Once I understood the concept of core-to-extremity, I was able to apply it to my training to make my movement more efficient and thus achieve gains in my strength and conditioning. It also helped break down the complexity of CrossFit movement, which often involves the whole body and is easy to get frustrated when many body parts move simultaneously or in a specific sequence. Without going into too much detail, the idea of core-to-extremity means that the functional movements you see in CrossFit recruit in a wave of contraction from core to extremity. Basically, we want our biggest muscles to do initiate the movement and do most of the work, with the smaller muscles finishing the job. A couple examples may help with our understanding.
The sumo deadlift high pull (SDHP) requires us to use core to stabilise, the hips to drive forward (hip extension) and “pop” the weight up, and the arms to pull the weight to the collarbone at the finish. A common mistake is to bend the elbows and initiate the pull before the hips have fully extended; doing so violates the core-to-extremity principle (the same can be said of the clean and snatch). Such a violation ends up with a movement that overworks smaller muscles and fails to activate the true potential of the larger ones. By adhering to core-to-extremity, we can use our body to its fullest potential, thus allowing us to perform more work in less time and achieve better conditioning.
Similarly, when I first learned the thruster, I was guilty of beginning the pressing part of the movement before finishing the squat (i.e. fully extending the hips). This is an important core-to-extremity violation that hampers many from progressing with thrusters. It is vital that before initiating the press overhead, we accelerate out of the front squat and extend the hips with as much force as possible. This will accelerate the weight off our chest and shoulders, thus allowing our shoulders to simply finish the press. Should we initiate the press too soon, we will not benefit from the power of our large hip and leg muscles and instead end up tiring too soon. Again, applying core-to-extremity with solid technique can make our lifts more efficient and allow for greater gains in strength and conditioning.
How does core-to-extremity apply to the front squat, kipping pullup, rowing, or other movement? Have a think about it and see if you can apply it to boost your training.