As Darci and I move through our 3rd year of programming we have had an opportunity to look back, reflect and evaluate what has worked, what has not and how athletes have responded physically, mentally and emotionally to their workouts. Over the years we have tried various methods of programming, from building programs on our own, taking from other gyms and programs to following main site programming. We have always been cautious to not hop into the “next big thing” in programming and stay true to “increasing work capacity across broad time and modal domains” (the goal of CrossFit). We want our athletes to be good at CrossFit and the ten general physical skills so that they have a general, physical, preparedness that enables them to do well at any sport or task life throws their way now, and long into the future.
As we head into the fall it is time for our programming to evolve.
Of the methods of designing programming, we have determined using mainsite as our primary means has several advantages. First, we believe in it and know it works. We also know it helps keep us honest in our pursuit to deliver a broad, general, and inclusive style of fitness. It’s easy for a person’s own biases to come out in their programming.
Now many of you know that the mainsite programs three days on and one day off. We fill in on mainsite rest days with our own programming to make for a seven days per week schedule.
As a quick aside, and to clear up a few misconceptions about our programming:
– we do not bias one area of development over another (we don’t do more strength workouts than long ones, we don’t think having a bigger clean and jerk is more important than your ability to walk on your hands)
– we don’t avoid any CrossFit movements
– we don’t program specific kinds of workouts on specific days (for example, Wednesdays are not always “long”)
A year and a half ago, we started to incorporate a strength and metcon workout three days a week. While the gym made some strength gains, we found that as a whole – both veteran and novice athletes at the box – began to move poorly. Folks that had been beautiful movers started to shy their squat depth, round their backs in deadlifts and use improper technique in lifts. After thinking through it we figured out that the class time for technique and barbell skill/drill work had suffered with the “double” workout and therefore our movement quality had taken a hit.
While many athletes loved the strength/metcon element of class, part of being a good coach is being able to say no when it’s not in the best interest of the athlete, even if they are impressed with it. Athletes are often impressed with volume and not impressed with drill, practice, and technique. We want you to love your workouts (well, most of them) but we also want you to understand the value of doing the workouts you don’t like and drilling the movements with PVC pipe to learn to move better (and prevent the possibility for injury). The work done with PVC is not a punishment to get to the workout, it’s the foundation of movement quality and potential. There is a “PVC pipe” in every sport and the best athletes in the world give 100% during that time of their practice, and reap the benefits.
We then swung the pendulum the other direction and decided to incorporate specific skill work into five week sessions. We selected The Open skills and movements that come up every year and have hit those skills each cycle.
With the goal of bringing more to the class hour while maintaining our constant pursuit of solid form and technique for all athletes, in August, we’ll evolve our programming to incorporate the following:
- Sixteen benchmark workouts and five skill benchmarks programmed on a rotating 3 month cycle
- Consistent retest of benchmarks
- The incorporation of a strength and metcon into one hour 1-2 times per week
- Gymnastics skill work 2-3 times per week with a focus on testing these skills
We’ll still follow the mainsite on a 2-week delay and we will still scale for every athlete at the gym including 3 levels of programming. Classes during the week will be capped at 16 athletes as this type of programming demands a smaller environment of athletes. Every athlete, both veteran and newbie, can do this programming.
The workouts performed at Ground Up are a reflection of the athletes we hope to create. They are not biased toward one of the ten general physical skills – they work all of them. While other gyms or blogs may promote the importance or development of one of the ten general physical skills over others (say for example, strength), we will not. We will continue to stay true to CrossFit, its goal, and the creation of athletes who can move as well as they can with speed, ensuring that injury does not derail their pursuit of fitness.
We’re just going to evolve and do it better.