To start, I like CrossFit. I love the methodology of constantly varied, functional movement performed at high intensity. The application of that definition, however, can use some re-working.
I believe the sport of fitness (CrossFit Games and Regionals) has dampened the training methodology that is preached at CrossFit Level 1 Courses throughout the world. A program that is supposed to elicit general physical preparedness is being funneled into specificity.
Why? Training for competition is fun, it’s sexy and there are abs everywhere. But, are all the thrusters, box jumps, and pull-ups really allowing you to practice the constantly varied piece? What about the functional movement? Do you feel after a longer period of training, you can no longer bring the same intensity to workouts as you used to?
Sure, you are balancing your monostructural movement, weightlifting, and gymnastics. I’m also sure that you are going heavy at least once a week, going long at least once a week, and filling the rest in with training that sits in the 8-12 minute time frame.
So now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s get a little into the weeds. What about a more templated approach? Are you getting below parallel, pulling from the ground, horizontal and vertical pressing, horizontal and vertical pulling? Are you adding in single-arm and single-leg movement? Are you training concentric, eccentric AND isometric movements with carrying and holds at the right time of the year? Are you balancing all the bent-arm work with straight-arm work?
Bounding. Are you doing high-rep box jumps in workouts without ever training plyometrics? Do you practice your plyometrics for height or distance? Are you bounding using two legs or one?
Does all your movement happen in the frontal plane or are you also incorporating movements that get you moving laterally and/or rotating? Do you balance all the pronated grip work with supinated work?
Now, on top of all this. Are you practicing basic crawling patterns? Are you incorporating diaphragmatic breathing exercises to make the most of the work you are doing in the gym and make sure your structure is bracing properly your movement?
Lastly, are you loading volume appropriately? Are you using step-loading or undulating progressions to deload when necessary? Do you build intensity into the right time of the year or are you running your CNS deep into the pain cave 5 days per week, 12 months out of the year with a week off after the CrossFit Games Open? Do you have a rest/recovery phase in your training?
I’m not writing this to degrade your program or impress you with big words. I’m writing this to get you thinking, to create consciousness about the way you are using your body and the patterning of workouts you are choosing to do. I love training and I love training with other people. However, this blog is an attempt to get program designers to ask the question, “why did you write the workout like that?” and give an educated answer.
Why did you choose the volume, the intensity, the movements, the pattern, the rest period between intervals, etc…? There is no bad workout…if there is a logical rhyme and reason to its structure.
If you are feeling slightly overwhelmed from reading this, you have three options:
- Act like you never read this and continue to train the same you way you currently are.
- Grab a coach/mentor that applies these principles to teach you how to progress properly.
- Do your research. Pick up a couple of the resources below to read and ask knowledgeable people questions until you are blue in the face. I recommend combining both 2+3. Here are some books that have helped me grow my knowledge about these topics:
- Science and Practice of Strength Training
- Periodization Training for Sports
- Movement by Gray Cook
- The Westside Barbell Book of Methods
If you have any questions please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I love talking training and would love to hear your comments below.