Out of all the questions we get from new people coming through the door, I almost never hear "Who does your programming?" Maybe this is because programming isn't a popular area of concern for someone that doesn't have experience in strength and conditioning. Maybe people don't even know that a plan exists in a CrossFit gym, or any gym for that matter.
Well, there is a plan. And it is important. While community and solid coaching is a box's foundation, the program is its personality. I'm not here to speak for other gyms, so I'll just explain the primary tenant behind the program here at SPSC.
Practice vs. Testing
Whether you are participating in CrossFit as general exercise or to be competitive, it is very much like any sport. There's a great deal of skill acquisition, and skill takes time. This is where practice comes into play. It is easy to get derailed into thinking that every workout needs to make you feel like you've been in a near-death situation. That line of thought is faulted and short-sighted.
Every workout that I program has a desired response. If the workout calls for a high volume of pushups and squats, you're looking towards muscular endurance. If you are trading off between sprints and thrusters, we are attacking your lungs. But the common trait between most of our workouts is the chance to get better through practice. Practice good movement. Practice efficiency. Practice being uncomfortable. Practice getting strong.
You don't get far in any sport without practice. You cannot fully benefit from the intensity of the exercises until you've done so. Most of the movements we use are connected: hinges, squats, presses, pulls. They operate in different planes and contexts, but learning to move correctly will translate across the board. Moving better means you are giving your body the opportunity to get stronger. Just piling on weights and hoping for the best will not achieve strength, unless you are looking to have a short-lived fitness stint. Strength is very much a skill which, again, takes time.
I'll give you an example relating to practicing strength. We often program our strength work at percentages well below a "max." If you do sets of clean and jerks at 70-80% week after week, you will get more efficient and technically sound at that lift. As a result, you will be stronger overall and more skilled in order to attack those heavier loads. And guess what else? You can actually recover properly to continue your exercise/training routine without needing to take time off because your nervous system is fried or you are injured.
Through practice, one can achieve some of the most rewarding breakthroughs in their fitness journey. Ultimately, we are working to build up this training and express it through a test.
If you ask our members each week if there was a workout that stood out to them, it's probably the "test." We don't call it a test very often, but it won't be hard to figure out. This is when you put that practice to use and put it all out there. This is "game day." It may come in the form of a benchmark workout or a challenging compilation of strength movements and skills. It may be a long workout, a quick workout. Whatever the test, it will yield valuable results.
However, everyday cannot be game day. Everyday cannot be a test. If it was, then SPSC would not be providing our members with a program that is appropriate to be followed for a lifetime. After all, that is why we started this business. Nicole and I wanted to offer a program that is challenging, fulfilling, and able to be followed for years to come. Your fitness is useless if you are too beat up to use it. If you are looking to act on your goals and are choosing a regimen for general fitness, ask yourself if it is something you could see yourself following for 1, 2, or 5 years from now.
In fitness, there is no finish line. Trust the process and enjoy the journey. BE THE PELICAN.