Introducing The New Athletic Skill Levels

At CrossFit Crux we have always prided ourselves on being able to train and add value to not only the beginner, but also the seasoned athlete.  As Greg Glassman says, ' Our understanding is that the needs of Olympic athletes and our grandparents differ in degree, not kind'.  We all need to be able to squat, press, hinge and pull, but clearly these movements need to be scaled up or down depending on the athlete.  What we have always struggled with was a way to measure the success of our programming on an individual level.  Some people come to Crux to train for a particular sport and luckily for them, they will get direct feedback each week when they are on the field of play.  For those of us that just want to be more fit and enjoy a higher quality of life, what is the measuring stick?  We have benchmark workouts and challenges.  We hit PRs in our lifts.  But it occurred to us that we needed benchmarks for individual movements in order to accurately gauge progress from beginner to advanced athlete.  Using these benchmarks athletes can keep track of their progress on a broad range of physical endeavors and be confident that they are getting more fit as they move up the levels.  

Cindy and I came to the conclusion that athletic skill levels would help us a couple of years ago, but our efforts to create 'Crux levels' kept stalling.  Perfection became the enemy of good enough.  We eventually shelved our efforts and put the whole project on the back burner.  Until we finally decided that we didn't need perfect and that something was better than nothing.  Rather than 'reinvent the wheel', we looked to the very first CrossFit affiliate in the world...CrossFit Seattle.  Dave Werner at CrossFit Seattle went through the same basic thought process year's before and although there are some aspects that we would do differently, we think the essence of his athletic skill levels capture exactly what we are trying to bring to Crux.  

By using these skill levels, we believe that people will be able to make more reasonable goals and achieve them.  They will be able to see where weaknesses lie and be able to quickly address them.  The skill levels will force you to master the basics before trying to move to the more advanced.  In short, the athletic skill levels will lead to better fitness for our members and see more of our members progress from scaled options to Rxd movements.  

Here is CrossFit Seattle's take on what the skill levels mean:

Level 1
You can move like a human. You’re not in particularly good shape, but if your town floods, you can get in a rescue boat without a firefighter pulling you in. If you can’t do three pull-ups, and three dips, you don’t have healthy shoulders. If you can’t squat all the way down comfortably, your hips are not healthy. These are basic health problems in the sense that they affect your quality of life. Fixing these problems generates a lot of self-confidence, and sets the stage for further progress.
Level 2
You’re not a competitive athlete, but you’re an active, fit person who can tackle whatever you want to do. All of your joints have full range of motion and adequate strength. You know how to create stability and power. You are ready to dive into learning any new physical activity that may interest you. Being this capable is so much fun!
Level 3
This is general fitness for a competitive athlete. That’s already pretty rare territory. Most adults don’t need all this, but it can be fun and give you some challenging goals. If you’re not working on Level 3 – for instance, if you can’t do a few strict dead hang muscle ups – you have no business entering the CrossFit Open and expect to get to Regionals or expect to be in the top 25% globally.  Stop being delusional about what you can do. Treat the problem.
Level 4
The level 4 goals explore the limits of general fitness. They are attainable only through many years of smart consistent training. None of the individual goals are very advanced when compared to a specialist in that field, but the combination of these qualities is very hard to achieve. For many, if not most people, this level of all around fitness is just not practical. Not practical because achieving all of these skills simultaneously means that you have really become a specialist in general fitness. Many, many people can perform some of the skills listed in Level 4, while at the same time they are unable to perform several level 2 skills. Perhaps the best use of these levels is when you are able to realize that you are already “good enough” in one area, and can then focus on an area that needs work.


Each skill level is broken down to an A, B and C.  The beauty of this is that leaps are not as big and goals will be easier to set and reach.  Once you have completed the A, B and C for a given level, you will be ready to test what you have worked on.  At this point in time, the testing will not be used to limit access (for example, must be a level 2 athlete to sign into CrossFit Sport), but it is certainly possible that it could evolve in this way.  For now, the testing will be completely voluntary and will be there for each of you to use as a tool to measure your progress.  We will run the tests on Saturdays every 3 months or so depending on demand. The tests will  not encompass everything in the level, but are meant to 'encapsulate the essence' of a given level.  The test will take place in an hour long class and will expose weaknesses and give the athlete feedback on where their focus should be going forward.  If you indeed can do all of the tasks for the level, you will not have a problem passing the test.  

On Monday you will notice the skill level posters on the gym wall for your reference.  The levels will also be accessible from our website, so that you can print them out for your reference.  We encourage you to find where you are on these levels and begin your progression.  If you have any questions about how you can use the skill levels or if you want to learn how to achieve certain listed skills, please talk to a coach.  Cindy and I are hoping that the skill levels will be welcomed by all and that it will help reinstill our culture of progress here at Crux.  

- Coach Sean