CrossFit Programing: Are We Doing Too Much?

Following up on my post about Online CrossFit Programming, I wanted to write some thoughts about how affiliates program classes for the general population, like you or I.

CrossFit is meant to be a conditioning-biased exercise program. Look to this pyramind illustrating a theoretical hierarchy for the development of an athlete. It comes from Greg Glassman’s “What is Fitness”, which was published 15 years ago in the CrossFit Journal.

crossfit-heirarchy-of-development

Nutrition is the most important and then it’s conditioning. Somewhere about 5 years ago CrossFit affiliates started to shift the importance and focus of their programming to be strength-biased. This probably had something to do with the rise in popularity of the CrossFit Games; people wanted to train like the elite Games athletes.

Since day 1 and still today, the WOD posted on CrossFit.com is only one workout. They doesn’t suggest performing a strength piece, a skill piece, and a conditioning piece every day like you see in almost every CrossFit affiliate around the world. If you attend a Level 1 seminar, during the programming lecture they don’t teach you how to jam pack an hour with as much exercising as you can. Sure some of the Main Site WODs are strength focused, as they should be, but the majority of days the workout is a conditioning based one. Are we causing ourselves to get injured more and limiting our potential as human beings by doing too much?

Here’s a great podcast episode with Ben Bergeron, who is one of the top coaches in the sport. He explains a lot on the topic and makes a lot of great points for conditioning-biased programming.

What do you think?

Once I finish up this Push Only program I’m following (about 4 more weeks), I might experiment with some conditioning-biased programming like CrossFit teaches us.

CrossFit Programming Services

I’ve used a couple of online CrossFit programs this year that I’ve really liked. The first is Hybrid Performance Method. For about $35/month you can choose between 8 different programs and you can switch anytime you want with a few clicks in your profile. For a few months at the beginning of the year, a couple of friends and I were following the Hybrid WOD program to prepare for the CrossFit Open. It was hands down the hardest, but also the best programming I’ve followed. We averaged about 90 minutes in the gym, 5 days a week and saw big improvements in our fitness.

After I tweaked my back, I switched over to Hybrid Push-Only, which is all about the upper body and runs 4 days a week. It rarely takes me over an hour to finish the assigned work. I’m really loving it. Bench press is the main lift, but there is also a fair amount of overhead pressing, a ton of accessory work, and a day focused on pulling strength, mainly pull-up type movements. We’ll see if I can’t hit a 300 pound bench press at the end of 12 week program. I’ve been spacing out the 4 days a week so I can still go to a 2-3 CrossFit classes. I think I’m averaging about 9 days to get through a week of the program and am finishing up week 8.

The other program I’ve used this year is Performance Plus Programming. It’s focused around gymnastics type stuff and using movements to create stability and support. It runs $20/month, has 4 workouts per week, and almost never takes me more than 10 minutes to complete. The first month was focused on shoulders, which paired up really well with the Push-Only program. I need to loop back around and repeat that month of programming before I try out the core focused month.

New Garage Gym Equipment

In addition to making my own Farmers Carry handles, I’ve picked up some new items to expand the garage gym.

I bought this 10 foot climbing rope on Amazon. The ceiling obviously isn’t high enough for rope climbs, but I can use it for legless climbs starting from a seated position on the floor or simply do rope pull-ups. Can never have too many ways to do a pull-up or hang!

An upper body lifting program I’ve been following assigns half kneeling single arm bottoms up kettlebell presses every week. When I’m at home I’ve been using a dumbbell, but it’s nowhere near the same stimulus as stabilizing the uneven weight of an upside down kettlebell. It’s a very challenging exercise; if you’ve never done them before you’ll have to start much lighter than you’d expect.

I picked up this adjustable kettlebell from Dick’s Sporting Goods plus two 10 pound plates and a 5. As pictured I took out 3 of the spacers, which are on the right side. With this combination I can adjust it anywhere from 20-45 pounds in 5 pound increments. I already have a 50# kettlebell at home as well as a 53# and 70# I keep at the gym since I use those a lot more there.

These furniture movers, or SuperSliders, work really well on the rubber gym flooring. You can put your heels or toes on one of these and slide your legs in and out for core work.

2017 CrossFit Games Open Results

As previously mentioned, due to tweaking my back, I wasn’t able to do the 5th and final workout of the Open this year. I’m feeling good to go now and didn’t want to delay my attempt on 17.5 any longer, so I did it in my garage yesterday.

When the workout was announced I knew everyone would be tricked into thinking they had to do the thrusters unbroken. It’s the beauty of the workout design. Change it from 9 to 10 reps and people would have thought different about it. I tried to convince people breaking up the thrusters would be beneficial, but nobody believed me. I certainly didn’t plan to do 10 sets of 9 unbroken thrusters.

I split up the first 9 sets into 5 reps, a strict 3 count to rest, and a set of 4 reps. I did the 10th round unbroken. It worked out great and allowed me keep a steady pace through the entire workout. I geek out a bit on split times over on my workout blog if you’re interested in that kind of thing. Finished the workout in 13:28.

While not official results, I calculated where I would have ranked this year if I had been able to submit this score. Overall through the 5 weeks I would have had 139,975 points in the Open division, ranking me 20,616 / 201,951 (10.2%) and 18,825 points in the new Masters 35-39 division for 2,455 / 38,106 (6.4%). My best year yet!

CrossFit Games Open Ranking History

  • 2012: 16,395 / 20,857 (78.6%)
  • 2013: 9,251 / 43,479 (21.3%)
  • 2014: 13,721 / 66,904 (20.5%)
  • 2015: 13187 / 118,237 (11.2%)
  • 2016: 19,060 / 139,037 (13.7%)
  • 2017: 20,616 / 201,951 (10.2%)

I don’t know why, but a bunch of these previous year numbers are substantially different in terms of participation (lower) that I’ve written about before. According to the current CrossFit Games Leaderboards it’s the data I come up with though. I always base it off the number of men who completed at least one of the workouts.

Zero Reps On 17.5… For Now

My 17.5 will have to wait. I tweaked my back 6 reps into a 17.4 redo on Sunday and it has turned out to be the worst one I’ve experienced. Walking and basic human function has been challenging most of the week. Thankfully I finally started to see some improvements this afternoon. I made it to the gym tonight to watch some of the crew crush the workout and then got to enjoy beer and pizza with everyone.

I’ll battle with 17.5 in a few weeks when I’m healed up. I’m going to finally find a PT and hopefully correct whatever keeps causing these back problems.