Remember the Wizard of Oz? From what I remember from watching it as a kid, the things that stick out in my mind were 1) that it seemed cool to go from Black & White to color, 2) I spent some time wondering how the tin man got all that makeup off his face at the end of the day, and 3) the Wizard himself saying, “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.” Since then that phrase always comes to mind whenever someone tries to tell me to do something without a good explanation…
And now, I run a CrossFit Box, and almost every day I tell dozens of people to just do what’s on the board, don’t worry about why, and to pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. Hmm…
Well, it seems that the time has come to step out from behind the curtain and explain more clearly the rational behind why the excellent trainers here and myself spend so much time working on our programming.
First, let’s take the 10,000 ft. view of what we do. The overarching goal that CrossFit in general and CrossFit Lancaster specifically aims for is to increase everybody’s work capacity over broad time and modal domains. In other, less geeky terms, we want all of the athletes who train here to be strong and fast, so as to be ready for anything that the day throws at them. The argument could be made that we’re training for random events, and in a sense, we are. Who knows what your day may demand of you, right? You could have to shovel something, pick stuff up, throw things, play soccer or football or hockey, do as many burpees as possible in 7 minutes, play with babies, fight for your life, pull people of of a burning building, chase bad guys or sit at a desk all day and try to not let your shoulders hunch and your hips get all tight and messed up. But, no matter what it is, the training you do here will prepare you for it.
That being said, preparing for the random is not the same as random preparation. Just because we are planning for somewhat unknowable events doesn’t mean that the programming we do is random, not by a long shot. Our programming is done weeks in advance with specific goals in mind, and there is a pattern to what we do. You may have noticed this already, but the beginning of the week, usually Mondays, we have been developing our skills and capacity in one of our major, foundational lifts. Things like presses, dead lifts and squats and their variations have been the goal. This is for two reasons; The first is to ensure that all our athletes are consistently performing these movements correctly. By making sure that everyone is at least proficient in the foundational movements we can work on developing real strength in a safe, disciplined and effective way. These movements also build the foundations for more complicated movements. Back squats, deadlifts and presses form the foundation for front squats and squat cleans, push presses and overhead squats. Squat cleans and push presses form a base for Clean & Jerks and Snatches. But unless we are consistently performing the foundational movements correctly, we will never be able to reach our full potential in the more complicated movements.
In the middle of the week, we will take one of those foundational movements from the prior week, and do a rather long WOD with higher reps at about 55% of your 1RM in that lift. This helps to develop a greater power output in that particular lift, and then at the end of the following week, we will do a short but heavy WOD with few reps at very close to your 1RM. Working at that capacity of your 1RM will do nothing but help develop your overall capacity, to make you more able to lift heavier weight.
The rest of the week is built around the foundational movements that are featured, with different time domains, combinations and rep schemes. By planning the WODs this way, we ensure that we are working on our metabolic conditioning, bodyweight and gymnastics type movements and heavy lifting without ignoring any or focusing too much on another.
What all of this means is that for the vast majority of people, by following our programming you will increase your capacity in endurance, stamina, mobility and strength. You will be more accurate, agile, balanced and coordinated. In short, you’ll be stronger and faster. But, just like anything else that is worthwhile, you need to give it time to work. There is a magic in what we do, but there aren’t any magic pills. We have never promised and never will promise a six-pack and the ability to deadlift twice your bodyweight in a month. But, we have promised that we will get you as truly fit as possible in the shortest time possible, without gimmick or gadgets or potions or pills (except fish oil!). Do the WODs as hard as you can, ideally 4-5 times a week, and given enough time, the transformation you see in yourself will be incredible.
Now, for those of you who have built that solid base of broad and general fitness, and can do all our WODs as prescribed and consistently be near the top of the leader board, and who feel like there may be some chinks in the armor, we will very soon be offering some supplemental classes designed around increasing size and strength as well as Oly lifting specific classes. Keep an eye out for these supplemental classes, we’re hoping to have them moving in the Spring.
Now, if I only had a brain…