Developing our programming at CrossFit London is about merging the best of consistency with the benefits of variation; all topped off with obvious short and long term objectives.
It’s also about creating establish structures that deliver training gains.
Currently, we have a 3-day structure
Day 1) is titled All Elements and features the full squat version of the clean or the snatch. In the workout any elements can appear. As a regular skill we include some kipping practice
Day 2) is No Shoulder day where we alternate between the front squat and the Bulgarian split, and the back squat cycling with the deadlift plus the 1 legged Romanian deadlift. The workout is limited to moves that do not include the shoulder. A shoulder rest day our skill focuses on the double under and the pistol.
Day 3) is No Squat day, currently upper-body orientated. We work through weighted pull ups/dips and cycle through the press, push press push jerk. The workout will not include a squat element- it needs a rest. Our regular skill is handstand based. It can be a 45 degree wall walk hold as your first step in getting upside down, to your first handstand push up, to handstand walking.
If you are following this programme, Day 4 is a rest day. However, as a gym with a big community, Day 4 is entitled Off Programme day. We still schedule a great WOD, skill and strength for those who want to work 5 days straight through, or it’s the only day they can make.
We are currently testing July’s draft programme (about 2 weeks ahead of where you are) and are deep in designing the August/September programme. Interestingly, the 2 targets nudging our thought processes are Cindy and Isabelle. This has thrown up 2 issues
Issue 1 . Push-up homework
To achieve 20 rounds of Cindy, you need 200 push ups. It’s that simple and stark. We will prepare you by having push ups scattered throughout our preparatory workouts, but the reality is that you probably need more push-ups that we can ethically put in our sessions.
By ethically, I mean we cannot drag you, our beloved members, across London- often in rush hour- to charge you to do push-ups that you can do at home. Our dips, presses etc support this work. We set them, as in our mind you go to the gym to play with stuff you cannot reasonably have at home.
I have a plea. Over the next few week, please do push-ups at home. I’m hoping this week do 75 push-ups a day, the week after 100, 150, then 200. I need you to own 200.
This can be done as a hardcore task: three sets of 66! But it’s better to think about creating an easy habit. Five before you get in the bath, five in the Starbucks queue, 10 while waiting for the bus, five before you brush your teeth. Why not post a clip of you pushing up 9n public on the facebook group. Its now a thing.
When you come to do Cindy, I need you to know, know you can do 200 push ups.
Issue 2 Power snatch/power clean on day 3 WOD
The next issue is the power snatch versus squat snatch. I want to create 2 distinct pathways for these moves. I want us to consistently pursue the squat snatch as a thing of beauty, but develop the power/split snatching as the go- to workout move.
Day 1 will alternate (as it has done) between the squat snatch and squat clean. The focus will be on enough reps to develop the best form possible within the 20-30ish minutes allocated. For most, this is enough time to make substantial improvements (self-training and our Olympic lifting classes accommodate those who need more). Sometimes this will be delivered instructionally, other times as reflective individual feedback while you practice. Often I suspect you’ll be sharing a bar and feeding back to fellow members as you watch them move. Peer coaching, under coaching supervision, can be very very useful as is using your phone’s camera to analyse and check form and spot weird habits in your classmates.
However, in the weeks leading up to our Isabel test, on day 3 in the workout, I will often include a power snatch or a power clean.
Yesterday we tested Isabel (30 snatches for time) as a day 3 WOD, therefore two days after the squat snatch element on day 1. It worked. The next experiment will be to have squat cleans on day 1 followed by power clean in the WOD on day 3. So over the next few months, note the pattern
Day 1 Squat Snatch dedicated session / Day 3 Power snatch in the workout
Day 1 Squat clean dedicated session / Day 3 power clean in the workout.
Obviously, we will vary the stimulus; different weights, different time domains, dumbbell versions.
Programming is about sequencing exercises so they meet an objective, but also to manipulate fatigue and reduce the risk of injury. The following outlines some of our short term and medium goals and some of the programming structure we will use to deliver you the fitness you want. This is less about whats actually in a class, more as to how it arrives there.
Objectives for June
1)We want to put pacing runs on your agenda By the end of June, you need to know what your 400m pace and time is, and commit to run it consistently. A 400m in a WOD is no longer a staggered recovery run, it’s a paced piece of in-control work. As the months roll by we will be developing our pacing and aerobic capacity, so be prepared to record times, use heart rate monitors, and focus on those runs. Long term, we have decided that we would like most clients to run 1600 meters in 6 minutes (means 400m in 90 seconds, 800m in 180 seconds, 200m in 45 seconds, 100m in 23 seconds.)
2) Underpinning leg strength is crucial. In June your task will be to discover and consolidate a 5 rep deadlift, back and front squat. We don’t want people lifting emotionally and screaming reps up, as much fun as it is. For June we want calm, effective consistent work. Once you know and own this figure, we will be adding a lot of variance. June is consistent, solid, good quality work. Anthony is in the wings preparing to add fantastic variation to our strength work from the end of June. Don’t let him down. When our coaches try and tailor strength components for you, they will need to know how many times you can lift a bar effectively 5 times. For some, this will be the same as a 5 rep max, for others as the time allowed may only be 10 or 15 minutes, its the best 5 you can do in the time allocated
We will ask you to do work on your pistol (1-legged squat) and you’ll be learning the balance and technique of the Bulgarian squat.
3) Underpinning arm strength in Crossfit training is crucial. Once you have your pull up and dips, weighted versions, combined with shooting for max unweighted reps, will prepare you for most WODs and most moves. They are foundational for handstand push-ups and the muscle up. We have tricks, and controlled negatives for those still developing arm strength.
4) Skills. Like it or not, CrossFit demands you learn certain skills. You must know how to kip (both pull ups and T2B), you must double-under and pistol. Our experience (as the first ever CrossFit affiliate in the UK) shows us that short, regular, quick practice is the key to achieving these skills. Obviously we have our skill classes to consolidate practice and mastery. I think we are about to develop a 1.9/1.10 as part of our beginner process to deal with kipping, double-under, pistol and muscle up progressions. This is under discussion
6) The programme for the next few months is structured around achieving good performances in 4 benchmark workouts. Spaced, about 3 to 4 weeks apart. The 4 are:
Fran, Elizabeth, 30 muscle ups for time, Fight Gone Bad.
In the weeks running up to these workouts we will experiment and develop the specific components. As an overview, if you take a move, say thrusters you need to do them a) lighter for volume b) your Fran weight, for volume, c) Dumbell versions, d) a Tabata test, e) heavier thrusters.
Crucially you need a strategy. Are you using one now e.g. do you break thrusters (whatever) into sets of 7, 5 and 3 with rest. Tim tells me one of the fire breathers can do 36 in a row!
After much consultation, with more to follow, we hear that those who want to follow a structured programme want 1 clear day’s rest between working shoulders, and no more than 2 consecutive days in a row working squats. Indeed, those with poor shoulder have begged for a no shoulder day!
We will produced a matrix that consists of 4 rotating days
All elements (blue)
No shoulder (pink)
No squats (green)
Off programme (yellow)
For those wanting a “programme” The 3 day on / 1 day off the programme mirrors the original, and still current, CrossFit prescription.
Using this as a structure you find that, as far as our basic strength prescription goes:
Blue day (all elements) will always have an Olympic lift. Alternating between the snatch and clean and jerk.
Pink days ( No shoulder)will alternate between back squat + deadlift, and front squat + Bulgarian split
Green days: (No Squat) Overhead pressing (press, push press, push jerk)
Yellow: Off-programme, anything goes ( or catch up if there is space)
To further explore this ideas,
Blue day (all elements) will also seek to develop your kip ability
Pink day (no shoulder) your pistol and double-unders
Green day ( no squats) your handstand ability ( everything from lying on the floor in a dish shape mobilising wrists, modest wall walks to kicking up, handstand push ups and handstand walking drills)
Yellow day: Off programme, rest day for those committing to the 3 day programme, “wild card” for everyone else, a great WOD, some unusual strength, fascinating skills and using those bits of kit unique to the gym space you are in
To further explore this:
Blue day (all elements) will also strengthen your pull-ups: think, as a starting point, weighted pull ups, 3,3,3,3,3. Green days ( no squats) will include weighted dips 3,3, 3, 3, 3 ( these will soon vary and include max effort unweighted attempts You know you need to slice through 50 pulls ups/dips to get a great workout. This regime gets you there.
To make it clear, each day, including Off Programme day, has a fantastic session with some skill, some strength and a great WOD. You can come as and when you like. This simply gives us a programming structure for those who want it . If you simply come 1, 2 or 3 times a week , there will be a great session waiting for you.