Functionality Vs Carryover
TL/DR: Functionality is overrated. Carryover is king.
Snatch, Muscle Up, Handstand Push-up, Double Under, Overhead Squat… Are these even functional? When in the real world you’d need any of them?
Functionality is generally thought of as the real-world application of the exercise in question. When would you do a Double Under during a normal day? Or why would you even want to?
The concept that’s more useful in this case to understand is the ‘carryover’ instead of diving deep into the functional debate. By that token, a suitcase kettlebell deadlift carry is indeed the closest thing to a real world. Carryover just means that one skill/strength helps with something else. The bigger the carryover - the lazier (or efficient if you like that word better) we can be and become good/great at a lot of stuff quicker and with much less frustration/roadblocks.
For example: if an athlete can squat snatch well & heavy - they’ll generally be able to squat, deadlift, jump, even bar muscle up really well. On top of that usually, they’ll understand the value and have an appreciation of technique, coaching, incremental loading, gradual improvement, etc.
Another example: If an athlete can run fast and long - that’ll usually mean that their running endurance is good, but that’s about all we know. We can guess with high probability that mentally they are tough and can tolerate pain, as well consistent training, but not sure if that transfers into other areas (endurance athletes can be notoriously stubborn learning other things or giving up the mileage, but not all).
Due to this carryover weightlifters & gymnasts are so quick to learn most other athletic skills. Both sports require not just power, speed, strength, technique, flexibility, coordination, body awareness etc, but a lot of patience & consistency over time to develop that laundry list - all of those carry over to all other athletic pursuits tremendously well.
Compare that to just planting your butt on a bike and pedaling (not saying it’s easy here, not at all) - rather than one can be done instantly with little learning, but the other takes months & years.
Here’s what I’ve shared recently on the “Double Unders - Are They Even Worth It?” post: “Absolutely one of the most crucial skills. Not because of how useful the DU's are, but how important it is to learn how to learn & understand the process and yourself. All you need is a good set of drills & some patience while practicing 5 mins a day. How one learns to double under helps down the line tremendously to a lot of other skills like Handstands, Muscle Ups, Snatches etc simply because we learn generally the same way & I see folks who struggle with one skill usually will struggle with the rest. Understanding the skill acquisition process overall and knowing how to work with oneself tremendously shortens the amount of time required to learn how to do just about anything.
Learning Double Unders becomes an efficient path to figuring out for me how to work with an athlete: whether they practice too hard or too much, too little or not enough, skip days or not, follow my advice or start coming up with random other drills plus a lot of self talk becomes obvious as well: "I should be able to do this" "I suck" "DU's are my nemesis" etc - Vs just doing the drills robotically and getting good at it.”
Double Unders have no utility in the real world whatsoever. Until you need to learn how to use a new tool or a new skill. Or teach someone how to do it. If you struggled through enough skills & understand the process of learning - eventually it gets easier & easier to learn/pick up new abilities because, as the Russian saying goes “Repetition is the mother of learning”. Even in learning.
All the skill work you do is never wasted. Think of anything you learned how to do and rarely will you ever regret knowing how to do something, even if it’s done rarely. Eventually, everyone does hit a ceiling where the amount of work required is higher than your needs/willingness/talent/time. And that’s okay, too.
Ultimately let’s not forget that working out is a first world luxury & by that token, it should be fun & rewarding. If whipping yourself with a jump rope or inverting yourself isn’t fun - then, by all means, skip it. But if you enjoy how to do clean & jerks or climb ropes just remember - didn’t you struggle with that too? Did the bar hit your throat or chin? Did you burn up the hands a bit on a less than careful rope dismount?
Give some of the skills you gave up on a new fresh try - you might be surprised to find the initial fun and joy of stumbling around making a bit of a fool of yourself and eventually cross that threshold to a new level. Same fun as learning to CF for the first time. Yes, it can be frustrating & confusing, but look back at it now... "What's a hanging snatch? How about a kettleball swing?"
And then when you get that new skill that you’ve given up on - see if that helps you accomplish other tasks you actually want to get or helps you pursue other avenues in gym and real life that you’re might want to do or know you should do, but are too afraid or told yourself that it’s “not important” and so forth.
Meanwhile, watch your snatch & clean improve due to Muscle Up training. Watch your jerks go through the roof due to handstand practice. Running & box jumps becoming way faster and less taxing with Double Under practice. Pull-ups and toes to bar improvement with rope climbing practice. Overall life improving with our willingness to try, practice & learn new things.
So yeah, carryover is kind of a big deal.
P.S. I was a chubby 20 year old at 6'3" and 255 lbs who couldn't do regular push-ups or pull-ups since age 10 when I came to the US from Russia. Over the years I was fortunate enough to work up to freestanding strict hspu's, strict muscle ups, sub 3 Fran & Diane, low 7 Helen, 2k Row in 6:33, sub 33 Murph (no vest)/sub 40 in vest & "Kalsu" in 16:36 yada yada as well as lucky enough to compete at Regionals in the early days and even qualify for the Games in '09 (Rich smoked all of us in 2010 at the Dirty South Regionals).
I'm pretty lazy though & like doing stuff efficiently while doing as little as I can is where it's at for me. Gymnastics is usually not a forte for bigger taller folks - may be that's why I love it.