May 17 , 2014
The CrossFit programming model and methodology is to:
“prepare trainees for any physical contingency—prepare them not only for the unknown but for the unknowable” ~ The CrossFit Training Guide: Understanding CrossFit
This sounds like a great idea but I personally choose not to follow that methodology of programming for our clientele here at Engineered Bodies because of a few reasons: Clients may or may not get stronger, the randomness may or may not provide proper rest and recovery days for the central nervous system (CNS) which can increase our client’s risk to injury, and typical CrossFit programming uses modalities that do not promote movement quality (e.g. high-rep olympic lifting) or the use of proper progressions (e.g. performing kipping pull-ups before having adequate strength). There also isn’t any goal in mind to focus the training on either. It’s simply just random exercising.
At Engineered Bodies Strength & Conditioning, our programs are designed to ultimately create strong and really good movers. The high-level, long term goal we’ve set out to achieve for our “CrossFit” clients is achieved by using sound strength training protocols (that use proper exercise progressions, progressive overloads, proper work/rest ratios, and proper rest days) woven into movement flow and play that allow our clients to achieve movement competency and develop, over time, control over their own bodies. Each quarter we set specific goals and design a program to achieve those goals for our clients.
Keep the goal the goal
When I have a private client that has a specific goal like dunking a basketball, increasing their bench press, or increasing their club head speed in golf, and they need to achieve that in the off-season, the program I create is designed specifically with that goal in mind. The program would be designed for what is called special physical preparedness (SPP) as that athlete wants to improve a performance attribute that they want to enhance in order to improve their overall performance in the sport they play.
The majority of our client community train in our CrossFit group classes and fall in the “general population” category. Their goals are typically a lot more broad and not always time sensitive as athletes that play a sport. For example for the rest of their lives, overall they want to feel healthier, fitter, stronger, perhaps lose 10 to 20 pounds (and keep it off), and live pain-free. Designing a program for general physical preparedness (GPP) and to achieve these broader goals takes a slightly different approach than for designing a program for SPP but I still design a program with a specific goal in mind so that clients can experience tangible and measurable improvements over a finite time period. In addition, it also holds me accountable for the program and I’m able to make adjustments if necessary on the fly in order to achieve that goal.
For this quarter, for example, the programming goal is to develop the community’s strict strength in some basic lifts like the strict pull-up. I really want to get our clients off the assistance bands when performing the strict pull-up or greatly reduce the amount of assistance bands they need to perform a given number of reps. If clients can already do strict pull-ups, then the goal for that client is to pull as high as they can on their strict pull-ups that they have multiple strict chest to bar pull-ups or even a strict lower rib to bar pull-ups (to prep them for a strict bar muscle up). Already, members that are consistent with their attendance and work ethic have started to see their strict pull-up strength improve. If a client has aspirations to do CrossFit competitions then I’ll teach them kipping pull-ups or butterfly pull-ups but only when they possess adequate strength for a given amount of reps in a strict pull-up. Skill work comes after strength and only after.
The concept of training for a specific goal is not a new one and most strength coaches I know do this well but I always seem to get into a discussion with people in the CrossFit community as to why I program the way I do. Our training philosophy at Engineered Bodies is different it seems from most CrossFit boxes and those who come from other boxes don’t always understand it but our clients really have embraced it and are experiencing amazing results. See what they are all saying in our client testimonials page. They’re seeing performance improvements each quarter and their risk to injury is mitigated. That’s a win in our books and that’s all that matters to us. That’s the difference between training for a goal and exercising for the sake of getting your sweat on. Exercising just to get a sweat on is much better than sitting on your butt for sure, but we believe when you train with a program that is designed for a specific goal, you’ll not only get your sweat on, you’ll train with more focus and be more successful in improving your fitness overall so that you can tackle whatever, whenever.