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10 General Physical Skills

By Rob | In Announcements, Coach's Blog | on May 2, 2016

Back in 2002 CrossFit was in its infancy well before it became a market leader as it is today.  Greg Glassman the founder of CrossFit wrote a two part article called “What is Fitness?”.  In part one Glassman outlines the four Fitness models that CrossFit is based upon. Today we are going to look at the first model “10 General Physical skills. These ten skills make daily appearances within the CrossFit West Houston programming.

What are the skills?

  1. Cardiovascular/respiratory endurance- The ability of body systems to gather, process, and deliver oxygen.
  2. Stamina- The ability of body systems to process, deliver, store and utilize energy.
  3. Strength- The ability of a muscular unit or combination of muscular units to apply force.
  4. Flexibility- The ability to maximize the range of motion at a given joint.
  5. Power- The ability of muscular unit or combination of muscular units to apply maximum force in minimum time.
  6. Speed- The ability to minimize time cycle of a repeated movement.
  7. Coordination– The ability to combine several distinct movement patterns into a singular distinct movement.
  8. Agility- The ability to minimize transition time from one movement pattern to another.
  9. Balance- The ability to control the placement of the body’s center of gravity in relation to its support base.
  10. Accuracy-The ability to control movement in a given direction or at a given intensity.

(Ed. Thanks to Jim Crawley and Bruce Evans of Dynamax and The CrossFit Journal)

Improvement Through Training

The first four skills Cardiovascular/respiratory endurance, stamina, strength and flexibility are skills that improve through training.  Just by showing up to CrossFit these skills will develop and improve. Just training these skills will improve them.

Clearly consistency is one of the keys to making all of these skills happen.  Compare how you feel today compared to when you first walked in the doors of CrossFit West Houston.  It is likely that can run/row more efficiently (cardio/respiratory), have more work capacity(stamina), lift more weight(strength) and over all move better.

Skill Movements
Cardiovascular/Respiratory Endurance Running/Rowing/Jump Rope/Air Dyne
Stamina Blend of above and high intensity Met Cons
Strength Back Squats/Deadlift/Strict Press Etc
Flexibility Joint Mobility/Static Stretching/All movements


The mere action of doing the above things consistently improves all of these measures of fitness. All you have to do is smartly include these skills into your weekly workouts and all will improve.

Improvement through Practice

The last four skills coordination, agility, balance and accuracy are all skill based. To improve these aspects practice is a must as these skills require building new neural pathways.

First you must learn these skills. Second you apply the skills that you learned into a focused practice. These are considered to be the higher skill movements in CrossFit.  The key to improving these skills is practice, practice, practice.

Skill Movements
Coordination Olympic Lifts/Jump Rope/Gymnastics
Agility Olympic Lifts/jump rope
Balance Single Leg DL/Pistols/Handstands
Accuracy Wall balls/Jump rope/Olympic Lifts


The higher frequency you can practice the movements that require high skill the more you will improve. This is why occasionally focusing on gymnastics and/or Olympic Lifts will greatly improve your skill level. Additionally, this is a good use of private training deep focus under a watchful eye of a coach.


Power and speed are combinations. Clearly you need to train and practice in order to improve. They used to say that you can’t teach speed however that has proven to be wrong as you can get better through practice and training.

In most sports speed is king, however in CrossFit power is king.  Power output is one of the measureable goals of CrossFit. If you Fran time goes from 4:30 to 3:50 you have increased your power output by doing the same amount of work in a shorter period of time.

Skills Movements
Power Deadlift/ Max height Box jump/ Back Squat etc
Speed Sprints/ Shuttle Runs/ Parts of Oly Lifts


As you can see these skills show up quite regularly in CFWH daily WODs. This is on purpose and by design. It is one of the reasons why CrossFit has exploded as a movement.

In CrossFit we are generalist on the whole.  Most of the fitness and sporting world is made up of specialist the runner, the  cyclist, the power lifter, etc.  However what makes them good in their sport makes them not as good in life.  What if they were called upon due to some sort of catastrophe peform something out of their specialty? How will they do?

It is pretty reasonable that we as humans can conceivably have these skills in our tool box:

  • Run sub 8 to 10 minute mile
  • Deadlift 1.5 to 2x bodyweight
  • Clean 50% to 75% of bodyweight
  • Perform 1-10 pull ups
  • Perform Double Unders
  • Balance on one leg or our hands
  • Squat below parallel
  • Perform a back bend
  • Etc


At the end of the day, it is important to build all of these skills. Not only will you have less gaps in your fitness you just might be able have the flexibility to get of a tight squeeze, the strength to lift something heavy off of a loved one, the stamina to move yourself to safety, the speed and agility to get out of the way of a falling object,  the balance to not fall, power to jump to safety, the endurance to persevere, the coordination to avoid tripping into oncoming traffic, and the accuracy to deliver a punch to the throat of a would be attacker. Build skills and be awesome!











One Comment to "10 General Physical Skills"

  • Sia K. says:

    May 2, 2016 at 8:48 pm - Reply

    This is so cool….YOU are so cool Rob.

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