Earlier this week I had lunch with one of our members that wanted to talk about the programming at Cróga.
He had some feedback and he had some questions and all in all the lunch was a huge success.
I heard him out and agreed to make some minor adjustments to the programming here and there that made sense and we also decided that our coaching staff needs to do a better job of briefing each class about the ‘why’ of each workout, meaning why we’re doing it, what it should feel like, how long it should take and what it’s making us better at so that our athletes are better informed on a daily basis.
He learned a ton about the big picture of strength and conditioning, programming for a community of athletes, why we do a lot of the things we do and that sometimes you need to trust the process.
While we were eating and chatting it occurred to me that he’s most likely not the only person with questions of why we do things a certain way, or why we don’t do more of certain types of workouts, or why when he drops-in at other gyms sometimes they do things differently, so I thought I’d address some of these for everyone and give you all the same information I gave him.
So, first things first, at Cróga our goal is to provide you with a well rounded strength and conditioning program that is GPP (General Physical Preparedness) based.
This means that we want to get you stronger, faster, more enduring, explosive, agile, flexible and just all around healthier.
With that in mind, even though CrossFit is our core training methodology and a lot of people think of CrossFit as really hard or difficult, LONGEVITY is the name of the game and not every day is going to be a 30 minute suck fest where you sweat a lot and can’t move the next day because that’s how people get worn out, broken down, tired and eventually injured.
I know, I know, every time you go to another CrossFit gym, the WOD is some crazy thing that crushes you and you love it.
Well, this is where I tell you that I hate to break it to you, but every CrossFit gym is individually owned and that means that SOME of those gym owners are going to either be 1. idiots that only program long difficult workouts because they’re uneducated about what that’ll do in the long term to a human body, OR 2. aren’t confident enough in their education and programming to stand up to their members and tell them ‘No, I’m not going to program stuff like that all the time just because you like it because I know it’s not good for you’.
To add to this, I am a firm believer that one of the most important parts of our job as your coaches is to teach you to move better and to keep you safe.
So, when we do any olympic lifting or barbell work, we’re going to reteach the movements with PVC pipes and take the time to warm up properly so that everyone of our athletes is always improving their technique and is lifting properly to achieve the desired results.
Proper instruction on a daily basis along with a proper dynamic and then specific warm up and mobility often times means that we don’t have time for a 12 minute EMOM of lifting and then a 20 minute AMRAP of power cleans, box jumps, pull-ups & running, but to that I say, “who cares?”.
On our strength days (deadlifting, squatting, pressing) and our olympic lifting days (cleans, snatches, jerks) our focus should be on getting stronger, more explosive and developing our technique, NOT doing them as fast as possible, breathing hard or sweating a ton.
Just like any sport there is obviously always a chance of injury, but our job is to minimize that chance and hopefully reduce it as close to zero as possible, otherwise we’re not doing or job and taking the time to improve movement and provide proper instruction daily is an essential piece to doing so.
Oh, and to add to this, almost every CrossFit gym that I’ve ever been to that does a strength piece plus a metcon (workout) every day has a much larger percentage of athletes that have below average technique and I inevitably end up having to help the coach make sure someone doesn’t hurt themselves mid-WOD because the guy next to me doesn’t know how to set his back for a power clean.
On a side note, just because you sweat a lot more in some workouts than others doesn’t mean you’re getting more fit, it just means that your body temperature was higher during that workout.
Since strength is one of our 10 General Physical Skills (image to right) and I’ve never met anyone that wished they were weaker, we’re going to do strength days. On these days you’re job is to get stronger, to build muscle and to challenge yourself physically and mentally.
If you leave the gym disappointed because you didn’t sweat enough, or full of energy and feeling like you didn’t do anything, you didn’t lift heavy enough or try hard enough.
And for those that say “I just want to be lean, not big and bulky so I don’t want to lift anything heavy”, I will tell you right now that lifting lighter weights for more reps isn’t going to do that and whoever told you that was uneducated/misinformed or whatever internet article you read that said that was a lie.
To be “lean” you need to have muscle and you need to lose fat.
You’re not going to build muscle by lifting anything light and the best way to lose fat is to change your diet, not by doing 100 back squats with 15 lbs instead of 15 back squats at 100 lbs.
Now, to get back on track after that kind of random tangent/rant, when we were at lunch we also talked about shorter workouts and how to make them effective or how to get the most out of them.
Our member wanted to know why on some days we do short workouts, 5-10 minutes and that’s it.
Is that really effective? Is that really it? Should I be doing something in addition? I mean, that’s only like 7 minutes out of my whole day, is that really enough?
The answer is yes, it’s enough and the reason is because if performed correctly, the level of intensity achieved during these short workouts is what will drive results.
Without going to far down the intensity rabbit hole, I’m going to give you two quotes from the founder of CrossFit, Greg Glassman, and an article from the CrossFit journal about intensity that will give you a snapshot of why these short workouts are important.
“Intensity is the independent variable most commonly associated with maximizing favorable adaptation to exercise” & “Be impressed by intensity, not volume” – Greg Glassman
The CrossFit Journal – No Intensity, No Results – By Andrea Maria Cecil
Finally, we touched on one more very important point…
Consistent attendance and effort.
I know that it’s easy for me to bring this one up because my job is to be at the gym, so it’s really easy to find time to workout.
However, if you look at the Cróga members that have the most consistent attendance and give consistent effort, meaning they attend class on average 4-5 days a week, they don’t skip workouts they don’t like or aren’t good at and they try their hardest and challenge themselves daily, they’re the ones that make the most improvement.
Sure, there are people that can lose some weight in a couple months, or go 6 weeks of working out twice a day 3 days a week plus once a day a couple days a week and make some quick improvements.
But the athletes that put the gym in the schedule, make it to class regularly, push themselves just a little past their comfort zone and don’t make excuses are the ones that are improving in all areas of health and fitness.
So, what does that tell you?
You might like certain types workouts, but the programming is plenty well rounded and it works.
What you need to do is set your alarm or put your gym bag in your car and get to the gym more often and give it 100% when you’re there for the 1-hour class.
Because, I can GUARANTEE you, that if you do that and that if you trust the process, you will see the results you’ve been looking for.