February 01, 2004
Paleoanthropologists tell us that our ancestors left the trees for the ground millions of years ago. Competing hypotheses attribute this shift from a predominantly arboreal to terrestrial locomotion on postural-feeding, social- behavioral, or thermoregulatory pressures. In any case there is a strong consensus among scientists that our heritage is deeply rooted in both climbing and bipedalism, i.e., both swinging from the trees and functioning on two feet.While nearly all of our regular movements today are bipedal, the value to survival, fitness, and combat of climbing skills is critical and largely undeveloped even in "elite" athletes.
In this issue of CrossFit Journal we are offering some tools and techniques to remedy this imbalance of functional domains. In the broadest and most useful sense, the functional distinction between arboreal and terrestrial skills is that arboreal skills are rich in pulling movements whereas the bipedal movements mostly comprise hip extension and pushing movements.
As a consequence of this distinction and the dearth of climbing skills drawn upon in fitness programs, the pulling capacity of modern athletes is woefully deficient. Compare briefly the number of pushing to pulling movements available in the course of our normal training. Push-ups, dips, handstand push-ups, bench press, shoulder press, and jerks versus, what, pull-ups and maybe rope climb?