Ok guys and gals, sorry for my delay in getting this out, as a lot of you were aware the last few weeks have been quite hectic!
Let’s start off with WHY the programming has changed. I realized in my last certification that there were holes in the way I did my programming that are leaving everyone with gaps in their fitness levels. I tended to program 15-20 minute workouts all the time with a long chipper on Saturday’s every week. First of all, that usually means a TON of reps. Overloading everyone with high rep schemes nearly everyday is a recipe for injury, one that I wasn’t really looking at. You’ll notice now that we have a lot of workouts ranging from 8-15 minutes, more heavy days with lower reps and even some days where we only have 1 exercise to complete, making the WOD even shorter.
I’m not going to get into the exercise physiology of it all, but here’s the short version for those of you who want to know. We have multiple energy pathways in the body that peak during certain durations of workouts. By cheating how many shorter workouts we get, I was leaving that energy pathway unchallenged. As CrossFitters, we can’t let that happen. The mid length workouts of 8-12/15 minutes tend to challenge all 3 energy pathways the best (as there is some overlap in when the peak as correlated to time). Every few days we throw in a super short fast WOD to stimulate our “phosphogen” pathway which is left slightly less challenged in a mid length WOD. Also, every few days, about every 10, we’ll do a long chipper to stimulate almost exclusively our oxidative (aerobic) pathway. With that said, I don’t know anyone who can say that a 10 minute workout doesn’t stimulate their aerobic capacities. Lastly on this, there has been a lot of research showing that aerobic capacities are increased to the same level during anaerobic conditioning as in aerobic conditioning.
Now, let’s talk rest time. In a short workout (~5 min) focused on stimulating the phosphogen pathway, breaks need to be kept short, 3-5 seconds. We should be in an anaerobic state nearly the entire time. At the end of the WOD, our bodies are tingling and we should be incredibly uncomfortable. If you aren’t, you probably didn’t work hard enough. AMRAP after all does stand for “as many rounds as possible”. If I meant for it to be “as many rounds as COMFORTABLE” I would program that, but we’re here to push our comfort zones!
During a mid-length WOD (~8-15 minutes) we should be keeping breaks short as well, though since we can’t keep up the same work capacity as a 5 minute workout, we’ll probably start seeing breaks range in the 10-15 second range. Again, if they are longer than that, we start getting away from the energy pathway goal for the workout and move back to purely an aerobic pathway. That’s not the point! If we stimulate only aerobic and leave anaerobic alone all the time, we leave a HUGE gap in our fitness, and trust me, the next time you’re being chased by a lion, you’ll want to have an awesome anaerobic capacity!
During a long chipper (~20+ min) we will start seeing breaks a bit longer, sometimes 15-30 seconds. This doesn’t mean that we want to get comfortable, but sometimes in a longer workout we need that break so that we don’t stay hypoxic (lack of blood oxygen levels) for too long or we would vomit.
OK, so there is a bit of a breakdown on what is expected in workouts based on their varying length…lets get to some of your comments and questions now. You guys all had great feedback! Some of you loved the new changes, some had a lot of great questions and some others thought I was a bit out of my gourd! I’m going to approach this simply by posting a question with an answer below it…I think I will encompass everyone’s concerns this way.
Why do we sometimes do a workout that looks really similar to one we just did the week before?
CrossFit is constantly varied, this means the moves used, time durations, loads, times of day, weather, food intake prior to WOD ect. change constantly. Sometimes, as part of that variance, we repeat something within a short window. How is that varied, well…we never do that, so it’s being varied to once in a while stay the same.
Where and when should I scale in a workout?
A lot of people commented on this one! First of all, if the prescribed weight is just too damn heavy…scale, there is the obvious one! Let’s talk skill though…if we are doing a short or medium length WOD where we need those anaerobic elements you may need to scale a skill or gymnastic move. If you can only do 1 or 2 pull ups at a time and need to come off the bar to rest, we are now moving into an aerobic recovery zone, NOT the goal of the WOD. Double unders are the biggie here…everyone wants them, some have them, some kind of do, some just plain don’t! The WOD is NOT the time to be practicing a skill. Practice should be done before the WOD by showing up early to work on it, or during open gym. Should you focus on technique in a WOD, absolutely! But the difference between focusing on technique and practicing a skill is immense. Focus on technique requires you to think, which can easily be done at all times regardless of how hard you are working. Practicing a skill is a learned neuromechanical issue, this can only be done over time, and focusing all you want won’t necessarily get you anywhere during the WOD.
I miss my Saturday chipper WOD.
Plain and simple, we were devoting too much effort on those long bone crushing workouts. They lead to overuse when done too often. Like I said above, you will get the same aerobic benefit of those long WOD’s by pushing yourself to the limit each time in a short WOD…don’t believe me, do some research…it’s all out there (and yes, you’ll find research against my claim, but there is research for and against everything!)
I like to stick with my double unders during the WOD so I can practice the skill.
Why did we change things?
That’s an easy one. I wasn’t providing the best training possible to provide you guys with optimum results. My primary concern will always be the fitness of my members. As soon as I find a way to better serve you, I do it. Sometimes you guys notice the change, sometimes you don’t, but I am constantly evolving as a coach and as will my programming until I reach as close to perfection as is humanly possible. I don’t program anything because I want to do it or to be mean, but I program workouts based on fulfilling things we need to work on or gaps in our fitness. I literally track what moves we have done week to week so that over the course of a month or so we have done some of everything. I try to ensure we have hit all lengths of workouts, used varying amounts of loads, incorporated gymnastics movements, cardio only exercises and workouts focused on completing a given rep scheme or workouts that have time constraints (AMRAP)
How will everyone benefit?
When done under high intensity, these workouts will benefit everyone, no matter what you’re goal. I hear about people who want to be better on long runs or on their bikes. Great! Make sure you come in for short WOD’s too or when you hit a hill you’ll be slowed down by your anaerobic capacity. Also, come in for heavy days, we need to strengthen your posterior chain to keep your body balanced! If you’re looking to compete, guess what?…the programming got harder, your goal should be to RX every single workout with in the time constraints. That should be everyone’s goal…leading me to the next comment….
I used to Rx a lot more workouts, what is my goal now?
I think we can all agree that there is a BIG difference between doing Fran Rx in 3 minutes and doing Fran Rx in 15 minutes. Some of us were getting stronger and had the capacity to lift Rx weights, but it had to be done incredibly slowly, shifting us away from our energy pathway paradigms. If you’re ONLY goal has become lowering times, I’m doing you a disservice. Why not have 2 goals? Getting to Rx weights AND times. This is where you all started, and what did I see? I saw tenacity. You wanted that damn Rx behind your name on the board. Then you started to see it. What did I see then? Not all of you, but some, became complacent. You came in and went through the motions. Some of you became stubborn. No matter what was happening you were going to Rx that WOD, even if it took 40 minutes. That’s ridiculous! We need to focus on our energy pathways first, those are the ones that will make us strong, powerful and cardiovascularly fit!
With the changes, will all the standards be upheld between all the coaches?
This was an incredible comment. My answer to that is yes and no. My goal will be to maintain that all coaches are always doing the same thing throughout the day. But, as you all should be well aware, we all coach differently. I’ve been doing this for a long time, and I’m still learning. All of our coaches, while very experienced and very capable, are still learning too! With these new changes, one of the first things I did was to call a staff meeting to get everyone on the same page so that classes all maintain the highest of standards. I will continue to work on myself and with my coaches to not only improve myself, but improve together as a group to ensure that there is an amount of homogeneity between classes and to ensure that you are getting the highest quality coaching during your time with us. With that said, if you think there is an issue, bring it up to me. I know I would want to know, and I’m sure my coaches would be happy to know any way of improving the way we coach. Feedback is priceless.
So there it is guys, a long winded drawn out and hopefully all inclusive response to all of your comments. Hopefully by this point all of you have grown a bit more comfortable with the changes that you’re seeing. I’ve seen a lot of people simply fall in and act like there never even was a change! With all of this said, I promise, my only goal, first and foremost, will always be to provide you with the absolute best programming and coaching possible. Thank you all so much for your feedback and for kicking ass in the gym on a regular basis!