Every CrossFit box is the same and yet completely different. We all follow the same prescription, but implement it differently. We believe whole-heartedly in the basic tenets of CrossFit, which is simply a General Physical Preparedness (GPP) program, defined as “constantly varied functional movements executed at high intensity.”
The goal of a GPP is to develop a fitness that prepares you for whatever life throws your way: pick up stuff, move stuff in a hurry, get off the toilet without assistance. GPP benefits soldiers and grandmothers alike. This is why our workouts are designed for everyone regardless of your fitness.
How we program this stuff is only effective if it produces results. Results can come in various forms:
High performance in the gym (lifting heavier weights, getting through more reps faster);
Health markers (body composition, blood pressure, sleep, resting heart rate);
Intangibles (increased energy, confidence, “performance” outside the gym).
The concept of variance is key to programming and growing as an athlete. Variance means we are always trying to change movements, loads and durations both within a single workout and across a series of workouts to best increase your fitness. Variance is intentional; it is not random.
From CrossFit’s World Class Fitness in 100 Words:
Practice and train the major lifts: Deadlift, clean, squat, presses, C&J, snatch. Similarly, master the basics of gymnastics: pull-ups, dips, rope climbs, push-ups, sit-ups, presses to handstand, pirouettes, flips, splits, and holds. Bike, run, swim, row, etc, hard and fast.
CrossFit’s model for achieving elite fitness is elegant and simple and drives the programming philosophy at Second Wind. This blog is aimed at letting you, the athlete, have a better understanding of the specifics of the programming, to know the “why” behind what we do.
We will constantly evaluate and adjust as needed. How will we know if we need to adjust? By measuring your results.
Variance in Movement (Weightlifting)
Any given time period should see a variety of both weightlifting and gymnastics movements, with concentration on some of the basics. We will squat, clean and snatch every week. Squatting in all its forms, is the most basic strength exercise there is and is the very first functional movement we teach. Learn to love the squat, or at least make friends with it. If squatting below parallel with good form is difficult, fixing that should be your primary focus.
The olympic lifts (clean, jerk and snatch) require practice once a week at an absolute minimum. Any less and you are not likely to improve. We love the olympic lifts because of the bang for the buck. They score high on nine out of the 10 General Physical Skills.
Whatever the lift, whether it’s a squat, deadlift, thruster or kettlebell swing, your focus as an athlete should be on mastering the movement first, then increasing the load. Increasing load (going heavy) is important to stimulate the muscle growth we are seeking. Therefore, on days in which heavy lifting is programmed, the lifting is the priority for the day.
While maintaining variance in movement, there is time and occasion for targeted work. Targeting allows us to spend more time on one movement to really focus on making gains in a specific time period.
Variance in Movement (Gymnastics)
As anyone over 8 years old can tell you, gymnastics (bodyweight) movements are far more difficult than weightlifting. Pull-ups, dips, pistol squats, handstands. The words alone are enough to make many people skip the workout. That, however, would do a severe disservice to your fitness. So would taking shortcuts where gymnastics are involved. There is no substitute for mastering the basic, static gymnastics movements (ie, strict pull-up) before moving on to more advanced, dynamic skills (kipping).
Understand this: good gymnastics skills will translate to better weightlifting. The reverse is not true.
But there are some hard truths when it comes to mastering gymnastics.
You never will. You will always be able to improve. This is a life-long journey. Have extreme patience and celebrate the small successes.
You may have to go backwards to go forwards. Maybe you can currently bang out 10 sloppy kipping pull-ups in a wod. But can you do three perfectly strict pull-ups?
Gymnastics requires excellent mobility (joints), flexibility (muscles) and strength. None of those things come quickly.
The older you are when you start, the more catching up you have to do. (See #3) That’s OK. That’s OK. Remember: That’s OK.
Most high skill movements that require a slow and deliberate focus on quality are gymnastics moves and just as we set aside time for strength focus, we will devote more time to improving these skills as well.
Variance in Met-cons
Met-con is short for metabolic conditioning. It is any exercise stimulus that “conditions your metabolism,” which is another way of saying improving the way your body processes energy. It’s the “conditioning” in Strength & Conditioning. (Many of you often mistake the met-con for the “WOD”. The Workout of the Day involves everything we do in a given hour long session. The met-con is often the shortest part of the WOD.)
Met-cons are varied by time (intensity), number of movements and movement selection.
Time variance is important because how hard and long you work determines which energy pathway you tap into. You have three energy systems: phosphagen, glycolytic and oxidative. Think of them as short, medium and long…or anaerobic (phosphagen and glycolytic) and aerobic (oxidative). All three are always in use, but the intensity and duration of the workout will determine which is more dominant. We strive to train all three.
We do so by use of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). Interval training has been consistently proven to improve both aerobic and anaerobic fitness. The shorter the interval, the higher the intensity.
Met-cons are programmed with a variety of durations as follows:
Short: 3-8 minutes
Med: 8-12 minutes
Long: 12-20 minutes
Endurance: > 20 minutes
The number of movements will overwhelmingly be couplets and triplets with the occasional chipper (four or more movements) thrown in. The movements themselves will be a full body and high power mix of weightlifting, gymnastics and monostructural (run, row, jump rope).