Physical skills are the attributes most commonly associated with fitness. A stereotypical image of a fit person will likely be an athlete who displays a high level of physical skill.
In my last post on fitness I mentioned the ten general physical skills as stated by Crossfit. I think these cover every outward expression of fitness you could want your body to be able to perform.
- Cardiovascular/respiratory endurance – the ability of body systems to gather, process and deliver oxygen.
- Stamina – the ability of body systems to deliver, process, store and utilise energy.
- Strength – the ability of a muscular unit, or combination of muscular units, to apply force.
- Flexibility – the ability to maximise the range of motion at a given joint.
- Power – the ability of a muscular unit, or combination of muscular units, to apply maximum force in minimum time.
- Coordination – the ability to combine several distinct movement patterns into a singular distinct movement.
- Agility – the ability to minimise transition time from one movement pattern to the next.
- Speed – the ability to minimise the time cycle of a repeated movement.
- Balance – the ability to control the placement of the bodies centre of gravity in relation to its support base.
- Accuracy – the ability to control movement in a given direction or at a given intensity.
A good level of skill in all of these characteristics can be summarised as – the ability to move your own body and external objects at a range of angles and speeds, in varying situations.So, how do you go about training these attributes? As it is Crossfit’s list is that the best way? Maybe. I actually really like the Crossfit methodology, working hard to master a wide range of attribute and skills makes perfect sense to me. Personally, I use the ten movement families from Georges Herbert’s Methode Naturale to check my training is heading in the right direction. Here’s all ten along with some notes on how I think they should be approached.
This should be easy locomotion, not a workout. Make it easy and do it often. Wear minimal (or no) shoes and feel the ground beneath your feet.
Vary speeds and distances. Go as far as makes sense providing it doesn’t negatively impact other skills (i.e. strength) or until walking is a better option. Same footwear rules as walking.
Pretty self explanatory. Jump up onto things, jump off of things, jump over things. Vary the heights.
I love this one. A rock face, climbing wall or even a tree is ideal. If you can’t get to those then pull ups count. The main thing is to move your body upward through space using the power of your muscles.
- Quadrupedal movement (moving on all 4 limbs)
Think about mimicking animal movements (apes, crab, bear walk). Great for warm ups and play. Harder work than it looks.
Self explanatory. Don’t go too high until you are confident you won’t fall off! Fallen logs and low walls are a great place to start.
There are a ton of ways to approach this. Pick things up, get stronger, the method is up to you
Big things for explosive power. Little things for accuracy. Do it outdoors.
I miss this. Learning a martial art was great, I will get back to it at some point. There are many styles to choose from, the most important things are that you enjoy it, the teacher knows what they are doing and that you spar, a lot.
I am bad at training this, probably because a chlorine filled pool is really unattractive – it’s a good skill to have though. Drowning would be rubbish.
Now the weather is getting warmer I’m really looking forward to getting outside and combining a few of these in true Methode Naturale fashion. I did it last year and it was brilliant. I need to get my running up to speed (ha ha) first though.Recommended training resources
- For more about Methode Naturale see this brilliant reproduction of Georges Herbert’s original book.
- For a modern day application of Herbert’s philosophy Erwan Le Corre’s MovNat is the place to go.
- Parkour also covers a lot of this, American Parkour is a great resource.
- I’ve mentioned it a lot so Crossfit should be in here too.
- For bodyweight training you can’t do much better than Gymnastic Bodies.