Why Strict Is So Important

When it comes to functional fitness and CrossFit training methods and movements, there’s been lots of debate, lots of hate and too much misunderstanding, especially around efficient variants of common movements/exercises. In this feature we discuss why the kip and other movements like jerks are important, but more specifically why strict is so important!

Why Strict is So Important!

Pulling movements like kipping or butterfly pull-ups and muscle-ups, and pushing movements like push press or push jerks, and other similar movements have had their fair share of criticism, mostly by those who don’t truly understand what they are meant for. The criticism is that these movements are “cheats” and that they promote bad form and are harmful, especially in high-rep scenarios. That is all untrue. These types of movements show a full range of movement and are well recognised, especially within their speciality forms, like seen in gymnastics or Olympic weightlifting. They have their place and are just another skill which can and should be learnt.

The thing about these movements is that they offer greater efficiency and the ability to do more repetitions in a shorter period of time, while still maintaining a full range of movement. There are many articles on the web which discuss the case for these movements, however, we assume you know why they are good and why they have their place, but in this feature here is the case for the strict variant of these movements which might be forgotten by too many…

What strict movements represent is a base, a foundation to build the rest. If you can do a kipping pull-up but can’t do a deadhang pull-up, then you’re doing something fundamentally wrong. Strict work allows you to build a base of strength and to isolate the muscles which are used for that particular movement. Kipping, dipping to presses, jerks, etc., are movements which require momentum from your core, while strict movements requires body awareness, strength and control. With strict movements you must rely on your muscles and how much they can move under load and not the inertia that is generated during kipping or similar movements. Strict work promotes strength, while variants like kipping promote stamina and precision. Both are important.

Strict movements force time under tension. The concentric and eccentric contractions mean that you don’t have moments of weightlessness. This builds strength and primes the smaller muscle groups for kipping or similar movements.

By doing more strict work it therefore complements kipping, butterfly, jerk, etc., variants. As an example, theoretically, if you increase your strict press 1-rep-max, and presuming your technique is good, then your push press, push jerk and split jerk will all grow. In fact, you should be able to use your strict press as a base to determine what you can/should achieve on your push press, push jerk and split jerk as a percentage of that strict press.

As we know, the basis of CrossFit and other similar functional fitness training methods is to constantly vary workouts, so that means that strict work should be a part of that mix, yet it is often forgotten about, especially when most people become proficient at kipping, etc. Let’s put it this way, when last did you test your 1-rep-max strict press or 1-rep-max weighted pull-up even? They are just as important as max kipping pull-ups or max split jerks. Make an effort to reintroduce strict work and see how all other movements and variants are complimented by your efforts…

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