Why we shouldn't always go for a Max Effort, and why I'm a number's nerd.22 September 2013
An insight to our programming at CCF.
I have been Head Coach at Cape CrossFit for a while now, and responsible for all the programming since the beginning of 2013. I could not be happier with how our brilliant coaches manage to transfer my sometimes fairly complex thoughts on to our always hard working athletes! It's no secret that I am also extremely proud of the results we are reaching on a daily basis. It's not only about all those ninjas hitting PB's every damn day we test them (we never have less than 50%, and often 80-90% improving on any given day), but it's also about those success stories of people losing insane amount of weights when that's their goal, mothers and fathers being more active with their kids on the weekends, and so much more. I'm getting off topic here, but you get the picture of where our passion truly lays..
Why don't you always let us push to our limits when we lift heavy?
Well, this is when it get's really interesting for me as a programming geek. I'm not gonna bore you with all the different tables I use to measure total volume, load, and effect on your body in a long cycle, but I am gonna tell you this: Every single part of my programming have a purpose. We strongly believe in one of our "Box Rule", almost more than the others actually, and that is: FORM OVER LOAD. To become truly great at something, to truly master something, you need many many hours of practice. We believe that you share our philosophy of training for Life and Longevity rather than a short term goal - this is why our coaches constantly stop you from putting more weight on the bar, and quite often even ask you to take weights off the same, if the technique for that lift is not 100%. If we tell you that we want you to reach your max in 4 lifts, it's simply because the overall volume in that 3 month cycle, or even in the 3-4 week micro cycle, is requiring you to not tax your body with more lifts than that. If we tell you to hold back this week because you will get a chance to beat these numbers next week, (the Advanced Ninjas will see a lot of this in the next 3 months), it's because I know how good it will be for your body to not go to max that week. And, I also know how good you will feel about your self when you are smashing that weight next week!
This is usually how it looks when we test our athletes.
A few differences between "Heavy" and "RM".
You have seen it in the program before, and probably not paid much attention to it, but we do separate these two terms for a good reason. It's the same as I explained above, some days we do not want you to max out, for reasons proven to work many times before.
- "HEAVY x" - If this is a heavy 5 for instance, that weight should be reached quickly and without the slightest chance of failing along the way. I usually give my Advanced Ninjas burpee penalties if they fail, just to get my point across..
- "xRM" - When you see 1RM on the board, that's when you know it's time to really push it. We still want you to keep your form obviously, but you are allowed to fail. And, if the strength is there and you feel it may just have been a small detail making you fail that lift - go again!
- "In x lifts, find:" - This is a new thing the Advanced Ninjas will see frequently from now on. If that "x " is 3, I am not joking when I am saying that 3 lifts is all you got. Total volume, measured trough Prilepin's Table & Polequin's Chart among other tools, is VERY important. I want you to stay injury free and I want you to perform good in what is important to THAT day. Every single part of my program have a Purpose.
What's the secret to a successful CrossFit programming?
Well, I don't claim to fully master this fine art yet, or ever. But I do think that I have quite a good understanding for what needs to be in there to never stop improving. I build the CCF program built on the following philosophies:
- Constantly Varied, Functional Movements with High Intensity. For our athletes, I truly believe that a GPP, (General Physical Preparedness) program is the bomb.
- Keep. It. Simple For most members doing CrossFit as a part of a healthy living and nothing more, a bunch of Kettle Bell Swings may very well be more efficient to create intensity than 30 Snatches for time. I usually save the more complex movements for the Strength/Skill part.
- Use progressions. This is not contradicting GPP, but I also do believe that you get good at what you do, meaning that you will see some progressions in the programming from time to time. For the Advanced Classes more so than the regular CCF Classes.
- Steal. I love reading other good programmers WOD's etc. I gladly borrow from all over the world, but I always make a point of giving credit to the creators.
- Study. I pretty much spend my entire Sundays reading about Strenght & Conditioning programming. I also study my own program and try to figure out what works, what doesn't, and most importantly: why? Did I mention that I'm a numbers nerd?
- Adapt. As much as I "steal" and study, I always try to understand how it will best be implemented on to our population. If Rich Froning is doing a 30min EMOM Power Clean session @75-90% of his RM, how much can my guys handle? Probably a little bit less..
- Try it your self. After a while as a programmer, you will probably know how your population will react to a certain WOD. That does not mean that you don't need to try out your own programming very often. I do at least 1 WOD out of each weeks programming my self, and I program stuff I did when I was at a similar level as my athletes, and funny enough now some of them have passed me.
- Have Fun! Probably the most important part. I love CrossFit. I love what it does to people, and one of the things I love the most about it is how people like to play! I can program for grown up human beings to push a sled or to roll around on the floor for an hour, and they do it smilingly!
What does this all mean to me as an athlete?
We actually only ask for one thing: trust in your coaches. We don't tell you to stop to hold you back. We don't tell you to take a lighter weight for the WOD or do a scaled movement to mess with you - we do it because we care about you. We do it because we wan't you to succeed and we believe in you. Now, do you believe in us? Coach Chris Coach Chris loves writing long articles, he have probably tried everything under the moon and the sun in terms of CrossFit. Sometimes he fails, sometimes he strikes gold without even realizing it. His passion lays in spreading CrossFit to as many people as possible and the end goal is to improving human beings and giving them a physical capacity to live an active lifestyle beyond their wildest dreams. Coach Chris also offers Distance Programming for Individual Athletes and CrossFit Boxes, you can contact him at: [email protected]