CrossFit Schaffhausen – How to tame your “Goat”

So, I’m sure your first thought was, “I thought this was a fitness column. What’s this goat nonsense about?” Well, it was an attempt to get your attention, and if you’re still reading, it worked.  But a “goat” in fitness terms is something that you are generally terrible at and avoid like the plague.

Some of the most basic (and effective) movements in fitness are body weight movements such as pushups, pullups, dips and pistols (one-legged squats).  Done with strict attention to form, these gymnastics staples are not only unmatched in their ability to build functional strength, balance and agility, but can be done anywhere, making them the perfect “excuse buster” when you can’t make it to the gym.  Unfortunately, these movements are also often avoided and regarded as “too hard.” What I would like to offer is a simple and time-effective way to increase your capacity at these or any other body weight movement.

For the purposes of this column, I’ll use the timeless push-up. Whether you are a woman who would like to move from knee-pushups to the full version, or a man who wants to increase his overall upper-body strength, this method will work equally well.  Keep in mind that this requires strict attention to form. We’re looking for quality above quantity. In the case of the push-up, this means a tight core with no sag in the lower back, complete range of motion with elbows locked out at the top and chest to the floor at the bottom, and the head slightly up and looking forward.

To get started, set up a clock with a timer to go off every minute or have a friend time you. Every minute on the minute, perform as many consecutive perfect pushups as you can. Any breakdown in form ends the set.

Repeat the process for 5-10 minutes, or if you are just starting an exercise program, start out with a shorter time frame. Record the number of reps in each of the minutes. Your score the first time might look like this (based on 7:00):

5-5-4-3-3-3-2 for a total of 25 reps.DSC_8361

Wait between two or three days, and repeat the process, trying to add to the number of reps.

Week Two might look like this: 6-6-5-4-4-3-3 for a total of 31 reps.

Repeat this process for a period of six weeks. By increasing the volume slightly each week and keeping strict adherence to your form, you will greatly increase your capacity in any movement that you choose.  But don’t let the low number of reps in the example above fool you. Strict form over 10 minutes will tax even the seasoned athlete, especially if they are used to using machines and have less than stellar form.

This method can be used as a warmup (after a light jog, skip etc and some stretching/ mobility) before your usual workout, or you can combine two movements and make this your workout.  A good example of this might be dips (upper body) and pistols (alternating legs) for the lower body. Anything goes.

So, the next time you avoid the pullup bar, pass that girl knocking out pushups like G.I. Jane, or see the “gymnast” knocking out ring dips like it’s his job, don’t think “I can’t”.

Just grab your “goat” by the horns and show it who’s the boss.


James Gordon
Owner/ Head Coach
CrossFit Schaffhausen