You’re killing it in the gym, committed to getting in your workout 3-5x/week, and you saw great results right from the beginning, but now you’re stuck. Why? Let’s dig deeper into the Fitness Pyramid that you walk by every day in our Athlete’s Lounge at CrossFit Hippo.


First we need to start at the bottom, Nutrition. “Nutrition lays the molecular foundations for fitness and health.” You’ve probably heard the old adage “You can’t out train a bad diet” well, it’s true. Nutrition is the foundation; it’s the most important aspect of fitness, that’s why it’s at the bottom and the biggest right? Nutrition is everything that you put into your body, so it’s the food you eat at every meal, it’s the supplements you take, the water you drink, and it’s even all that alcohol that you swear you’re going to stop drinking on the weekends. As a health conscious community we need to be aware of everything that we are putting into our bodies, and understand the purpose behind it. Is our food fueling us? Is it for pleasure? Is it for entertainment? Is it for no reason at all? These are all important questions to ask.
Now, is having good nutrition the only thing that matters? Absolutely not, but it’s the foundation for everything that happens in the gym. Which brings us to our next level…

Metabolic Conditioning

“Metabolic conditioning build capacity in each of three metabolic pathways, develops efficiency for short, medium, and long distances simultaneously.” Okay so what does that mean? Have you ever taken the time to notice how different the workouts are throughout the week? Science aside, there are simply short, medium, and long workouts. One day you might max out a lift in one to two seconds, another day you might run an interval for about a minute, or you might even do a 20:00 AMRAP (As Many Rounds As Possible).
You can think about this aspect of the pyramid as the second most important aspect. This is why, as coaches, we stress time caps, and scaling when needed. We don’t want a strength or skill to hold you back from the conditioning goal of the day. Next up…


First thing that comes to most people’s minds when you say Gymnastics is the Olympics, or little kids flipping around all over the place. While this is the highest level, CrossFit begins to develop basic gymnastic skills, and we all know you must master the basics before you move on to the next level, if you want to succeed. Gymnastics “establishes functional capacity for body control and range of motion.” This can be seen in a properly done air squat, pushup, or pull-up. It can also be seen in Rope Climbs and Muscle Ups.
Let’s dig a little deeper into the Muscle Up. It’s probably one of the flashiest moves in CrossFit and currently the mecca of the gymnastics movements in CrossFit. It’s a difficult movement to master for CrossFitters, and in the big scoop of gymnastics, it’s one of the most basic movements. My best advice when it comes to MUs and gymnastics in general is continue to practice the basics, master the basics, and continuously work on progressions. Skipping over levels will get you nowhere fast. Okay, heading up the pyramid…


The fourth sections of the pyramid, and almost at the top is weightlifting, the “ability to control external objects and produce power.” If you think about some of the most frustrating movements in the gym, outside of gymnastics, 99% of people are going to say Snatch and Clean and Jerk. Both of these movements are extremely complex and take years to master. This is why they are towards the top of the pyramid. If look back at the last three sections (weightlifting, gymnastics, and met con) now you can see why we stress the importance of metabolic conditioning, of the three, it’s the most important. And gymnastics, or body control, is more important than gymnastics. So if you’re getting frustrated with Snatch and/or C&J don’t beat yourself up. Work on the basics, Squat, Deadlift, and Press. If you’re doing that, WHILE working on your body control, WHILE practicing technique with our coaches, you’re going to pick it up. Remember, it just takes time, and repetition. Alright last one….


Sport, at the top, “applies fitness in competitive atmosphere with more randomized movements and skill mastery.” Since it’s placed at the top of the pyramid that means it should takes the least amount of our time dedication. So how can we apply this in our daily regimen? Honestly, we don’t really need to. Most people doing CrossFit actually don’t make it up this far of the pyramid and that’s absolutely fine. Majority of people, if their focus for the gym is just being healthy, happy humans will be focused on the bottom two sections.
On the flip side, if you’re coming into the gym every day and treating the WOD as Sport/Competition, you’re losing the big picture. Remember, it’s at the top, it’s small, and so we need to dedicate more of our time elsewhere. If you’re truly competitive, which could mean competing at an in house, local, regional, or worldwide competition reserve that time for the top portion.


So to sum up the pyramid, think of it just like the old food pyramid that so many of us grew up with (btw, that thing is obsolete). Regardless, you need the most of what is on the bottom, and the least of what is at the top. So if that’s true, you’ll notice that more people will be focused on the factors towards the bottom, than those listed at the top.

Next Steps

1. Focus on Your Nutrition. It’s the Foundation of everything you do in the gym and the most important factor, no matter what your goal is. We are running a massive 3 Month Nutrition Challenge that starts in January, so get yourself signed up today.

Click here for official registration.

2. Get in gym and work on that Metabolic Conditioning. As 2018 approaches, make one of your new goals to become a member of the Commitment Club. We would love to have every single member’s name up on the board for Jan ’18, so let’s make it happen!

© CrossFit Hippo - Changing Lives Through Functional Fitness