It’s more than just an awesome use of alliteration.
Mixed Modality Movement training is my answer to a question that I am asked very often. When people ask what I do and I explain it their follow-up question is often, “Like CrossFit right?”
No! And not just because CrossFit is a registered trademark and legally you need permission (which you get by earning a certification and paying a licensing fee) to use it.
I am not currently, and never have been, certified to teach CrossFit. But I have been using (and teaching) many of the same tools that they use in CrossFit training. I am also familiar with the sport and have worked out in many CrossFit gyms. Even some of my good friends own CrossFit gyms.
So I completely understand why this is confusing for people who aren’t fitness geeks.
CrossFit has done a lot to popularize the use of barbells, kettlebells, a jump rope and calisthenics exercises mixed into a single workout. So when people hear that I teach people how to use barbells, kettlebells, a jump rope and calisthenics it is easy to come to the conclusion that it is the same thing.
Here is the main difference: CrossFit teaches you to go wide, and I teach you to go deep.
Before I go further I want to state that there is nothing wrong with CrossFit. In fact, when done well it can be extremely effective at helping you reach your fitness goals. And like all things if done incorrectly it can be dangerous.
CrossFit encourages you to take tools and movements from many different disciplines and combine them into a high intensity workout. Then constantly vary the combinations.
Mixed Modality Movement encourages you to practice one discipline, go deep, and learn as much as you can. Once you have gone far enough down the rabbit hole, you can pivot to another and eventually combine them in interesting ways.
Here is another way to understand it: In CrossFit you will often get a completely different workout every single day you come to train.
In Mixed Modality Movement you might get almost the same workout for weeks (or months) at a time.
This is because the focus of Mixed Modality Movement is learning and repetition is a key component of the learning process. The concept is that if you learn how to use a tool and practice using it consistently you will get very fit as a side effect.
Yes, there will be times when your practice will get you high-intensity training. But I don’t want you to expect that. We do not judge the quality of your workouts by the amount of sweat you dripped, the calories you burned, or how sore you might be the next day.
Instead we judge it by the progress you make and the fun that you have during the process.
The goal is competency of a modality. Hopefully one day the goal switches from competency to mastery.
A modality is a system of physical fitness. Often it is based around a specific tool. But most tools have multiple modalities that use it. For example, the two dominant systems for lifting a barbell are the sports of powerlifting and weightlifting.
Weightlifting, one word, is easily confused with weight lifting, two words. Weightlifting is an Olympic sport which is a competition where the winner is the weightlifter who can lift the most weight in two competition lifts – The Snatch and The Clean and Jerk. Weight lifting refers to the general idea of lifting weights, which frankly I find a nebulous and meaningless term. It could refer to anything from bicep curls with a 2 lb dumbbell to a machine that isolates your inner thigh muscles to powerlifting or even weightlifting.
To avoid confusion I generally refer to weightlifting as Olympic weightlifting. Most people do the same because it is confusing, and most people involved in strength sports want to help you, not intimidate you. Despite the fact that many people in these sports look like intimidating people most of them are very nice people.
Powerlifting is also a specific sport where the winner is the person who lifts the most total weight in 3 lifts, often referred to as the big 3: The Squat, Bench Press and Deadlift.
They both use barbells as the primary training implement. But at advanced levels there are slight differences in the bar that you probably wouldn’t even notice. For the advanced these details matter but for most people they can use either bar for either sport and it won’t make a difference.
And the systems borrow exercises from each other. Olympic weightlifters will use the squat, bench and deadlift as “assistance” exercises. And powerlifters will often use the power clean (a variation of the clean from Olympic weightlifting) as an assistance exercise.
In CrossFit the attitude is that you should learn to do all the exercises from both systems (and many others). In fact, the 5 exercises from this example are staples in the CrossFit system. There’s even a joke in the Olympic weightlifting community that “Crossfit has done more for Olympic weightlifting than Olympic weightlifting has done for Olympic weightlifting.” The sport was on its way to dying in the United States until CrossFit brought interest back into these movements and competitive CrossFit athletes started seeking experienced coaches to help them excel.
In Mixed Modality Movement the idea is that you will study or practice one movement at a time. You may stick with that one forever or eventually study another one. While you can get far by being competent in one system, if you choose to invest the time, energy and effort into learning more systems there are some really cool ways we can combine them. All modalities have their strengths and limitations.
For example, you might spend 4 to 12 weeks on studying Powerlifting and getting the technique down on your big three exercises. Then you could spend 4-12 weeks studying Hyperformance jump rope, while still using the powerlifting skills you learned to build strength and muscle.
Some of the limitations of powerlifting are that your feet are always firmly planted on the ground and you never really need to challenge your cardiorespiratory system. But it is great for building strength and muscle. With a jump rope you are moving your feet off the ground and challenging your cardiovascular system, but it isn’t great at building strength and muscle.
Do you see how these two systems can perfectly compliment each other to help you build a strong, resilient and functional body?
Do you need to add Olympic weightlifting to the mix? Probably not. Can you? Absolutely. But you might instead dedicate years to just these two modalities and never learn how to snatch a barbell.
In CrossFit they have already mixed and matched components of different modalities to create a new one. In Mixed Modality Movement we are encouraging you to do that work yourself and create your own blend. One that specifically meets your own needs and interests.
Learn something? Then you should sign up for my newsletter and I will send you a free copy of my eBook “Double H’ai Workouts” which has 18 kettlebell workouts and 18 bodyweight workouts for people of all levels.