The 10 Physical Skills(+1): A deeper look

Crossfit introduced me to the 10 Physical Skills years ago and that has fundamentally switched my training style. I am forever thankful for that. We all know the 10 skills. But, I want to explore each skill a little deeper. Applying the skills to the non-physical such as your job, your life, and your diet, will break away the boxiness of the 10 skills as strictly physical and bring them to a universal concept to be applied in any given situation. I’ve also added an addition to the 10 skills, so it’s actually 10+1. Something that I believe was overlooked, and should be applied to your skill set.


Physically: The ability to apply force via pushing, pulling , or lifting a load.

Expanded: Strength is the ability to overcome great odds, heavy pressures, weight on your shoulders, or responsibility. Respectfully, Strength is attained through a gradual increase over a long period of time, as in the story of Milo of Cronton. He carried a calf everyday as a child and as he became strong the calf became a bull. Which is why a when you switch jobs, attain more responsibility, etc, the pressure can be felt, but overtime you adapt, you get stronger. A sound diet with all of the right ingredients is a strong diet, but one that also improves gradually overtime.


Physically: The ability to apply maximal force in minimal time.

Expanded: Power is getting something accomplished quickly and efficiently. Having a base knowledge and understanding (technique) of the task at hand greatly helps as less of your focus can go from the present to seemingly future events(looking steps ahead). This may be a big project due the next day, or a set of errands that you want to get done asap. Attempting to be powerful in uncharted waters runs the risk of not completing the task to the best of your ability(making shortcuts, etc). In terms of diet, it is being well prepared(having built up the technical skills), so that under a small window you can efficiently get in the appropriate nutrients. An example of this is having your shake/food ready for you after your workout. Without this, you run the risk of not eating(not completing), or eating junk (shortcut).


Physically: The ability to sustain prolonged physical effort.

Expanded: Stamina is an ability to stay focused in moderate sized windows of time (days/weeks). You wake up early, go to work, you eat lunch, fight through the tiredness of a long day, and crap…I have to workout now?! Stamina is the ability of making it happen, despite being tired/drained. Countless meetings or a dense work schedule are all things that rely on your ability to not quit or fall off, but to continue on at the best of your ability. In a diet the Stamina comes in when you begin to get tired of eating the same stuff over days/weeks, all you can think about is the cheeseburger you’d love to eat. Stamina fights the urge to quit.

Cardiorespiratory Endurance

Physically: The ability to maintain performance over long bouts of exercise.

Expanded: Endurance is setting a long term goal and going for it. It may be months to years away. But, you relentlessly take small steps towards that goal. Its a long, slow process, as with most bouts of endurance. Patience is key with anything longterm. You need patience(Endurance) to train and run a marathon/ultramarathon. Just as you need patience(Endurance) to stay focused on your ultimate goal. Lacking the Endurance is shown when people quit during that journey (for non-injury relate reasons), or people that constantly are switching goals and lacking the ability to stay on a solid program for more than a few weeks. As the quickly responsive internet shapes our brains and habits, so does our ability to stay focused. This is becoming more commonplace. Stay weary of fitness programs and products promising miracle cures and magic potions that somehow skip the need for patience/endurance. As far as diet goes, Endurance plays a part in being able to stay true to your diet as months pass.


Physically: The ability to minimize the amount of time during repeated movements.

Expanded: Speed is best described as maintaining momentum in this context. That means continuing to make progress towards your goals. Delays and setbacks only slow you down. Too quick out of the gates and you run the risk of gassing out, but setting a steady pace appropriate for your set time of completion, will be a more efficient use of Speed. So, while minimizing time is great, so isn’t the fact that I can run a  5 minute/mile, but I can’t sustain that for distance. Therefore, your set speed is determined by your set goal date.


Physically: The ability to maintain stability through various movements and changes in direction.

Expanded: Maintaining structural and muscular balance through the body is critical for optimal performance and joint health. This means evenly distributing your movements and counter-acting everyday compensations and imbalances. A balanced training program integrates various movements, phases, energy systems, and targets all physical skills. Balancing out your life, and your diet means that you have the ability to juggle multiple aspects with equal attention. If you only take your philosophy from one source without taking in and applying other methodologies, you are greatly unbalanced. You cannot control your environment (unstable) at times. Not allowing your unstable environment to affect you is a great refresher of what balance is. Staying stable in an unstable environment.


Physically: The ability to maximize the range of motion in a given joint.

Expanded: Flexibility represents how well a person can bend under pressure. Life throws you curve balls, things get tough, you can either break down, or bend and adapt. Letting stress and difficult times get in the way of your goals is showing an inability to be flexible. Can you maintain your diet while traveling and/or unprepared? A flexible philosophy is one that is adaptable. This is where knowledge comes into play. Having a greater understanding of nutrition will be more flexible(adaptable) than just following a particular diet.


Physically: The ability to use different parts of the body together, smoothly and efficiently.

Expanded: Coordination is the ability to bring multiple pieces of a complex puzzle (life, diet, work, training) together and have them sync up together smoothly. It is being able to juggle all of the intricate pieces without becoming overwhelmed. The more dense the schedule(complex the movement), the greater the amount of coordination is required. Coordinating accurate information in your philosophy is another way this skill is used.


Physically: The ability to minimize time during transitions  in movement patterns.

Expanded: How agile are your workouts? Can you quickly adapt to changes in your routine/diet, or will it throw you off? Aside from scheduled rest periods, are you quickly transitioning between exercises, or dragging ass and chatting? Being able to quickly react on your toes while at work or in regards to your diet is showing good signs of Agility. When new information or science is brought to the table, how will you react. Agility grants the person an ability to quickly adapt their philosophy to the change, or possibly avert it.


Physically: The ability to remain consistent and precise during movements.

Expanded: Hitting your short term and long term goals, predicting and setting new PR’s, and not cheating on your diet are all greater representations of Accuracy. Having quality science and information (accurate)will create a solid foundation for your training and diet. Hoaxes and pseudo-science only gives you a shaky platform to base your training on.

Durability (The additional Physical Skill)photo(87)

Physically: The ability to last a long time with minimal deterioration.

Why its important and how do we train it?

The 10 physical skills do not matter if you can only sustain them for 3 months. The key to exercise is to incorporate it into your lifestyle. If after 3 months you crash and burn from over training or injuries, you will lose all 10 of the physical skills. Durability is the piece that is most closely associated with long term health. You train Durability through gradual progress, smart programming, proper recovery, corrective exercise, personalization, and non-grinding routines.

Expanded: Durability is your longevity with a company, a team, or a relationship. It is the allowance of cheat meals, days off, deload weeks, and vacations. We need recovery both physically and mentally. Integrating these into your life allow you to ‘reset’ as your ability to last longer will increase. Too many programs are about going hard and getting the job done quick. This is great, but we need to allow ourselves some sensibility to make it lasting.