For the past 3 years at CrossFit Brownwood and for the few years prior in Vegas, we have experimented with multiple ways to program CrossFit training for our group classes. There are a lot of variables to consider, training schedules of the members, frequency of training, average ability and fitness level of the members, overall short and long term goals and on and on. We have always come to the same conclusion - regular, progressive strength training yields the best results when trying to build a broad, general and inclusive fitness for everyone. If you lack a good foundation of strength, it shows in everything else we do and it shows in the results you see for yourself. Remember the overall goal of CrossFit is to build your work capacity across broad time and modal domains. Basically the purpose of training the way we do is to enable you to do more work regardless of duration of the task at hand and regardless of the physical demands of the task. Think about life, sometimes you have tasks that require you to perform continuously for a long period of time with light loads i.e mowing and yardwork or even just cleaning the house or rowing a canoe with your kids, and sometimes you need to complete tasks requiring you to move heavy loads for short durations multiple times; i.e. moving furniture or loading hay into a trailer. Build a solid foundation of strength through basic, regular and progressive strength training and you will notice every other element of fitness progress much better. Couple that regular strength work with training that requires you to perform different exercises at various loads for various times (i.e. different intensity levels - Intensity = work/time where work is load x distance) and you will be building a solid foundation of fitness that improves your life outside the gym. Neglect strength training and you will not reach your full fitness potential as defined by CrossFit - you are only as fit as you are capable in all elements of fitness.
There are many more reasons why everyone should do regular strength work, such as injury prevention, fat burning (In Wednesday's post we will dive into this topic of fat burning), and many of the skills and movements we do require a certain level of prerequisite strength - basically you won't be able to perform, much less master these skills if you are weak.
“Strong people are harder to kill than weak people and more useful in general.” Mark Rippetoe
So what's the point of all of this, where is the July template? I am getting to that just be patient, I want you to understand why we are doing what we are doing in the gym and I want you to be able to schedule your training around getting the best results for you.
A few notes about the template:
- Strength training is on Mondays and Tuesdays every week. Doesn't mean you wont see some other lifting on other days, but Monday and Tuesday will always be either lower body strength training or upper body strength training in sets of 5, 3, 1 and 10 reps (resetting back to 5 rep sets and different lifts every four weeks). Why? Because we have enough people who come 4-5 days every week, and while in the past we tried to vary the strength training days to enable those who come less times per week or only come later in the week to get some focused strength training in, it ends up affecting the quality of lifting for those who are here every day. And with the random patterns of everyone's attendance coupled with the random placing of strength days it was too hit and miss with everyone and the results showed. By placing them on specific days and making you aware of those days each week it will be up to you to regularly hit those days.
Heavy strength training using compound movements like squats and presses is very taxing to the central nervous system and requires one, that you are in a fully recovered state going into it, and two that you have enough time in the following days to recover and adapt (get stronger) to the stress. By Friday your body has already been taxed through all of the other workouts and the results of lifting in that state is not optimal. Trying to lift heavy legs, for example on Friday after you have already trained Monday thru Thursday at various intensities isn't the best approach. So Monday and Tuesday it is. (I'll cover the best training schedules based on how many days you train in tomorrow's post - but for now look at the template and try to hit at least one of the strength days)
- Wednesdays will always be a long metabolic conditioning day. The central nervous system was taxed on Monday and Tuesday and is recovering. So on Wednesday we will give it a break, not push it to work on complex skills or lift heavy loads. These workouts will be more aerobic - longer durations of steady work with lighter loads or no load at all. We will hit many of the CrossFit Benchmark Girl workouts as well as several other named and longer workouts that fit the description above.
- Thursdays and Fridays we will again be taxing the central nervous system with complex movements (Olympic lifts and variations, plyometrics, complex skill work) but the focus will be on force production, speed, explosiveness and skill development. The workouts following the skill work/lifting will be more anaerobic - short durations of high intensity that require more rest breaks and recovery often times these will include a barbell or heavy component. There is a tremendous benefit to these types of workouts, you will be improving your aerobic capacity while building and maintaining your speed, power and strength. And the fat burning effect of this type of trying has been proven time and again.
- The workouts we will be doing will be tougher but with purpose (see above notes). Some of them tougher because we will be introducing you to some new skills, and some will be tougher because we are introducing different styles of workouts - but every workout and every skill we do has a purpose.
- Advanced athletes - I have had a few people wanting to add either an advanced class to the schedule that would push them a little more and challenge them with harder skills and workouts, or go back to programming different level workouts within the classes (i.e. Level 1 WOD, Level 2 WOD and Level 3 WOD each day). While I have not implemented either of these ideas yet, something is in the works. For now you will start noticing on some days (not everyday) workouts that have adv. options for those who can/want to do it. The workout will be similar in structure as the general workout but will include more advanced movements and different reps schemes. On any other day feel free to get with me or another coach and work on scaling workouts up - scaling works both ways, you can always scale a workout up just like scaling it down to meet your goals and abilities.
And finally here is the template for July. Make sure to check this blog daily for more training, fitness and health education.
July Programming Template