Behind the scenes of +I CF West Programmin

Everyone asks at some point in their CrossFit fitness journey, “How are these wicked workouts made? And why?”  Well, today I got an answer for you all. It’s crucial to keep workouts constantly varied but that doesn’t mean throwing just random exercises together and cram in as much work as possible within the 1-hour class. The entire class is programmed, not just the workout itself.  There is a method to this madness.

Here is what goes into the programming for a 1-hour CrossFit class, we actually work backwards. A big goal is to leave time for a 5-7 min recovery or mobility session. From there we know how long the W.O.D (Workout of the Day) is going to be for that day. We even program time for “nervous pees” and quick drinks of water before the WOD begins, usually 1-2 min. We schedule time for athletes to build up to the proper weight and go over proper scaling options as everyone is different. By doing this, we preserve the main goa, the intensity. Every class there is a skill portion. This is where actual teaching is done whether brushing up on old skills or learning new ones. Before that, we have a specific warm-up for the movements in the workout of that day. Before the specific warm up, is the general warm up. In the General warm up, the goal is to just get the core temperature up and maybe some light stretching. Beginning of every class we go over the proper stimulus of the WOD and also mention any important announcements.

Now, you can see that is quite a lot of steps that need to happen to ensure a great 1-hour CrossFit class. It is common for CrossFit gyms to program multiple workouts within that hour. Usually a strength first, then a metcon. I used to do this myself. What we found is that, this actually diminishes the quality of coaching and also lowers intensity. If there is too much work within that 1hour, we actually have to take short cuts to fit everything in. The class turns into herding cats around instead of actually coaching and teaching new skills. Not only does the coaching and skill work suffer, but the warm up shortens. Without a proper warm up, chance for injury increases and the performance suffers.

As we know, Intensity is a huge component when it comes to seeing results. If we don’t allow enough time to properly go over the stimulus of the workout, the intensity is NOT executed correctly. Examples include, using proper loads and scaling options.

Let’s go back to the topic of two workouts within the class. We have found that when two workouts are programmed, athletes tend to short change either one or even both of them. If an athlete really enjoys strength work, he or she will empty the tank on that leaving their metcon to suffer. Visa-versa the other way. In some cases, athletes save energy on the strength and are still too tired to give 100% on the metcon, in which results into two half-assed workouts. We truly believe in Greg Glassman’s philosophy of “be impressed by intensity not by volume”.

We have found that the best way, to keep athletes progressing at a safe pace is by doing 3-4 short and fast (usually 8-12 min) metcons per week, as this is where athletes will get the most bang for their buck.  These short metcons increase power, strength and speed. They improve cardiovascular health, burn fat, build muscle, develop both aerobic and anaerobic capacity.

We incorporate 2 Strength days per week. Now these days are Pure strength days. No metcon after or before. It is extremely difficult to get the full benefits of strength training, when you have additional work. Also, when adding more work to a strength day, athletes don’t have enough recovery time to lift the heaviest weight possible and truly tax the CNS (central nervous system).

Lastly, we usually include 1 long (20+ min) endurance type workout during the week. These endurance workouts are great for improving the body’s ability to recover and clear lactic acid and improve aerobic capacity. These longer metcon are great for improving cardiorespiratory health.

Majority of these WODS are couplets and triplets, two or three exercises per workout. We have found that as you add more exercises and get too fancy with a workout, the intensity will suffer. Less is more when it comes to preserving intensity. If you look at most of CrossFit’s benchmark workouts, they are very simple but very effective. Intensity is the key.

If you would like to learn more about Fire and Ice CF West or are interested in joining please click the link: No Sweat Intro.


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