First of all, I would like to thank you for all your intelligent contributions to the training world. As you may have seen, CrossFit is here, and its impact is enormous. What many people do not realize is that those athletes competing in CrossFit Games do not just take a training out of the hat to do that day. With your academic background, how would you intelligently program an athlete looking to compete in CrossFit Games (block, conjugate, wavy, linear …) period?
Thanks for the kind words. The fact that you need to tell me that CrossFit is here and how important its impact means one of two things:
You are being condescending and you think that in EliteFTS we live in a bubble.
You are confirming what we both know and trust in me to speak openly and without prejudice.
I think it’s the last one. In addition, I hear about how wonderful CrossFit is every time I’m in social media. I get it.
You’re saying that high-end athletes do not simply randomize their training. I can not say one way or another and I will not assume what goes into the preparation of any other person at that level. I just have one question for you: Have you ever seen a program written by CrossFit?
I’ve never seen anything like a peak cycle of 8 or 12 weeks for the Games. I have never seen a program that has published a CrossFitter that has helped prepare for the Open or the Regional. Shit, even looking at Google I saw an article in the magazine CrossFit that replicated something like a theoretical programming model. He used words like “monostructural metabolic conditioning” and gave an example of training: “Handstands (vertical balances) for 45 minutes.” I know that my examples are not representative of the whole article, but the idea is that everything written is theoretical.
So, if you’re not pulling things out of the top hat as you say you’re not doing, then are you using Glassman’s theoretical model and plugging specific skills and exercises? It’s a serious question.
I would not say that my record is like that of a schoolboy, by any means. I have been fortunate to have had experience training athletes, and I have eaten a lot of meals in plyometric drawers and lost in a lot of things because of the profession. I take pride in having an open mind to listen to everyone and appreciate courage before I question it. I have no ego and I still do not know enough.
With all of this said, I probably sound like an idiot dissecting your question. Let me clarify your question with some disclaimers. I’ve said this before, but I’m humble enough to realize that not everyone reads my blog.
Why CrossFit is Impressive
I have had the privilege of meeting a lot of people who have owned CrossFit gyms and I have to say that each and every one of them were amazing people. I have made many “WODs” and I have gone my way to learn as much as I can.
If I had been told five or 10 years ago that the soccer moms and the unsuccessful athletes would be going to pull-out, loaded, dominated and push-ups, I would have told you that you were crazy.
In addition, there is a standardization in CrossFit competitions that is not as frequent in other strength sports. A squat with 700lb is not the same for any because of the number of different variations. Equipped the Raw; With or without knee pads; Under competition rules or in training (and then there are always depth problems). Strongman has the same variety in his specific implements. Just think of the amount of 600lb tires that are perceived so different from each other. As in the Olympic survey, CrossFit mostly avoids these discrepancies.
I’m going to piss off a lot of people out here, but CrossFit has saved the Olympic uprising. If Olympic lifting were baseball, then CrossFit would be his Sosa and McGuire.
No other group of people has such a sense of community as the CrossFitters. As much as it annoys everyone else, none of the CrossFitters seem to give a damn what others think of him. I’m sure there are some negative jokes (I’ve never seen it), but nothing like other sports.
They do not believe me? Go ahead, publish a video of a squad equipped with a competition and look at the amount of controversy you’ll see in the comments on depth, suit, grouping, etc.
Sorry, now to your question …
Programming for CrossFit
In my opinion, CrossFit programming is no different than programming for any other sport or athletic competition. I’m not saying that CrossFit has more sport than powerlifting or mountain games. In fact, I would not say that CrossFit is a sport as such, and not for the reasons you think. You can not register a sport as a brand. The NFL (National Football League) is a registered trademark. Football is not. NASCAR is a registered trademark. Car racing is not. You understand me? You can not make up a sport and then make it inclusive. But I digress.
The first step is to develop a needs analysis. I have said this before, but if you do not know what a needs analysis is, then stop training immediately. The two main components:
Evaluation of sport
Evaluation of the athlete
I’ll go into details about adapting CrossFit methodologies for sports performance here.
As for CrossFit competitions there is only one constant, and there are no constants. These competitions have been designed to be a random test of multiple varied events. There is, however, a consistency in movements. Although the power system and the application can be very variable, there is still consistency. So, when evaluating the sport, I focus on the constants of the Games:
Reference or benchmark training (named as a girl)
As for the evaluation of the athlete, it would be the same as in any other sport. Look at previous injuries and address weaknesses.
Actually, the only difference between preparing for CrosssFit Games and preparing an athlete for their sport is the specificity of the movement. Usually, someone preparing for the Games has to be proficient in the Olympic lifts, in walking the pine, in dominated, in rope climbs, and the list goes on. The movements found in most CrossFit competitions could benefit athletes, but all of them would be considered GPP (General Physical Preparation). A volleyball player does not need to carry loads for their sport. Performing charged will help improve jumping ability which in turn will help your ability to play your sport. There is a difference.
Keep this in mind when discussing competitors for CrossFit Games. You have to understand that if you are competing in the Games you are in an elite crowd. Just do the math. By the time the Games start next year there may be at least 7,000 (some say more than 8,000) CrossFit affiliates. Let’s say, for easy math, that each affiliate has 100 members. That’s 700,000 CrossFitters. Now, I know that not all of them will enter the Open, but there were about 200 who would actually make it to the Games. One percent of the 700,000 is 7,000. Therefore, one-tenth of that one percent are still 700 athletes.
In any case, there are two characteristics of the athletes of the Games that stand out more than in any other CrossFitter:
They are all strong. Not strong on CrossFit, but STRONG.
They have a lot of experience in competition.
Having said that, my two main goals for any CrossFitter looking to compete are to get stronger and just compete.
I am not a fan of linear periodization even for linear sports. It just is not my base. However, Meg Richie-Stone has stated that all periodization is non-linear and linear. All of them have corresponding attributes, but for the sake of the doubt let’s talk about nonlinear systems.
Due to the variability of this sport, I sincerely believe that a nonlinear model works better. For the sake of doubt, we will conclude that in general, I would use a sequence as follows:
Out of season (before the Open)
Block periodization: to approach different physical qualities in stages.
Preseason (after the Open and before the Regional)
Conjugated Periodization: addressing different physical qualities simultaneously with an emphasis on one per stage.
In Season (After the Regional and before the Games)
Simultaneous timing: addressing different physical qualities simultaneously.
Before starting the program, these would be my main objectives:
This is the physical quality on which all others rest. This is the glass ceiling that must be raised. When the “Grace” training of Barbells for Boobs was ready, I realized that the higher 1RM, the more competent the loaded 135lb. The 225lb NFL test is no different. In my record, the best I have done have been 225lb for 40 reps (short arms, big belly). I only tried the 225lb test once a year for the bench press for “Beat Breast Cancer.” The reason I got the weight at 40 reps is because at that time, 225lb was between 50-60% of my 1RM. Like the loaded 135lb for 30 reps is a kid’s game for someone with a 300lb load. It will take less energy.
2. Work Weaknesses
This can be work of technique in Olympic lifts, experience in gymnastics, or just gain some experience in the pool. In any case, you must address that in which you are weak. This is not different from powerlifting, strongman, etc.
3. Plan progressions and work backwards from each competition
This means scheduling your best WODs closest to the competition (to infuse confidence) and weaker ones earlier in the cycle. This also means scheduling strength in the lifts as if you were preparing an event, and LSD (Long Slow Distance) work as the one preparing for a race.
4. Anatomy of the training session
The anatomy of the training session can look the same. It’s amazing how similar they are normally to a Power and Conditioning collegiate session.
– Soft tissue
– Technical or Skills Work
– Work force
– Finisher (this need not always be more conditioning)
Although all components are present, there may be emphasis on each of them in different days or weeks.
The most important aspect is creating an exercise pool with each category when it comes to strength.
For example, when looking at squats, it lists the exercises that are most applicable and will have the best transfer to multiple WODS:
Or, for work on the head:
Strict press on the head
The Weekly Plan
Without writing an e-Book, I will summarize what I would do. But if you look at what the best athletes of the Games are doing, it can be totally different. I have the impression that none of them have real jobs, travel all over the country (and the world) and train with high volume constantly. I could be wrong. Remember that all components can be made, but here would be the emphasis:
B. Lower Train Force
A. Upper train force
A. Lower train force
B. Upper Train Force
Event Day: Multiple doublets and triplets.
Recovery and restoration
Again, I can not go into more detail, but I feel that you probably have a very good idea of what to do. The short answer is to do some sort of periodization based on nonlinear periodization. The closer you get to the Games, the more variety and more concurrent your training should be.
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