter how much time you have you shouldn’t do it. There is plenty of stuff you really should do to be fit. Some of them you may not love. There is no need to add high skill movements that don’t have huge benefits to make working out less exciting.

Who should follow the comp track

So who should do them? Anyone who wants to really. There are progressions for every level. For some people working towards high skill movements is fun. It keeps them engaged. This is what we want. We want to find a way to keep you motivated to workout. So if they sound like fun then learn them.

The other group of people who need these movements is those who want to compete in CrossFit. Beyond the novice level in competitions you will almost always be required to do one or more of these movements in any given comp. Not learning them really isn’t an option even if you don’t love them. It would be like not learning to swim and signing up for a triathlon.

One note on these two options is you are not committed to any track. We have a lot of people who will do handstand push ups but want nothing to do with snatches or muscle ups. They key is to tailor the program to your needs and your goals. If you keep it as fun as possible for you then you will stick to it long term and that’s the real win.

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