CrossFit Programming – Science & Chaos.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016 - 00:05
If you’re even vaguely familiar with CrossFit you will know that each affiliate applies it’s own interpretation of how to get it’s members fitter via constantly varied, functional movement at high intensity. Whether your coach is programming for general physical preparedness (CrossFit’s original intention) or performance in the sport of CrossFit (ie the CrossFit Games) their goal is to provide a smart program that develops all 10 components of fitness ( More advanced coaches understand energy system development, the strength-speed continuum, biomechanics & biomechanical resiliency, movement assessment and progression. However, there is a threshold between sport science being applied to CrossFit and CrossFit’s aim to make better humans by being “prepared for the unknown and unknowable”.


Enter chaos.


At GW Performance we love talking about how we have structured and periodised strength training and energy system development within our CrossFit program. However we do not forget that in order to be good at CrossFit, you need to do CrossFit. That means we occasionally throw a spanner in the works. In CrossFit, just like in life, things don’t always follow a beautiful pattern and progression. It isn’t all sunshine and lollipops.


What better way to test your fitness than by having a workout appear that you didn’t expect? If we follow the same workout schedule style every day (e.g. strength + metcon) and the same microcycle pattern every week (e.g. squats on Monday and Thursday every week) are you going to be prepared for anything and everything?


When we program CrossFit we always consider movement redundancy and recovery. Squatting and lower body pulling movements everyday isn’t ideal exercise selection – not many people have the mechanical resiliency to handle it. However life’s challenges and competitive sport don’t usually care about what you did yesterday. If a heavy object falls on your child’s leg are you going to rush over and help or excuse yourself because “we did deadlifts yesterday”? I hope not!


Therefore sometimes we need to toss in workouts that have similar mechanics to your previous day. In conditioning we might use rep schemes, time domains and/or movement combinations that “don’t make sense”. The athlete's performance in these CrossFit tests will be better if the majority of their training is programmed and coached by educated and experienced leaders. Your overall fitness will not be as good as it could be if your training program is majorly chaotic. There needs to be a balance.


In CrossFit programming long-term athletic development is a science and well placed workouts that challenge an athlete’s mental and physical abilities is an art.


In conclusion:

Coaches: the next time you make the world’s best periodised program for the you up and coming athlete ask yourself: “will my athlete be ready for the unknown and unknowable?”


Athletes: if you’re consistently training in a smart program and have a resolve to continually improve then you must accept workouts that challenge you.